How many castles in Ireland do you know?
There’s a common misconception that public relations is a fairly recent innovation. True enough, in the 20th Century Sigmund Freud and Edward Bernays popularised the discipline we recognise today as PR.
However, just like Australia and the US, they existed long before they were ‘discovered’.
Although PR cannot lay claim to be the world’s oldest profession (recognised practitioners would have been few and far between back then), PR and word-of-mouth marketing has been around longer than you might imagine.
A quick example. There are well over one hundred castles in Ireland, but how many can you name? You’d be hard pressed to name more than a couple. However, you’re probably familiar with the castle at Blarney, if only because of its world famous Blarney Stone.
The belief is if you kiss the stone you’ll receive the gift of eloquence. Exactly when the tradition started remains unclear, though it’s thought to date back between the 16th and 18th Century. What’s certain is that the tale was passed from one person to several more, who then passed on the story themselves. Today, more than 400,000 people turn up each year to kiss the Blarney Stone and I imagine Blarney Castle does not spend much at all on publicising itself.
Think also about the Trevi Fountain in Rome. Throw in a coin and you’re assured a return to Rome they say. I’ve been and indeed deposited a few euros. And when I returned home people asked if I’d thrown a coin into the fountain. Now I’d call that a very clever word-of-mouth destination marketing campaign.