Semester of Graduation

Spring 2018


Master of Mass Communication (MMC)


Manship School of Mass Communication

Document Type



During an election cycle, social media newsfeeds and TV screens are overrun with political advertisements and celebrity politics. Publicity has become a critical component of presidential elections. While many argue that a reliance on publicity developed with the popularization of the television, I argue that a dependency on publicity occurred in the early-to- mid 1900’s with three publicity experts who paved the way for future elections. Robert Woolley in Woodrow Wilson’s 1916 campaign exercised unprecedented management over his publicity bureau and used new techniques catering to new mediums of the time; Albert Lasker in Warren Harding’s 1920 campaign merged the business of advertising into the world of politics and sold Harding like he would sell a product; and Charles Michelson in Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1932 campaign conducted one of the biggest mudslinging campaigns to date, demonstrating the foundations for the smear-style campaign that is all too common in modern elections. These three men played transitional roles in the origination of modern political publicity as campaigns evolved into candidate-centric contests of showmanship and personality. Their contributions to the field are still present today.



Committee Chair

Hamilton, John Maxwell