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Propaganda and the Role of the State in Inter-War Britain$
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Mariel Grant

Print publication date: 1994

Print ISBN-13: 9780198204442

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198204442.001.0001

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‘Bringing Alive’ the Post Office

‘Bringing Alive’ the Post Office

(p.82) 4 ‘Bringing Alive’ the Post Office
Propaganda and the Role of the State in Inter-War Britain

Mariel Grant

Oxford University Press

The adoption of a permanent publicity policy was definitely related to commercial considerations, but it was also the culmination of a long process, and reflected the department's commitment to its public service responsibilities. Here lay its great impact for, despite the distinctions drawn between the GPO and other departments, developments within the Post Office were instrumental in fostering the growth of public relations machinery throughout Whitehall. By this, the GPO showed publicity to be a necessary and legitimate adjunct to the work of every ministry of State in a democratic society. The importance of maintaining good public relations was recognized in the Post Office well before 1933. As noted earlier in this book, an annual report was introduced in 1854. The possibility and/or desirability of employing the exterior areas of post offices for advertising purposes had already been discussed at a meeting on telephone development on 17 April 1931. Prime Minister Clement Richard Attlee had voiced support for the idea, also suggesting that the commercial contract should be terminated in order to make more space available inside buildings. The affirmation of the idea that internal expertise was of at least equal importance to advertising experience in determining publicity policy exerted an enormous influence on the department's reaction to attempts made in 1938 to centralize all government publicity in the domestic sphere under the control of one organization. Interestingly enough, by 1938 even departments which lacked commercial motivations to develop publicity such as the Ministry of Health, had reached the same conclusions.

Keywords:   publicity policy, Post Office, public relations, Clement Richard Attlee, advertising, Ministry of Health

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