In 1949, then Norwegian Prime Minister Einar Gerhardsen held a one-hour, private and confidential discussion on current Norwegian public affairs with a group of highly powerful and elite Norwegian public sector leaders. In the meeting’s minutes, the secretary noted “The Prime Minister sat uncomfortably in the middle of the sofa. Future guests should be offered their own chair”.
This was in fact one of the very first meetings of the Norwegian Public Relations Club and the first formal recognition of what we know today as the public relations profession in Norway. This elite club had just 10 members, all of whom held senior level positions in the Norwegian government. These included the head of press relations at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who served as chair of the Public Relations Club, a state secretary, head of SAS (state-owned airline), and the press officers for the Norwegian Armed Forces and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. There was only one female member, Oslo’s first head of tourism.
The development of Norwegian PR
Dr Gillian Warner-Søderholm is a full time faculty member of the BI Norwegian Business School, and is the head of the department of Communication, Culture and Languages. She is also an associate professor, teaching on a number of programmes in intercultural communication, international business, Scandinavian culture, study strategies, negotiations, and presentation.
Tor Bang is a senior lecturer at the Department of Communication, Culture and Languages within the Norwegian School of Management, Oslo. Previously, Bang worked as a liaison officer with various shipping companies in the United States, Europe and Asia.