The Florida Public Relations Association is the oldest public relations association in the United States.

It was founded in 1938 when Chamber of Commerce executives cut the subject out their program at a state-wide meeting in Jacksonville. John W. Dillin, publicity director of the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce, had made the trip to Jacksonville especially to participate in the program.

On his return to South Florida, he stopped at Silver Springs to talk with Wilton Martin. They discussed forming an organization dealing with publicity and public relations.

The owners of the attraction agreed to host those who would be interested. Invitations were extended to six others.

Two meetings were held before calling an all-Florida meeting in Tampa where 45 attended. The group voted to form the Florida Association of Publicity Directors and elected Dillin to serve as president.

Executive meetings were held throughout the year and in several locations in the state prior to the first annual meeting in St. Augustine where Dillin had moved to take over a chamber of commerce management.

The assembly drew representatives of attractions, chambers of commerce, newspaper and radio stations, advertising and display executives. It also was held simultaneously with the Florida Press Association and the Florida Junior Chamber of Commerce.

Although Dillin wanted to develop a clinic for learning to do “publicity and public relations” better, it developed into a Florida promotional program.

In the second year, it was voted to change the name to the Florida Publicity and Public Relations Association, but before the meeting was concluded it was back to FAPD. The organization grew steadily until World War II when many members enlisted and were in service until 1946.

Although it took time to refresh its activities, the association began to grow again. Finally, the name “publicity” was eliminated and adopted the “public relations” theme. Clinics were held in “learning to do the job” better, which was the objective in the first place.

University of Florida, University of Miami and Stetson University joined the learning program and written examinations were held at the conclusion of each clinic. After four years, Certificates of Attainment were issued.

Chapters were formed throughout the state and the association grew to more than 1,200 members. Some of the universities formed student chapters. Those studying public relations were invited to state conferences and chapter seminars.

Today, there are  fifteen student chapters throughout Florida.  These chapters are: Communique Student Chapter at Rollins College, Jacksonville University, Florida Institute of Technology, Florida Southern College, Southeastern University, University of Florida, Stetson University, University of West Florida, University of Central Florida, Florida State University, Florida A&M University, University of Tampa, University of South Florida, Bethune Cookman College and Florida Gulf Coast University.