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Main article: "Propaganda (book)

In Propaganda (1928), Bernays argued that the manipulation of public opinion was a necessary part of democracy:[19]

The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in "democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an "invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. ...We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society. ...In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of "politics or business, in our social conduct or our "ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons...who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind.

Articles in the journals of opinion, such as the one by Marlen Pew, Edward L. Bernays Critiqued as "Young Machiavelli of Our Time",[20] and the debate between Bernays and Everett Dean Martin in Forum, Are We Victims of Propaganda?, depicted Bernays negatively.[21] He and other publicists were often attacked as propagandists and deceptive "manipulators, who represented "lobby groups against the "public interest and covertly contrived events that secured coverage as news stories, free of charge, for their clients instead of securing attention for them through paid advertisements.["citation needed]

Bernays' brilliance for promotion in this vein emerges clearly when one reads, in the Bernays Typescript on Publicizing the New Dodge Cars, 1927–1928: "Two Sixes", the story of how he managed to secure newspaper coverage for the radio programs he developed to promote the Dodge Brothers' new six-cylinder cars. The Bernays Typescript on Publicizing the Fashion Industry, 1925–27: "Hats and Stockings" and the Bernays Typescript on Art in the Fashion Industry, 1923–1927, reveal a similar flair for consumer manipulation in the arena of fashion.["citation needed]


As is evident from the description of his campaign to publicize the Dodge cars, Bernays had a particular gift["citation needed] for the marketing strategy called the "tie-up" or "tie-in". In this strategy, one venue, opportunity, or occasion for promoting a consumer product, for example, radio advertising, is linked to another, say, newspaper advertising, and even, at times, to a third, say a department store exhibition salesroom featuring the item, and possibly even a fourth, such as an important holiday, for example Thrift Week.[22]

In addition to famous corporate clients, such as "Procter & Gamble, the "American Tobacco Company, "Cartier Inc., "Best Foods, "CBS, the "United Fruit Company, "General Electric, "Dodge Motors, the "fluoridationists of the "Public Health Service, Knox-Gelatin, and innumerable other big names, Bernays also worked on behalf of many non-profit institutions and organizations. These included, to name just a few, the Committee on Publicity Methods in Social Work (1926–1927), the Jewish Mental Health Society (1928), the Book Publishers Research Institute (1930–1931), the New York Infirmary for Women and Children (1933), the Committee for Consumer Legislation (1934), the Friends of Danish Freedom and Democracy (1940),[23][24][25] the Citywide Citizens' Committee on Harlem (1942), and the "National Multiple Sclerosis Society (1954–1961). For the U.S. government, he worked for the President's Emergency Committee on Employment (1930–1932) and President "Calvin Coolidge.["citation needed]

In the 1950s, some of his ideas and vision helped portray India as the most democratic republic in Asia by having the People’s Congress of India adapt a Bill of Rights. Freedom of the press, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly, and freedom of petition were added to the "Constitution of India.["citation needed]

Bernays Typescript on Public Relations Work and Politics, 1924: "Breakfast with Coolidge" shows that President Coolidge too was among his clients. Bernays was hired to improve Coolidge's image before the "1924 presidential election.["citation needed]

Another selection from his papers, the Typescript on Publicizing the Physical Culture Industry, 1927: ""Bernarr Macfadden", reveals Bernays' opinion of the leader of the physical culture movement. Yet another client, department store visionary "Edward A. Filene, was the subject of the Typescript on a Boston Department Store Magnate. Bernays' Typescript on the Importance of Samuel Strauss: "1924 – Private Life" shows that the public relations counsel and his wife were fans of consumerism critic Samuel Strauss.["citation needed]


Public relations campaigns of Edward Bernays

Some of the public relations and marketing campaigns Bernays worked on:

Overthrow of government of Guatemala[edit]

Bernays' most extreme political propaganda activities were said to be conducted on behalf of the "multinational corporation "United Fruit Company (today's "Chiquita Brands International) and the U.S. government to facilitate "the successful overthrow (see "Operation PBSUCCESS) of the democratically elected president of "Guatemala, Colonel "Jacobo Arbenz Guzman. Bernays' propaganda (documented in the BBC documentary, "The Century of the Self), branding Arbenz as communist, was published in major U.S. media. According to a book review by "John Stauber and "Sheldon Rampton of "Larry Tye's biography of Bernays, The Father of Spin: Edward L. Bernays & The Birth of PR, "The term '"banana republic' actually originated in reference to United Fruit's domination of corrupt governments in Guatemala and other Central American countries."[30]

Recognition and criticism[edit]

Much of Bernays' reputation today stems from his persistent public relations campaign to build his own reputation as "America's No. 1 Publicist". During his active years, many of his peers in the industry were offended by Bernays' continuous self-promotion. According to "Scott Cutlip, "Bernays was a brilliant person who had a spectacular career, but, to use an old-fashioned word, he was a braggart."[31]

"When a person would first meet Bernays," says Cutlip, "it would not be long until Uncle Sigmund would be brought into the conversation. His relationship with Freud was always in the forefront of his thinking and his counseling." According to Irwin Ross, another writer, "Bernays liked to think of himself as a kind of psychoanalyst to troubled corporations." In the early 1920s, Bernays arranged an English-language translation of Freud's A General Introduction to Psychoanalysis for the US publication. In addition to publicizing Freud's ideas, Bernays used his association with Freud to establish his own reputation as a thinker and theorist—a reputation that was further enhanced when Bernays authored several landmark texts of his own, most notably Crystallizing Public Opinion (1923, "ISBN 0-87140-975-5), Propaganda (1928, "ISBN 0-8046-1511-X) and ""The Engineering of Consent" in Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science (March 1947).["citation needed]

Bernays defined the profession of "counsel on public relations" as a "practicing social scientist" whose "competence is like that of the industrial engineer, the management engineer, or the investment counselor in their respective fields". To assist clients, PR counselors used "understanding of the behavioral sciences and applying them – sociology, social psychology, anthropology, history, etc." In "Propaganda, his most important book,["citation needed] Bernays argued that the scientific manipulation of public opinion was necessary to overcome chaos and conflict in society.["citation needed]

Bernays' celebration of propaganda helped define public relations, but it did not win the industry many friends. In a letter to "President Franklin D. Roosevelt, "Supreme Court Justice "Felix Frankfurter described Bernays and "Ivy Lee as "professional poisoners of the public mind, exploiters of foolishness, fanaticism and self-interest". History showed the flaw in Bernays' identification of the "manipulation of the masses"—as a natural and necessary feature of a "democratic society—when the "fascist rise to power in Germany demonstrated that propaganda could be used to subvert democracy as easily as it could be used to "resolve conflict".

In his 1965 autobiography, Bernays recalls a dinner at his home in 1933 where

"Karl von Wiegand, foreign correspondent of the Hearst newspapers, an old hand at interpreting Europe and just returned from Germany, was telling us about "Goebbels and his propaganda plans to consolidate Nazi power. Goebbels had shown Wiegand his propaganda library, the best Wiegand had ever seen. Goebbels, said Wiegand, was using my book Crystallizing Public Opinion as a basis for his destructive campaign against the Jews of Germany. This shocked me. ... Obviously the attack on the Jews of Germany was no emotional outburst of the Nazis, but a deliberate, planned campaign.[32]

According to John Stauber and Sheldon Rampton, in a published review of Larry Tye's biography of Bernays:[33]

It is impossible to fundamentally grasp the social, political, economic and cultural developments of the past 100 years without some understanding of Bernays and his professional heirs in the public relations industry. PR is a 20th-century phenomenon, and Bernays—widely eulogized as the "father of public relations" at the time of his death in 1995—played a major role in defining the industry's philosophy and methods.

As a result, his legacy remains a highly contested one, as evidenced by Adam Curtis' 2002 BBC documentary "The Century of the Self.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Edward Bernays, 'Father of Public Relations' And Leader in Opinion Making, Dies at 103". The New York Times. March 10, 1995. 
  2. ^ Trotter (1919).
  3. ^ Ewen, Stuart (1996). "Chapter 1: Visiting Edward Bernays". PR! A Social History Of Spin – Chapter 1. Basic Books. 
  4. ^ Colford, Paul D. (December 5, 1991). "A Birthday Salute to the Father of Public Relations". Newsday (Nassau ed.). Part II p. 78. Retrieved February 24, 2016. 
  5. ^ Tye, Larry. "Chapter 1: Starting with Symbols". The Father of Spin: Edward L. Bernays and the Birth of Public Relations. Henry Holt. Bernays was offered positions at the Medical Review of Reviews and the Dietetic and Hygienic Gazette. 
  6. ^ Cook, Joan (July 12, 1980). "Doris Fleischman Bernays Dead; Pioneer Public Relations Counsel". The New York Times. Metropolitan Report p. 22. Retrieved February 24, 2016. 
  7. ^ BBC. "The Century of the Self". Archived from the original on February 28, 2012. 
  8. ^ Bernays, Edward (1928). Propaganda. New York: "Horace Liveright. Retrieved February 24, 2016. ["pages needed]
  9. ^ Bernays, Edward (2005) [1928]. Propaganda. Brooklyn, N.Y: Ig Pub. p. 47. "ISBN "0970312598. 
  10. ^ Bernays, Edward L. (March 1947). "The Engineering of Consent" (PDF). "Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. 250 (1): 113–20 at p. 114. "doi:10.1177/000271624725000116. "ISSN 0002-7162. Archived from the original (PDF) on August 13, 2012. Retrieved February 24, 2016. Any person or organization depends ultimately on public approval, and is therefore faced with the problem of engineering the public's consent to a program or goal. 
  11. ^ Bernays, Edward L. (1961). Crystallizing Public Opinion (PDF). New York: "Liveright Publishing. Retrieved February 24, 2016. 
  12. ^ "Smoking in Public Barred for Women; Police Enforce law"
  13. ^ "Edward L. Bernays tells the story of making bacon & eggs all-American Breakfast". 
  14. ^ Cutlip, Scott M. (1994). The Unseen Power: Public Relations. A History. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. p. 160. "ISBN "0-8058-1464-7 – via Google Books. 
  15. ^ "Guide to People, Organizations, and Topics in Prosperity and Thrift". Prosperity and Thrift: The Coolidge Era and the Consumer Economy, 1921-1929. Library of Congress. 1999. Retrieved October 20, 2014. 
  16. ^ Bernays, Edward L. (1965). Biography of an Idea: Memoirs of Public Relations Counsel Edward L. Bernays. "Simon & Schuster. "ASIN B0007DFE5G. 
  17. ^ President's Research Committee on Social Trends (1933). Recent Social Trends in the United States. "Internet Archive. "McGraw-Hill Book Company. 
  18. ^ Peters, John Durham; Simonson, Peter (2004). Mass communication and American social thought: key texts, 1919–1968. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 51–57. "ISBN "978-0-7425-2839-0. 
  19. ^ Edward Bernays Propaganda (1928) p9. 9–10
  20. ^ Cutlip, Scott M. (1994). The unseen power: public relations, a history. L. Erlbaum Associates. p. 185. "ISBN "0-8058-1464-7. 
  21. ^ "Everett Dean Martin and Edward L. Bernays, Are We Victims of Propaganda? (Library of Congress reproduction from The Forum Magazine, March, 1929)". Memory.loc.gov. Retrieved 2010-02-12. 
  22. ^ "National Thrift Week". Institute for American Values. Retrieved July 13, 2012. 
  23. ^ Bernays, Edward L. (1965). Biography of an idea: memoirs of public relations counsel. Simon and Schuster. p. 606. I offered to help organize the Friends of Danish Freedom and Democracy, made up for the most part of Americans of Danish ... 
  24. ^ Hasselriis, Caspar Henrik Wolffsen (1959). Helligdag: erindringer (in Danish). Udgivet af Dansk samvirke hos E. Munksgaard. p. 143. ... at han vilde engagere den kendte Public Relations Ekspert Edward L. Bernays til at være Raadgiver. ... Resultatet blev Dannelsen af "American Friends of Danish Freedom and Democracy", et Navn foreslaaet af Mr. Bernays, som mente, ... 
  25. ^ Jensen, Mette Bastholm; Jensen, Steven L. B. (2003). Denmark and the Holocaust. Institute for International Studies, Department for Holocaust and Genocide Studies. "ISBN "978-87-989305-1-8. The "Father of Public Relations and Spin" and nephew of Sigmund Freud Edward L. Bernays (1890–1995), was also hired by the Friends of Danish Freedom and Democracy as a ... 
  26. ^ Rampton, Sheldon; Stauber, John (2001), Trust us, we're experts, pp. 44f .
  27. ^ Stephen Bender. Karl Rove & the Spectre of Freud’s Nephew, "LewRockwell.com, 2005-02-04
  28. ^ Alix Spiegel. Freud's Nephew and the Origins of Public Relations, "Morning Edition, 2005-04-22
  29. ^ Alan Bilton (2013). Silent Film Comedy and American Culture. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 16. "ISBN "978-1-137-02025-3. 
  30. ^ BBC. "The Century of the Self". peter1979sk. Retrieved 26 November 2011. 
  31. ^ Cutlip, Scott. 1994. The Unseen Power: Public Relations: A History. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc. p. 160. "ISBN 0805814647
  32. ^ Dennis W. Johnson. Routledge Handbook of Political Management, (New York: Routledge, 2009), 314 n. 3; see Edward Bernays, Biography of an Idea: Memoirs of Public Relations Counsel Edward L. Bernays (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1965) [1].
  33. ^ Stauber, John and Sheldon Rampton. "Father of Spin: Edward L. Bernays and the Birth of PR" (book review). PR Watch 6:2, Second Quarter, 1999 (p. 11).


External links[edit]

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