Edward Bernays

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Edward Bernays (November 22, 1891March 9, 1995) was an Austrian-born American publicist, sometimes called "the father of public relations".

Quotes[edit]

  • This is an age of mass production. In the mass production of materials a broad technique has been developed and applied to their distribution. In this age, too, there must be a technique for the mass distribution of ideas.
    • "Manipulating Public Opinion", American Journal of Sociology 33 (May, 1928), p. 958–971
  • The engineering of consent is the very essence of the democratic process, the freedom to persuade and suggest.
    • "The Engineering of Consent", Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science No. 250 (March 1947), p. 113; Reprinted in Edward L. Bernays, Howard Walden Cutler, The Engineering of Consent, University of Oklahoma Press, 1955
  • The three main elements of public relations are practically as old as society: informing people, persuading people, or integrating people with people. Of course, the means and methods of accomplishing these ends have changed as society has changed.
    • Public Relations (1952) p. 12
  • Goebbels [...] was using my book Crystallizing Public Opinion as a basis for his destructive campaign against the Jews of Germany. This shocked me.
    • Biography of an Idea: Memoirs of Public Relations Counsel (1965)
  • It is sometimes possible to change the attitudes of millions but impossible to change the attitude of one man.
    • Quoted in L. Tye The Father of Spin (1998) p. 102
  • For the same reason I read the National Geographic, I like to see places I will never visit.
    • Quoted in L. Tye The Father of Spin (1998) p. 102
    • On why he read Playboy
  • The best place to find things: the public library.
    • Quoted in L. Tye The Father of Spin (1998) p. 102
  • The best defense against propaganda: more propaganda.
    • Quoted in L. Tye The Father of Spin (1998) p. 102
  • When I came back to the United States, I decided that if you could use propaganda for war, you could certainly use it for peace. And "propaganda" got to be a bad word because of the Germans using it, so what I did was to try and find some other words so we found the words "public relations".
    • Quoted in Adam Curtis' The Century of the Self (2002)

Crystallizing Public Opinion (1923)[edit]

  • When Napoleon said, 'Circumstance? I make circumstance‚' he expressed very nearly the spirit of the public relations counsel's work.
    • p. 51
  • Domination to-day is not a product of armies or navies or wealth or policies. It is a domination based on the one hand upon accomplished unity, and on the other hand upon the fact that opposition is generally characterized by a high degree of disunity.
    • p. 133
  • Let us assume that our problem is the intensification in the public mind of the prestige of a hotel. The problem for the public relations counsel is to create in the public mind the close relationship between the hotel and a number of ideas that represent the things the hotel desires to stand for in the public mind.
    • p. 168
  • The public relations counsel, therefore, is a creator of news for whatever medium he chooses to transmit ideas. It is his duty to create news no matter what the medium which broadcasts this news.
    • p. 171
  • The only difference between "propaganda" and "education," really, is in the point of view. The advocacy of what we believe in is education. The advocacy of what we don't believe in is propaganda.
    • p. 212

Propaganda (1928)[edit]

Unless otherwise noted, page numbers refer to the 2004 Ig Publishing edition, ISBN 0970312598 (The text begins on p. 35, after an introduction by Mark Crispin Miller.)
  • 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.
    • p. 37
  • In almost every act of our 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 that control the public mind, who harness old social forces and contrive new ways to bind and guide the world.
    • p. 37–38
  • In theory, everybody buys the best and cheapest commodities offered to him on the market. In practice, if every one went around pricing, and chemically testing before purchasing, the dozens of soaps or fabrics or brands of bread which are for sale, economic life would become hopelessly jammed.
    • p. 39
  • Propaganda is the executive arm of the invisible government.
    • p. 48
  • Who are the men, who, without our realizing it, give us our ideas, tell us whom to admire and whom to despise, what to believe about the ownership of public utilities .. about immigration who tell us how our houses should be designed, what furniture we should put into them, what menus we should serve at our table, what kind of shirts we must wear, what sports we should indulge in, what plays we should see, what charities we should support, what pictures we should admire, what slang we should affect, what jokes we should laugh at?
    • p.59
  • The new profession of public relations has grown up because of the increasing complexity of modern life and the consequent necessity for making the actions of one part of the public understandable to other sectors of the public. It is due, too, to the increasing dependence of organized power of all sorts upon public opinion. Governments, whether they are monarchical, constitutional, democratic or communist, depend upon acquiescent public opinion for the success of their efforts and, in fact, government is government only by virtue of public acquiescence. Industries, public utilities, educational movements, indeed all groups representing any concept or product, whether they are majority or minority ideas, succeed only because of approving public opinion. Public opinion is the unacknowledged partner in all broad efforts.
    The public relations counsel, then, is the agent who, working with modern media of communications and the group formations of society, brings an idea to the consciousness of the public.
    • p. 63
  • If we understand the mechanism and motives of the group mind, it is now possible to control and regiment the masses according to our will without them knowing it.
    • Page 71 (1928 edition?)
  • If you can influence the leaders, either with or without their conscious cooperation, you automatically influence the group which they sway. But men do not need to be actually gathered together in a public meeting or in a street riot, to be subject to the influences of mass psychology. Because man is by nature gregarious he feels himself to be member of a herd, even when he is alone in his room with the curtains drawn. His mind retains the patterns which have been stamped on it by the group influences.
    • Page 73 (1928 edition)
  • But when the example of the leader is not at hand and the herd must think for itself, it does so by means of clichés, pat words or images which stand for a whole group of ideas or experiences. Not many years ago, it was only necessary to tag a political candidate with the word interests to stampede millions of people into voting against him, because anything associated with "the interests" seemed necessary corrupt. Recently the word Bolshevik has performed a similar service for persons who wished to frighten the public away from a line of action.
    By playing upon a old cliché, or manipulating a new one, the propagandist can sometimes swing a whole mass group emotions.
    • Page 74
  • It is chiefly the psychologists of the school of Freud who have pointed out that many of man's thoughts and actions are compensatory substitutes for desires which he has been obliged to suppress. A thing may be desired not for its intrinsic worth or usefulness, but because he has unconsciously come to see in it a symbol of something else, the desire for which he is ashamed to admit to himself...This general principle, that men are very largely actuated by motives which they conceal from themselves, is as true of mass as of individual psychology...Human desires are the steam which makes the soial machine work. Only by understanding them can the propagandist control that cast, loose-jointed mechanism which is modern society.
    • Page 75 as quoted in Historical Archaeologies of Capitalism edited by Mark P. Leone, Jocelyn E. Knauf, p.40
  • While, under the handicraft of small-unit system of production was that typical a century ago, demand created the supply, today supply must actively seek to create its corresponding demand. A single factory, potentially capable of supplying a whole continent with its particular product, cannot afford to wait until the public asks for its product; it must maintain constant touch, through advertising and propaganda, with the vast public in order to assure itself the continuous demand which alone will make its costly plant profitable. This entails a vastly more complex system of distribution than formerly.
    • Page 84
  • No serious sociologist any longer believes that the voice of the people expresses any divine or specially wise and lofty idea. The voice of the people expresses the mind of the people, and that mind is made up for it by the group leaders in whom it believes and by those persons who understand the manipulation of public opinion. It is composed of inherited prejudices and symbols and clichés and verbal formulas supplied to them by the leaders.
    • Page 109
  • One reason, perhaps, why the politician today is slow to take up methods which are a commonplace in business life is that he has such ready entry to the media of communication on which his power depends.
    The newspaperman looks to him for news. And by his power of giving or withholding information the politician can often effectively censor political news. But being dependent, every day of the year and for year after year, upon certain politicians for news, the newspaper reporters are obliged to work in harmony with their news sources.
    • Page 120
  • Propaganda is of no use to the politician unless he has something to say which the public, consciously or unconsciously, wants to hear.
    • Page 123

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