28 Nov 2010
Get it at Amazon
The 1928 book Propaganda was recommended by No Agenda Producer Jamie during NA 254. Dvorak commented that author, Edward Bernays, is considered the father of modern public relations.
Chilling is the opening statement of the book:
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.”
—Edward Bernays, Propaganda
Edward Bernays was an articulate, straightforward man who introduced public relations into universities and this book is as straightforward and clear as was he. A mentor to young university students who would visit him in Boston from all over the country and the drive down from Canada, he lived to be 103 having been a founder modern day public relations. What Christopher Wren is to architecture, this double nephew of Sigmund Freud is to the practice of public relations. From the war time Creel Committee to Lucky Strike for freedom to the psy-ops to overthrow the democratically elected government of Guatemala for The United Fruit Company, this man had walked the path of PR. And from that path came a very clear talking point: PUBLIC RELATIONS MUST BECOME A LICENSED PROFESSION TO ENSHRINE ITS ETHICAL PRACTICE.
A great shame some within the industry hold a negative view of him rather than learn from his examples, which he would freely tell to anyone who would listen. Licensing would have helped Ivy Lee, an honest man caught within a very bad situation, and prevented some of the most eggregious lies ever perpetrated by “professionals” upon an unsuspecting public.
PR is a tool we are all familiar with in one way or another. As a tool, it may be used for the common good or for the insidiuously evil depending on the heart of the craftsman. It is intended to saturate our lives by the very skilled. Words like propaganda (ecclesiastical jargon for propagating the faith) and manipulation have become tainted in the hands of the very people who shy away from such descriptions of their work but who do that work invisibly regardless.
The phrasing in this book is antiquated, but the stories within describing the practice are as fresh today as tomorrow’s news. Do not expect alot of fluff. This is the way they used to make textbooks: straight and to the point. For those who did not have the pleasure to meet this man, this is a very good representative of his voice and clarion call.
Thanks for the articulate and informative comment Richard! I can’t wait to get a copy of the book.