- File Size: 1543 KB
- Print Length: 106 pages
- Publisher: Open Road Media (April 7, 2015)
- Publication Date: April 7, 2015
- Sold by: Amazon.com Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00TQEM16C
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #228,051 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Crystallizing Public Opinion Kindle Edition
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About the Author
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Ed Bernays is possibly the most influential person of the 20th Century, but hardly anyone has ever heard of him. He was the genius who invented most of the techniques used in public relations, marketing, and political campaigns, and his impacts -- through the use of those techniques -- have been incalculable in sociology, in politics, in economics, you name it. There is no area of modern human existence that has not been shaped--or distorted--by spin.
In 1933 a journalist named Karl vonWiegand interviewed Dr. Goebbels, Hitler's infamous propaganda minister. Goebbels told vonWiegand how important this book, "Crystallizing Public Opinion," had been in shaping his, Goebbels', career. VonWiegand told Bernays, who was Jewish, about this. He was not surprised. His attitude was that--just as in science--once techniques that work are out there in public view, there is no way to control who will use them and to what ends.
If you want to understand how you and everyone else is manipulated by almost everybody with a PR budget, read this book (and try to ignore all the typos).
When you say you really like something--from deodorant to a political candidate--do you really, or have you just been led there by skilled manipulators of public opinion?
Mr. Bernays touches upon public opinion in association with the newspaper industry of 1923; the radio was still relatively new at this point in time and he touches upon the PRC and the medium that has yet to have been tapped into for this consumer need. Unlike the websites that profess he assisted the acceptability of women smoking in the late 1920’s; he actually had women doing this during suffrage marches in the late second decade of the 20th century – most seem to report this point as an occurrence 10 years after the fact. Effectively Mr. Bernays breaks down the PRC need by societal needs. He reflects historically and accurately at how during the time of the American Revolution pamphlets were all that was needed to express an opinion locally – but matters change with the influx of immigration from all corners of Europe during the late 1800’s. Mr. Bernays spends a great deal of effort in reinforcing the fact that the press has an ethical obligation and so too the persons later to become PRC professionals. Today of course the PRC is simply known as “PR”. After reading this educational book on the matter it is apparent to the times that both the newspapers and PR types have left a lot of ethical decisions behind – that point too could be argued by some in that the evolution of PR and newspapers to radio to television to computer to cell phone apps has simply placed the news at the need of the PR and vice versa – after all it is society as a whole that has also forced this matter of “news feeds” and “public opinion” to be told (at least in part) what they want to hear.
One must be willing however to take a deeper dive as well. One person’s “advertisement” is another person’s “propaganda”. Mr. Bernays stated “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, and our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of…. It is they who pull the wires that control the public mind.” The question I am left with is whether there is a moral compass here – the goal seems to be making money and nothing more; regardless of whether the item is “good” or “bad”. In the late 1920’s as he was continuing the smoking acceptability for women he forced his own wife to quit smoking – this before 1930. In this manner observation can lend credence to the point that “money” was the goal. Maybe I am off base but this is what it “feels like” to me. Making things “necessary” for public consumption by mere association. Ivory Soap sculpting became popular by this point in time as well in order to get children to bathe regularly. But Public Relations Counsel or Public Relations never became an institution to which persons had to become certified as say a Doctor, Lawyer, or Police Officer for that matter. Hence, any person could and still can become a PR Person with no credentials other than the ability to show they helped someone or some other company “make money”.
Early on the evolution of this process became a part of the political machine. The political machines of many countries and leaders – the unfortunate thing is the link between Nazism and Bernays’ processes – Bernays would write in the 1960’s how disgusted he became as a result of discovering this point later. Either way there are two sides to this coin of “public opinion”. Increasingly I for one am sick of public opinion polls – in one sense they are necessary to gain a “gauge” on the issues and products of the day – on the other hand it feels as though these processes by many who are merely talking heads, beat the public opinion polls to death and many more are unable to “explain” what they mean. This is where in “my opinion” important to me only that PR people and “public opinion polls” are irrelevant. The “herd” however seems to follow the person in front of them, taking one step in front of the other – the true counter culture today are independent thinkers and doers in “my opinion”.
This book is an important read for every independent thinker; it is good to consider how the masses are swayed; this book is as relevant today as it was in 1923 – the evolution of technology may have changed but the basic mechanisms remain. This is why I give this book 5 stars.
The book: Worth the price of admission simply for explaining why all the self-proclaimed "free-thinkers" in this world think alike.
Also worth it for pointing out most people think their opinions are fact. Hilarious. An offensive and dangerous book for people with many and strong opinions.
However, if you still think the public has an opinion, this book will reveal what it really is and how it is shaped by propaganda.
Top international reviews
... all said and done, Bernays, Chomsky [his work on media] and Baurdillard are worth your time. And yes, I would even recommend this book in spite of its sloppiness.
Bernays thinking has two pillars. First, he recognizes that "the public, ...due to the spread of literacy and democratic forms of government (feels) that it is entitled to its voice in the conduct of these large aggregations, political, capitalist, or labor, or whatever they may be" (p.66). Therefore, any organization in society, no matter if it is a political entity, a company or a non-profit organization is looked at as some sort of public service. To succeed they will have to recognize this demand and communicate, accordingly.
Second, Bernays regards the "average citizen (as) the world's most efficient censor. His own mind is the greatest barrier between him and the facts. His own 'logical proof compartments', his own absolutism are the obstacles which prevent him from seeing in terms of experience and thought rather than in terms of group reaction" (p. 133).
This leads him to conclude that PR is of no use unless it has something to say which the public, consciously or unconsciously, expects to hear. PR is thus not primarily about authenticity or believability, as many current observers put it, PR is merely a communications effort which functions as a catalyst of change if it resonates with the public. As such PR may bring order to what is otherwise be conceived as chaos.
Bernays sorts through and distills the pertinent literature of his age. Amongst them Instincts of the Herd in Peace and War: By W. Trotter, Walter Lippmann's Public Opinion and the unmentioned Gustave Le Bon's The Crowd, especially, are as compelling today as they were to Edward Bernays in 1923.
This book is a key to PR, specifically, and, generally, the role of communications in modern society. As public opinion explodes in the age of the internet and currently causes change in the real world such as in Northern Africa and the Middle East, Bernays' book helps us to understand what is happening. Read it as an introduction or read it as a reference to everything you know about PR, either way it will be time well spent.