Edward Bernays – Father of Public Relations
Edward Bernays is by many people regarded as the father of PR. He changed the world of communication between the seller and the buyer. Starting his career during World War I, where he worked on the propaganda of American democracy, Bernays climbed his way up to the top using Sigmund Freud’s theories and adapting other well known psychological theories in practice in order to manipulate the crowd and make people want to consume various products that they did not really need. He was hired by many American corporations, such as General Motors, American Tobacco company, Procter&Gamble and many more.
Advertising was always a part of our society. Selling and advertising are inseparable terms. Since the existence of the most primitive forms of the market, since people started selling, they started advertising. Advertising is shaping people’s taste today and dictating the trends, suggesting the needs. One of the figures responsible for shaping of modern advertising is Edward Bernays, the founder of the public relations industry. By applying his own theories and the theories of his uncle, Sigmund Freud, Bernays managed to change the world of consumerism.
Bernays stated the chief function of PR was “to analyze objectively and realistically the position of its client vis-a-vis public and to advise as to the necessary corrections in its clients attitude towards the public”.
In his book “The Engineering of Consent”, Bernays defined the work of the engineer of consent and organized it in 4 stages:
- Calculation of resources, both human and physical (manpower, money, time). This will allow one to have a clear knowledge about his limitations.
- Knowledge of the subject.
- Determined knowledge of the objectives.
- Research of the public (Individually and as a group).
Bernays’ trust in his uncle ideas led him to a conviction that the masses were a blind force, easy to manipulate. They were driven by the unconsciousness and being unaware of it. People were involuntarily orienting their desires on the crowd. Their desires were being shaped by society and dependent on it. By learning how to manipulate it, you can make masses follow you in whichever direction you choose. Bernays transformed public from active citizens into passive consumers, driven by secret desires that need to be fulfilled through consuming particular products, encouraged by PR and advertising. He took our irrationality and used it against us to sell us things that we did not need.