Section 304, Jiun- Yi Tsai
October 21, 2013
Edward Bernays’ link to being Sigmund Freud’s nephew is unnecessary. This eye-catching claim does not need to be used to sell Bernays to the reader. Bernays identified that public opinion was formed from a select few individuals of the total population and introduced the term as public relations. He realized that this power is necessary in a democratic society because we must limit the number of opinions and options that individuals have to a practical number so that we can live as a cohesive unit. This statement appears to stand true in regards to American government today, where we are mainly represented by three major political parties: republicans, democrats and independents. Edward Bernays’ views on the influences of public relations are a reliable source based on his many successes in public relations throughout his lifetime.
Edward Bernays was born in Vienna in 1891 and later moved to the United States, where he attended Cornell University. After he worked on American government World War I propaganda, he realized that his efforts could be used in a different manner.
Bernays sold bacon and eggs to the American public as the ideal breakfast. He succeeded in increasing bacon sales by selling bacon with the support of medical professionals claiming that a “hearty breakfast” was a better way to start your day than a light breakfast (Spiegel), essentially changing the way that Americans ate breakfast. Another example of Bernays’ success in public relations was his work with Ivory soap. He reinvented the appeal of soap to children by holding soap-carving competitions. Furthermore, Bernays worked with acclaimed companies including General Electric Company, General Motors Corporation, and CBS. Bernays’ influential work continues to be seen today.
Bernays’ book, Propaganda, was first published in 1928, stating that government and corporations control the public, still stands to be true today, only now it is not so hidden to society. Initially, Bernays efforts were educationally driven, where he was developing this idea and revealing to the public the truth about how we think and act. The efforts that the book takes on today reflect the same motives. Propaganda’s publisher, Ig Publishing is known for printing progressive and cultural nonfiction, which fits this topic well, as it is a progressive idea for one to blatantly state that this Democratic society is governed by a select few. The new introduction, was written by Mark Crispin Miller, a New York University professor with special interests in modern propaganda, claims this book to be an “essential read for all who wish to understand how power is used by the ruling elite.” However, some critics believe the book is not relevant today because Bernays’ claims are all common sense (Veritas). His ideas are very prevalent to today’s society with the major influence of mass media on society. Individuals must recognize the affect that the ruling power has on their knowledge to better understand the society they are living in. Edward Bernays insights are legitimate, which leads to confidence in his work by the public.
Bernays, E. (2004). Propaganda. Brooklyn, NY: Ig Publishing.
(March 10, 1995). “Edward Bernays, 'Father of Public Relations' And Leader in Opinion Making, Dies at 103.” The New York Times. Retrieved from
Miller, M. (2004). Introduction. In Edward Bernays, Propaganda. Ig Publishing.
Spiegel, A. (April 22, 2005). "Freud's Nephew and the Origins of Public Relations." NPR. Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4612464
Veritas. (June 1, 2013). Pretty Basic. [Review of the book Propaganda by E. Bernays]. Amazon, http://www.amazon.com/Propaganda-Edward-Bernays/product-reviews/0970312598/ref=cm_cr_pr_hist_3?ie=UTF8&filterBy=addThreeStar&showViewpoints=0&sortBy=bySubmissionDateDescending