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168 pages, Paperback
First published January 1, 1928
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...This work was published in 1928.
Men are rarely aware of the real reasons which motivate their actions. A man may believe that he buys a motor car because, after careful study of the technical features of all makes on the market, he has concluded that this is the best. He is almost certainly fooling himself. He bought it, perhaps, because a friend whose financial acumen he respects bought one last week; or because his neighbors believed he was not able to afford a car of that class; or because its colors are those of his college fraternity...
Business realize that its relationship to the public is not confined to the manufacture and sale of a given product, but includes at the same time the selling of itself and of all those things for which it stands in the public mind...
The public relations counsel should anticipate such trends of public opinion and advise on how to avert them, either by convincing the public that its fears or prejudices are unjustified, or in certain cases by modifying the action of the client to the extent necessary to remove the cause of complaint. In such a case public opinion might be surveyed and the points of irreducible opposition discovered...
Modern business must have its finger continuously on the public pulse. It must understand the changes in the public mind and be prepared to interpret itself fairly and eloquently to changing opinion...
Present-day politics places emphasis on personality. An entire party, a platform, an international policy is sold to the public, or is not sold, on the basis of the intangible element of personality. A charming candidate is the alchemist's secret that can transmute a prosaic platform into the gold of votes.
"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."As modern humans, we like to think our status/dignity derives from the ability to make choices — to find oneself, or shape one's own destiny and identity. But I have to admit: I'm haunted by the view of Nietzsche, who said the "dignity of man" is "slavery hiding from itself."
"Bernays sold Mozart pianos, for example, not just by hyping the pianos. Rather, he sought carefully “to develop public acceptance of the idea of a music room in the home”—selling the pianos indirectly, through various suggestive trends and enterprises that make it de rigeur to have the proper space for a piano.
The music room will be accepted because it has been made the thing. And the man or woman who has a music room, or has arranged a corner of the parlor as a musical corner, will naturally think of buying a piano. It will come to him as his own idea."
"The American motion picture is the greatest unconscious carrier of propaganda in the world today. It is a great distributor for ideas and opinions.
The motion picture can standardize the ideas and habits of a nation. Because pictures are made to meet market demands, they reflect, emphasize and even exaggerate broad popular tendencies, rather than stimulate new ideas and opinions.
The motion picture avails itself only of ideas and facts which are in vogue. As the newspaper seeks to purvey news, it seeks to purvey entertainment."