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media_propaganda_by_trosiousPropaganda (1928)

Edward Louis Bernays (November 22, 1891 – March 9, 1995) American Marxists’ propaganda master, is considered one of the fathers of the field of public relations along with Ivy Lee. As a member of the Creel Committee, he helped U.S. President Woodrow Wilson propagandize in support of allied war aims during World War I.

balfour_missionHe went on to design PR campaigns for politicians and companies such as General Motors, Procter & Gamble and American Tobacco. Combining the ideas of Gustave Le Bon and Wilfred Trotter on crowd psychology with the psychoanalytical ideas of his uncle, Sigmund Freud, Bernays was one of the first to attempt to manipulate public opinion using the subconscious.

He felt this manipulation was necessary in society, which he regarded as irrational and dangerous as a result of the ‘herd instinct’ that Trotter had described. Adam Curtis‘s award-winning 2002 documentary for the BBC, The Century of the Self, pinpoints Bernays as the originator of modern public relations, and Bernays was named one of the 100 most influential Americans of the 20th century by Life magazine.

Life and Influences

Born 1891 in Vienna to Jewish parents, Bernays was nephew to psychoanalyst pioneer Sigmund Freud. His father was Ely Bernays, brother of Freud’s wife Martha Bernays. His mother was Freud’s sister, Anna. [2] In 1892 his family moved to New York City. In 1912 he graduated from Cornell University with a degree in agriculture, but chose journalism as his first career. He married Doris E. Fleischman in 1922.

crowdcontrolAs well as being influenced by his uncle Sigmund’s ideas of the Unconscious, Bernays applied the ideas of the French writer Gustave LeBon, the originator of Crowd psychology, and of Wilfred Trotter, who promoted similar ideas to the English speaking world in his famous book, Instincts of the Herd in Peace and War. Bernays refers to these two names in his writings. Trotter, who was a head and neck surgeon at University College Hospital, London, read Freud’s works, and it was he who introduced Wilfred Bion, with whom he lived and worked, to Freud’s ideas. When Freud fled Germany for London at the start of World War II, Trotter became his personal physician, and Bion and Ernest Jones became key members of the Freudian Psychoanalysis movement in England, and would go on to develop the field of Group Dynamics, largely associated with the TAVISTOCK Institute where many of Freud’s followers worked. Thus ideas of Group Psychology and Psychoanalysis came together in London around World War II.

Bernays’ public relations efforts helped popularize Freud’s theories in the United States. Through him, Freud’s influence on the fledgling public relations industry was enormous, and that legacy continues today in the most direct familial sense at Freud Communications, a high-powered British PR firm owned by Matthew Freud, Sigmund’s great-grandson. In addition to handling celebrities such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis, Hugh Grant and Pamela Anderson, Freud Communications has worked for companies such as Volvo and Pizza Hut, and also handled the PR for the 1995 launch of Pepsi’s redesigned soda pop cans.[3]

Bernays also pioneered the PR industry’s use of psychology and other social sciences to design its public persuasion campaigns. “If we understand the mechanism and motives of the group mind,” he wrote, “is it not possible to control and regiment the masses according to our will without their knowing about it? The recent practice of propaganda has proved that it is possible, at least up to a certain point and within certain limits.” (Propaganda, 2005 ed., p. 71.) He called this scientific technique of opinion-molding the “engineering of consent.”

In 1913, Bernays started his career as Press Agent, counseling to theaters, concerts and the ballet. In 1917, American President Woodrow Wilson engaged George Creel and realizing one of his ideas, he founded the “Committee on Public Information.” Bernays, Carl Byoir and John Price Jones worked together to influence public opinion towards supporting American participation in World War I.

In 1919, Bernays opened an office as Public Relations Counselor in New York. He held the first Public Relations course at the University of New York in 1923, publishing the first groundbreaking book on public relations entitled Crystallizing Public Opinion that same year.

Bernays Father of SpinThe Third Party Technique

One of Bernays’ favorite techniques for manipulating public opinion was the indirect use of “third party authorities” to plead his clients’ causes. “If you can influence the leaders, either with or without their conscious cooperation, you automatically influence the group which they sway”, he said. In order to promote sales of bacon, for example, he conducted a survey of physicians and reported their recommendation that people eat heavy breakfasts. He sent the results of the survey to 5,000 physicians, along with publicity touting bacon and eggs as a hearty breakfast.

“He helped shape public relations by favoring the use of endorsements from opinion leaders, celebrities, doctors and other “experts” to strengthen the arguments his clients wanted to make. In addition, he favored surveys, releasing the results of experiments and polls to make a better case for his clients’ positions and products,” reported the New York Times.[4]

Bernays also drew upon his uncle Sigmund’s psychoanalytic ideas for the benefit of commerce in order to promote products as diverse as cigarettes, soap and books.

Beyond his contributions to these famous and powerful clients, Bernays revolutionized public relations by combining traditional press agentry with the techniques of psychology and sociology to create what one writer has called “the science of ballyhoo.”

PR industry historian Scott Cutlip describes Bernays as “perhaps public relations’ most fabulous and fascinating individual, a man who was bright, articulate to excess, and most of all, an innovative thinker and philosopher of this vocation that was in its infancy when he opened his office in New York in June 1919.”

Philosophy and public relations

Bernays’ papers, just recently opened, contain a wealth of information on the founding of the field in the twenties. In fact, The Biography of an Idea: Memoirs of Public Relations Counsel Edward L. Bernays (1965) contains one of the very best overviews of the decade. Many of the essays selected for the Coolidge-Consumerism collection from the Bernays Papers were written as early drafts for The Biography of an Idea.

Bernays defined the profession of “counsel on public relations” as a “practicing social scientist” whose “competence is like that of the industrial engineer, the management engineer, or the investment counselor in their respective fields.” To assist clients, PR counselors used “understanding of the behavioral sciences and applying them – sociology, social psychology, anthropology, history, etc.”

Bernays, who pursued his calling in New York City 1919-1963, styled himself a “public relations counsel.” He had very pronounced views on the differences between what he did and what people in advertising did. A pivotal figure in the orchestration of elaborate corporate advertising campaigns and multi-media consumer spectacles, he nevertheless is among those listed in the acknowledgments section of the seminal government social science study Recent Social Trends in the United States (1933).

Ivy Ledbetter LeeOn a par with Bernays as the most sought-after public relations counsel of the decade was Ivy Ledbetter Lee, among whose chief clients were John D. Rockefeller, Sr., Bethlehem Steel, Armour & Company, and the Pennsylvania Railroad. Lee is represented in the Coolidge-Consumerism collection by “Publicity: Some of the Things It Is and Is Not” (1925).

The belief that propaganda and news were legitimate tools of his business, and Bernays’s ability to offer philosophical justifications for these beliefs that ultimately embraced the whole democratic way of life, in Bernays’ mind set his work in public relations apart from what ad men did. The Bernays essays A Public Relations Counsel States His Views (1927) and This Business of Propaganda (1928) show that Bernays regarded advertising men as special pleaders, merely paid to persuade people to accept an idea or commodity. The public relations counsel, on the other hand, he saw as an Emersonian-like creator of events that dramatized new concepts and perceptions, and even influenced the actions of leaders and groups in society.

Bernays’ vision was of a utopian society in which the dangerous libidinal energies that lurked just below the surface of every individual could be harnessed and channeled by a corporate elite for economic benefit. Through the use of mass production, big business could fulfill constant craving of the inherently irrational and desire driven masses, simultaneously securing the niche of a mass production economy (even in peacetime), as well as sating the dangerous animal urges that threatened to tear society apart if left unquelled.

halitosis5In Manipulating Public Opinion (1928), Bernays wrote: “This is an age of mass production. In the mass production of materials a broad technique has been developed and applied to their distribution. In this age, too, there must be a technique for the mass distribution of ideas.” In This Business of Propaganda (1928), he argued that a public relations counsel “must never accept a retainer or assume a position which puts his duty to the groups he represents above his duty to society.” In practice, however, Bernays took on clients such as the tobacco industry whose products he knew were harmful to the public. In later life, he stated publicly that he regretted doing so.

Propaganda

In Propaganda (1928), his most important book, Bernays argued that the scientific manipulation of public opinion was a necessary to overcome chaos and conflict in society:

The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democracy 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, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society. … In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons…who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind.

Public Relations Bernays_c

Tie-In

Bernays had a particular gift for the marketing strategy called the “tie-up” or “tie-in” — in which one venue or opportunity or occasion for promoting a consumer product, for example, radio advertising, is linked to another, say, newspaper advertising, and even, at times, to a third, say a department store exhibition salesroom featuring the item, and possibly even a fourth, such as an important holiday, for example Thrift Week.

Bernays’ brilliance for promotion in this vein emerges clearly when one reads, in the Bernays Typescript on Publicizing the New Dodge Cars, 1927-1928: “Two Sixes”, the story of how he managed to secure newspaper coverage for the radio programs he developed to promote the Dodge Brothers’ new six-cylinder cars. The Bernays Typescript on Publicizing the Fashion Industry, 1925-27: “Hats and Stockings” and the Bernays Typescript on Art in the Fashion Industry, 1923-1927, reveal a similar flair for consumer manipulation in the arena of fashion.

In addition to famous corporate clients, such as the Dodge Brothers, Procter & Gamble, the American Tobacco Company, Cartier Inc., Best Foods, CBS, the United Fruit Company, General Electric, Dodge Motors, the fluoridationists of the Public Health Service, Knox-Gelatin, and innumerable other big names, Bernays also worked on behalf of many non-profit institutions and organizations. These included, to name just a few, the Committee on Publicity Methods in Social Work (1926-1927), the Jewish Mental Health Society (1928), the Book Publishers Research Institute (1930-1931), the New York Infirmary for Women and Children (1933), the Committee for Consumer Legislation (1934), the Friends of Danish Freedom and Democracy (1940), the Citywide Citizens’ Committee on Harlem (1942), and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (1954-1961). For the U.S. Government, he worked for the President’s Emergency Committee on Employment (1930-1932) and President Calvin Coolidge.

In 1950s Bernays helped create India as the Democratic Republic of Southeast Asia by having the People’s Congress of India adapt the Bill of Rights, adding freedom of the press, speech, religion, assembly, and freedom of petition to the country’s constitution.

Breakfast with CoolidgeThe Bernays Typescript on Public Relations Work and Politics, 1924: “Breakfast with Coolidge” shows that President Coolidge too was among his clients. Bernays was hired to improve Coolidge’s image before the 1924 presidential election.

Another selection from his papers, the Typescript on Publicizing the Physical Culture Industry, 1927: “Bernarr Macfadden”, reveals Bernays’ opinion of the leader of the physical culture movement. Yet another client, department store visionary Edward A. Filene, was the subject of the Typescript on a Boston Department Store Magnate. Bernays’ Typescript on the Importance of Samuel Strauss: “1924 – Private Life” shows that the public relations counsel and his wife were fans of consumerism critic Samuel Strauss.

Clients and Campaigns

Bernays’s clients included President Calvin Coolidge, Procter & Gamble, CBS, the American Tobacco Company, General Electric and Dodge Motors.

  • In the 1920s, working for the American Tobacco Company, Bernays sent a group of young models to march in the New York City parade. He then told the press that a group of women’s rights marchers would light “Torches of Freedom.” On his signal, the models lit Lucky Strike cigarettes in front of the eager photographers. The New York Times (1 April 1929) printed a story headlined, “Group of Girls Puff at Cigarettes as a Gesture of ‘Freedom.'” This helped break the taboo against women smoking in public.[5]
  • Bernays handled publicity for the 1920 regional convention of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in Atlanta.[6]
  • Bernays once engineered a “pancake breakfast” with vaudevillians for U.S. President Calvin Coolidge in what is widely considered one of the first overt media acts for a president.
  • Bernays used his uncle Sigmund Freud‘s ideas to help convince the public, among other things, that bacon and eggs was the true all-American breakfast.[7]
  • In October 1929, Bernays was involved in promoting “Light’s Golden Jubilee.” The event, which spanned across several major cities in the U.S., was designed to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Thomas Edison‘s invention of the light-bulb. The publicity elements of the Jubilee – included the special issuance of a U.S. postage stamp and Edison’s “re-creating” the invention of the light bulb for a nationwide radio audience.”
  • Bernays helped the Aluminum Company of America (Alcoa) and other special interest groups to convince the American public that water fluoridation was safe and beneficial to human health. This was achieved by using the American Dental Association in a highly successful media campaign.
  • In the 1930s, his Dixie Cup campaign was designed to convince consumers that only disposable cups were sanitary.

green fashions ball

  • In 1934, Bernays spent $30,000 organizing a “green fashions ball” in the hope that it would stimulate women across the country to color-coordinate with Lucky’s green packaging.[8] Bernays worked for six months to make green the fashion color of the year. In addition to organizing the “Green Ball” with socialites, he worked with manufacturers of accessories, dresses and textiles, and sent 6,500 letters and kits to department stores, fashion editors and interior decorators, telling them of the green “trend.” At his urging, Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue featured green on covers on date of the Green Ball. He also sent press releases with psychologist stories suggesting benefits of the color green, as “color of spring, an emblem of hop, victory (over depression) and plenty.”[9] According to the New York Times, “sales figures” proved that the “campaign was a brilliant success.”[10] However, the campaign failed to impress George Washington Hill, the president of American Tobacco. He fired Bernays, believing that the money spent on the campaign had been wasted.

edward-bernays-pic1Beyond his contributions to these famous and powerful clients, Bernays revolutionized public relations by combining traditional press agentry with the techniques of psychology and sociology to create what one writer has called “The Science of Ballyhoo.”

Used by Fascists

History has shown the flaw in Bernays’s claim that “manipulation of the masses” is natural and necessary in a democratic society. The fascist rise to power in Germany demonstrated that propaganda could be used to subvert democracy as easily as it could be used to “resolve conflict.”

Joseph GoebbelsIn his autobiography, titled Biography of an Idea, Bernays recalls a dinner at his home in 1933 where “Karl von Weigand, foreign correspondent of the Hearst newspapers, an old hand at interpreting Europe and just returned from Germany, was telling us about Goebbels and his propaganda plans to consolidate Nazi power. Goebbels had shown Weigand his propaganda library, the best Weigand had ever seen. Goebbels, said Weigand, was using my book Crystallizing Public Opinion as a basis for his destructive campaign against the Jews of Germany. This shocked me. … Obviously the attack on the Jews of Germany was no emotional outburst of the Nazis, but a deliberate, planned campaign.” Bernays is held in high standards even today, and was even named as one of the 100 most influential Americans of the 20th century.[11]

Edward Bernays1Overthrow of government of Guatemala

On behalf of the United Fruit Company (today’s Chiquita Brands International), Bernays orchestrated political propaganda in concert with the U.S. government to facilitate the overthrow of the democratically elected president of Guatemala, Jacobo Arbenz Guzman. Bernays’ propaganda (documented in the BBC documentary, The Century of the Self), branded Arbenz as communist and was published in major U.S. media. According to a book review by John Stauber and Sheldon Rampton of Larry Tye’s biography, “The Father of Spin: Edward L. Bernays and The Birth of Public Relations“, “the term ‘banana republic‘ actually originated in reference to United Fruit’s domination of corrupt governments in Guatemala and other Central American countries. The company brutally exploited virtual slave labor in order to produce cheap bananas for the lucrative U.S. market.”

Self-promotion

Much of Bernays’s reputation today stems from his persistent public relations campaign to build his own reputation as “America’s No. 1 Publicist.” During his active years, many of his peers in the industry were offended by Bernays’s constant self-promotion. According to Cutlip, “Bernays was a brilliant person who had a spectacular career, but, to use an old-fashioned word, he was a braggart.”

“When a person would first meet Bernays,” Cutlip wrote, “it would not be long until Uncle Sigmund would be brought into the conversation. His relationship with Freud was always in the forefront of his thinking and his counseling.” According to Irwin Ross, another writer, “Bernays liked to think of himself as a kind of psychoanalyst to troubled corporations.” In the early 1920s, Bernays arranged for the US publication of an English-language translation of Freud’s A General Introduction to Psychoanalysis.

FreudIn addition to publicizing Freud’s ideas, Bernays used his association with Freud to establish his own reputation as a thinker and theorist—a reputation that was further enhanced when Bernays authored several landmark books of his own, most notably Crystallizing Public Opinion, Propaganda,(see more below), “The Engineering of Consent” in Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science (March 1947).

Recognition and criticism

Bernays’s celebration of propaganda helped define public relations, but it didn’t win the industry many friends. In a letter to President Franklin Roosevelt, Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter described Bernays and Ivy Lee as “professional poisoners of the public mind, exploiters of foolishness, fanaticism and self-interest.” Articles in the journals of opinion, such as the one by Marlen Pew, Edward L. Bernays Critiqued as “Young Machiavelli of Our Time”, and the debate between Bernays and Everett Dean Martin in Forum, Are We Victims of Propaganda?, depicted Bernays negatively. He and other publicists were often attacked as propagandists and deceptive manipulators, who represented special interests against the public interest and covertly contrived events that secured coverage as news stories, free of charge, for their clients instead of securing attention for them through paid advertisements. A 2002 BBC documentary, The Century of the Self, also describes Bernays as “undemocratic”.

In 2006 a Der Spiegel journalist interviewed the founder of the PR firm Burson-Marsteller, Harold Burson, and asked him about the role of Edward Bernays in shaping the course of modern PR. “Bernays thought that he could control public opinion. His methodology, of course, was fundamental. Most of the things we do today were identified by Bernays 80 years ago. He had brilliant ideas. I met him a few times, but didn’t like him. He was one of the most egocentric people I have ever met,” Burson said.[12]

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Continue on here if you want to read Edward BernaysPropaganda’ (1928):

propaganda-edward-bernays-1928-cover

Propaganda (1928) : Edward Bernays

Organized Chaos

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, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society.
Our invisible governors are, in many cases, unaware of the identity of their fellow members in the inner cabinet.

They govern us by their qualities of natural leadership, their ability to supply needed ideas and by their key position in the social structure. Whatever attitude one chooses to take toward this condition, it remains a fact that in almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons—a trifling fraction of our hundred and twenty million—who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind, who harness old social forces and contrive new ways to bind and guide the world.

contradicting_propagandaIt is not usually realized how necessary these invisible governors are to the orderly functioning of our group life. In theory, every citizen may vote for whom he pleases. Our Constitution does not envisage political parties as part of the mechanism of government, and its framers seem not to have pictured to themselves the existence in our national politics of anything like the modern political machine. But the American voters soon found that without organization and direction their individual votes, cast, perhaps, for dozens or hundreds of candidates, would produce nothing but confusion. Invisible government, in the shape of rudimentary political parties, arose almost overnight. Ever since then we have agreed, for the sake of simplicity and practicality, that party machines should narrow down the field of choice to two candidates, or at most three or four.

advertisingIn theory, every citizen makes up his mind on public questions and matters of private conduct. In practice, if all men had to study for themselves the abstruse economic, political, and ethical data involved in every question, they would find it impossible to come to a conclusion about anything. We have voluntarily agreed to let an invisible government sift the data and high-spot the outstanding issues so that our field of choice shall be narrowed to practical proportions. From our leaders and the media they use to reach the public, we accept the evidence and the demarcation of issues bearing upon public questions; from some ethical teacher, be it a minister, a favorite essayist, or merely prevailing opinion, we accept a standardized code of social conduct to which we conform most of the time.

In theory, everybody buys the best and cheapest commodities offered him on the market. In practice, if every one went around pricing, and chemically testing before purchasing, the dozens of soaps or fabrics or brands of bread which are for sale, economic life would become hopelessly jammed. To avoid such confusion, society consents to have its choice narrowed to ideas and objects brought to its attention through propaganda of all kinds. There is consequently a vast and continuous effort going on to capture our minds in the interest of some policy or commodity or idea.

It might be better to have, instead of propaganda and special pleading, committees of wise men who would choose our rulers, dictate our conduct, private and public, and decide upon the best types of clothes for us to wear and the best kinds of food for us to eat. But we have chosen the opposite method, that of open competition. We must find a way to make free competition function with reasonable smoothness. To achieve this society has consented to permit free competition to be organized by leadership and propaganda.

Some of the phenomena of this process are criticized—the manipulation of news, the inflation of personality, and the general ballyhoo by which politicians and commercial products and social ideas are brought to the consciousness of the masses.

The instruments by which public opinion is organized and focused may be misused. But such organization and focusing are necessary to orderly life.

As civilization has become more complex, and as the need for invisible government has been increasingly demonstrated, the technical means have been invented and developed by which opinion may be regimented.
With the printing press and the newspaper, the railroad, the telephone, telegraph, radio and airplanes, ideas can be spread rapidly and even instantaneously over the whole of America.

h-g-wells-things-to-come-poster-1936H. G. Wells senses the vast potentialities of these inventions when he writes in the New York Times:

“Modern means of communication—the power afforded by print, telephone, wireless and so forth, of rapidly putting through directive strategic or technical conceptions to a great number of cooperating centers, of getting quick replies and effective discussion—have opened up a new world of political processes. Ideas and phrases can now be given an effectiveness greater than the effectiveness of any personality and stronger than any sectional interest. The common design can be documented and sustained against perversion and betrayal. It can be elaborated and developed steadily and widely without personal, local and sectional misunderstanding.”

What Mr. Wells says of political processes is equally true of commercial and social processes and all manifestations of mass activity. The groupings and affiliations of society to-day are no longer subject to “local and sectional” limitations. When the Constitution was adopted, the unit of organization was the village community, which produced the greater part of its own necessary commodities and generated its group ideas and opinions by personal contact and discussion directly among its citizens. But to-day, because ideas can be instantaneously transmitted to any distance and to any number of people, this geographical integration has been supplemented by many other kinds of grouping, so that persons having the same ideas and interests may be associated and regimented for common action even though they live thousands of miles apart.

It is extremely difficult to realize how many and diverse are these cleavages in our society. They may be social, political, economic, racial, religious or ethical, with hundreds of subdivisions of each. In the World Almanac, for example, the following groups are listed under the A’s:

The League to Abolish Capital Punishment; Association to Abolish War; American Institute of Accountants; Actors’ Equity Association; Actuarial Association of America; International Advertising Association; National Aeronautic Association; Albany Institute of History and Art; Amen Corner; American Academy in Rome; American Antiquarian Society; League for American Citizenship; American Federation of Labor; Amorc (Rosicrucian Order); Andiron Club; American-Irish Historical Association; Anti-Cigarette League; Anti-Profanity League; Archeological Association of America; National Archery Association; Arion Singing Society; American Astronomical Association; Ayrshire Breeders’ Association; Aztec Club of 1847. There are many more under the “A” section of this very limited list.

bernayspropagandaThe American Newspaper Annual and Directory for 1928 lists 22,128 periodical publications in America. I have selected at random the N’s published in Chicago. They are:
Narod (Bohemian daily newspaper); Narod-Polski (Polish monthly); N.A.R.D. (pharmaceutical); National Corporation Reporter; National Culinary Progress (for hotel chefs); National Dog Journal; National Drug Clerk; National Engineer; National Grocer; National Hotel Reporter; National Income Tax Magazine; National Jeweler; National Journal of Chiropractic; National Live Stock Producer; National Miller; National Nut News; National Poultry, Butter and Egg Bulletin; National Provisioner (for meat packers); National Real Estate Journal; National Retail Clothier; National Retail Lumber Dealer; National Safety News; National Spiritualist; National Underwriter; The Nation’s Health; Naujienos (Lithuanian daily newspaper); New Comer (Republican weekly for Italians); Daily News;

New World (Catholic weekly); North American Banker; North American Veterinary.
The circulation of some of these publications is astonishing. The National Live Stock Producer has a sworn circulation of 155,978; The National Engineer, of 20,328; The New World, an estimated circulation of 67,000. The greater number of the periodicals listed—chosen at random from among 22,128—have a circulation in excess of 10,000.

The diversity of these publications is evident at a glance. Yet they can only faintly suggest the multitude of cleavages which exist in our society, and along which flow information and opinion carrying authority to the individual groups.

Here are the conventions scheduled for Cleveland, Ohio, recorded in a single recent issue of “World Convention Dates”—a fraction of the 5,500 conventions and rallies scheduled.

The Employing Photo-Engravers’ Association of America; The Outdoor Writers’ Association; the Knights of St. John; the Walther League; The National Knitted Outerwear Association; The Knights of St. Joseph; The Royal Order of Sphinx; The Mortgage Bankers’ Association; The International Association of Public Employment Officials; The Kiwanis Clubs of Ohio; The American Photo-Engravers’ Association; The Cleveland Auto Manufacturers Show; The American Society of Heating and Ventilating Engineers.
Other conventions to be held in 1928 were those of:

The Association of Limb Manufacturers’ Associations; The National Circus Fans’ Association of America; The American Naturopathic Association; The American Trap Shooting Association; The Texas Folklore Association; The Hotel Greeters; The Fox Breeders’ Association; The Insecticide and Disinfectant Association; The National Association of Egg Case and Egg Case Filler Manufacturers; The American Bottlers of Carbonated Beverages; and The National Pickle Packers’ Association, not to mention the Terrapin Derby—most of them with banquets and orations attached.

If all these thousands of formal organizations and institutions could be listed (and no complete list has ever been made), they would still represent but a part of those existing less formally but leading vigorous lives. Ideas are sifted and opinions stereotyped in the neighborhood bridge club. Leaders assert their authority through community drives and amateur theatricals. Thousands of women may unconsciously belong to a sorority which follows the fashions set by a single society leader.

Public Relations“Life” satirically expresses this idea in the reply which it represents an American as giving to the Britisher who praises this country for having no upper and lower classes or castes:
      “Yeah, all we have is the Four Hundred, the White-Collar Men, Bootleggers, Wall Street Barons, Criminals, the D.A.R., the K.K.K., the Colonial Dames, the Masons, Kiwanis and Rotarians, the K. of C, the Elks, the Censors, the Cognoscenti, the Morons, Heroes like Lindy, the W.C.T.U., Politicians, Menckenites, the Booboisie, Immigrants, Broadcasters, and—the Rich and Poor.”

Yet it must be remembered that these thousands of groups interlace. John Jones, besides being a Rotarian, is member of a church, of a fraternal order, of a political party, of a charitable organization, of a professional association, of a local chamber of commerce, of a league for or against prohibition or of a society for or against lowering the tariff, and of a golf club. The opinions which he receives as a Rotarian, he will tend to disseminate in the other groups in which he may have influence.

DemocracyThis invisible, intertwining structure of groupings and associations is the mechanism by which democracy has organized its group mind and simplified its mass thinking.

Emil Ludwig represents Napoleon as “ever on the watch for indications of public opinion; always listening to the voice of the people, a voice which defies calculation. ‘Do you know,’ he said in those days, ‘what amazes me more than all else? The impotence of force to organize anything.'”

It is the purpose of this book to explain the structure of the mechanism which controls the public mind, and to tell how it is manipulated by the special pleader who seeks to create public acceptance for a particular idea or commodity. It will attempt at the same time to find the due place in the modern democratic scheme for this new propaganda and to suggest its gradually evolving code of ethics and practice.

The New Propaganda

In the days when kings were kings, Louis XIV made his modest remark, “L’Etat c’est a moi” (divine right). He was nearly right.

But times have changed. The steam engine, the multiple press, and the public school, that trio of the industrial revolution, have taken the power away from kings and given it to the people. The people actually gained power which the king lost. Economic power tends to draw after it political power; and the history of the industrial revolution shows how that power passed from the king and the aristocracy to the bourgeoisie. Universal suffrage and universal schooling reinforced this tendency, and at last even the bourgeoisie stood in fear of the common people. For the masses promised to become king.

To-day, however, a reaction has set in. The minority has discovered a powerful help in influencing majorities. It has been found possible so to mold the mind of the masses that they will throw their newly gained strength in the desired direction. In the present structure of society, this practice is inevitable. Whatever of social importance is done to-day, whether in politics, finance, manufacture, agriculture, charity, education, or other fields, must be done with the help of propaganda. Propaganda is the executive arm of the invisible government.

segregationUniversal literacy was supposed to educate the common man to control his environment. Once he could read and write he would have a mind fit to rule. So ran the democratic doctrine. But instead of a mind, universal literacy has given him rubber stamps, rubber stamps inked with advertising slogans, with editorials, with published scientific data, with the trivialities of the tabloids and the platitudes of history, but quite innocent of original thought. Each man’s rubber stamps are the duplicates of millions of others, so that when those millions are exposed to the same stimuli, all receive identical imprints. It may seem an exaggeration to say that the American public gets most of its ideas in this wholesale fashion. The mechanism by which ideas are disseminated on a large scale is propaganda, in the broad sense of an organized effort to spread a particular belief or doctrine.

I am aware that the word “propaganda” carries to many minds an unpleasant connotation. Yet whether, in any instance, propaganda is good or bad depends upon the merit of the cause urged, and the correctness of the information published.
In itself, the word “propaganda” has certain technical meanings which, like most things in this world, are “neither good nor bad but custom makes them so. I find the word defined in Funk and Wagnalls’ Dictionary in four ways:

  1. “A society of Sacred Congregation of Propagandacardinals, the overseers of foreign missions; also the College of Propaganda in Rome founded by Pope Urban VIII in 1627 for the education of missionary priests; The Sacred Congregation de Propaganda Fide.
  2. “Hence, any institution or scheme for propagating a doctrine or system.
  3. “Effort directed systematically toward the gaining of public support for an opinion or a course of action.
  4. “The principles advanced by a propaganda.”

An issue of the Scientific American, pleads for the restoration to respectable usage of that “fine old word ‘propaganda.’
“There is no word in the English language,” it says, “whose meaning has been so sadly distorted as the word ‘propaganda.’ The change took place mainly during the late war when the term took on a decidedly sinister complexion.

Sacred Congregation of Propaganda Fide“If you turn to the Standard Dictionary, you will find that the word was applied to a congregation or society of cardinals for the care and oversight of foreign missions which was instituted at Rome in the year 1627. It was applied also to the College of the Propaganda at Rome that was founded by Pope Urban VIII, for the education of the missionary priests. Hence, in later years the word came to be applied to any institution or scheme for propagating a doctrine or system.

“Judged by this definition, we can see that in its true sense propaganda is a perfectly legitimate form of human activity. Any society, whether it be social, religious or political, which is possessed of certain beliefs, and sets out to make them known, either by the spoken or written words, is practicing propaganda.

“Truth is mighty and must prevail, and if any body of men believe that they have discovered a valuable truth, it is not merely their privilege but their duty to disseminate that truth. If they realize, as they quickly must, that this spreading of the truth can be done upon a large scale and effectively only by organized effort, they will make use of the press and the platform as the best means to give it wide circulation. Propaganda becomes vicious and apprehensive only when its authors consciously and deliberately disseminate what they know to be lies, or when they aim at effects which they know to be prejudicial to the common good.

“‘Propaganda’ in its proper meaning is a perfectly wholesome word, of honest parentage, and with an honorable history. The fact that it should to-day be carrying a sinister meaning merely shows how much of the child remains in the average adult. A group of citizens writes and talks in favor of a certain course of action in some debatable question, believing that it is promoting the best interest of the community. Propaganda? Not a bit of it. Just a plain forceful statement of truth. But let another group of citizens express opposing views, and they are promptly labeled with the sinister name of propaganda.'”

“‘What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander,’ says a wise old proverb. Let us make haste to put this fine old word back where it belongs, and restore its dignified significance for the use of our children and our children’s children.”

The extent to which propaganda shapes the progress of affairs about us may surprise even well informed persons. Nevertheless, it is only necessary to look under the surface of the newspaper for a hint as to propaganda’s authority over public opinion. Page one of the New York Times on the day these paragraphs are written contains eight important news stories. Four of them, or one-half, are propaganda. The casual reader accepts them as accounts of spontaneous happenings. But are they? Here are the headlines which announce them: “TWELVE NATIONS WARN CHINA REAL REFORM MUST COME BEFORE THEY GIVE RELIEF,” “PRITCHETT REPORTS ZIONISM WILL FAIL,” “REALTY MEN DEMAND A TRANSIT INQUIRY,” and “OUR LIVING STANDARD HIGHEST IN HISTORY, SAYS HOOVER REPORT.”

Take them in order: the article on China explains the joint report of the Commission on Extraterritoriality in China, presenting an exposition of the Powers’ stand in the Chinese muddle. What it says is less important than what it is. It was “made public by the State Department to-day” with the purpose of presenting to the American public a picture of the State Department’s position. Its source gives it authority, and the American public tends to accept and support the State Department view.

PritchettThe report of Dr. Henry Smith Pritchett, a trustee of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, is an attempt to find the facts about this Jewish colony in the midst of a restless Arab world. When Dr. Pritchett’s survey convinced him that in the long run Zionism would “bring more bitterness and more unhappiness both for the Jew and for the Arab,” this point of view was broadcast with all the authority of the Carnegie Foundation, so that the public would hear and believe. The statement by the president of the Real Estate Board of New York, and Secretary Hoover’s report, are similar attempts to influence the public toward an opinion.

These examples are not given to create the impression that there is anything sinister about propaganda. They are set down rather to illustrate how conscious direction is given to events, and how the men behind these events influence public opinion. As such they are examples of modern propaganda. At this point we may attempt to define propaganda.
Modern propaganda is a consistent, enduring effort to create or shape events to influence the relations of the public to an enterprise, idea or group.

This practice of creating circumstances and of creating pictures in the minds of millions of persons is very common. Virtually no important undertaking is now carried on without it, whether that enterprise be building a cathedral, endowing a university, marketing a moving picture, floating a large bond issue, or electing a president. Sometimes the effect on the public is created by a professional propagandist, sometimes by an amateur deputed for the job. The important thing is that it is universal and continuous; and in its sum total it is regimenting the public mind every bit as much as an army regiments the bodies of its soldiers.

So vast are the numbers of minds which can be regimented, and so tenacious are they when regimented, that a group at times offers an irresistible pressure before which legislators, editors, and teachers are helpless. The group will cling to its stereotype, as Walter Lippmann calls it, making of those supposedly powerful beings, the leaders of public opinion, mere bits of driftwood in the surf. When an Imperial Wizard, sensing what is perhaps hunger for an ideal, offers a picture of a nation all Nordic and nationalistic, the common man of the older American stock, feeling himself elbowed out of his rightful position and prosperity by the newer immigrant stocks, grasps the picture which fits in so neatly with his prejudices, and makes it his own. He buys the sheet and pillow-case costume, and bands with his fellows by the thousand into a huge group powerful enough to swing state elections and to throw a ponderous monkey wrench into a national convention.

In our present social organization approval of the public is essential to any large undertaking. Hence a laudable movement may be lost unless it impresses itself on the public mind. Charity, as well as business, and politics and literature, for that matter, have had to adopt propaganda, for the public must be regimented into giving money just as it must be regimented into tuberculosis prophylaxis. The Near East Relief, the Association for the Improvement of the Condition of the Poor of New York, and all the rest, have to work on public opinion just as though they had tubes of tooth paste to sell. We are proud of our diminishing infant death rate—and that too is the work of propaganda.

Propaganda does exist on all sides of us, and it does change our mental pictures of the world. Even if this be unduly pessimistic—and that remains to be proved—the opinion reflects a tendency that is undoubtedly real. In fact, its use is growing as its efficiency in gaining public support is recognized. This then, evidently indicates the fact that any one with sufficient influence can lead sections of the public at least for a time and for a given purpose. Formerly the rulers were the leaders. They laid out the course of history, by the simple process of doing what they wanted. And if nowadays the successors of the rulers, those whose position or ability gives them power, can no longer do what they want without the approval of the masses, they find in propaganda a tool which is increasingly powerful in gaining that approval. Therefore, propaganda is here to stay.

It was, of course, the astounding success of propaganda during the war that opened the eyes of the intelligent few in all departments of life to the possibilities of regimenting the public mind. The American government and numerous patriotic agencies developed a technique which, to most persons accustomed to bidding for public acceptance, was new. They not only appealed to the individual by means of every approach—visual, graphic, and auditory—to support the national endeavor, but they also secured the cooperation of the key men in every group —persons whose mere word carried authority to hundreds or thousands or hundreds of thousands of followers. They thus automatically gained the support of fraternal, religious, commercial, patriotic, social and local groups whose members took their opinions from their accustomed leaders and spokesmen, or from the periodical publications which they were accustomed to read and believe. At the same time, the manipulators of patriotic opinion made use of the mental cliches and the emotional habits of the public to produce mass reactions against the alleged atrocities, the terror and the tyranny of the enemy. It was only natural, after the war ended, that intelligent persons should ask themselves whether it was not possible to apply a similar technique to the problems of peace.

As a matter of fact, the practice of propaganda since the war has assumed very different forms from those prevalent twenty years ago. This new technique may fairly be called the new propaganda.

It takes account not merely of the individual, nor even of the mass mind alone, but also and especially of the anatomy of society, with its interlocking group formations and loyalties. It sees the individual not only as a cell in the social organism but as a cell organized into the social unit. Touch a nerve at a sensitive spot and you get an automatic response from certain specific members of the organism.

Business offers graphic examples of the effect that may be produced upon the public by interested groups, such as textile manufacturers losing their markets. This problem arose, not long ago, when the velvet manufacturers were facing ruin because their product had long been out of fashion. Analysis showed that it was impossible to revive a velvet fashion within America. Anatomical hunt for the vital spot! Paris! Obviously! But yes and no. Paris is the home of fashion. Lyons is the home of silk. The attack had to be made at the source. It was determined to substitute purpose for chance and to utilize the regular sources for fashion distribution and to influence the public from these sources. A velvet fashion service, openly supported by the manufacturers, was organized. Its first function was to establish contact with the Lyons manufactories and the Paris couturiers to discover what they were doing, to encourage them to act on behalf of velvet, and to help in the proper exploitation of their wares. An intelligent Parisian was enlisted in the work. He visited Lanvin and Worth, Agnes and Patou, and others and induced them to use velvet in their gowns and hats. It was he who arranged for the distinguished Countess This or Duchess That to wear the hat or the gown. And as for the presentation of the idea to the public, the American buyer or the American woman of fashion was simply shown the velvet creations in the atelier of the dressmaker or the milliner. She bought the velvet because she liked it and because it was in fashion.

The editors of the American magazines and fashion reporters of the American newspapers, likewise subjected to the actual (although created) circumstance, reflected it in their news, which, in turn, subjected the buyer and the consumer here to the same influences. The result was that what was at first a trickle of velvet became a flood. A demand was slowly, but deliberately, created in Paris and America. A big department store, aiming to be a style leader, advertised velvet gowns and hats on the authority of the French couturiers, and quoted original cables received from them. The echo of the new style note was heard from hundreds of department stores throughout the country which wanted to be style leaders too. Bulletins followed despatches. The mail followed the cables. And the American woman traveler appeared before the ship news photographers in velvet gown and hat.

The created circumstances had their effect. “Fickle fashion has veered to velvet,” was one newspaper comment. And the industry in the United States again kept thousands busy.
The new propaganda, having regard to the constitution of society as a whole, not infrequently serves to focus and realize the desires of the masses. A desire for a specific reform, however widespread, cannot be translated into action until it is made articulate, and until it has exerted sufficient pressure upon the proper law-making bodies. Millions of housewives may feel that manufactured foods deleterious to health should be prohibited. But there is little chance that their individual desires will be translated into effective legal form unless their halfexpressed demand can be organized, made vocal, and concentrated upon the state legislature or upon the Federal Congress in some mode which will produce the results they desire. Whether they realize it or not, they call upon propaganda to organize and effectuate their demand.

But clearly it is the intelligent minorities which need to make use of propaganda continuously and systematically. In the active proselytizing minorities in whom selfish interests and public interests coincide lie the progress and development of America. Only through the active energy of the intelligent few can the public at large become aware of and act upon new ideas.

Small groups of persons can, and do, make the rest of us think what they please about a given subject. But there are usually proponents and opponents of every propaganda, both of whom are equally eager to convince the majority.

The New Propagandists

WHO are the men who, without our realizing it, give us our ideas, tell us whom to admire and whom to despise, what to believe about the ownership of public utilities, about the tariff, about the price of rubber, about the Dawes Plan, about immigration; who tell us how our houses should be designed, what furniture we should put into them, what menus we should serve on our table, what kind of shirts we must wear, what sports we should indulge in, what plays we should see, what charities we should support, what pictures we should admire, what slang we should affect, what jokes we should laugh at?

If we set out to make a list of the men and women who, because of their position in public life, might fairly be called the molders of public opinion, we could quickly arrive at an extended list of persons mentioned in “Who’s Who.” It would obviously include, the President of the United States and the members of his Cabinet; the Senators and Representatives in Congress; the Governors of our forty-eight states; the presidents of the chambers of commerce in our hundred largest cities, the chairmen of the boards of directors of our hundred or more largest industrial corporations, the president of many of the labor unions affiliated in the American Federation of Labor, the national president of each of the national professional and fraternal organizations, the president of each of the racial or language societies in the country, the hundred leading newspaper and magazine editors, the fifty most popular authors, the presidents of the fifty leading charitable organizations, the twenty leading theatrical or cinema producers, the hundred recognized leaders of fashion, the most popular and influential clergymen in the hundred leading cities, the presidents of our colleges and universities and the foremost members of their faculties, the most powerful financiers in Wall Street, the most noted amateurs of sport, and so on. Such a list would comprise several thousand persons. But it is well known that many of these leaders are themselves led, sometimes by persons whose names are known to few. Many a congressman, in framing his platform, follows the suggestions of a district boss whom few persons outside the political machine have ever heard of. Eloquent divines may have great influence in their communities, but often take their doctrines from a higher ecclesiastical authority.

The presidents of chambers of commerce mold the thought of local business men concerning public issues, but the opinions which they promulgate are usually derived from some national authority. A presidential candidate may be “drafted” in response to “overwhelming popular demand,” but it is well known that his name may be decided upon by half a dozen men sitting around a table in a hotel room.
In some instances the power of invisible wirepullers is flagrant. The power of the invisible cabinet which deliberated at the poker table in a certain little green house in Washington has become a national legend. There was a period in which the major policies of the national government were dictated by a single man, Mark Hanna. A Simmons may, for a few years, succeed in marshaling millions of men on a platform of intolerance and violence.
Such persons typify in the public mind the type of ruler associated with the phrase invisible government. But we do not often stop to think that there are dictators in other fields whose influence is just as decisive as that of the politicians I have mentioned. An Irene Castle can establish the fashion of short hair which dominates nine-tenths of the women who make any pretense to being fashionable. Paris fashion leaders set the mode of the short skirt, for wearing which, twenty years ago, any woman would simply have been arrested and thrown into jail by the New York police, and the entire women’s clothing industry, capitalized at hundreds of millions of dollars, must be reorganized to conform to their dictum.

There are invisible rulers who control the destinies of millions. It is not generally realized to what extent the words and actions of our most influential public men are dictated by shrewd persons operating behind the scenes.
Nor, what is still more important, the extent to which our thoughts and habits are modified by authorities.

In some departments of our daily life, in which we imagine ourselves free agents, we are ruled by dictators exercising great power. A man buying a suit of clothes imagines that he is choosing, according to his taste and his personality, the kind of garment which he prefers. In reality, he may be obeying the orders of an anonymous gentleman tailor in London. This personage is the silent partner in a modest tailoring establishment, which is patronized by gentlemen of fashion and princes of the blood. He suggests to British noblemen and others a blue cloth instead of gray, two buttons instead of three, or sleeves a quarter of an inch narrower than last season. The distinguished customer approves of the idea.

But how does this fact affect John Smith of Topeka?
The gentleman tailor is under contract with a certain large American firm, which manufactures men’s suits, to send them instantly the designs of the suits chosen by the leaders of London fashion. Upon receiving the designs, with specifications as to color, weight and texture, the firm immediately places an order with the cloth makers for several hundred thousand dollars’ worth of cloth. The suits made up according to the specifications are then advertised as the latest fashion. The fashionable men in New York, Chicago, Boston and Philadelphia wear them. And the Topeka man, recognizing this leadership, does the same.

Women are just as subject to the commands of invisible government as are men. A silk manufacturer, seeking a new market for its product, suggested to a large manufacturer of shoes that women’s shoes should be covered with silk to match their dresses. The idea was adopted and systematically propagandized. A popular actress was persuaded to wear the shoes. The fashion spread. The shoe firm was ready with the supply to meet the created demand. And the silk company was ready with the silk for more shoes.
The man who injected this idea into the shoe industry was ruling women in one department of their social lives. Different men rule us in the various departments of our lives. There may be one power behind the throne in politics, another in the manipulation of the Federal discount rate, and still another in the dictation of next season’s dances. If there were a national invisible cabinet ruling our destinies (a thing which is not impossible to conceive of) it would work through certain group leaders on Tuesday for one purpose, and through an entirely different set on Wednesday for another. The idea of invisible government is relative. There may be a handful of men who control the educational methods of the great majority of our schools. Yet from another standpoint, every parent is a group leader with authority over his or her children.

The invisible government tends to be concentrated in the hands of the few because of the expense of manipulating the social machinery which controls the opinions and habits of the masses. To advertise on a scale which will reach fifty million persons is expensive. To reach and persuade the group leaders who dictate the public’s thoughts and actions is likewise expensive.

For this reason there is an increasing tendency to concentrate the functions of propaganda in the hands of the propaganda specialist. This specialist is more and more assuming a distinct place and function in our national life.

New activities call for new nomenclature. The propagandist who specializes in interpreting enterprises and ideas to the public, and in interpreting the public to promulgators of new enterprises and ideas, has come to be known by the name of “public relations counsel.”
The new profession of public relations has grown up because of the increasing complexity of modern life and the consequent necessity for making the actions of one part of the public understandable to other sectors of the public. It is due, too, to the increasing dependence of organized power of all sorts upon public opinion. Governments, whether they are monarchical, constitutional, democratic or communist, depend upon acquiescent public opinion for the success of their efforts and, in fact, government is only government by virtue of public acquiescence. Industries, public utilities, educational movements, indeed all groups representing any concept or product, whether they are majority or minority ideas, succeed only because of approving public opinion. Public opinion is the unacknowledged partner in all broad efforts.

The public relations counsel, then, is the agent who, working with modern media of communication and the group formations of society, brings an idea to the consciousness of the public. But he is a great deal more than that. He is concerned with courses of action, doctrines, systems and opinions, and the securing of public support for them. He is also concerned with tangible things such as manufactured and raw products. He is concerned with public utilities, with large trade groups and associations representing entire industries.

He functions primarily as an adviser to his client, very much as a lawyer does. A lawyer concentrates on the legal aspects of his client’s business. A counsel on public relations concentrates on the public contacts of his client’s business. Every phase of his client’s ideas, products or activities which may affect the public or in which the public may have an interest is part of his function.

For instance, in the specific problems of the manufacturer he examines the product, the markets, the way in which the public reacts to the product, the attitude of the employees to the public and towards the product, and the cooperation of the distribution agencies.
The counsel on public relations, after he has examined all these and other factors, endeavors to shape the actions of his client so that they will gain the interest, the approval and the acceptance of the public.

The means by which the public is apprised of the actions of his client are as varied as the demand. And the silk company was ready with the silk for more shoes.

The man who injected this idea into the shoe industry was ruling women in one department of their social lives. Different men rule us in the various departments of our lives. There may be one power behind the throne in politics, another in the manipulation of the Federal discount rate, and still another in the dictation of next season’s dances. If there were a national invisible cabinet ruling our destinies (a thing which is not impossible to conceive of) it would work through certain group leaders on Tuesday for one purpose, and through an entirely different set on Wednesday for another. The idea of invisible government is relative. There may be a handful of men who control the educational methods of the great majority of our schools. Yet from another standpoint, every parent is a group leader with authority over his or her children.

The invisible government tends to be concentrated in the hands of the few because of the expense of manipulating the social machinery which controls the opinions and habits of the masses. To advertise on a scale which will reach fifty million persons is expensive. To reach and persuade the group leaders who dictate the public’s thoughts and actions is likewise expensive.

For this reason there is an increasing tendency to concentrate the functions of propaganda in the hands of the propaganda specialist. This specialist is more and more assuming a distinct place and function in our national life.

 

New activities call for new nomenclature. The propagandist who specializes in interpreting enterprises and ideas to the public, and in interpreting the public to promulgators of new enterprises and ideas, has come to be known by the name of “public relations counsel.”
The new profession of public relations has grown up because of the increasing complexity of modern life and the consequent necessity for making the actions of one part of the public understandable to other sectors of the public. It is due, too, to the increasing dependence of organized power of all sorts upon public opinion. Governments, whether they are monarchical, constitutional, democratic or communist, depend upon acquiescent public opinion for the success of their efforts and, in fact, government is only government by virtue of public acquiescence. Industries, public utilities, educational movements, indeed all groups representing any concept or product, whether they are majority or minority ideas, succeed only because of approving public opinion. Public opinion is the unacknowledged partner in all broad efforts.

The public relations counsel, then, is the agent who, working with modern media of communication and the group formations of society, brings an idea to the consciousness of the public. But he is a great deal more than that. He is concerned with courses of action, doctrines, systems and opinions, and the securing of public support for them. He is also concerned with tangible things such as manufactured and raw products. He is concerned with public utilities, with large trade groups and associations representing entire industries.

He functions primarily as an adviser to his client, very much as a lawyer does. A lawyer concentrates on the legal aspects of his client’s business. A counsel on public relations concentrates on the public contacts of his client’s business. Every phase of his client’s ideas, products or activities which may affect the public or in which the public may have an interest is part of his function.

For instance, in the specific problems of the manufacturer he examines the product, the markets, the way in which the public reacts to the product, the attitude of the employees to the public and towards the product, and the cooperation of the distribution agencies.
The counsel on public relations, after he has examined all these and other factors, endeavors to shape the actions of his client so that they will gain the interest, the approval and the acceptance of the public.

The means by which the public is apprised of the actions of his client are as varied as the married women, and others.
To propagandize these principles, the National League of Women Voters has published all types of literature, such as bulletins, calendars, election information, has held a correspondence course on government and conducted demonstration classes and citizenship schools.

Possibly the effectiveness of women’s organizations in American politics to-day is due to two things: first, the training of a professional class of executive secretaries or legislative secretaries during the suffrage campaigns, where every device known to the propagandist had to be used to regiment a recalcitrant majority; secondly, the routing over into peacetime activities of the many prominent women who were in the suffrage campaigns and who also devoted themselves to the important drives and mass influence movements during the war. Such women as Mrs. Frank Vanderlip, Alice Ames Winter, Mrs. Henry Moskowitz, Mrs. Florence Kelley, Mrs. John Blair, Mrs. O. H. P. Belmont, Doris Stevens, Alice Paul come to mind.

If I have seemed to concentrate on the accomplishments of women in politics, it is because they afford a particularly striking example of intelligent use of the new propaganda to secure attention and acceptance of minority ideas. It is perhaps curiously appropriate that the latest recruits to the political arena should recognize and make use of the newest weapons of persuasion to offset any lack of experience with what is somewhat euphemistically termed practical politics. As an example of this new technique:

Some years ago, the Consumers’ Committee of Women, fighting the “American valuation” tariff, rented an empty store on Fifty-seventh Street in New York and set up an exhibit of merchandise tagging each item with the current price and the price it would cost if the tariff went through. Hundreds of visitors to this shop rallied to the cause of the committee.
But there are also non-political fields in which women can make and have made their influence felt for social ends, and in which they have utilized the principle of group leadership in attaining the desired objectives.

General Federation of Women's ClubsIn the General Federation of Women’s Clubs, there are 13,000 clubs. Broadly classified, they include civic and city clubs, mothers’ and homemakers’ clubs, cultural clubs devoted to art, music or literature, business and professional women’s clubs, and general women’s clubs, which may embrace either civic or community phases, or combine some of the other activities listed.

The woman’s club is generally effective on behalf of health education; in furthering appreciation of the fine arts; in sponsoring legislation that affects the welfare of women and children; in playground development and park improvement; in raising standards of social or political morality; in homemaking. and home economics, education and the like. In these fields, the woman’s club concerns itself with efforts that are not ordinarily covered by existing agencies, and often both initiates and helps to further movements for the good of the community.

A club interested principally in homemaking and the practical arts can sponsor a cooking school for young brides and others. An example of the keen interest of women in this field of education is the cooking school recently conducted by the New York Herald Tribune, which held its classes in Carnegie Hall, seating almost 3,000 persons. For the several days of the cooking school, the hall was filled to capacity, rivaling the drawing power of a McCormack or a Paderewski, and refuting most dramatically the idea that women in large cities are not interested in housewifery.

A movement for the serving of milk in public schools, or the establishment of a baby health station at the department of health will be an effort close to the heart of a club devoted to the interest of mothers and child welfare.

A music club can broaden its sphere and be of service to the community by cooperating with the local radio station in arranging better musical programs. Fighting bad music can be as militant a campaign and marshal as varied resources as any political battle.
An art club can be active in securing loan exhibitions for its city. It can also arrange travelling exhibits of the art work of its members or show the art work of schools or universities.

A literary club may step out of its charmed circle of lectures and literary lions and take a definite part in the educational life of the community. It can sponsor, for instance, a competition in the public schools for the best essay on the history of the city, or on the life of its most famous son.

Over and above the particular object for which the woman’s club may have been constituted, it commonly stands ready to initiate or help any movement which has for its object a distinct public good in the community. More important, it constitutes an organized channel through which women can make themselves felt as a definite part of public opinion.
Just as women supplement men in private life, so they will supplement men in public life by concentrating their organized efforts on those objects which men are likely to ignore. There is a tremendous field for women as active protagonists of new ideas and new methods of political and social housekeeping. When organized and conscious of their power to influence their surroundings, women can use their newly acquired freedom in a great many ways to mold the world into a better place to live in.

Propaganda For EducationPropaganda For Education

EDUCATION is not securing its proper share of public interest. The public school system, materially and financially, is being adequately supported. There is marked eagerness for a college education, and a vague aspiration for culture, expressed in innumerable courses and lectures. The public is not cognizant of the real value of education, and does not realize that education as a social force is not receiving the kind of attention it has the right to expect in a democracy.

It is felt, for example, that education is entitled to more space in the newspapers; that well informed discussion of education hardly exists; that unless such an issue as the Gary School system is created, or outside of an occasional discussion, such as that aroused over Harvard’s decision to establish a school of business, education does not attract the active interest of the public.

There are a number of reasons for this condition. First of all, there is the fact that the educator has been trained to stimulate to thought the individual students in his classroom, but has not been trained as an educator at large of the public.

In a democracy an educator should, in addition to his academic duties, bear a definite and wholesome relation to the general public. This public does not come within the immediate scope of his academic duties. But in a sense he depends upon it for his living, for the moral support, and the general cultural tone upon which his work must be based. In the field of education, we find what we have found in politics and other fields—that the evolution of the practitioner of the profession has not kept pace with the social evolution around him, and is out of gear with the instruments for the dissemination of ideas which modern society has developed. If this be true, then the training of the educators in this respect should begin in the normal schools, with the addition to their curricula of whatever is necessary to broaden their viewpoint. The public cannot understand unless the teacher understands the relationship between the general public and the academic idea.

The normal school should provide for the training of the educator to make him realize that his is a twofold job: education as a teacher and education as a propagandist.

A second reason for the present remoteness of education from the thoughts and interests of the public is to be found in the mental attitude of the pedagogue —whether primary school teacher or college professor—toward the world outside the school. This is a difficult psychological problem. The teacher finds himself in a world in which the emphasis is put on those objective goals and those objective attainments which are prized by our American society. He himself is but moderately or poorly paid. Judging himself by the standards in common acceptance, he cannot but feel a sense of inferiority because he finds himself continually being compared, in the minds of his own pupils, with the successful business man and the successful leader in the outside world. Thus the educator becomes repressed and suppressed in our civilization. As things stand, this condition cannot be changed from the outside unless the general public alters its standards of achievement, which it is not likely to do soon.
Yet it can be changed by the teaching profession itself, if it becomes conscious not only of its individualistic relation to the pupil, but also of its social relation to the general public. The teaching profession, as such, has the right to carry on a very definite propaganda with a view to enlightening the public and asserting its intimate relation to the society which it serves. In addition to conducting a propaganda on behalf of its individual members, education must also raise the general appreciation of the teaching profession. Unless the profession can raise itself by its own bootstraps, it will fast lose the power of recruiting outstanding talent for itself.

Propaganda cannot change all that is at present unsatisfactory in the educational situation. There are factors, such as low pay and the lack of adequate provision for superannuated teachers, which definitely affect the status of the profession. It is possible, by means of an intelligent appeal predicated upon the actual present composition of the public mind, to modify the general attitude toward the teaching profession. Such a changed attitude will begin by expressing itself in an insistence on the idea of more adequate salaries for the profession.

There are various ways in which academic organizations in America handle their financial problems. One type of college or university depends, for its monetary support, upon grants from the state legislatures. Another depends upon private endowment. There are other types of educational institutions, such as the sectarian, but the two chief types include by far the greater number of our institutions of higher learning.

The state university is supported by grants from the people of the state, voted by the state legislature. In theory, the degree of support which the university receives is dependent upon the degree of acceptance accorded it by the voters. The state university prospers according to the extent to which it can sell itself to the people of the state.
The state university is therefore in an unfortunate position unless its president happens to be a man of outstanding merit as a propagandist and a dramatizer of educational issues. Yet if this is the case—if the university shapes its whole policy toward gaining the support of the state legislature—its educational function may suffer. It may be tempted to base its whole appeal to the public on its public service, real or supposed, and permit the education of its individual students to take care of itself. It may attempt to educate the people of the state at the expense of its own pupils. This may generate a number of evils, to the extent of making the university a political instrument, a mere tool of the political group in power. If the president dominates both the public and the professional politician, this may lead to a situation in which the personality of the president outweighs the true function of the institution.

The endowed college or university has a problem quite as perplexing. The endowed college is dependent upon the support, usually, of key men in industry whose social and economic objectives are concrete and limited, and therefore often at variance with the pursuit of abstract knowledge. The successful business man criticizes the great universities for being too academic, but seldom for being too practical. One might imagine that the key men who support our universities would like them to specialize in schools of applied science, of practical salesmanship or of industrial efficiency. And it may well be, in many instances, that the demands which the potential endowers of our universities make upon these institutions are flatly in contradiction to the interests of scholarship and general culture.

We have, therefore, the anomalous situation of the college seeking to carry on a propaganda in favor of scholarship among people who are quite out of sympathy with the aims to which they are asked to subscribe their money. Men who, by the commonly accepted standards, are failures or very moderate successes in our American world (the pedagogues) seek to convince the outstanding successes (the business men) that they should give their money to ideals which they do not pursue. Men who, through a sense of inferiority, despise money, seek to win the good will of men who love money.
It seems possible that the future status of the endowed college will depend upon a balancing of these forces, both the academic and the endowed elements obtaining in effect due consideration.

The college must win public support. If the potential donor is apathetic, enthusiastic public approval must be obtained to convince him. If he seeks unduly to influence the educational policy of the institution, public opinion must support the college in the continuance of its proper functions. If either factor dominates unduly, we are likely to find a demagoguery or a snobbishness aiming to please one group or the other.

There is still another potential solution of the problem. It is possible that through an educational propaganda aiming to develop greater social consciousness on the part of the people of the country, there may be awakened in the minds of men of affairs, as a class, social consciousness which will produce more minds of the type of Julius Rosenwald, V. Everitt Macy, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., the late Willard Straight.

Many colleges have already developed intelligent propaganda in order to bring them into active and continuous relation with the general public. A definite technique has been developed in their relation to the community in the form of college news bureaus. These bureaus have formed an intercollegiate association whose members meet once a year to discuss their problems. These problems include the education of the alumnus and his effect upon the general public and upon specific groups, the education of the future student to the choice of the particular college, the maintenance of an esprit de corps so that the athletic prowess of the college will not be placed first, the development of some familiarity with the research work done in the college in order to attract the attention of those who may be able to lend aid, the development of an understanding of the aims and the work of the institution in order to attract special endowments for specified purposes.
Some seventy-five of these bureaus are now affiliated with the American Association of College News Bureaus, including those of Yale, Wellesley, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Western Reserve, Tufts and California. A bi-monthly news letter is published, bringing to members the news of their profession. The Association endeavors to uphold the ethical standards of the profession and aims to work in harmony with the press.

The National Education Association and other societies are carrying on a definite propaganda to promote the larger purposes of educational endeavor. One of the aims of such propaganda is of course improvement in the prestige and material position of the teachers themselves. An occasional McAndrew case calls the attention of the public to the fact that in some schools the teacher is far from enjoying full academic freedom, while in certain communities the choice of teachers is based upon political or sectarian considerations rather than upon real ability. If such issues were made, by means of propaganda, to become a matter of public concern on a truly national scale, there would doubtless be a general tendency to improvement.

The concrete problems of colleges are more varied and puzzling than one might suppose. The pharmaceutical college of a university is concerned because the drug store is no longer merely a drug store, but primarily a soda fountain, a lunch counter, a bookshop, a retailer of all sorts of general merchandise from society stationery to spare radio parts. The college realizes the economic utility of the lunch counter feature to the practicing druggist, yet it feels that the ancient and honorable art of compounding specifics is being degraded.

 

Cornell University discovers that endowments are rare. Why? Because the people think that the University is a state institution and therefore publicly supported. Many of our leading universities rightly feel that the results of their scholarly researches should not only be presented to libraries and learned publications, but should also, where practicable and useful, be given to the public in the dramatic form which the public can understand. Harvard is but one example.

“Not long ago,” says Charles A. Merrill in Personality, “a certain Harvard professor vaulted into the newspaper headlines. There were several days when one could hardly pick up a paper in any of the larger cities without finding his name bracketed with his achievement.

“The professor, who was back from a trip to Yucatan in the interests of science, had solved the mystery of the Venus calendar of the ancient Mayas. He had discovered the key to the puzzle of how the Mayas kept tab on the flight of time. Checking the Mayan record of celestial events against the known astronomical facts, he had found a perfect correlation between the time count of these Central American Indians and the true positions of the planet Venus in the sixth century B.C. A civilization which flour 129 Propaganda ished in the Western Hemisphere twenty-five centuries ago was demonstrated to have attained heights hitherto unappreciated by the modern world.

“How the professor’s discovery happened to be chronicled in the popular press is, also, in retrospect, a matter of interest. … If left to his own devices, he might never have appeared in print, except perhaps in some technical publication, and his remarks there would have been no more intelligible to the average man or woman than if they had been inscribed in Mayan hieroglyphics.

“Popularization of this message from antiquity was due to the initiative of a young man named James W. D. Seymour. . . .
“It may surprise and shock some people,” Mr. Merrill adds, “to be told that the oldest and most dignified seats of learning in America now hire press agents, just as railroad companies, fraternal organizations, moving picture producers and political parties retain them. It is nevertheless a fact. . . .

“. . . there is hardly a college or university in the country which does not, with the approval of the governing body and the faculty, maintain a publicity office, with a director and a staff of assistants, for the purpose of establishing friendly relations with the newspapers, and through the newspapers, with the public. . . .

“This enterprise breaks sharply with tradition. In the older seats of learning it is a recent innovation. It violates the fundamental article in the creed of the old academic societies. Cloistered seclusion used to be considered the first essential of scholarship. The college was anxious to preserve its aloofness from the world. …

“The colleges used to resent outside interest in their affairs. They might, somewhat reluctantly and contemptuously, admit reporters to their Commencement Day exercises, but no further would they go. . . .

“To-day, if a newspaper reporter wants to interview a Harvard professor, he has merely to telephone the Secretary for Information to the University. Officially, Harvard still shies away from the title ‘Director of Publicity.’ Informally, however, the secretary with the long title is the publicity man. He is an important official to-day at Harvard.”

Project GutenbergIt may be a new idea that the president of a university will concern himself with the kind of mental picture his institution produces on the public mind. Yet it is part of the president’s work to see that his university takes its proper place in the community and therefore also in the community mind, and produces the results desired, both in a cultural and in a financial sense.

If his institution does not produce the mental picture which it should, one of two things may be wrong: Either the media of communication with the public may be wrong or unbalanced; or his institution may be at fault. The public is getting an oblique impression of the university, in which case the impression should be modified; or it may be that the public is getting a correct impression, in which case, very possibly, the work of the university itself should be modified. For both possibilities lie within the province of the public relations counsel.

Columbia University recently instituted a Casa Italiana, which was solemnly inaugurated in the presence of representatives of the Italian government, to emphasize its high standing in Latin studies and the Romance languages. Years ago Harvard founded the Germanic Museum, which was ceremoniously opened by Prince Henry of Prussia.

Many colleges maintain extension courses which bring their work to the knowledge of a broad public. It is of course proper that such courses should be made known to the general public. But, to take another example, if they have been badly planned, from the point of view of public relations, if they are unduly scholastic and detached, their effect may be the opposite of favorable. In such a case, it is not the work of the public relations counsel to urge that the courses be made better known, but to urge that they first be modified to conform to the impression which the college wishes to create, where that is compatible with the university’s scholastic ideals.

Again, it may be the general opinion that the work of a certain institution is 80 per cent postgraduate research, an opinion which may tend to alienate public interest. This opinion may be true or it may be false. If it is false, it should be corrected by high-spotting undergraduate activities.

If, on the other hand, it is true that 80 per cent of the work is postgraduate research, the most should be made of that fact. It should be the concern of the president to make known the discoveries which are of possible public interest. A university expedition into Biblical lands may be uninteresting as a purely scholastic undertaking, but if it contributes light on some Biblical assertion it will immediately arouse the interest of large masses of the population. The zoological department may be hunting for some strange bacillus which has no known relation to any human disease, but the fact that it is chasing bacilli is in itself capable of dramatic presentation to the public.

Many universities now gladly lend members of their faculties to assist in investigations of public interest. Thus Cornell lent Professor Wilcox to aid the government in the preparation of the national census. Professor Irving Fisher of Yale has been called in to advise on currency matters.
In the ethical sense, propaganda bears the same relation to education as to business or politics. It may be abused. It may be used to overadvertise an institution and to create in the public mind artificial values. There can be no absolute guarantee against its misuse.

Propaganda In Social ServicePropaganda In Social Service

THE public relations counsel is necessary to social work. And since social service, by its very nature, can continue only by means of the voluntary support of the wealthy, it is obliged to use propaganda continually. The leaders in social service were among the first consciously to utilize propaganda in its modern sense.
The great enemy of any attempt to change men’s habits is inertia. Civilization is limited by inertia.

Our attitude toward social relations, toward economics, toward national and international politics, continues past attitudes and strengthens them under the force of tradition. Comstock drops his mantle of proselytizing morality on the willing shoulders of a Sumner; Penrose drops his mantle on Butler; Carnegie his on Schwab, and so ad infinitum. Opposing this traditional acceptance of existing ideas is an active public opinion that has been directed consciously into movements against inertia. Public opinion was made or changed formerly by tribal chiefs, by kings, by religious leaders. To-day the privilege of attempting to sway public opinion is every one’s. It is one of the manifestations of democracy that any one may try to convince others and to assume leadership on behalf of his own thesis.

New ideas, new precedents, are continually striving for a place in the scheme of things.
The social settlement, the organized campaigns against tuberculosis and cancer, the various research activities aiming directly at the elimination of social diseases and maladjustments—a multitude of altruistic activities which could be catalogued only in a book of many pages—have need of knowledge of the public mind and mass psychology if they are to achieve their aims. The literature on social service publicity is so extensive, and the underlying principles so fundamental, that only one example is necessary here to illustrate the technique of social service propaganda.

A social service organization undertook to fight lynching, Jim Crowism and the civil discrimination’s against the Negro below the Mason and Dixon line.
The National Association for the Advancement of the Colored People had the fight in hand. As a matter of technique they decided to dramatize the year’s campaign in an annual convention which would concentrate attention on the problem.

Jim CrowShould it be held in the North, South, West or East? Since the purpose was to affect the entire country, the association was advised to hold it in the South. For, said the propagandist, a point of view on a southern question, emanating from a southern center, would have greater authority than the same point of view issuing from any other locality, particularly when that point of view was at odds with the traditional southern point of view. Atlanta was chosen.

The third step was to surround the conference with people who were stereotypes for ideas that carried weight all over the country. The support of leaders of diversified groups was sought. Telegrams and letters were dispatched to leaders of religious, political, social and educational groups, asking for their point of view on the purpose of the conference. But in addition to these group leaders of national standing it was particularly important from the technical standpoint to secure the opinions of group leaders of the South, even from Atlanta itself, to emphasize the purposes of the conference to the entire public. There was one group in Atlanta which could be approached. A group of ministers had been bold enough to come out for a greater interracial amity. This group was approached and agreed to cooperate in the conference.

The event ran off as scheduled. The program itself followed the general scheme. Negroes and white men from the South, on the same platform, expressed the same point of view.

A dramatic element was spot-lighted here and there. A national leader from Massachusetts agreed in principle and in practice with a Baptist preacher from the South.

If the radio had been in effect, the whole country might have heard and been moved by the speeches and the principles expressed. But the public read the words and the ideas in the press of the country. For the event had been created of such important component parts as to awaken interest throughout the country and to gain support for its ideas even in the South.

The editorials in the southern press, reflecting the public opinion of their communities, showed that the subject had become one of interest to the editors because of the participation by southern leaders.

The event naturally gave the Association itself substantial weapons with which to appeal to an increasingly wider circle. Further publicity was attained by mailing reports, letters, and other propaganda to selected groups of the public.

As for the practical results, the immediate one was a change in the minds of many southern editors who realized that the question at issue was not only an emotional one, but also a discussable one; and this point of view was immediately reflected to their readers. Further results are hard to measure with a slide-rule. The conference had its definite effect in building up the racial consciousness and solidarity of the Negroes. The decline in lynching is very probably a result of this and other efforts of the Association.

Many churches have made paid advertising and organized propaganda part of their regular activities. They have developed church advertising committees, which make use of the newspaper and the billboard, as well as of the pamphlet. Many denominations maintain their own periodicals. The Methodist Board of Publication and Information systematically gives announcements and releases to the press and the magazines. But in a broader sense the very activities of social service are propaganda activities. A campaign for the preservation of the teeth seeks to alter people’s habits in the direction of more frequent brushing of teeth. A campaign for better parks seeks to alter people’s opinion in regard to the desirability of taxing themselves for the purchase of park facilities.

A campaign against tuberculosis is an attempt to convince everybody that tuberculosis can be cured, that persons with certain symptoms should immediately go to the doctor, and the like. A campaign to lower the infant mortality rate is an effort to alter the habits of mothers in regard to feeding, bathing and caring for their babies. Social service, in fact, is identical with propaganda in many cases.

confinement-300x250_0Even those aspects of social service which are governmental and administrative, rather than charitable and spontaneous, depend on wise propaganda for their effectiveness. Professor Harry Elmer Barnes, in his book, “The evolution of penology in Pennsylvania,” states that improvements in penological administration in that state are hampered by political influences. The legislature must be persuaded to permit the utilization of the best methods of scientific penology, and for this there is necessary the development of an enlightened public opinion. “Until such a situation has been brought about,” Mr. Barnes states, “progress in penology is doomed to be sporadic, local, and generally ineffective. The solution of prison problems, then, seems to be fundamentally a problem of conscientious and scientific publicity.”

Social progress is simply the progressive education and enlightenment of the public mind in regard to its immediate and distant social problems.

Art And Science

IN the education of the American public toward greater art appreciation, propaganda plays an important part. When art galleries seek to launch the canvases of an artist they should create public acceptance for his works. To increase public appreciation a deliberate propagandizing effort must be made.

In art as in politics the minority rules, but it can rule only by going out to meet the public on its own ground, by understanding the anatomy of public opinion and utilizing it.

In applied and commercial art, propaganda makes greater opportunities for the artist than ever before. This arises from the fact that mass production reaches an impasse when it competes on a price basis only. It must, therefore, in a large number of fields create a field of competition based on esthetic values. Business of many types capitalizes the esthetic sense to increase markets and profits. Which is only another way of saying that the artist has the opportunity of collaborating with industry in such a way as to improve the public taste, injecting beautiful instead of ugly motifs into the articles of common use, and, furthermore, securing recognition and money for himself.

Propaganda can play a part in pointing out what is and what is not beautiful, and business can definitely help in this way to raise the level of American culture. In this process propaganda will naturally make use of the authority of group leaders whose taste and opinion are recognized.

The public must be interested by means of associational values and dramatic incidents. New inspiration, which to the artist may be a very technical and abstract kind of beauty, must be made vital to the public by association with values which it recognizes and responds to.

silkFor instance, in the manufacture of American silk, markets are developed by going to Paris for inspiration. Paris can give American silk a stamp of authority which will aid it to achieve definite position in the United States.
The following clipping from the New York Times of February 16, 1925, tells the story from an actual incident of this sort:

“Copyright, 1925, by THE NEW YORK TIMES COMPANY—Special Cable to THE NEW YORK TIMES.
“PARIS, Feb. 15.—For the first time in history, American art materials are to be exhibited in the Decorative Arts Section of the Louvre Museum.
“The exposition opening on May 26th with the Minister of Fine Arts, Paul Leon, acting as patron, will include silks from Cheney Brothers, South Manchester and New York, the designs of which were based on the inspiration of Edgar Brandt, famous French iron worker, the modern Bellini, who makes wonderful art works from iron.
“M. Brandt designed and made the monumental iron doors of the Verdun war memorial. He has been asked to assist and participate in this exposition, which will show France the accomplishments of American industrial art.
“Thirty designs inspired by Edgar Brandt’s work are embodied in 2,500 yards of printed silks, tinsels and cut velvets in a hundred colors. . . .
“These ‘prints ferronnieres’ are the first textiles to show the influence of the modern master, M. Brandt. The silken fabrics possess a striking composition, showing characteristic Brandt motifs which were embodied in the tracery of large designs by the Cheney artists who succeeded in translating the iron into silk, a task which might appear almost impossible. The strength and brilliancy of the original design is enhanced by the beauty and warmth of color.”

The result of this ceremony was that prominent department stores in New York, Chicago and other cities asked to have this exhibition. They tried to mold the public taste in conformity with the idea which had the approval of Paris. The silks of Cheney Brothers—a commercial product produced in quantity—gained a place in public esteem by being associated with the work of a recognized artist and with a great art museum.
The same can be said of almost any commercial product susceptible of beautiful design. There are few products in daily use, whether furniture, clothes, lamps, posters, commercial labels, book jackets, pocketbooks or bathtubs which are not subject to the laws of good taste.

In America, whole departments of production are being changed through propaganda to fill an economic as well as an esthetic need. Manufacture is being modified to conform to the economic need to satisfy the public demand for more beauty. A piano manufacturer recently engaged artists to design modernist pianos. This was not done because there existed a widespread demand for modernist pianos. Indeed, the manufacturer probably expected to sell few. But in order to draw attention to pianos one must have something more than a piano. People at tea parties will not talk about pianos; but they may talk about the new modernist piano.

When Secretary Hoover, three years ago, was asked to appoint a commission to the Paris Exposition of Decorative Arts, he did so. As Associate Commissioner I assisted in the organizing of the group of important business leaders in the industrial art field who went to Paris as delegates to visit and report on the Exposition. The propaganda carried on for the aims and purposes of the Commission undoubtedly had a widespread effect on the attitude of Americans towards art in industry; it was only a few years later that the modern art movement penetrated all fields of industry.

Department stores took it up. R. H. Macy & Company held an Art-in-Trades Exposition, in which the Metropolitan Museum of Art collaborated as adviser. Lord & Taylor sponsored a Modern Arts Exposition, with foreign exhibitors. These stores, coming closely in touch with the life of the people, performed a propagandizing function in bringing to the people the best in art as it related to these industries. The Museum at the same time was alive to the importance of making contact with the public mind, by utilizing the department store to increase art appreciation.

Of all art institutions the museum suffers most from the lack of effective propaganda. Most present-day museums have the reputation of being morgues or sanctuaries, whereas they should be leaders and teachers in the esthetic life of the community. They have little vital relation to life.

The treasures of beauty in a museum need to be interpreted to the public, and this requires a propagandist. The housewife in a Bronx apartment doubtless feels little interest in an ancient Greek vase in the Metropolitan Museum. Yet an artist working with a pottery firm may adapt the design of this vase to a set of china and this china, priced low through quantity production, may find its way to that Bronx apartment, developing unconsciously, through its fine line and color, an appreciation of beauty.

Intelligent Design1Some American museums feel this responsibility. The Metropolitan Museum of Art of New York rightly prides itself on its million and a quarter of visitors in the year 1926; on its efforts to dramatize and make visual the civilizations which its various departments reveal; on its special lectures, its story hours, its loan collections of prints and photographs and lantern slides, its facilities offered to commercial firms in the field of applied art, on the outside lecturers who are invited to lecture in its auditorium and on the lectures given by its staff to outside organizations} and on the free chamber concerts given in the museum under the direction of David Mannes, which tend to dramatize the museum as a home of beauty. Yet that is not the whole of the problem.

It is not merely a question of making people come to the museum. It is also a question of making the museum, and the beauty which it houses, go to the people.
The museum’s accomplishments should not be evaluated merely in terms of the number of visitors. Its function is not merely to receive visitors, but to project itself and what it stands for in the community which it serves.

The museum can stand in its community for a definite esthetic standard which can, by the help of intelligent propaganda, permeate the daily lives of all its neighbors. Why should not a museum establish a museum council of art, to establish standards in home decoration, in architecture, and in commercial production? or a research board for applied arts? Why should not the museum, instead of merely preserving the art treasures which it possesses, quicken their meaning in terms which the general public understands?
A recent annual report of an art museum in one of the large cities of the United States, says:

“An underlying characteristic of an Art Museum like ours must be its attitude of conservatism, for after all its first duty is to treasure the great achievements of men in the arts and sciences.”

Is that true? Is not another important duty to interpret the models of beauty which it possesses?

If the duty of the museum is to be active it must study how best to make its message intelligible to the community which it serves. It must boldly assume esthetic leadership.

As in art, so in science, both pure and applied. Pure science was once guarded and fostered by learned societies and scientific associations. Now pure science finds support and encouragement also in industry. Many of the laboratories in which abstract research is being pursued are now connected with some large corporation, which is quite willing to devote hundreds of thousands of dollars to scientific study, for the sake of one golden invention or discovery which may emerge from it.

Big business of course gains heavily when the invention emerges. But at that very moment it assumes the responsibility of placing the new invention at the service of the public. It assumes also the responsibility of interpreting its meaning to the public.

The industrial interests can furnish to the schools, the colleges and the postgraduate university courses the exact truth concerning the scientific progress of our age. They not only can do so; they are under obligation to do so. Propaganda as an instrument of commercial competition has opened opportunities to the inventor and given great stimulus to the research scientist. In the last five or ten years, the successes of some of the larger corporations have been so outstanding that the whole field of science has received a tremendous impetus. The American Telephone and Telegraph Company, the Western

Electric Company, the General Electric Company, the Westinghouse Electric Company and others have realized the importance of scientific research. They have also understood that their ideas must be made intelligible to the public to be fully successful. Television, broadcasting, loud speakers are utilized as propaganda aids.
Propaganda assists in marketing new inventions. Propaganda, by repeatedly interpreting new scientific ideas and inventions to the public, has made the public more receptive. Propaganda is accustoming the public to change and progress.

ConsumerismThe Mechanics Of Propaganda

The media by which special pleaders transmit their messages to the public through propaganda include all the means by which people to-day transmit their ideas to one another. There is no means of human communication which may not also be a means of deliberate propaganda, because propaganda is simply the establishing of reciprocal understanding between an individual and a group.

The important point to the propagandist is that the relative value of the various instruments of propaganda, and their relation to the masses, are constantly changing. If he is to get full reach for his message he must take advantage of these shifts of value the instant they occur. Fifty years ago, the public meeting was a propaganda instrument par excellence. To-day it is difficult to get more than a handful of people to attend a public meeting unless extraordinary attractions are part of the program. The automobile takes them away from home, the radio keeps them in the home, the successive daily editions of the newspaper bring information to them in office or subway, and also they are sick of the ballyhoo of the rally.

Instead there are numerous other media of communication, some new, others old but so transformed that they have become virtually new. The newspaper, of course, remains always a primary medium for the transmission of opinions and ideas—in other words, for propaganda.

edward-bernaysIt was not many years ago that newspaper editors resented what they called the use of the news columns for propaganda purposes.”

Some editors would even kill a good story if they imagined its publication might benefit any one. This point of view is now largely abandoned. To-day the leading editorial offices take the view that the real criterion governing the publication or non-publication of matter which comes to the desk is its news value. The newspaper cannot assume, nor is it its function to assume, the responsibility of guaranteeing that what it publishes will not work out to somebody’s interest. There is hardly a single item in any daily paper, the publication of which does not, or might not, profit or injure somebody. That is the nature of news. What the newspaper does strive for is that the news which it publishes shall be accurate, and (since it must select from the mass of news material available) that it shall be of interest and importance to large groups of its readers.

In its editorial columns the newspaper is a personality, commenting upon things and events from its individual point of view. But in its news columns the typical modern American newspaper attempts to reproduce, with due regard to news interest, the outstanding events and opinions of the day.

It does not ask whether a given item is propaganda or not. What is important is that it be news. And in the selection of news the editor is usually entirely independent. In the New York Times—to take an outstanding example—news is printed because of its news value and for no other reason. The Times editors determine with complete independence what is and what is not news. They brook no censorship. They are not influenced by any external pressure nor swayed by any values of expediency or opportunism. The conscientious editor on every newspaper realizes that his obligation to the public is news. The fact of its accomplishment makes it news.

Pin Up GirlsIf the public relations counsel can breathe the breath of life into an idea and make it take its place among other ideas and events, it will receive the public attention it merits. There can be no question of his “contaminating news at its source.” He creates some of the day’s events, which must compete in the editorial office with other events. Often the events which he creates may be specially acceptable to a newspaper’s public and he may create them with that public in mind.

If important things of life to-day consist of transatlantic radiophone talks arranged by commercial telephone companies; if they consist of inventions that will be commercially advantageous to the men who market them; if they consist of Henry Fords with epoch-making cars—then all this is news. The so-called flow of propaganda into the newspaper offices of the country may, simply at the editor’s discretion, find its way to the waste basket.

The source of the news offered to the editor should always be clearly stated and the facts accurately presented.

fordThe situation of the magazines at the present moment, from the propagandist’s point of view, is different from that of the daily newspapers. The average magazine assumes no obligation, as the newspaper does, to reflect the current news. It selects its material deliberately, in accordance with a continuous policy. It is not, like the newspaper, an organ of public opinion, but tends rather to become a propagandist organ, propagandizing for a particular idea, whether it be good housekeeping, or smart apparel, or beauty in home decoration, or debunking public opinion, or general enlightenment or liberalism or amusement. One magazine may aim to sell health; another, English gardens; another, fashionable men’s wear; another, Nietzsche  Philosophy.

In all departments in which the various magazines specialize, the public relations counsel may play an important part. For he may, because of his client’s interest, assist them to create the events which further their propaganda. A bank, in order to emphasize the importance of its women’s department, may arrange to supply a leading women’s magazine with a series of articles and advice on investments written by the woman expert in charge of this department. The women’s magazine in turn will utilize this new feature as a means of building additional prestige and circulation.

The lecture, once a powerful means of influencing public opinion, has changed its value. The lecture itself may be only a symbol, a ceremony; its importance, for propaganda purposes, lies in the fact that it was delivered. Professor So-and-So, expounding an epoch-making invention, may speak to five hundred persons, or only fifty. His lecture, if it is important, will be broadcast; reports of it will appear in the newspapers; discussion will be stimulated. The real value of the lecture, from the propaganda point of view, is in its repercussion to the general public.

propaganda1The radio is at present one of the most important tools of the propagandist. Its future development is uncertain.

It may compete with the newspaper as an advertising medium. Its ability to reach millions of persons simultaneously naturally appeals to the advertiser. And since the average advertiser has a limited appropriation for advertising, money spent on the radio will tend to be withdrawn from the newspaper.

To what extent is the publisher alive to this new phenomenon? It is bound to come close to American journalism and publishing. Newspapers have recognized the advertising potentialities of the companies that manufacture radio apparatus, and of radio stores, large and small; and newspapers have accorded to the radio in their news and feature columns an importance relative to the increasing attention given by the public to radio. At the same time, certain newspapers have bought radio stations and linked them up with their news and entertainment distribution facilities, supplying these two features over the air to the public.

It is possible that newspaper chains will sell schedules of advertising space on the air and on paper. Newspaper chains will possibly contract with advertisers for circulation on paper and over the air. There are, at present, publishers who sell space in the air and in their columns, but they regard the two as separate ventures.

Large groups, political, racial, sectarian, economic or professional, are tending to control stations to propagandize their points of view. Or is it conceivable that America may adopt the English licensing system under which the listener, instead of the advertiser, pays?
Whether the present system is changed, the advertiser—and propagandist—must necessarily adapt himself to it. Whether, in the future, air space will be sold openly as such, or whether the message will reach the public in the form of straight entertainment and news, or as special programs for particular groups, the propagandist must be prepared to meet the conditions and utilize them.

The American motion picture is the greatest unconscious carrier of propaganda in the world to-day. 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.

BernaysAnother instrument of propaganda is the personality. Has the device of the exploited personality been pushed too far? President Coolidge photographed on his vacation in full Indian regalia in company with full-blooded chiefs, was the climax of a greatly over-reported vacation. Obviously a public personality can be made absurd by misuse of the very mechanism which helped create it.
Yet the vivid dramatization of personality will always remain one of the functions of the public relations counsel. The public instinctively demands a personality to typify a conspicuous corporation or enterprise.
There is a story that a great financier discharged a partner because he had divorced his wife.

“But what,” asked the partner, “have my private affairs to do with the banking business?”
“If you are not capable of managing your own wife,” was the reply, “the people will certainly believe that you are not capable of managing their money.”

The propagandist must treat personality as he would treat any other objective fact within his province.

Cuba knockingA personality may create circumstances, as Lindbergh created good will between the United States and Mexico. Events may create a personality, as the Cuban War created the political figure of Roosevelt. It is often difficult to say which creates the other. Once a public figure has decided what ends he wishes to achieve, he must regard himself objectively and present an outward picture of himself which is consistent with his real character and his aims.

There are a multitude of other avenues of approach to the public mind, some old, some new. No attempt will be made to discuss each one separately. The school may disseminate information concerning scientific facts. The fact that a commercial concern may eventually profit from a widespread understanding of its activities because of this does not condemn the dissemination of such information, provided that the subject merits study on the part of the students. If a baking corporation contributes pictures and charts to a school, to show how bread is made, these propaganda activities, if they are accurate and candid, are in no way reprehensible, provided the school authorities accept or reject such offers carefully on their educational merits.

It may be that a new product will be announced to the public by means of a motion picture of a parade taking place a thousand miles away. Or the manufacturer of a new jitney airplane may personally appear and speak in a million homes through radio and television. The man who would most effectively transmit his message to the public must be alert to make use of all the means of propaganda.

Boston Bombing PsyopUndoubtedly the public is becoming aware of the methods which are being used to mold its opinions and habits. If the public is better informed about the processes of its own life, it will be so much the more receptive to reasonable appeals to its own interests. No matter how sophisticated, how cynical the public may become about publicity methods, it must respond to the basic appeals, because it will always need food, crave amusement, long for beauty, respond to leadership.

If the public becomes more intelligent in its commercial demands, commercial firms will meet the new standards. If it becomes weary of the old methods used to persuade it to accept a given idea or commodity, its leaders will present their appeals more intelligently.

Propaganda will never die out. Intelligent men must realize that propaganda is the modern instrument by which they can fight for productive ends and help to bring order out of chaos.

‘Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.’

—Frederick Douglass

 

 

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