Image control: Manipulation and public relations

Chapter 3: Growth and consolidation of the public relations industry — Cleaning the corporate image — Corporate mind control — Helping hands

The use of public relations (PR) has become so familiar that we take it as much for granted as the existence of the corporations which employ it. The term ‘public relations’ was invented by Edward Bernays in the early twentieth century. A nephew of Sigmund Freud, he was born in 1891 and came to the US as an immigrant. After working with the US Committee on Public Information (CPI) – ‘the vast American propaganda apparatus mobilized in 1917 to package, advertise and sell the [First World] war as one that would “Make the World Safe for Democracy”’, he came to the aid of the corporations after the war as part of the effort to help ‘shift America from a needs to a desires culture’.

Bernays published Crystallizing Public Opinion in 1923 and Propaganda in 1928. In 1947 he wrote 'The Engineering of Consent', a title which describes in a single phrase what public relations aims to achieve. His early campaigns included the promotion of cigarette smoking among women and softening up public opinion for further US government intervention in Latin America by projecting Guatemala’s struggles against the United Fruit Company in the 1950s as dominated by Communists.

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Hungry Corporations: Chapter 3522.09 KB