If you work in marketing, you must have heard of Edward Bernays. The nephew of Sigmund Freud, Bernays is known as the leading figure behind the public relations industry and for the use of “propaganda” for demand generation. Focusing on this work in the 1920s, he used the power of psychoanalysis and symbolism to unlock the desires of the masses.
While the world of marketing and PR has drastically changed from the reality in the 1920s, there are some gems in Bernays’s philosophy that deserve to be revisited. In his 1928 book, Propaganda, Bernays discusses the origins of the public relations profession along with its responsibilities and rights.
This blog post highlights some of the key characteristics of the PR professional, according to Bernays:
The public relations expert may be known as public relations director or counsel. Often he is called secretary or vice-president or director. Sometimes he is known as cabinet officer or commissioner. By whatever title he may be called, his function is well defined and his advice has definite bearing on the conduct of the group or individual with whom he is working.
- “The counsel on public relations must maintain constant vigilance.”
- “The counsel on public relations must be in a position to deal effectively with rumors and suspicions.”
- “He does not accept a client whose interests conflict with those of another client.”
- “He does not accept a client whose case he believes to be hopeless or whose product he believes to be unmarketable.”
- “He should be candid in his dealings.”
- “He functions primarily as an adviser to his client, very much as a lawyer does.”
- “The counsel on public relations is not an advertising man but he advocates advertising where that is indicated.”
- “His first efforts are, naturally, devoted to analyzing his client’s problems. His next effort is to analyze his public.”
- “He is not dissociated from the client in the public’s mind.”
- “His function may include the discovery of new markets, the existence of which had been unsuspected.”
Do you agree or disagree with Bernays’s philosophy on PR? What are some things that you think have drastically changed since the 1920s and some things that have stayed relevant?
This is a blog post by Magdalena Geogreva, an inbound marketing manager at HubSpot, all-in-one marketing software company that helps you get found and convert leads into sales.
DISCLOSURE: SHIFT launched HubSpot back in the day, and still provides occasional counsel to its executives.
Posted on: September 10, 2012 at 12:38 pm By Todd Defren