By Edward Bernays


Ig Publishing, New York




by Mark Crispin Miller



9 – The word ‘propaganda’ was coined in 1622 by Pope Gregory XV, when he started the Office for the Propagation of Faith.  Congregatio de propaganda fide’. 


10 – It could have a pejorative taint, but did not necessarily have one.


11 – “It was not until 1915 that governments first systematically deployed the entire range of modern media to rouse their populations to fanatical assent.”


12 – This was in the demonization of the ‘Hun’ for ‘civilization’ in WW I.


And from the Versaille Treaty to the 1929 crash, there was born the peacetime field of propaganda; used by big business.


13 – Throughout the 1920s those who peddled it thought it a fantastic new progressive force capable of enlightening every home.


We could ‘manufacture consent’ in Lippmann’s famous phrase.


14 – Creel did not use the word ‘propaganda’ as the Germans had besmirched it.  Creel said, “Our effort was educational and informative thoughtout.”


15 – Thus, via German propaganda, did the demonic implications of the word harden through the 1920s, despite efforts to redeem it.


Bernay’s ‘propaganda’ was the biggest effort to redeem the word. Bernays was a propagandist for propaganda.


16 – The vision of us being guided by benign propagandists was derived from Walter Lippmann’s classic Public Opinion of 1922.  Lipmann thought ‘Democracy’ not great – we needed clarity of vision.

17 – Lippmann demonstrates why we have trouble thinking straight.  Bernays just assumes it.   And, he assumes that he is an exemplary guide, above the fray.


This book is edifying for its own propaganda techniques. All is detached and scientific.


18 - He was big in PR and this book is aimed at clients.


Mystifyingly in Chapter 1 he promotes propaganda as sort of populist.


19 – All of the award winning propaganda cited in the book is Bernay’s own work.  And, yet he slips into the passive voice: work ‘was done’ or has been ‘proven’ or ‘shown.’ 


His main deal is to not urge demand, but to change the buyer’s world.  The music room in the home.


20 – And, throughout Bernays sells himself as a prime manipulator. 


21 – The female crowd was common place from the 20s on.  And, the male propagandist was dispassionate.


Hitler liked to think of himself as a detached observer of his own podium frenzies.  Cold as the audience frenzied. 


22 – The audience cannot see the coldness of the agitator.


On the team of propagandists are admakers, researchers, creative directors, copywriters, art directors, photographers and more.


23 – But these folks can lose touch because their world is ultimately what the client wants it to be true.  That is truth.  Bernays invented the ‘sponsoring committee’ to give authority to propaganda.


25 – But, Bernays quit working for tobacco once it was shown unhealthy.  He had a code of ethics as a p.r. man.


26 – Investigative journalism is the p.r. man’s enemy. 


27 – The 1929 jubilee celebrating Edison’s invention of the lightbulb was sponsored by the National Electric Light Association that sought to discourage public ownership of utilities.


Also in 1953 Bernays put out that Guatemala was in danger of communist subversion for the UFC.  Work of which he was proud.


29 – In the face of widespread taint, Bernay’s work is eccentric.  Few celebrated Propaganda when he did.


30 – But that was okay.  He wrote for clients, not intellectuals or the masses.





“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society.  These who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.”  - opening words.


Often they do so unconsciously by their leadership.


38 – We have political parties because people find getting through all the policies and numbers confusing. 


39 – In theory we do rational shopping, looking for the best product at the cheapest price, trying dozens of soaps before buying.  But, this would make our lives jammed.


40 – HG Wells wrote of the potential of mass media.  When the Constitution was adopted the unit of organization was the village. 


41 – Commodities were bought with personal contact. Today there are many organizations meant to sway public policy and opinion:  The American Institution of Accountants and National Archery Association, for example.


In 1928 there were 22,128 periodicals in the US.  Many of them professional.


42 - The National Live Stock Producer has a circulation of 155,978. 


43 – Many organizations work to set fashion. This can be done via the neighborhood bridge club.


44 – The overlapping structure of clubs in the US is the mechanism by which democracy has organized its group mind and simplified its mass thinking.


45 - This book will help explain propaganda and its place in democracy.






When Louis XIV said I am the State he was nearly right.  But now the masses have promised to become king.


But public opinion is still guided.  Propaganda has a technical meaning, neither good nor bad. 


49 – Scientific American recently asked that the word be restored to a good standing.


52 – “Modern propaganda is a consistent, enduring effort to create or shape events to influence the relations of the public to an enterprise, idea of group.”

“The important thing is that it is universal and continuous.”  It is like the Army regimenting the bodies of its soldiers.


53 – The group will cling to its stereotypes (as Walter Lippmann calls it) making would be shapers of popular opinion like so much driftwood in the surf. 


Those trying to help people in New Yorks LES need propaganda as much as the seller of toothpaste. We must publicize infant death rates to get people to care. Propaganda exists on all sides. 


54 – Of course it was propaganda’s success during WW I that showed its potential.  The government used every approach, visual, graphic and auditory and secured persons whose word carried authority.  They used organizations and used mental clichés and the emotional habits of the public to produce mass agitation against supposed atrocities.


55 – The new propaganda takes into account not only individual psychology, but the anatomy of society, with its interlocking group formations and loyalties.  

The promotion of velvet is one such example. 


56 – They contacted Paris and started trying to make velvet hats and gowns popular.  American fashion magazines were enlisted. 


57 – “The new propaganda, having regard to the constitution of society as a while, not infrequently serves to focus and realize the desires of the masses.”


We can use propaganda as public and private interests coincide: therein lies the progress and development of America.







Who tells us what to admire and what to despise? There are many ‘who’s who’ molders of public opinion.   The President, etc.,


60 – There is also the president of the racial or language societies in the country. 


A full list would include several thousand people.  But, we know that they are often led too.


61 – Sometimes the wire pulling is flagrant.  6 men in a room may decide a party’s candidate.  Such persons typify the ‘invisible government’ in people’s mind. 

Irene Castle can establish the fashion of short hair for women in the nation.


People think of themselves as free from influence or control.


62 – But a fellow in Kansas may be buying London fashions that have been pushed via a compaign. 


63 – There are many handfuls of men that control different channels.  And, this is so because of the expense of manipulating the social machinery that controls the opinions and habits of the masses.


Ad campaigns are expensive.  So we have the ‘public relations counsel.”  PR has grown up due to the increasing complexity of modern life.


64 – The PR counsel is an agent who uses mass media to bring an idea into the consciousness of the public.


65 – His first efforts are, naturally, devoted to analyzing his client’s problems and to ensure that this is something the public can accept or be brought to accept.


66 – His next effort is to analyze the public, he studies the groups that must be reached and the leaders through whom he may reach these groups.


Then he looks at the policies governing the general practice, procedures, and habits of the client in all the ways he comes into contact with the public.


67 – Met life became not an insurance company, but a health consultant.   They created good will.  Labor policy is not ‘none of the public’s business’ it can create resentment. 


68 – Still, rumors and suspicions must be monitored and dealt with effectively. 


69 – The PR man must have ethics and is developing a code. PR men should not work with clients they think dishonest, product believed to be fraudulent, or a cause that is antisocial.


70 – His job is not to fool or hoodwink the public.  If the PR person got such a rep, their usefulness would be at an end.






If we know the mass mind’s tendencies, can we manipulate it without their knowing?


72 – We don’t get scientific accuracy because many factors are beyond our control.


73 – PR can never be an exact science as humans are complex.


But, if you sway their leaders, you sway them.


Our decisions are never just our own. 


Trotter and Le Bon concluded that the group mind does not ‘think’ in the strict sense of the word.  It has impulses, habits and emotions.


74 – Leaders use clichés and images. The word ‘Bolshevik’ is useful to frighten people. 


75 – It is been chiefly the school of Freud that has thought of thoughts and actions as substitutes for desires that have been suppressed.


76 – Old propaganda was based on mechanistic reaction psychology.  Stimulus created responses.


The newer salesman looks at groups.  Then they ask who influences that group.  They find authorities, such as physicians.


77 – They do not like ads aimed at individuals.  They modify customs.


78 – Here we get the famous music room.


79 – A benefit for Japan’s earthquake victims was really there to sell Jackson Heights.  They had a sculpture making contest using ivory soap in schools.


80 – This used the aesthetic, competitive and gregarious psychological motives. As well as the snobbish and exhibitionist and maternal.


81 – This overlapping of interests is infinite and interlacing as group formations themselves.  


82 – You do good for a good association. A jeweler starts an insurance brach to make buyers feel safe.  A baking company starts giving out recipies. 

These techniques are based on enlightened self-interest.






Businesses don’t just make things they partner with the public.  


84 – And big business can only operate if it continues to sell.  This makes the plant profitable. 


Also, pr has grown as the outlets for advertising have. 

There is also competition between firms that drives pr.  Needing to inject itself in millions of lives, businesses need pr.


86 – This is direct and indirect. If you wish to sell men’s clothes, the architecture of your store is important.   Construction firms let people know it does workers comp.


You must know the public mind and prejudices and work within its limits.


87 – And the public discriminates, it does not just take dictation from business. You have to know what the public wants.  If they cannot afford high price jewelry, start a mid – priced line.


88 – A bank may open a NYC 5th ave branch for the publicity, not the need.


Big business studies every move which may express its true personality.   If it is about turnover, it preaches prices 24/ 7.  But this cannot just be a lie.


89 – PR plans need ‘continuous interpretation’ and ‘dramatization by high-spotting.’   Continuous is done by trying to control everything the public hears about you.  High Spotting is making one dramatic push (a real estate firm builds a taller skyscraper). 


90 – Which to use depends on the circumstance of the business.  But no detail is too small.   


Businesses are responsible to their shareholders. 


91 – They are responsible members of the social group.  This must be dramatized. 


92 – But they are not alone.  Luggage is sold when trains ease restrictions on how much luggage you can take with you. Also people have to be educated on what to put in their luggage.  They need clothes.


93 – A man wishing to sell shoes organized a ‘foot protection bureau’ to explain to public servants the need for good shoes.   This is the principle of common denominator between the firm’s interest and that of the public.


94 – The public has come to accept mergers due to pr.  But just cause it is on the side of mergers doesn’t mean it will continue to be.  


95 – And you must know things like no one likes public utilities.  They are fair game for public discontent.  You must anticipate public rends and not get surprised.


97 – And this is national too.  People loan money to nations with a good reputation, they invest in it.


98 – To sell toothpaste use doctors, yes, but also use dental clinics, schools, women’s clubs, the dental press and the daily press.  Remember pr itself does not always have a good rep.  So use other institutions’ reputations.


100 – There is competition between sectors: Heating means lighter clothes. So heating and clothes industries are at loggerheads.  This inter-sector competition is ‘the new competition.’


What of the great war for the dining table.  What shall go on it?  Prunes? Cereal?


101 – Then you have competition between pr firms. 


102 – And with mass media you need big business to afford big ads.  This adds to product costs, but is necessary.  


103 – This means cheapness cannot be your main appeal.   Make your machines bright colored.  Use style. 


Here he describes a campaign to make big hats popular again.  A committee of artists got models to wear them at hotels.  Distinguished women and fashion mags were used. 


104 – pr firms must often now handle emergency situations.  You can do this by planting stories with the message you want in them. 


106 – Rumors that a company is to not to be sold, even at a high price, says that the company has a high price and offers.


107 – Techniques of amusement must also be understood: theater.  But directors of investment capital funds should not seek to be clowns.




PAGE 109

Sincere politicians can mold public opinion. 


Disraeli said, “I must follow the people. Am I not their leader?”  He might have added, “I must lead the people.  Am I not their servant?”


110 – 111 – The idea that leaders must slavishly follow saps their campaigns of dramatic interest.  Both businesses and political campaigns need glitter, ballyhoo, sideshows, dinners, speeches, flags, bombast, stateliness, and pseudo-democracy slightly tinged with paternalism.


111 – And both must be seen ultimately as public servants.


But they must also forgo automatic show for scientific study of the public.


Politics was the first big business in America.  So it is ironic that business has learned so much from political campaigns and politics doesn’t learn much from business methods of mass distribution of ideas and products. 


112 – A personal tour of voters can be expensive per voter.  The personal tour made him wonder why politicians don’t use business methods of advertising.  They may devise good plans, but don’t sell them well.


113 – Platforms and planks must be in salable form. But, sold with a money-back guarantee as people don’t believe.


Politicians should make a scientific survey of the needs of the public.  This would help target the message.


114 – Corporations do such surveys before launching a product and them budget ads accordingly. 


115 – Politicians should fund raise for publicity in public, honestly.  The emotions by which the public is appealed should be a broad plan of the campaign.  Unrelated emotions must be monitored, they distract if they are not part of the whole campaign strategy.


116 – Big business has realized it must use as many of the basic emotions as possible.  But, politicians only use the ones aroused by words.   Again, they need to be used as part of a coordinated all encompassing campaign.


Kissing babies must be used as a symbol for baby policy, it must be coordinated with a plank. 


117 – Personality is not enough.


People, it should be remembered, are not exclusively republican or democrat.  They are parts of lots of interlocking groups. 

Coolidge was smart to breakfast with actors.


118 – Exhibits, contests, educational institutions and groups that have not previously concerned themselves with politics should be utilized.   


119 - Words, pictures and music should be coordinated.


Politicians needn’t be slaves of public opinion, they can mold it.


120 – Good government can be sold just as any other commodity.   The politician must create circumstances.


121 – You can fight for tariffs with arguments, but you’re engaging individual resistance.  A low tariff exhibit in 20 cities, launched with prominent figures, he could get groups impacted to boycott efficiently.  If it is of wool, he might ask doctors if expensive wool harms children's’ health.   

This would direct the publics attention to it prior to his opening his mouth.


122 - Then when he spoke on radio he would be expressing the emotional arguments the public already felt.


Product launch dates are key.  Don’t do it on Tuesday morning.


123 – Does a leader make propaganda or the reverse? 


And, even if some propaganda is false, we cannot abandon it all together.


125 – If a politician is a leader, he makes the news. 


126 – Politicians should know as much about propaganda as they do civics.


127 – There should be a cabinet post that does PR.  A secretary of PR.    He would explain the aims of the government, he would interpret the government to the people – and vis versa.


128 – “Is this government by propaganda?  Call it, if you prefer, government by education.”  But not just academic.  There must be ‘high – spotting of significant events and the dramatization of issues.




PAGE 129


Women have legal equality, this doesn’t mean they are identical.  Women have their own economic issues and vocational interests.


130 – If nothing else, suffrage showed the power of propaganda. Women are organized and can take credit for much of the welfare legislation.


The 8 hour day for instance.


The National League of Women Voters puts out lots of materials.


131 – They use propaganda well.


132 – They are especially effective at welfare laws. 


133 – Literary clubs have been taken out of their charmed field to engage for the public good.




PAGE 135


Public ed is not being properly supported.

One reason is that it stimulates individual students but does not see itself as the educator of the public at large.


136 – Professors should be public and understand the connection between their academic work and the public.

Normal schools should teach teaching and propaganda.


Teachers now see themselves as remote and underpaid. 


137 – To solve this they must propagandize the legislature and public for more funds.


138 – They must engage the public and then ask it to vote for more funds.


139 – Monetary failures need to convince businessmen to spend on what they don’t value.  It’s a touch sell.


140 – School papers need to promote achievements.


141 – The NEA needs to propagandize.   Another problem is that the people think all the funding comes from the State so don’t donate.


142 – One prof popularized his anthropology findings.  Good!


143 – The uni president must see that the uni has the proper place in the community and public mind.


144  - Columbia’s casa italiana raised awareness in sectors.  It was opened by Prince Henry of Prussia. Extension courses are good outreach too.


145 – And Unis should rent out their facilities for important public events.




PAGE 147


Civilization is limited by people’s inertia.  Habit is hard to bend.


148 – Social settlements, the NAACP etc, need propaganda. Consider where to have your conference, where will it draw the most funds and change? Make it dramatic.


150 – Many churches take out ads now.  They use their billboard well.


151 – Social progress requires public education




PAGE 153


Galleries have to make the public ready for their artist.


154 – Artists need to lead in advertising.  Art exhibits to sell silk. These were held in 20 cities and used a famous artists iron works.


156 – Macy uses beautiful stores to bring arts to the people. 


157 – Most museums have the reputation of being morgues or sanctuaries.  They should be leaders in the aesthetic life of the community.  The beauty in the museum needs to be communicated to the public.  This means a propagandist.


158 – They could form committees to establish standards in home decoration, architecture and commercial production.


159 – When industries have a new invention they interpret it to the nation.  They can give educational materials to sell the idea of research and progress to America.




PAGE 161


Media keeps changing.  Cars and radios undermine meetings as prominent gatherings.


162 – Newspapers now print stuff specifically for its news value and eschew propaganda in favor of facts.


163 – PR folks make events to make it news.   Newspapers’ editorial cutting kills news, but while sources should be noted, this is questionable.


164 – Magazines are more amenable to propaganda.


Lectures are no longer so important unless they are an event or symbol. 

Radio is great but its future is uncertain.  Some newspapers are buying radio stations and synching the news.


Perhaps the US will go the way of England and have no ads, only subscriber fees.


165 – The motion picture can standardize the ideas and habits of a nation. 


Another propaganda device is personality.  Coolidge photographed in full Indian regalia is good pr.   But it must be used to sell.

Banks can give educational material to schools.  That is good pr.  Events with radio appeal are great and new.


The public may become sophisticated but it will always respond to basic appeals to its own interests, even if propagandists must change tactics to get the message across. 


168 - Last words: “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.”