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Crystallizing Public Opinion

Book Description

A revolutionary work on public relations and marketing by the provocative thinker who was dubbed the father of public relations

Few books have been as quietly powerful as Edward L. Bernays’s Crystallizing Public Opinion. First published in 1923, it is a groundbreaking and, as history has shown, influential guide to the most crucial principles of mass persuasion. Aimed at governments and corporations in the wake of World War I, this classic work combines crowd psychology with the pillars of psychoanalysis to argue the importance of public relations in democratic society. Citing far-reaching case studies from the resuscitation of a beleaguered magazine in New York to Lithuania’s campaign for global recognition, Bernays illustrates the burgeoning significance of his field in shaping public opinion while also laying out the crucial techniques for mobilizing broad-based support in an increasingly fragmented world.

Celebrated by PBS in its Books That Shook the World feature, Crystallizing Public Opinion occupies a fascinating place in history, defining both a concept and a system that were taken up by progressive social movements, corporate barons, and national governments alike.

“Mr. Bernays was one of the first people to expand what had been a narrow concept of press agentry, or working to influence government policy, into a far more ambitious—and controversial—realm of seeking to influence and change public opinion and behavior.” —The New York Times
Edward L. Bernays (1891–1995) is commonly referred to as the father of public relations. Born in Vienna, Austria, and a nephew of Sigmund Freud, Bernays moved to the United States as a young child. His belief that popular opinion could and should be manipulated led him to create psychological and sociological techniques that allowed businesses, industries, and even governments to influence the public. Lucky Strike, the Waldorf Astoria, General Motors, General Electric, and Ivory soap numbered among his illustrious clients. Woodrow Wilson even hired Bernays to promote the American efforts in World War I. Famous for popularizing the use of the press release and developing memorable campaigns, Bernays is responsible for creating the field of public relations as we know it.