Is propaganda good or bad? It depends...

Edward Bernays was considered 
"the father of public relations."

From his obituary:
One of his early public relations strokes was on behalf of Venida hairnets. When women began to bob their hair after World War I, they discarded hairnets, much to the distress of hairnet manufacturers.

Venida, an industry leader, called in Mr. Bernays, who conducted a public relations campaign for the product. Among other things, he got artists to praise the "Greek coiffure" look that hairnets gave their wearers. And he got a labor expert to urge labor commissioners around the country to insist that women working with or near machines wear hairnets for their own protection. Much favorable publicity ensued.

In this, as in similar campaigns, Mr. Bernays's approach was oblique. The emphasis was on hairnets, not on Venida. Indeed, Venida was rarely mentioned at all.
From his book Propaganda:
...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.

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."
See also the Deceptology entry on the other father of PR: Massacres and Nazis - How a minister's son invented PR>>

- Edward Bernays at Wikipedia>>
- His book Propaganda, 1928 (directly opens PDF file)>>
- Edward Bernays, 'Father of Public Relations' And Leader in Opinion Making, Dies at 103, The New York Times>>

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