Allie Bradshaw and Ali Thurwatcher

Edward Bernays 

Known as the “Father of Spin,” Edward Bernays helped found the field of Public Relations as we know it today. Bernays got his start in PR in 1915 when he was employed by the Russian ballet. The ballet wanted Bernays to convey a new image to society that ballet was entertaining for everyone in the family. Bernays took to the newspapers and he developed a four-page newsletter for editorial writers, local managers and others, containing photographs and stories of dancers, costumes, and composers. These articles were aimed at all difference audiences. In the women’s pages there were articles on costumes, fabric, and fashion design; the Sunday supplements received full-color photos; thus the ballet became popular. He persuaded American manufacturers to make products inspired by the color and design of the sets and costumes of the ballet. Then he got  national stores to advertise them. These styles became so popular that Fifth Avenue stores sold these products without Bernays’s intervention. Bernays invented the technique of “spin” or taking the truth and changing it so that it appeals to a mass group of people in a positive way. When Ladies Home Journal said that they couldn’t show photographs of dancers with skirts above the knees, he had artists retouch photos to bring down the hem. When Lucky Stripes cigarettes were considered unfashionable because of there green packaging, Bernays essentially made green fashionable. Essentially, he was the one who made it acceptable for women to smoke in public. Bernays regarded himself as a professional opinion maker who, by following precise principles, could produce desired changes in attitudes.

“If we understand the mechanism and motives of the group mind, is it not possible to control and regiment the masses according to our will without their knowing about it? The recent practice of propaganda has proved that it is possible, at least up to a certain point and within certain limits.” – Edward Bernays

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