Public Relations Founding Fathers

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Edward Bernays

Born in Vienna, Austria in 1891 Edward Bernays was surrounded with powerful and famous family members, which provided him with an enormous amount of resources and connections from the start. Although, he would create a legacy of his own.

Known around the world as The Father of Public Relations, Bernays used his uncle's ideas (Sigmund Freud) in the commercial realm to control how people behaved and thought. Not only did he coin the term "counsel on public relations", but he founded the first U.S. public relations firm in 1919.

In 1917, while Bernays was serving as a foot soldier in the U.S. Committee on Public Information, he was exposed to the marketing techniques that the CPI was using during the First World War. Techniques and propaganda that portrayed democracy as the preserver of peace and savior of the world.

Having the experience and skills from the CPI and reading every propaganda book he could get his hands on Bernays set sail to understand what influences the masses. "Doing publicity for other nations, applying my experience to other countries, might be a fascinating, constructive career," said Bernays.

After a brief career as a journalist, editing medical journals, he moved to press agentry. Publicizing for the American Tobacco Company and General Electric Company and doing it well. He went on to publish dozens of books and articles including the first book on public relations, Crystallizing Public Opinion (1923).

Using modern thinking from psychology, sociology, and market research Bernays formed his own theories and techniques. These are what many public relations specialists practice today. Life magazine named him one of the most influential Americans of the century because of his ideas on marketing to the masses. He tutored presidents, political leaders and companies in the use of mass media and pioneered the field of public relations.

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