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Crystallizing Public Opinion [Paperback]

Edward Bernays , Stuart Ewen
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

Aug. 16 2011
A seminal work on how public opinion is created and shaped, Edward Bernays's 1923 classic Crystallizing Public Opinion set down the principles that corporations and government have used to influence public attitudes over the past century.

A primer on the then new profession of "public relations counsel," Crystallizing elucidates the "instruments and techniques" that PR professionals use to mold public opinion on behalf of their client's interests. By adapting the ideas that Bernays put forth in this book, governments and advertisers have been able to "regiment the mind like the military regiments the body."

The first ever book ever written about the public relations industry, this all-new edition of Crystallizing Public Opinion features an introduction by Stuart Ewen, author of PR! A Social History of Spin, All Consuming Images: On the Politics of Style in Contemporary Culture, and Captains of Consciousness: Advertising and the Social Roots of the Consumer Culture.

Frequently Bought Together

Crystallizing Public Opinion + Propaganda + Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media
Price For All Three: CDN$ 44.33


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4.0 out of 5 stars Bernays is always an interesting read Dec 31 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book, along with his book, Propaganda, should be mandatory for anyone involved in communication, government, PR, marketing & advertising. He was the first PR guru to pull together concepts like marketing, psychology, media reach and PR to make a coherent science of popular opinion. While some of his attitudes about the public, mass culture and media are a bit outdated today, overall, his ideas are still in practice. As a historical document, you can lear a lot from him about how the dictatorships in many nations between WWI and WWII rose to power using mass media and marketing.
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Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  19 reviews
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Elements of PR Sept. 4 2011
By J. Ernst - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
For those who appreciate Strunk and White's The Elements of Style, Edward Bernays' 'Crystallizing Public Opinion' will have a similar impact: Concise Guidance and lucid - if due to the original publication in 1923 - somewhat dated examples make for encompassing reading. It is fascinating that most of the literature on PR which has appeared since does not surpass the insights Bernays expounded so long ago.

Bernays thinking has two pillars. First, he recognizes that "the public, ...due to the spread of literacy and democratic forms of government (feels) that it is entitled to its voice in the conduct of these large aggregations, political, capitalist, or labor, or whatever they may be" (p.66). Therefore, any organization in society, no matter if it is a political entity, a company or a non-profit organization is looked at as some sort of public service. To succeed they will have to recognize this demand and communicate, accordingly.

Second, Bernays regards the "average citizen (as) the world's most efficient censor. His own mind is the greatest barrier between him and the facts. His own 'logical proof compartments', his own absolutism are the obstacles which prevent him from seeing in terms of experience and thought rather than in terms of group reaction" (p. 133).

This leads him to conclude that PR is of no use unless it has something to say which the public, consciously or unconsciously, expects to hear. PR is thus not primarily about authenticity or believability, as many current observers put it, PR is merely a communications effort which functions as a catalyst of change if it resonates with the public. As such PR may bring order to what is otherwise be conceived as chaos.

Bernays sorts through and distills the pertinent literature of his age. Amongst them Instincts of the Herd in Peace and War: By W. Trotter, Walter Lippmann's Public Opinion and the unmentioned Gustave Le Bon's The Crowd, especially, are as compelling today as they were to Edward Bernays in 1923.

This book is a key to PR, specifically, and, generally, the role of communications in modern society. As public opinion explodes in the age of the internet and currently causes change in the real world such as in Northern Africa and the Middle East, Bernays' book helps us to understand what is happening. Read it as an introduction or read it as a reference to everything you know about PR, either way it will be time well spent.
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An essential book for anyone who wants to understand the impact of the media on public opinion. Dec 30 2011
By Travis T. Anderson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Edward Bernays' greatest work-Crystallizing Public Opinion was a book I waited a long time to be able to read, and I regret not a moment of that wait. A must read for anyone who wants to understand how ideas are spread, why they are spread, and why ideas-for better or worse, thrive or die out. What seemed at first like an added bonus turned out to be fundamental to his method-an explanation of the creation of and necessity of stereotypes in a world that is only getting more complex. He seemed to speak of things decades ahead of his time, which could only stare with a dropped jaw at the complexity we see today. Bernays accounted for this increasing complexity and this becomes very evident the more and more you read this book.

However, a flaw of Bernays' character is his arrogance, which will show in his subtle, but frequent self-elevation via his achievements up to that point. It is important to recognize that Bernays did not come from an average Joe type of background-and his view of you and I is perhaps not as flattering as we would like it to be. Despite this, "Crystallizing Public Opinion" is a book that you must read, if only to see how average Joes are really viewed by those in power. The answer may surprise you.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pretty Amazing Book -- Opens Your Eyes Dec 29 2012
By Rko - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The introduction in this version of the book by Stuart Ewen is excellent. It describes his visit to Bernays' home just before his death. Don't skip it.

"Reality is what we tell the public it is." "The duty of the higher strata of society ... is to inject moral and spiritual motives into public opinion." "The only difference between 'propaganda' and 'education' is in the point of view [of the advocate]." "The established order of things is maintained by the inertia of the group ... factors make it possible for the public relations counsel to overcome even this inertia."

We are all driven by the herd instinct, and this book describes a new profession (in 1923) dedicated to guiding that herd. It can be used for launching new products, or for sustaining the Nazi regime. For example, the protestant church in Germany was enlisted in the efforts to purge mention of Jews from the Bible (though they had a problem with St. Paul).

This book is disturbing, original and should be obligatory for every citizen in a modern democracy. We're all being manipulated and there's no escape. The correct answer is humility and open mindedness in our relations with others. But that just makes me an idealist. The actual answer is to take the tools of this profession to promote our own agendas.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Commentary on this Edition April 7 2013
By Patricia Martin - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The information contained on the pages of this edition must be filtered through the reader's knowledge of the English language, grammar and common sense. In short the publisher did a lousy job of re-typing the original. It is obvious that it was not proof read.

I looked for a copy of the original and found a photocopy version - because the quality of the type was degraded, I opted for this version and turned into a game, the replacement of mistyped words with words I assumed made better sense. Examples, "sand=and," "public relations counted=public relations counsel," and "word=world." It does spice things up a bit!

According to Bernays I have taken the liberty, which I believe to be my right to comment on a commercial enterprise. Shame on Ig Publishing.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Informative March 26 2013
By Sarah - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a great book to read if you want to gain an understanding of how the government uses mind control to control our every movement. The trick is to make the people think they have a choice... it's scary what this world has become. This book was written a long time ago, and now you can see so much of these evil tactics unfold.
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