This month marks the 20th anniversary in my my PR career. Twenty. I’ll be posting some lessons, highlights (and lowlights) of a career spanning Boston, Los Angeles and Austin, TX. For now, here is a video featuring Edward Bernays. He was already in his 90s when I met him for the first time in his opulent Cambridge home when I was a student in Boston im 1989. I was in my first PR job promoting movies for Paramount Pictures on college campuses in Cambridge and Boston and I had the chance to be a part of a small group who visited him to hear stories and ask questions.
Bernays was a legend in the PR business and many called him the “Father of Public Relations.” People loved him because he was such a master storyteller and an incredible witness to and participant in the history of the 20th century. People hated him because he began a culture of emotional spending and consumerism the likes of which society had never been seen before. He was Sigmund Freud’s nephew and used the work of his uncle– mass psychology in particular– to hone in on people’s emotions to motivate them to buy and become loyal to products.
A propagandist? Yes. A genius? Arguably, yes. Decide for yourself.