Edward Louis James Bernays ( /bərˈneɪz/ ; German: [bɛɐ̯ˈnaɪs] ; November 22, 1891 − March 9, 1995) was an Austrian-American pioneer in the field of public relations and propaganda, referred to in his obituary as "the father of public relations". Bernays was named one of the 100 most influential Americans of the 20th century by Life magazine. [3] He was the subject of a full length biography by Larry Tye called The Father of Spin (1999) and later an award-winning 2002 documentary for the BBC by Adam Curtis called The Century of the Self .

His best-known campaigns include a 1929 effort to promote female smoking by branding cigarettes as feminist " Torches of Freedom " and his work for the United Fruit Company connected with the overthrow of the Guatemalan government in 1954. He worked for dozens of major American corporations including Procter & Gamble and General Electric, and for government agencies, politicians, and non-profit organizations.

Of his many books, Crystallizing Public Opinion (1923) and Propaganda (1928) gained special attention as early efforts to define and theorize the field of public relations. Citing works of writers such as Gustave Le Bon, Wilfred Trotter, Walter Lippmann, and his own double uncle Sigmund Freud, he described the masses as irrational and subject to herd instinct —and outlined how skilled practitioners could use crowd psychology and psychoanalysis to control them in desirable ways.

Family and education

Edward Bernays was the son of Ely Bernays and Anna Freud Bernays. His great grandfather was Isaac Bernays, chief rabbi of Hamburg. Bernays was a "double nephew" of Viennese psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud —by virtue of his mother, Freud’s sister, and of his father’s sister, Martha Bernays Freud, who married Sigmund.

The Bernays family moved from Vienna to the United States in the 1890s. Ely Bernays became a grain exporter at the Manhattan Produce Exchange, then sent for his wife and children.

In 1892, his family moved to New York City, where he attended DeWitt Clinton High School. In 1912 he graduated from Cornell University with a degree in agriculture, but chose journalism as his first career.

He married Doris E. Fleischman in 1922. Fleischman, a member of the Lucy Stone League was public about keeping her last name, and her husband not only sanctioned but touted this fact. She was the first married woman to be issued a U.S. passport without her husband’s last name. Later, however, she changed her mind and her name, becoming Doris Bernays. By all accounts, Fleischman played a major though quiet role in the Bernays public relations business—including ghost-writing numerous memos and speeches, and publishing a newsletter.

Fleischman and Bernays had two daughters, Doris and Anne.


After graduating from Cornell, Bernays wrote for the National Nurseryman journal. Then he worked at the New York City Produce Exchange, where his father was a grain exporter. He went to Paris and worked for Louis Dreyfus and Company reading grain cables. By December of the same year he had returned to New York.

Medical editor

Following a meeting in New York with school friend Fred Robinson, Bernays became coeditor of Medical Review of Reviews and Dietetic and Hygienic Gazette in 1912. They took editorial positions in favor of showers and against corsets and distributed free copies to thousands of physicians across the country.

Two months later they took up the cause of Damaged Goods , an English translation of Les Avariés by Eugène Brieux. After publishing a positive review of the play, Bernays and Robinson wrote to its lead actor, Richard Bennett: "The editors of the Medical Review of Reviews support your praiseworthy intention to fight sex-pruriency in the United States by producing Brieux’s play Damaged Goods . You can count on our help. The play controversially dealt with venereal disease and prostitution—Bernays called it "a propaganda play that fought for sex education." He created the " Medical Review of Reviews Sociological Fund Committee" and successfully solicited the support of such elite figures as John D. Rockefeller, Jr., Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Eleanor Roosevelt, Reverend John Haynes Holmes, and Anne Harriman Sands Rutherford Vanderbilt, wife of William Kissam Vanderbilt.

Press agent

After his foray into the world of theater, Bernays worked as a creative press agent for various performers and performances. Already, he was using a variety of techniques which would become hallmarks of his later practice. He promoted the Daddy Long Legs stage play by tying it in with the cause of charity for orphans. To create interest in Diaghilev's Ballets Russes, he educated Americans about the subtleties of ballet—and publicized a picture of Flore Revalles, wearing a tight-fitting dress, at the Bronx Zoo, posed with a large snake. He built up Enrico Caruso as an idol whose voice was so sensitive that comically extreme measures were taken to protect it.

World War I

After the U.S. entered the War, the Committee on Public Information hired Bernays to work for its Bureau of Latin-American Affairs, based in an office in New York. Bernays, along with Lieutenant F. E. Ackerman, focused on building support for war, domestically and abroad, focusing especially businesses operating in Latin America. [42] Bernays referred to this work as " psychological warfare ".

After fighting ended Bernays was part of a sixteen-person publicity group working for the CPI at the Paris Peace Conference. A scandal arose from his reference to propaganda in a press release. As reported by the New York World , the "announced object of the expedition is ‘to interpret the work of the Peace Conference by keeping up a worldwide propaganda to disseminate American accomplishments and ideals.’"

Bernays later described a realization that his work for the CPI could be also be used in peacetime:

"There was one basic lesson I learned in the CPI—that efforts comparable to those applied by the CPI to affect the attitudes of the enemy, of neutrals, and people of this country could be applied with equal facility to peacetime pursuits. In other words, what could be done for a nation at war could be done for organizations and people in a nation at peace."

Edward Bernays, Cutlip (1994), p. 168.

Counsel on public relations

After returning to New York, Bernays opened a public relations business. In 1923 he published a book, " Crystallizing Public Opinion ", outlining his profession, and taught a course at New York University. Both of these are considered firsts in the modern field of public relations.

Bernays, who pursued his calling in New York City from 1919 to 1963, styled himself a "public relations counsel". He had very pronounced views on the differences between what he did and what people in advertising did. A pivotal figure in the orchestration of elaborate corporate advertising campaigns and multi-media consumer spectacles, he nevertheless is among those listed in the acknowledgments section of the seminal government social science study "Recent Social Trends in the United States" (1933).

Notable clients and campaigns

Bernays’s famous corporate clients included Procter & Gamble, the American Tobacco Company, Cartier Inc., Best Foods, CBS, the United Fruit Company, General Electric, Dodge Motors, the fluoridationists of the Public Health Service, Knox-Gelatin, and innumerable other big names.

Bernays attempted to help Venida hair nets company to get women to wear their hair longer so they would use hairnets more. The campaign failed but did get government officials to require hairnets for some jobs.

Bernays worked with Procter & Gamble for Ivory -brand bar soap. The campaign successfully convinced people that Ivory soap was medically superior to other soaps. He also promoted soap through sculpting contests and floating contests because the soap floated better than competing products.

Bernays used his uncle Sigmund Freud's ideas to help convince the public, among other things, that bacon and eggs was the true all-American breakfast.

In the 1930s, his Dixie Cup campaign was designed to convince consumers that only disposable cups were sanitary by linking the imagery of an overflowing cup with subliminal images of vaginas and venereal disease. [43]

He was publicity director for the 1939 New York World's Fair.

Another selection from his papers, the Typescript on Publicizing the Physical Culture Industry, 1927 : " Bernarr Macfadden ", reveals Bernays' opinion of the leader of the physical culture movement. Yet another client, department store visionary Edward A. Filene, was the subject of the Typescript on a Boston Department Store Magnate . Bernays' Typescript on the Importance of Samuel Strauss : "1924 – Private Life" shows that the public relations counsel and his wife were fans of consumerism critic Samuel Strauss.

Light’s Golden Jubilee

In October 1929, Bernays was involved in promoting Light's Golden Jubilee. The event, which spanned across several major cities in the U.S., was designed to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Thomas Edison's invention of the light-bulb (though the light-bulb had been previously invented by Joseph Swan). The publicity elements of the Jubilee – including the special issuance of a U.S. postage stamp and Edison's "re-creating" the invention of the light bulb for a nationwide radio audience – provided evidence of Bernays' love for big ideas and " ballyhoo ". A follow-up event for the 75th anniversary, produced for television by David O. Selznick, was titled Light's Diamond Jubilee and broadcast on all four American TV networks on October 24, 1954.

Political clients

In 1924 Bernays set up a vaudeville "pancake breakfast" for Calvin Coolidge to change his stuffy image before the 1924 election. Entertainers including Al Jolson, John Drew, Raymond Hitchcock, and the Dolly Sisters performed on the White House lawn. Newspapers reported enthusiastically that Coolidge had laughed.

A desperate Herbert Hoover consulted with Bernays a month before the 1932 presidential election. Bernays advised Hoover to create disunity within his opposition and to present an image of himself as an invincible leader.

Bernays advised William O'Dwyer, in his candidacy for Mayor of New York City, on how to appear in front of different demographics. For example, he should tell Irish voters about his actions against the Italian mafia —and Italian voters about his plans to reform the police department. To Jews he should appear as a committed opponent of the Nazis.

He helped to name the President's Emergency Committee for Employment, suggesting this name as preferable to the "Committee for Unemployment".

During World War II, Bernays advised the United States Information Agency as well as the Army and Navy. He was chairman of the National Advisory Committee of the Third U.S. War Loan, co-chairman of the Victory Book campaign, and part of the New York State Defense Council.

In the 1950s, some of his ideas and vision helped portray India as the most democratic republic in Asia by having the People’s Congress of India adapt a Bill of Rights. Freedom of the press, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly, and freedom of petition were added to the Constitution of India.

Bernays reported turning down the Nazis, Nicaragua under the Somoza family, Francisco Franco, and Richard Nixon. [3]

Non-profit clients

In 1920 Bernays worked on the first NAACP convention in Atlanta, Georgia. His campaign was considered successful because there was no violence at the convention. His campaign focused on the important contributions of African-Americans to Whites living in the South. He later received an award from the NAACP for his contribution.

Bernays also worked on behalf of many non-profit institutions and organizations. These included, to name just a few, the Committee on Publicity Methods in Social Work (1926–1927), the Jewish Mental Health Society (1928), the Book Publishers Research Institute (1930–1931), the New York Infirmary for Women and Children (1933), the Committee for Consumer Legislation (1934), the Friends of Danish Freedom and Democracy (1940), [3] [23] [24] the Citywide Citizens' Committee on Harlem (1942), and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (1954–1961).


In 1920, Bernays organized the publication of Freud’s Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis in the U.S., sending royalty money back to his uncle in Vienna. Freud turned down further offers at promotion such as a possible lecture tour an invitation to write 3,000-word newspaper columns, for $1,000 each, on topics such as "The Wife’s Mental Place in the Home" and "What a Child Thinks About." [3]

"When a person would first meet Bernays," says Scott Cutlip, "it would not be long until Uncle Sigmund would be brought into the conversation. His relationship with Freud was always in the forefront of his thinking and his counseling." According to Irwin Ross, another writer, "Bernays liked to think of himself as a kind of psychoanalyst to troubled corporations." In addition to publicizing Freud's ideas, Bernays used his association with Freud to establish his own reputation as a thinker and theorist.


Bernays worked briefly for Liggett and Myers, makers of Chesterfield cigarettes in 1927. He pulled a stunt against the competing brand Lucky Strike which involved mocking the endorsements of opera singers who said Lucky Strikes were "kind to your voice". George Washington Hill head of the American Tobacco Company, which made Lucky Strikes, promptly hired Bernays away from Liggett and Myers. [3]

When he started working for American Tobacco Company, Bernays was given the objective of increasing Lucky Strike sales among women, who, for the most part, had formerly avoided smoking. The first strategy was to persuade women to smoke cigarettes instead of eating. Bernays began by promoting the ideal of thinness itself, using photographers, artists, newspapers, and magazine to promote the special beauty of thin women. Medical authorities were found to promote the choice of cigarettes over sweets. Home-makers were cautioned that keeping cigarettes on hand was a social necessity.

Torches of Freedom

The first campaign succeeded; women smoked more cigarettes; American Tobacco Company brought in more revenue; and Lucky Strikes led the market in growth. But a taboo remained on women smoking in public. Bernays consulted with psychoanalyst Abraham Brill, a student of Freud’s, who reported to him that cigarettes represented "torches of freedom" for women whose feminine desires were increasingly suppressed by their role in the modern world. [3] Bernays organized a contingent of women to smoke cigarettes—"torches of freedom"—at the 1929 Easter Sunday parade in New York. The event was carefully scripted to promote the intended message. Bernays wrote: [3]

Because it should appear as news with no division of the publicity, actresses should be definitely out. On the other hand, if young women who stand for feminism—someone from the Women’s Party, say—could be secured, the fact that the movement would be advertised too, would not be bad. . . . While they should be goodlooking, they should not be too ‘model-y.’ Three for each church covered should be sufficient. Of course they are not to smoke simply as they come down the church steps. They are to join in the Easter parade, puffing away.

The march went as planned, as did the ensuing publicity, with ripples of women smoking prominently across the country. [44]

The Green Ball

In 1934, Bernays was asked to deal with women’s apparent reluctance to buy Lucky Strikes because their green and red package clashed with standard female fashions. When Bernays suggested changing the package to a neutral color, Hill refused, saying that he had already spent millions advertising the package. Bernays then endeavored to make green a fashionable color.

The centerpiece of his efforts was the Green Ball, a social event at the Waldorf Astoria, hosted by Mabel Narcissa Cox (Mrs. Frank A. Vanderlip). The pretext for the ball and its unnamed underwriter was that proceeds would go to charity. Famous society women would attend wearing green dresses. Manufacturers and retailers of clothing and accessories were advised of the excitement growing around the color green. Intellectuals were enlisted to give highbrow talks on the theme of green. Before the ball had actually taken place, newspapers and magazines (encouraged in various ways by Bernays’s office) had latched on to the idea that green was all the rage.

Modus operandi

Throughout the job, Bernays concealed the fact that he was working for the American Tobacco Company, and in fact succeeded in keeping his own name out of the affair as well. Staff were instructed never to mention his name. Third parties were used, and various notable people received payments to promote smoking publicly as if on their own initiative. (Decades later, however, Bernays boasted about his role.)

Bernays didn’t smoke cigarettes and persistently but unsuccessfully tried to induce his wife Doris to quit. After his semi-retirement in the 1960s he worked with the pro-health anti-smoking lawyer John Banzhaf's group, ASH, and supported other anti-smoking campaigns.

United Fruit and Guatemala

The United Fruit Company (today's Chiquita Brands International) hired Bernays in the early 1940s for the purpose of promoting banana sales within the United States. Promote them he did, by linking bananas to good health and to American interests, and by placing them strategically in the hands of celebrities, in hotels, and other conspicuous places. Bernays also argued that United Fruit needed to put a positive spin on the banana-growing countries themselves, and for this purpose created a front group called the Middle America Information Bureau, which supplied information to journalists and academics.

United Fruit shut down the Middle America Information Bureau in 1948 under the new presidency of Thomas Dudley Cabot. Bernays resented this change but stayed on with the company, for a reported annual fee of more than $100,000. Bernays worked on the national press and successfully drummed up coverage of Guatemala’s Communist menace. [45]

The company became alarmed about the political situation in Guatemala after Jacobo Árbenz Guzman became president in March 1951. On March 21, 1951, Bernays told United Fruit’s head of publicity, Edmund Whitman, that Guatemala could reprise Iran’s recent nationalization of British Petroleum:

We recommend that immediate steps be undertaken to safeguard American business interests in Latin American countries against comparable action there. News knows no boundaries today. . . . To disregard the possibilities of the impact of events one upon another is to adopt a head-in-the-sand-ostrich policy.

He recommended a campaign in which universities, lawyers, and the U.S. government would all condemn expropriation as immoral and illegal; the company should use media pressure "to induce the President and State Department to issue a policy pronouncement comparable to the Monroe Doctrine concerning expropriation." In the following months, the New York Times , the New York Herald Tribune , Time , Newsweek , and the Atlantic Monthly had all published articles describing the threat of Communism in Guatemala. A Bernays memo in July 1951 recommended that this wave of media attention should be translated into action by promoting:

(a) a change in present U.S. ambassadorial and consular representation, (b) the imposition of congressional sanctions in this country against government aid to pro-Communist regimes, (c) U.S. government subsidizing of research by disinterested groups like the Brookings Institution into various phases of the problem.

Per Bernays’s strategy, United Fruit distributed favorable articles and an anonymous Report on Guatemala to every member of Congress and to national "opinion molders". [47] They also published a weekly Guatemala Newsletter and sent it to 250 journalists, some of whom used it as a source for their reporting. [47] Bernays formed close relationships with journalists including New York Times reporter Will Lissner at and columnist Walter Winchell. [45] In January 1952 he brought a cohort of journalists from various notable newspapers on a tour of Guatemala, sponsored by the company. This technique proved highly effective and was repeated four more times. [47] In June, 1954, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency effected a coup d’état code-named Operation PBSUCCESS. The CIA backed a minimal military force, fronted by Carlos Castillo Armas, with a psychological warfare campaign to portray military defeat as a foregone conclusion. During the coup itself, Bernays was the primary supplier of information for the international newswires Associated Press, United Press International and the International News Service. [48]

Following the coup, Bernays built up the image of Guatemala’s new president Carlos Castillo Armas, giving advice for his public appearances both in Guatemala and in the U.S. In 1956 Bernays produced a pamphlet comparing the Communist way and the Christian way.

In 1959 United Fruit dispensed with all external advisors including Bernays.


Third parties

Bernays argued that the covert use of third parties was morally legitimate because those parties were morally autonomous actors.

"If you can influence the leaders, either with or without their conscious cooperation, you automatically influence the group which they sway", he said. In order to promote sales of bacon, for example, he conducted research and found that the American public ate very light breakfast of coffee, maybe a roll and orange juice. He went to his physician and found that a heavy breakfast was sounder from the standpoint of health than a light breakfast because the body loses energy during the night and needs it during the day. He asked the physician if he would be willing, at no cost, to write to 5,000 physicians and ask them whether their judgment was the same as his—confirming his judgment. About 4,500 answered back, all concurring that a more significant breakfast was better for the health of the American people than a light breakfast. He arranged for this finding to be published in newspapers throughout the country with headlines like '4,500 physicians urge bigger breakfast' while other articles stated that bacon and eggs should be a central part of breakfast and, as a result of these actions, the sale of bacon went up. [14]

Describing the response to his campaign for Ivory Soap, Bernays wrote: "As if actuated by the pressure of a button, people began working for the client instead of the client begging people to buy."

Businesses found these covert methods irresistible. Strother Walker and Paul Sklar wrote in Business Finds Its Voice (1938) that Bernays had offered a solution to popular skepticism of business which arose in the depression: better "to implant an idea in a group leader’s mind and let him spread it than to write up an idea and send it to the papers as a release, in the old-fashioned way...".


As is evident from the description of his campaign to publicize the Dodge cars, Bernays had a particular gift for the marketing strategy called the "tie-up" or "tie-in". In this strategy, one venue, opportunity, or occasion for promoting a consumer product, for example, radio advertising, is linked to another, say, newspaper advertising, and even, at times, to a third, say a department store exhibition salesroom featuring the item, and possibly even a fourth, such as an important holiday, for example Thrift Week. [21]

Scientific approach

Bernays pioneered the public relations industry's use of psychology and other social sciences to design its public persuasion campaigns: "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." He later called this scientific technique of opinion-molding the engineering of consent. [11]

Bernays explained in his 1947 essay "The Engineering of Consent":

This phrase quite simply means the use of an engineering approach—that is, action based only on thorough knowledge of the situation and on the application of scientific principles and tried practices to the task of getting people to support ideas and programs.

Bernays expanded on Walter Lippmann ’s concept of stereotype, arguing that predictable elements could be manipulated for mass effects:

But instead of a mind, universal literacy has given [the common man] a rubber stamp, a rubber stamp inked with advertising slogans, with editorials, with published scientific data, with the trivialities of tabloids and the profundities of history, but quite innocent of original thought. Each man’s rubber stamp is the twin of millions of others, so that when these millions are exposed to the same stimuli, all receive identical imprints. […]
The amazing readiness with which large masses accept this process is probably accounted for by the fact that no attempt is made to convince them that black is white. Instead, their preconceived hazy ideas that a certain gray is almost black or almost white are brought into sharper focus. Their prejudices, notions, and convictions are used as a starting point, with the result that they are drawn by a thread into passionate adherence to a given mental picture.

Not only psychology but sociology played an important role for the public relations counsel, according to Bernays. The individual is "a cell organized into the social unit. Touch a nerve at a sensitive spot and you get an automatic response from certain specific members of the organism."


Bernays' vision was of a utopian society in which individuals' dangerous libidinal energies, the psychic and emotional energy associated with instinctual biological drives that Bernays viewed as inherently dangerous given his observation of societies like the Germans under Hitler, could be harnessed and channeled by a corporate elite for economic benefit. Through the use of mass production, big business could fulfill the cravings of what Bernays saw as the inherently irrational and desire-driven masses, simultaneously securing the niche of a mass-production economy (even in peacetime), as well as sating what he considered to be dangerous animal urges that threatened to tear society apart if left unquelled.

Bernays touted the idea that the "masses" are driven by factors outside their conscious understanding, and therefore that their minds can and should be manipulated by the capable few. "Intelligent men must realize that propaganda is the modern instrument by which they can fight for productive ends and help to bring order out of chaos."

The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. ...We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society. ...In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons...who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind.
(1928) pp. 9–10

Propaganda was portrayed as the only alternative to chaos.

One way Bernays reconciled manipulation with liberalism was his claim that the human masses would inevitably succumb to manipulation—and therefore the good propagandists could compete with the evil, without incurring any marginal moral cost. In his view, "the minority which uses this power is increasingly intelligent, and works more and more on behalf of ideas that are socially constructive."

Unlike some other early public relations practitioners, Bernays advocated centralization and planning. Marvin Olasky calls his 1945 book Take Your Place at the Peace Table "a clear appeal for a form of mild corporate socialism."

Bernays also drew on the ideas of the French writer Gustave Le Bon, [52] the originator of crowd psychology, and of Wilfred Trotter, who promoted similar ideas in the anglophone world in his book Instincts of the Herd in Peace and War . [53] Bernays refers to these two names in his writings. Trotter, who was a head and neck surgeon at University College Hospital, London, read Freud's works, and it was he who introduced Wilfred Bion, whom he lived and worked with, to Freud's ideas. When Freud fled Vienna for London after the Anschluss , Trotter became his personal physician. Trotter, Wilfred Bion, and Ernest Jones became key members of the Freudian psychoanalysis movement in England. They would develop the field of group dynamics, largely associated with the Tavistock Institute, where many of Freud's followers worked. Thus ideas of group psychology and psychoanalysis came together in London around World War II.

Recognition and legacy

Much of Bernays' reputation today stems from his persistent public relations campaign to build his own reputation as "America's No. 1 Publicist". During his active years, many of his peers in the industry were offended by Bernays' continuous self-promotion. According to Scott Cutlip, "Bernays was a brilliant person who had a spectacular career, but, to use an old-fashioned word, he was a braggart."

Bernays attracted positive and negative attention for his grand statements about the role of public relations in society. Reviewers praised Crystallizing Public Opinion (1923) as a pioneering study of the importance of something called public opinion. Propaganda (1928) drew more criticism for its advocacy of mass manipulation.

In the 1930s, his critics became more harsh. As the leading figure in public relations and a notorious advocate of "propaganda", Bernays was compared to European fascists such as Joseph Goebbels and Adolf Hitler. (Bernays himself wrote in his 1965 autobiography that Goebbels read and used his books.) [54]

Rather than retreating from the spotlight, Bernays continued to play up his ideas—for example, stating in a 1935 speech to the Financial Advertisers Association that strong men (including publicists) should become human symbols to lead the masses. On other occasions he tempered this message with the idea that, while propaganda is inevitable, the democratic system allows a pluralism of propaganda, while fascist systems offer only a single official propaganda.

At the same time, Bernays was praised for his apparent success, wisdom, foresight, and influence as an originator of public relations.

While opinions ranged negative to positive, there was widespread agreement that propaganda had a powerful effect on the public mind. According to John Stauber and Sheldon Rampton, in a published review of Larry Tye's biography of Bernays: [30]

It is impossible to fundamentally grasp the social, political, economic and cultural developments of the past 100 years without some understanding of Bernays and his professional heirs in the public relations industry. PR is a 20th-century phenomenon, and Bernays—widely eulogized as the "father of public relations" at the time of his death in 1995—played a major role in defining the industry's philosophy and methods.

As a result, his legacy remains a highly contested one, as evidenced by Adam Curtis' 2002 BBC documentary The Century of the Self .



  • (1917, co-author)
  • Crystallizing Public Opinion (New York: Boni and Liveright, 1923) OCLC
  • A Public Relations Counsel (1927)
  • An Outline of Careers: A Practical Guide to Achievement by Thirty-Eight Eminent Americans (1927)
  • Verdict of Public Opinion on Propaganda (1927)
  • Propaganda (New York: Horace Liveright. 1928) ISBN 978-0-8046-1511-2
  • This Business of Propaganda (1928)
  • Universities—Pathfinders in Public Opinion (1937)
  • Careers for Men: A Practical Guide to Opportunity in Business, Written by Thirty-Eight Successful Americans (1939)
  • Speak Up for Democracy: What You Can Do—A Practical Plan of Action for Every American Citizen (New York: The Viking Press, 1940)
  • Future of Private Enterprise in the Post-War World (1942)
  • Democratic Leadership in Total War (1943)
  • Psychological Blueprint for the Peace—Canada, U.S.A. (1944)
  • Public Relations (1945)
  • Your Place at the Peace Table. What You Can Do to Win a Lasting United Nations Peace (New York: The Gerent Press, 1945)
  • What the British Think of Us: A Study of British Hostility to America and Americans and Its Motivation, with Recommendations for Improving Anglo-American Relations (1950, co-author with his wife Doris Fleischman)
  • The Engineering of Consent (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1955)(contributor) OCLC
  • Your Future in Public Relations (1961)
  • Biography of an Idea: Memoirs of Public Relations Counsel (1965)
  • Case for Reappraisal of U.S. Overseas Information Policies and Programs (Special Study) (1970), by Edward L. Bernays and Burnet Hershey (editors)

Selected articles

  • "", The Bookman , April 1927, pp. 150–155.
  • "", American Journal of Sociology 33(6), May 1928.
  • "", Journal of Marketing 6(3), January 1942.
  • "Attitude Polls—Servants or Masters?", Public Opinion Quarterly 9(3), Autumn 1945.
  • "", Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 250, March 1947.
  • "", Industrial and Labor Relations Review 1(1), October 1947.
  • "", Business History Review 45(3), Autumn 1971.

See also