#1 – Deliberate News
How do you turn an event into news? For anything to become news, Ewen suggests that it must break a routine. However, when faced with a point or purpose in which you have no newsworthy event to support your opinion, many times you must turn to the creation and planning of events.
According to Ewen, communication has the power to include many more people than those who witness the event. To bring attention to such a wide audience, you need to present an intriguing story. “Newsworthy events, involving people, usually do not happen by accident. They are planned deliberately to accomplish a purpose, to influence our ideas and actions” (p. 22).
#2 – The Motive Behind Ewen’s Teaching
Faced with the frustrations of writing, Ewen lost sight of writing a book regarding the role of public relations in twentieth century life. Ewen felt as though he was writing about an essentially public topic, yet his “research and writing activities were overwhelmingly private” (20). He needed a social outlet in which he could discuss what he was encountering. Instead, he turned to teaching a course at Hunter College. He was not aware that the class itself would present to him the opportunity for himself and his students to test out public relations.
#6 – Making the Class Look Good
Ewen told his class to bring in newspaper article clippings from local newspapers, especially Newsday articles.
Ewen had his students do this in order to supply provocative subject matter for the reporter. With the articles they brought to class, they would read and interpret how each one was shaped by the handiwork of public relations professionals. Bringing in the clippings made the class appear as they were all eager to participate and take part in the lesson and homework. (p. 23)
#7. Look like you want to be here
Ewen and the class decided the students would raise their hands throughout the class period to indicate an interest in participating in discussion. They would do this often and regularly but not so much that the participation didn’t seem realistic. There was a set of signals to keep the class discussion moving and everyone on the same page.
If a student wanted to be called on because they actually wanted to participate in the discussion, he would raise his right hand. If a student wanted to just appear as participating but did not actually want to be called on, he would raise his left hand. This communicated the impression that the class was exhilarating and students wanted to be involved. (p. 24)
#9: Mastering the Spin
The article was finally printed by the newspaper. It was time for the class to see if their experimental spin had succeeded. The article described the “pseudo” class perfectly. It claimed that the class was inspecting the Declaration of Independence as a piece of propaganda. The reporter described the students as 25 hipsters whose class reflected more of a coffee house setting. The class read the article and beamed with excitement. They celebrated that they had all mastered the “Way of Spin”.
In the fall of 1990, a story circulated throughout the media concerning the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. The story was about how Iraqi soldiers infiltrated Kuwait City hospitals and extracted hundreds of premature infants from incubators and left them for dead on the cold hospital floors.
The source of this story was from a 15 year old girl who requested to remain anonymous. She went by the name of Nayirah and testified before the Congressional Human Rights Caucus. She claimed she was a hospital volunteer and was a firsthand witness of this horrific event.
Later Nayirah was revealed as Nayirah Al-Sabah the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador to the United States. The claims that she made were revealed to be a complete lie. It was also revealed that the meeting of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus was the idea of Gary Hymel, VP of Hill and Knowlton which happens to be one of the largest PR firms in the world.
This example shows the true consequences of bad public relations. This was a publicity stunt to elevate the tempers of Americans and sway them to enter the war. Not only was it a complete lie, it was a successful lie. The United States did enter the war and without this story, one might assume that the United States never would have entered the war.
#11: Public Relations vs. Public Opinion
The idea of a democratic society is for the common good to have their voice and to express their thoughts. In a democratic society there is often a struggle between the struggle of power and the interests of public opinion. According to Bernays handbook, Crystallizing Public Opinion, he described that modern society has become more bold and threatening to the interests of order. There has been an increasing sense of “entitlement”. Bernays suggests that Public Relations should be used to maintain order; therefore Public Relations must shape public opinion.
In Ewen’s class there were a couple of statements regarding “chaos”. The mention was in a quote from Bernays which talked about how intelligent men must be aware that propaganda is a means to help bring about order from chaos. Another mention talked about how chaos is so prominent that there are books about how to live with it. Ewen states “the real need is how to live without it”.