#1 – After World War II

The American public had become scared of propaganda after they saw how the Nazi’s used it to control the thoughts of people. However, Bernays had realized that persuasion had become just as much of a right as free speech and free press.

“The tremendous expansion of communications in the United States has given this Nation the world’s most penetrating and effective apparatus for the transmission of ideas. Every resident is constantly exposed to the impact of our vast network of communications which reach every corner of the country, no matter how remote or isolated. Words hammer continually at the eyes and ears of America. The United States has become a small room in which a single whisper is magnified thousands of times.” – Bernays

#2 – Mastering Communication

Communication had become part of social life. According to Bernays it evolved into a modern highway system, connecting us all. If one wanted to achieve power and be a leader in this country now, “mastering the techniques of communication” was needed. This leader must “engineer consent” with people to support their ideas but Bernays argued that to sit around and wait for an audience who is widely uneducated to become educated will cause important decisions to fall to the wayside. Leaders cannot usually wait for the consent of their followers to produce results.

#3 – Planning for Mass Persuasion

There are many factors that need to be taken into consideration when trying to persuade a massive group of people. First, the public must be studied and analyzed as though they were a product or raw material, not a group of people. What are their attitudes toward the situation? What ideas will they absorb? What are they ready to do and what aren’t they ready to do? What leaders will promote this process? What is the flow of ideas – from whom to whom? Finally, to what extent do authority, factual evidence, precision, reason, tradition, and emotion play a part in the acceptance of these ideas?

Then, painstaking research must be done to know how the audience will react to all situations. Finally, when it came to tactics after research, Bernays believed that “the public at large was intellectually comatose and could be led, for the most part, by calculated appeals of emotion.”

#4 – Creating the News

Because of Bernays‘ belief that the audience was much less educated than the leader, he also believed that if a digestible message was created, that would determine what the truth was. These leaders who understood the ins and outs of communication would create the news and “orchestrate public occurrences so they will be noticed and will harvest the acquiescence necessary to sustain a desired outcome.” Something that stood out of the crowd would become recognized. “Newsworthy events, involving people, usually do not happen by accident.”

According to Earl Newsom, who worked at Standard Oil at the time, a newsworthy image must be one showing that the company wants the same things that people want. The audience should say, “That is my kind of company – that is good – let us keep and preserve and extend that institution.”

#5 – The Use of Imagery

Much of the use of visual imagery used to persuasion came from the success of the New Deal. The photos they used galvanized the public attention. However, pictures needed to be carefully chosen because the public can see when the setting or the people they use do not represent reality. As one text said, “It takes more than whiskers, a red bandana and a straw in the mouth to make a farmer.”

Standard Oil used visual imagery to its advantage. They wanted to connect with the public and this was going to be tough because Standard Oil didn’t have the best reputation. However, after they hired Roy Stryker to head a special photographic unit, their use of visual imagery really helped their image. They became involved in a film project called Louisiana Story which “told a poignant story of friendship between an oil-field worker and a local boy.”

Standard Oil’s name was never used in the actual film and none of their products were shown, however because they backed they project, they evoked a silent identity of interest. The film showed hardworking, intelligent, industrial craftsmen, working to get oil out of the earth. Because the men in the film have these characteristics and Standard Oil is backing the film, then that must mean Standard Oil’s employees and management have those same characteristics as well? Thats was the public believed after they saw the film.


#6 – Television as a Method of Persuasion

It was argued that corporations must follow the lead of the Catholic Church to draw public sentiment to the “imposing logic” of the corporate system. This belief reflected the current changes taking place in American society. In order to get these changes out to the public, television was used to inform.

Modern channels of persuasion grew during the twenties. Poet Paul Valery predicted television in the 1920s, saying “[j]ust as water, gas, and electricity are brought into our houses from far off . . . so we shall be supplied with visual or auditory images, which will appear and disappear at a simple movement of the hand, hardly more than a sign.” Then, in the forties, television arrived and there were more opportunities to mold the public’s mind. These opportunities were especially evident during World War II.

#7  – Television as a Showroom 

In 1944, T.F. Joyce, the general manager of RCA’s Radio-Phonograph-Television Department, outlined the ways that television would change the contours of American life. For example, he believed that “a nationwide television system is the medium which can arouse the spirit and will of the people.”

Joyce also noted that television would be a profound service to businesses because of how it fulfills the requirements of good advertising by appealing to both the ear and eye. Because of this, he believed that wherever there was a TV, there was a showroom where personal, dramatized demonstrations [could] be made.”

In 1947, C.J. Durban expressed his observations of television in the Public Relations Journal by stating there is a”bestirring and excitement” among viewers when the hour of television approaches. He goes on to say that because it’s so important to the public, television is a “potential public relations tool of tremendous value.”
#8 – The Power of the Image

In his report “Telephone News on Television,” Chester Burger, a pioneer in the field of media consultancy, focused on the demographic that television reaches, television as a unique public relations tool, and the language of the image on television. He stated that the sentence structure on television should be brief and simplified so that the millions of viewers feel as if the newscaster is “casually telling a story to a friend.”

As for the language of the image, Burger argued that “pictures . . . mutely convey meaning.” Moreover, the “pictures don’t illustrate the story; they are the story.” This is especially because the television audience gives the majority of their attention to the picture.

#9 – Pictorial Persuasion 

In 1956, George Gallup wrote about images shaping opinions. Although words are the primary vehicle of communication, Gallup believes that image is an opportunity to “reach and impress a message on the minds of millions of viewers.” In order to make a picture’s language successful, it must use the video to communicate specific ideas or sales arguments. According to Gallup, producers of commercials were among the best at this since “effective commercials make sure the ‘pictures’ tell the sales story.”

Louis A. Magnani also believed that image provided an advantage when selling a product because “visuals remain in a person’s mind long after oratorical appeals to actions have faded away.”

J. Gordon Lippincott stated that a corporation must silently broadcast a reasonable picture of itself in precise detail. If a corporation does not use some sort of visual aid to identify itself, it is at a competitive disadvantage.

#10 – How Television Changed Politics

Because of the power of images, James Kelleher proclaimed that political presentations must be “designed to create an overall impression rather than hammer home specific points,” making the politician an actor rather than a policy expert. According to Kelleher, Ronald Reagan successfully did this. He had appeal because of his exceptional ability to gain the confidence of the average person. He was able to transform from a Hollywood actor to president because of corporate public relations specialists.

Reagan was also so successful in this because of his envy of FDR’s public appeal. President Roosevelt had a striking magnetism from his empathy and accessible presence that fascinated Reagan. In 1954, Reagan had the opportunity to mimic FDR’s skills when he became the official spokes person for the General Electric Corporation, where he had to humanize the industry. In addition to this, he hosted television’s weekly General Electric Theater.

C.U. & J.E.


One response »

  1. kylereinson says:

    Regarding #5, did you see the new tourism ads paid for by BP?

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