PR! : A Social History of Spin

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 1998-10-22
  • Publisher: Basic Books

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The early years of the twentieth century were a difficult period for Big Business. Corporate monopolies, the brutal exploitation of labor, and unscrupulous business practices were the target of blistering attacks from a muckraking press and an increasingly resentful public. Corporate giants were no longer able to operate free from the scrutiny of the masses."The crowd is now in the saddle," warned Ivy Lee, one of America's first corporate public relations men. "The people now rule. We have substituted for the divine right of kings, the divine right of the multitude." Unless corporations developed means for counteracting public disapproval, he cautioned, their future would be in peril. Lee's words heralded the dawn of an era in which corporate image management was to become a paramount feature of American society. Some corporations, such as AT&T, responded inventively to the emergency. Others, like Standard Oil of New Jersey (known today as Exxon), continued to fumble the PR ball for decades. The Age of Public Relations had begun.In this long-awaited, pathbreaking book, Stuart Ewen tells the story of the Age unfolding: the social conditions that brought it about; the ideas that inspired the strategies of public relations specialists; the growing use of images as tools of persuasion; and, finally, the ways that the rise of public relations interacted with the changing dynamics of public life itself. He takes us on a vivid journey into the thinking of PR practitionersfrom Edward Bernays to George Gallupexploring some of the most significant campaigns to mold the public mind, and revealing disturbing trends that have persisted to the present day. Using previously confidential sources, and with the aid of dozens of illustrations from the past hundred years, Ewen sheds unsparing light on the contours and contradictions of American democracy on the threshold of a new millennium.

Author Biography

Stewart Ewen is professor of media studies and chair of the Department of Communications at Hunter College. He is also a professor in the Ph.D. programs in history and sociology at the City University of New York Graduate Center. He is the author of the acclaimed Captains of Consciousness, Channels of Desire, and All Consuming Images, the last of which provided the basis for Bill Moyers’s award-winning PBS series The Public Mind. He lives in New York City.

Table of Contents

Creditsp. viii
Stagecraft and Truth in an Age of Public Relationsp. 1
Visiting Edward Bernaysp. 3
Dealing in Reality: Protocols of Persuasionp. 19
The Crowd is in the Saddle"""": Progressive Politics and the Rise of Public Relations""""p. 37
Truth Happens: An Age of Publicity Beginsp. 39
Controlling Chaosp. 60
Educate the Public""""""""p. 82
House of Truthp. 102
Changing Rhetorics of Persuasionp. 129
Social Psychology and the Quest for the Public Mindp. 131
Unseen Engineers: Biography of an Ideap. 146
Modern Pipelines of Persuasionp. 174
Optical Illusionsp. 191
Battles for the American Way""""""""p. 213
Silver Chains and Friendly Giantsp. 215
The Greater Goodp. 233
The New Deal and the Publicity of Social Enterprisep. 247
Money Talks: The Publicity of Private Enterprisep. 288
Commercializing the Cosmosp. 337
Public Ultimatumsp. 339
Engineering Consensusp. 373
Coda the Public and Its Problems: Some Notes for the New Millenniump. 399
Notesp. 415
Bibliographyp. 449
Indexp. 471
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

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