Bernays: The Counselor and His Genius and His Role in the Profession
As he stressed in Crystallizing Public Opinion, Edward L. Bernays saw himself as counselor to his clients, not as the head of a large public relations service agency like those built by Ivy Lee, Pendleton Dudley, Carl Byoir, and other pioneers of this vocation. As he put in his interview of March 12, 1959:
Counsel on public relations is a profession. A doctor, lawyer, architect does not work on an account executive basis if he is carrying on true professional activities. He may have partners or associates, but the client knows that he is getting a professional. We regard what we do as a personal service. . . . I do not feel the public relations profession is fulfilling its highest function in satisfying the social and economic needs of the society if it simply functions like a factory. I have no objection to organizations with hundreds of people who Write communications material for their clients with news desks, magazine desks, and the like. Instead of working to expand our organization in number of personnel, we have worked to make our services of counseling worth more to the client and society. From an economic standpoint, the public relations counsel earns as much with a few people as thirty.
The client got Bernays' personal attention and with that quite imaginative solutions to pubic relations problems. These following illustrations suffice to document his imaginative and innovative techniques, examples he often recited in his writings and his lectures.
One of Bernays' oft-told tales is how he quelled the rumors that the famous Waldorf-Astoria Hotel was about to close, rumors fueled by talk of tearing down the original structure and building a more magnificent hotel in