|Bernays, Edward L.
Crystallizing Public Opinion
New York; 1923/1961.
|The original 1923 version was the first significant book in the field. It deserves to be read for its historical value, as well as for its amazingly progressive and long-lived conceptual content. Some of Bernays' terminology may have been ill-conceived and critic-provoking, but his underlying ideas were, and still are, very sound. The revisions included in the 1961 edition primarily extend the evolution of public relations through the four intervening decades and try to put the 1923 edition's impact into context; except for a very extensive new preface (53 pages) and a few updates, it differs very little from the original.|
Rhinebeck, New York; 1986
|There's a bit of redundancy and occasional traces of self-justification in what is essentially a collection of columns Bernays originally wrote for the periodical Public Relations Quarterly, but Bernays remains clear and forceful in his assertion that public relations is based on the social sciences and should be more about actions than it is about words. Another recurring and intensifying theme is Bernays' assertion that public relations should be made into a legally defined and sanctioned profession similar to law and medicine.|
Norman, Oklahoma; 1952/1963.
|In eight decades practicing public relations, Bernays literally -- as well as figuratively -- helped write the book on public relations. The first half of the book is an informative history of public relations from Ancient Sumeria through the 1940s that also outlines Bernays' 1952 view (somewhat modified from his 1923 view) of what PR is and how it ought to be regarded. The second half is case studies of Bernays' work. Some remain informative and interesting today, but many are so dated they serve as little more than historic footnotes.|
|Boorstin, Daniel J.
the Image; A Guide to Pseudo-events in America
New York; 1964.
|Boorstin, head of the U.S. Library of Congress, is one of the most important thinkers and writers of the 20th century. This book, first published more than 30 years ago, should be read by every educated person. It may afront some PR people who resent Boorstin's concerns (and implied criticisms) of America's growing emphasis on image over reality, image over ideal, and form over substance, but it is certainly thought-provoking.|
|Boulding, Kenneth E.
The Image: Knowledge in Life and Society
Ann Arbor; 1956, 1968
|Boulding never mentions public relations, but his philosophical exploration of knowledge and intial development of an interdisciplinary "theory of the image" is relevant to any thinking public relations practitioner. His social constructionist view of reality has been studied and respected for four decades, and his first proposition "that behavior depends on the image" is intrinsic to any concept of public relations.|
Necessary Illusions: Thought Control in Democratic Societies
|In this book and other writings, Chomsky deplores the effectiveness of what he terms "the propaganda model" by which the "elite intellectual culture" -- the power brokers in government and business -- shape the belief and actions of American government and the broader society. He uses Bernays concept of public relations as the "engineering of consent" and voices serious concerns about the extent of the engineering to which we're subjected. Unlike those who believe media are watchdogs of government, he believes such claims are pure hypocrisy and that the media and government are engaged in a tacit conspiracy of labeling and reporting that defines the public's perceptions of reality. We are inundated with "Newspeak" that is more subtle and more extreme than anything Orwell discussed in 1984. Our authoritarian friends are firm-handed but benevolent dictators while nearly identical enemies are tyrannical despots; our military forces go ashore in other countries as peace-keepers but others come as armed invaders.|
|Crable, Richard E. &
Steven L. Vibbert
Public Relations as Communication Management
Edina, Minnesota; 1986.
|Rather than reflecting a mass media or journalism perspective as many introductory public relations texts do, this book combines a traditional speech communication and rhetorical view with a strong dose of organizational communication. Its different outlook and the short shrift it gives how-to-do-it techniques will not sit well with some public relations purists, but its emphasis on research and analytic thinking, coupled with its view of public relations as "the management of communication" makes it an interesting complement to many of the more widely used texts.|
|Cutlip, Scott M.
The Unseen Power: Public Relations. A History
Hillsdale, New Jersey; 1994.
|Although written essentially as an informal essay rather than a scholarly, footnoted reference, this nearly 800-page new book is likely to become the definitive history of public relations in the 20th century. It's not particularly well written, but it is highly informative in its treatment of the major agencies and most important practitioners of this century. Cutlip, who has long been regarded as one of the premier writers and researchers in the field, lists a couple of dozen sources at the end of each chapter but notes "This essay is written largely out of my 57 years' involvement in the emerging vocation of public relations." Thus, it is occasionally -- as in its discussion of Bernays -- unabashedly negative and opinionated.|
|Dalton, H.J. "Jerry," Jr. (editor)
Public Relations: An Overview(Monograph Series, 1:3)
New York; 1991.
|It's an obvious promotional piece for the PRSA, but it's also a good, albeit skeletonized introduction to the field. Most of its 20 pages are bulleted lists and other concise, but information-packed, overviews of what public relations is, what its practitioners do, who they serve, what they call themselves, and what their ethical standards are supposed to be.|
|Dilenschneider, Robert L.
Power and Influence; Mastering the Art of Persuasion
New York; 1990
|In this book the CEO of Hill and Knowlton, the largest public relations firm in the world, offers a basic yet elegant, discussion of "a very simple relationship: the connection between communication, recognition, and influence" that he calls "the power triangle." He sees it as the heart of all successful management, not just the essence of public relations|
|Ford, Nick Aaron (editor)
Language in Uniform: A Reader on Propaganda
|This relatively short reader contains an excellent sampling of key excerpts from both classic and recent sources dealing with propaganda and persuasion. It's like opening a treasure chest to find Walter Lippmann, John Stuart Mill, Jonathan Swift, Adolph Hitler, Senator Joseph McCarthy, and Robert Hutchins among the two dozen authors represented in this single volume. With a selection of authors/readings like these, it's unlikely it could miss its stated purpose of alerting readers to the pervasiveness of propaganda and its techiques so they'll recognize it and be able to deal with it when they encounter it.|
|Grunig, James E.(editor)
Excellence in Public Relations and Communication Management
Hillsdale, New Jersey; 1992.
|This volume is the first fruit of IABC's much touted "excellence study" which spent over a half-decade and nearly a half-million dollars surveying and analyzing organizations all over the world to find out what set those with excellent public relations programs apart from the rest. Under Grunig's leadership and tight editorship the nine contributors to this volume have met their goal of producing a general theory of public relations that explains how the process operates and what distinguishes effective public relations programs from ineffective ones. In doing so, they tested and seemingly validated most of the theoretical foundation which Grunig and Hunt laid in their 1984 book Managing Public Relations. The findings of the excellence study and, by extension, this book are among the hot topics of the decade for public relations professionals.|
|Institute for Public Relations Research and Education
Communications that Count: The Impact of Public Relations[29-minute videotape]
|The real-life situations and mini-case studies that illustrate the scope and impact of public relations are excellent. They include some of the biggest names in American business and public relations -- Tylenol, Kodak, Bankers Life, etc. -- and are just the right length to capture the essence of the story without going into too much detail. But, the overly dramatic and hokey scenario about Carla, a PR woman about to lose her job, that's used as continuity for the video is almost too much to stomach.|
|Key, V.O., Jr.
Public Opinion and American Democracy
New York; 1964
|Most public relations histories and pioneers such as Edward Bernays cite Walter Lippmann's Public Opinion  as a landmark for bringing the term "public opinion" to the forefront of public discussion and social science. It did that, but by the mid-1950s some of his views were regarded as overly idealistic and unrealistic in practice. Giving credit where it's due but without undue reverence to Lippmann, Key's book offers a more pragmatic look at the role of public opinion and political activists in mid-twentieth century democracies.|
Alan Scott & Judy VanSlyke Turk
This Is PR: The Realities of Public Relations
Belmont, California; 1993.
|Of the many introductory PR textbooks available, this one offers the best treatment of PR's evolution and development. It puts PR in a context of social, political and economic history and provides a "big picture" that is neither vague and superficial nor oppressively detailed. And, while it mentions several key figures in PR history, it isn't simply a timeline of "great men" as some other texts are.|
|Olasky, Marvin N.
Roots of Modern Public Relations: The Bernays Doctrine, Public Relations Quarterly, Winter 1984.
|Olasky claims Bernays has been unfairly overshadowed by Ivy Lee in most public relations histories. He presents an interesting contrast between Bernays as a realist advocating pragmatic manipulation of public opinion and Ivy Lee as a high-principled idealist who espoused an unrealistic, goody-goody view of public relations as full disclosure of pure information.|
|Peters, Thomas J. &
Robert H. Waterman, Jr.
In Search of Excellence: Lessons from America's Best-Run Companies
New York; 1982
|Even though "public relations" is nowhere to be found in its index, this book makes it clear that thoughtful and effective use of public relations is one of the key elements that make companies "excellent." Simply stated, public relations and relationship building help companies be "action-stimulating and people-oriented" so they end up being "profit-maximizing." It's a must-read for prospective public relations practitioners, not only because it illustrates the role of public relations in excellent companies but because of the insights it offers on a wide range of American businesses and their management techniques.|
The Story of Human Communication: Cave Painting to Microchip.
New York; 1988.
|Narrowly focused literalists may think this book has little relevance to public relations -- Only two chapters, Public Opinion and Advertising & Public Relations, directly address it. -- but its overall perspective on the sweep and scope of communication evolution is fundamental for anyone considering a career in communication. It won't teach you "how to do it," but it's enlightening, humbling, and thought-provoking reading.|
|Tedlow, Richard S.
Keeping the Corporate Image: Public Relations and Business, 1900-1950
Greenwich, Connecticut; 1979.
|Adapted from a doctoral dissertation in American history, this book represents excellent scholarship and does a great job of filtering out the best and most reliable information from a wide range of published sources. It's very well written and flows smoothly, although it does retain some of the tone of a dissertation. It's authoritative, analytic, and scholarly, but it seems to have been written from a distance by a detached observer. Such an approach is admired in academic circles but makes the book a bit dry by public relations standards; it lacks the anecdotes and personal insights that enliven histories such as Cutlip's. Combining this book's analytic excellence and smooth writing with Cutlip's wealth of experience and personal knowledge would probably produce the ideal public relations history.|