“The army is strong because the soldiers must obey, whether they want it or not. The sword of binding obedience does not hang above the individual and public mind. That is why a different toolkit should have been offered for a peaceful life,” Edward Bernays.
The genesis of Public Relations traces its roots to the US Committee on Public Information at the time of Woodrow Wilson’s presidency, while remaining in the same form it is currently used. Indeed, it has been slightly changed for over a century to hide unconcealed propaganda.
In general, propaganda with a loudspeaker in Joseph Goebbels’ hands caused aversion, leaving a negative assessment in society. However, propaganda was one of the main opportunities to unite the state’s citizens to achieve the government’s goals.
Having the tools for influence – the press, radio, TV, social media – we get a large platform for influencing the public and a battlefield that needs to be controlled at the same time. And there is no guarantee that only two opposing forces will compete on it.
Over time, resources and turf wars are becoming a thing of the past. It is much easier, running a number of information campaigns, to win over one or another locus of power, “a velvet enslavement”, so to say, and Voilà – resources, territory. Use as you wish.
Edward Bernays, who is called the father of propaganda, wrote: “If you can influence leaders (with or without their conscious interaction), you influence the group they influence by default. People do not have to meet in public meetings or street protests to be influenced by mass psychology. Since people are inherently collective beings, they feel like part of the herd, even being alone in a room with curtains closed. Their minds retain the patterns engraved by group influence.”
Here we get acquainted with instruments for influencing represented by opinion leaders often seen on TV, we read their blogs and follow them on social networks. We track the guidance vector and understand the ultimate goal the political leaders pursue through their active involvement and commitment. And the achievement of this goal depends on the so-called leaders because it is no secret that even a blatant lie can be dressed up in a garb of truth, if supported by a proper thesis.
Propaganda and New Propaganda (Public Relations) is not a clearly defined science, since it deals with a person, but at the same time it uses accurate tools and mathematical calculations to get the wanted outcome. Targeting adjustment in social media with an option to choose age, social status, religious views helps to maximize the correct dissemination of the necessary thesis.
For instance, back in 1917, after making the decision on the United States’ direct participation in the First World War, Four Minute Men groups were created to resist mass protests in the situation of total conscription. These guys spoke out in cinemas before and after the movie throughout the country. They touched on such topics as "Serving Together Through Selective Military Conscription", "Why We Fight" and "Who Is Our Real Enemy." Thus, more than 10 million people were called up for duty without a hint of any protests.
Currently, it is much easier to target audiences on social media appropriately. You can use any tools if they are effective and use a systematic approach with making changes at one point to get a result at another one.
In general, the toolkit for managing public opinion to get the desired result is quite extensive, and this list is expanding every year. The only thing that remains unchanged is the number of people capable of being leaders, or being a part of the crowd that obediently goes in the shown direction.