Ideally, PR should be honest; it should define a company's identity, culture and philosophy -- communicating not only information about policies and products -- but purpose. But that assumes the public is informed and intelligent -- and (of course) actually cares.
Most PR, however, is manipulation. Bernays saw the public as ignorant and poorly educated, if not as a dangerous mob, a hoi polloi that might at any moment rise up against its master.
The Bernays tradition continues -- and dominates.
Apple is a good example. As The Inquirer points out, Apple is all about control.
And this is dictated through peer pressure --a kind of subtle authoritarianism insofar as this pressure is orchestrated from above. Apple products are "awesome", "incredible", "cool". In China kids sell their kids to get an IPad. That story is upsetting -- but also viral --and also sells a lot of IPads, which are one of those "must have" things. People rarely consider just why they have to have an IPod or IPad or Macbook over all the other competing products. The just feel they must have them. And others should have them.
Macbooks are so "in". And cheap Korean netbook with Linux and free open-source software works just as well -- it's so nerdy. No darling I will not marry you unless you are Apple.
Does this prove Bernay's (and Hitler's) point. That the masses are ignorant?
I think not. Because lots of people buy stuff without the ubiquitous half eaten fruit on it. Maybe they sense that the fruit a.) has already been bitten into b.) is probably genetically modified c.) attracts flies.
Oh yeah, and Hitler lost.