Installment # 5: Doris Fleischman, the Mother of Public Relations

Doris Fleichsman’s professional talent is undeniable. Even though she didn’t have direct contact with clients, (which is why Bernays always took credit for their accomplishments), Doris’ role in their business went down other lanes as equally important for the success of the firm.

For instance, when talking about Crystallyzing Public Opinion, Scott Cutlip affirms that Bernays developed the basic principles of Public Relations through discussions he had with his brilliant wife.

Doris Fleischman found in clients an actual impediment to develop her work freely. This is what she says in A Wife is Many Women:

“Slowly, throughout the course of my work with Eddy, I learned that men aren’t entirely happy about women in the professional world. In the initial stages of public relations, I was the exception for a world dominated by men. Silk manufacturers and travel article producers and scientific institutes always received me with a courteous surprise. Gradually, however, I became only one of the many women trying to compete with men. You had to cross barriers. Men didn’t take orders from women very well.  They didn’t even like receiving orders from other men, but a woman’s advice was degrading for. I learned to back off from situations in which the gender of the public relations consultant was a factor or where suggestions were supposed to be detached from gender. If ideas where considered first in terms of my gender, they could never be judged by my own merits.”

The facts revealed by this investigation allow us to affirm that Doris E. Fleishman’s influence was vital for her husband’s professional development. In this sense, Cutlip says that during her years of partnership with Edward, she contributed with a her points of view, common sense, clear writing and firmness; In sum, great stability for the firm. Bernays himself expressed it this way:

“She has played an equally important role as mine, except that her insights and judgement are better than mine. Her writing skills are exceptional, as you might have already seen in her books.”

And in his autobiography, he pointed out:

“She has contributed deeply in the politics and strategies we have given our clients. Her balanced judgement was very important not only in the base and principles that regulate the public relations profession, but also in the development of a more general perspective on persuasion in today’s society.”

In sum, the "hidden life" of Doris Elsa Fleischman, who in search of her own success kept her work private and helped her husband in silence, highlights the current obstacles professional women, wives and mother dace in a highly competitive world. 

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