Of all the techniques in this glossary, this is probably the most used and the most insidious. And the most problematic given the current rampant distrust of experts in the U.S. It's a technique that's been deployed since the very early days of the PR industry. Ivy Lee started doing it for the railroad companies even before he started working for Standard Oil and the Rockefellers. By the time Edward Bernays got his firm going, he had experts on retainer, ready to jump in and help legitimize his clients as needed. It's only continued from there, often bleeding into science denial (more on that particular flavor below).
Industries that use or have used it: All of them
- In 1913–1914, the railroad companies were pushing for a freight rate increase. Ivy Lee had been working for Pennsylvania Railroad since 1906, and had worked for various other rail companies too, so he helped found and advised the Association of Railroad Executives and the Bureau of Railroad Economics. The Bureau was staffed by real economists, but it was funded by the railroads and managed by Lee, a fact that most reporters didn't know when they were referencing the Bureau's data and charts in support of the railroad companies' perspective.
- In the 1940s, Bernays had his staff physician pull together a survey of thousands of doctors to say that a hearty breakfast featuring his client's product—bacon—was the healthiest way to start the day.