1927 Page became the first person to hold the title of vice president
of public relations for AT&T. Publicity and advertising functions
had previously been handled by others throughout the company including
a group headed by the president. Page brought important staff functions
to the company: the counseling of management on how to react to
public opinion and the ability to communicate persuasively on behalf
of the company.
brought important staff functions to AT&T: counseling of
management on how to react to public opinion, and communicating
persuasively on the company's behalf.
October 20, 1927 AT&T president Walter Gifford delivered a speech
before the National Association of Railroad and Utilities Commissioners
in Dallas. The speech defined the company's policies and objectives;
AT&T would provide their customers with the best possible service
at the lowest cost consistent with financial safety. This message
would become the bedrock of AT&T's public relations efforts
to this day; the responsibility of the pr staff was to ensure that
this promise was kept.
contributions to AT&T's pr philosophy included the idea that
the public relations staff must act as the conscience of the corporation
and that the pr practitioner was to convince all employees that
public relations was everybody's job and not just a staff function.
Page addressed this issue in a speech he delivered at a public relations
conference in 1939 where he stated, "Public relations, therefore,
is not publicity only, not management only; it is what everybody
in the business from top to bottom says and does when in contact
with the public."
relations is everybody's job.
One of Page's first endeavors at AT&T was to increase the use
of institutional ads and sales advertising. AT&T institutional
ads, begun with Theodore Vail in 1908 and placed under the aegis
of Jim Ellsworth, Page's ads emphasized the sale of extensions.
A stress on sales would make the company more aware of and responsive
to the customers desires. He also believed that employees that were
encouraged to sell would have to be kind to their customers and
that this in turn would create customer good will. During these
early years Page also helped develop AT&T's stockholder policies.
He served as president of the Bell Telephone Securities Co., a subsidiary
formed to encourage ownership of AT&T securities.
was credited with the helping of AT&T emerge from the investigation.
Page faced one of his biggest pr challenges at AT&T
in 1935 when the company came under heavy scrutinization by the
U.S. government. Congress passed the Communication Act of 1934,
which in turn created the Federal Communication Commission. The
FCC was given the power to regulate telephone, broadcasting and
other communications companies. What started as a simple investigation
into their advertising and sales practices soon became what had
been described at the time as a "witch hunt." Page was
credited with helping AT&T emerge from the investigation with
little incidence because he had developed what the San Antonio
News had described as "a beautiful system of public relations."
1941 and 1946 Page would continue his pr duties with AT&T, but
much of his attention would turn towards a much bigger issue, World
Page and Company
AT&T Years 1927 - 1946
WW II and the Years Following