“All business begins with the public permission and exists by public approval.”
—Arthur W. Page, October 27, 1939

 

Edward L. Bernays
Chester Burger
Carl R. Byoir
Moss Kendrix
Arthur W. Page
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In 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.

Page 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.

On 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.

Page's 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."
 

“Public relations is everybody's job.”

Early Years
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.
 

Page was credited with the helping of AT&T emerge from the investigation.

The FCC 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."

Between 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 War II.

Doubleday, Page and Company
The AT&T Years 1927 - 1946
WW II and the Years Following
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