The Page Philosophy

Arthur W. Page viewed public relations as the art of developing, understanding and communicating character — both corporate and individual. This vision was a natural outgrowth of his belief in humanism and freedom as America’s guiding characteristics and as preconditions for capitalism.

The successful corporation, Page believed, must shape its character in concert with the nation’s. It must operate in the public interest, manage for the long run and make customer satisfaction its primary goal. At a public relations conference of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway Company in October, 1939 he described the dynamic this way:

Real success, both for big business and the public, lies in large enterprise conducting itself in the public interest and in such a way that the public will give it sufficient freedom to serve effectively.”

When asked in 1946 about the public relations job that business as a whole should do, Page responded:

…any concern that does business with the public is in a public business. It is subject to regulation in many ways — by laws, from those affecting incorporation to blue sky legislation; by forms of public supervision; by the public’s giving or withholding patronage, and by public praise or blame from the press, radio, political leaders. Public opinion may at any time be translated into law. This task of business in fitting itself to the pattern of public desires is public relations. It is, in effect, adapting big business to a democracy. The public relations job of this, as of other businesses, is to earn a good reputation with the public, to establish itself in the public mind as an institution of character and one which functions in the public interest.

As for advertising and publicity, it is true they are important parts of public relations, although here, as in most human affairs, what you do is more important than what you say. What you say, the manner and extent to which you inform the public about the conduct of your business is a vital matter, however. Purpose of this information is to tell the public about the policies and practices of a company so as to demonstrate how it is fulfilling its contract with the public. The theory is that the greater the public knowledge of a business the greater the public’s understanding of the business and the greater the use of its goods and services.”