Arthur Wilson Page (September 10, 1883 – September 5, 1960) was a vice president and director of AT&T from 1927 to 1947. He is sometimes referred to as "the father of corporate public relations" for his work at AT&T. The company was experiencing resistance from the public to its monopolization efforts. Page is said to have established a series of public relations heuristics generally referred to as the Page Principles. In fact, they were composed by Jack Koten, Larry Foster and Ed Block, founding members of the eponymous Arthur W. Page Society, which acknowledges that the Page Principles are derived from Mr. Page's works. No words or phrases from Mr. Page's writings appear in the principles and none of the Page Principles authors worked with or for Arthur Page. It is unclear if any knew or met Mr. Page or that a bibliography or notes survive.
Arthur was born 10 September 1883 to Walter Hines Page and his wife Willa A. Page of Aberdeen, North Carolina. For his secondary education, Arthur studied at Lawrenceville School. He then attended Harvard College, graduating in 1905. He went to work at Doubleday, Page & Co., his father’s company, editing magazines, in particular The World's Work. "He wrote many powerful editorials describing and explaining the special obligations of corporations in a democratic society."
In 1927 Walter S. Gifford hired Page to become vice-president for public relations at AT&T. One of his first assignments was to prepare a speech for President Gifford to present in October that year to the National Association of Railroad and Utilities Commissioners meeting in Dallas, Texas.
In the early 1900s, AT&T had assessed that 90 percent of its press coverage was negative, which was reduced to 60 percent by changing its business practices and disseminating information to the press. According to business historian John Brooks, Page positioned the company as a public utility and increased the public's appreciation for its contributions to society. On the other hand, Stuart Ewen wrote that AT&T used its advertising dollars with newspapers to manipulate its coverage and had their public relations team write feature stories that were published as if they were written by independent journalists.
In 1941, when the book The Bell Telephone System by A.W. Page was published, the Dallas speech was quoted in chapter 2: "Responsibility for such a large part of the entire telephone service of the country...imposes on the management an unusual obligation to the public..."
Arthur lived until September, 1960.
He is today recognized in the name of two organizations, the Arthur W. Page Society, an organization for senior public relations executives, and the Arthur W. Page Center for Integrity in Public Communication, a research center dedicated to the study and advancement of ethics and responsibility in corporate communication.
- Griese, Noel L. (2001). Arthur W. Page: Publisher, Public Relations Pioneer, Patriot. Anvil Publishers, Inc. p. 2. ISBN 9780970497505.
- Barbara Diggs-Brown (May 15, 2011). Strategic Public Relations: Audience Focused Practice, 1st ed.: An Audience-focused Approach. Cengage Learning. ISBN 978-0-534-63706-4.
- M. Larry Litwin (2009). The Public Relations Practitioner's Playbook: A Synergized Approach to Effective Two-way Communication. AuthorHouse. p. 9. ISBN 978-1-4389-9475-8. Retrieved July 25, 2013.
- John Brooks (1976). Telephone: the first hundred years. Harper & Row. ISBN 978-0-06-010540-2.
- Page Principles Archived March 18, 2012, at the Wayback Machine from Arthur W. Page Society
- Edward M. Block Arthur W. Page, The Legacy of Public Relations, Excellence Behind the Name from Pennsylvania State University
- Watson, Tom (2012). "The evolution of public relations measurement and evaluation" (PDF). Public Relations Review. 38 (3): 390–398. doi:10.1016/j.pubrev.2011.12.018. ISSN 0363-8111.
- Stuart Ewen (August 4, 2008). Pr!: A Social History of Spin. Basic Books. ISBN 978-0-7867-2414-7.
- AW Page (1941) The Bell Telephone System, p 12, Harper & Brothers
- "About The Society". Arthur W. Page Society. Retrieved 8 December 2014.