Arthur Page's Seven PRinciples

      44 Comments on Arthur Page's Seven PRinciples
Arthur W. Page

Arthur W. Page

When learning the 20th century history of public relations, we often focus on Ivy Lee and Edward Bernays.  Lee’s 1906 “Declaration of Principles” and Bernays’ 1923 book “Crystallizing Public Opinion” had profound impact on the growth and understanding of the profession.  Students of PR history should also know Arthur Page, who built on their early efforts and helped shaped public relations as we know it today.

Page, who served as vice president of public relations for AT&T from 1927-1946, created the “Seven Principles of Public Relations Management.” They are as relevant now as they were nearly a century ago.  Here’s a slightly edited version:

  • Tell the truth. Let the public know what’s happening and provide an accurate picture of the company’s character, ideals and practices.
  • Prove it with action. Public perception of an organization is determined 90 percent by what it does and ten percent by what it says.
  • Listen to the customer. To serve the company well, understand what the public wants and needs. Keep top decision makers and other employees informed.
  • Manage for tomorrow. Anticipate public reaction and eliminate practices that create difficulties. Generate goodwill.
  • Conduct public relations as if the whole company depends on it. No corporate strategy should be implemented without considering its impact on the public. The public relations professional is a policy maker capable of handling a wide range of corporate communications activities.
  • Realize a company’s true character is expressed by its people.  The strongest opinions — good or bad — about a company are shaped by the words and deeds of its employees.   Corporate communications must support each employee’s capability and desire to be an honest, knowledgeable ambassador.
  • Remain calm, patient and good-humored.  When a crisis arises, remember that cool heads communicate best.

When a 21st century PR practitioner is performing skillfully, ethically and effectively, there’s little question that Page’s principles have greatly influenced their actions.  Students of PR–and PR professionals on the front lines every day–must remember to embrace Page’s sage advice.  His tenants are what makes our profession uniquely necessary in our world of constant communication.  Your thoughts?

 

44 thoughts on “Arthur Page's Seven PRinciples

  1. Laura L.

    I believe “remain calm, patient, and good-humored” is the most interesting of Arthur Page’s Seven Principles. This is an aspect of PR that I think many people overlook. With all of the many responsibilities a public relations practitioner must tend to, it is very easy to forget to keep cool and composed when dealing with difficult journalists/reporters, publics, and situations.

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  2. Jennifer Im

    While I certainly agree that the Seven Principles are relevant today, I wonder if they still apply as strongly to the larger mega corporations. Due to their all encompassing nature, they no longer experience the same degree of threat should they choose not to follow Arthur Page’s words of wisdom. When one company has all of their fingers in all of the pies, it becomes significantly more difficult for the external public to truly boycott all of their products.
    And many don’t realize just how large of a place these companies have in the average grocery store.

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  3. bharran

    I think Page’s advice is only the best. All of his words of wisdom are so relevant to the PR field today. My favorite is “Conduct public relations as if the whole company depends on it.” Every move you make as a PR professional should be carefully considered and always be examined on how it will effect your publics.

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  4. Danielle

    One of my favorite principles is “conduct public relations as if the whole company depends on it”. The last part of this principle reminds me of the saying “as if your life depends on”. I honestly believe that in today’s heavily connected world, public relations is essential to the existence of a company. If the public doesn’t know about it, it’ll be extremely hard to become successful. A public relations professional therefore has to conduct public relations as if the life of the company depended on it, because it does.

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  5. Ashley Iadanza

    We learned this lesson in my PR class this week. I find it extremely interesting because this way of thinking should apply to not only PR and other types of jobs, but how people should go about their lives.

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  6. sophia1212

    We recently covered Page’s Seven Principles in my PR class, and I have to say that I do agree with them. A major part of being successful in the business, and with your publics is to be honest and listen. I think it applies to all fields, not just PR, and more people should follow Page’s ideals.

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  7. Gabrielle Furman

    I can see how Arthur Pages’ Seven PRinciples are effective today. I think one of the most important steps is Listen to the customer because this is how we get most of our information and see if we are getting our message across correctly. The last of the seven PRinciples is also important because if there is a tough situation you have to stay calm, patient and good-humored to show that any problem can be solved and you can handle anything.

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  8. nicole_lombardo

    I think that all the principles are relevant today, however, “Conduct public relations as if the whole company depends on it ” resonates the most with me. I even feel that this should be second right after be honest. All actions have consequences and that is the key role of people working in public relations. Analyzing all situations and predicting 10 even 20 steps ahead of what a specific action may do to a person or company. When you think about how much work goes into being prepared and thinking steps ahead of everyone else, you find it extremely understandable why remaining calm is one of the seven principles. These principles can be independent and stand alone, but they have more of an effect to Public Relations when they are used together to do the best work possible for a company or client.

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  9. Jessica Vallario

    I think what is most interesting about these set of guide lines is that they are still applicable today. Each one emphasizes aspects of PR that todays biggest and smallest firms still follow. I must say, my favorite one is, to stay calm. I think this is very important for PR people to understand. During times of crisis, it is crucial to keep a clear head. If a clear head is not kept, forming the proper strategy to troubleshoot the problem is will not be possible. Perhaps this is where BP’s people went so terribly wrong. I think one of my biggest challenges ( as a jewish, italian, female ) will be staying calm during times of crisis. I tend to be a bit of dramatic and will need to fight through that in order to keep a clear head and move forward.

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  10. Anjelica Johnson

    It’s really interesting that Page’s seven principles is still relevant today after so many years. The principle that really stood out to me was conduct public relations as if the whole company depends on it. Although I’ve never taken a PR course before, I think this is a really great principle for every company in any job field.

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  11. Sarah Ramos

    the principles that are featured here are vital to having an excellent relationship with the public. The public is all too knowing when something doesn’t seem right, when they aren’t being heard, and when the company is overall good. These principles still hold true today in modern public relations.

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  12. Doug Gillies

    This post could not be any truer. A public relation, just as in life, needs a code of ethics to follow. Page really hit every key point because it is clear that the media will get to the bottom of any lie. It is always best to tell the truth. I firmly believe in the second principle of public relations that actions speak louder than words. Now more than ever it is important to be a well rounded PR representative because it’s not just one aspect that needs to be focused on. Media researches everything you say and finds any flaw. So save yourself the trouble and follow these seven commandments.

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  13. Deana Meccariello

    I think this serves as a wonderful basis of ethics in the public relations world. I read an article that PRSA posted about a PR Firm who was essentially bribing journalists to write positive statements about their clients, (they paid by the word for good stories.) I think this type of bad practice drastically undermines Pages 7 Principles from the get go.

    As a current AT&T subscriber, it is obvious this foundation is the reason the company has grown to what it is. The companies representatives almost always display characteristics that support these 7 features. I always receive impeccable customer service and never feel taken advantage of.

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  14. Devin Jaffar

    As a student who never took a PR course, I find this to be very interesting. I always felt that companies PR and communication teams are not honest. After reading some PR cases like the Jet-blue – Late Night Disaster case. I find it as a PR specialist/manager or CEO to be truthful if you are facing a crisis. It is better to tell the truth because people see right through the lies and in order to keep your reputation, telling the truth will only help you because if you lie, it will hurt you in the long-run and people will never trust you or your company again.

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  15. Natalia Dutt

    Though the world of PR has changed drastically since Arthur Page wrote these seven principles, they are still something that we can abide by today. It shows that in order to have a successful career you truly need to be careful how you conduct yourself in the public relations world. Page really produced a clear list of things PR students should focus on.

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  16. Courtney Zanosky

    It is interesting that these “7 Principals of Public Relations Management” are still extremely relevant to the PR field today. It seems that old works are often considered outdated or irrelevant, so it is compelling to see that these seven simple guidelines can still be talked about in a PR class and they still have meaning. I feel that at the root, these are truly the basis of the PR field and the fact that they can still hold true is significant. In a rapidly changing field, these seven principals are still the foundation that needs to be in place in order to achieve success.

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  17. Meredith O'Connor

    I think that it is significant that he points out that it is important to treat your role in a cope rations PR s if the entire company depended on it. Feeling needed and knowing you role is a big part of internal relations and keeping a company strong.

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  18. Daniel Walsh

    These 7 principles by Mr. Page certainly are vital to the success of any PR team as well as the backbone of what makes most companies successful long-term. Finding out that Mr. Page created these principles almost 100 years ago speaks to their validity and shows their extreme importance. One thing that they all seem to have in common is that satisfying your target market essentially is the main constant in all of them. Learning to tell the truth of what your company is all about and being able to apply that into actions is something that is a lot easier to say then to do. That also goes for being able to manage your company with the future always in mind as well as being able to stay calm in the most stressful of times. No one said these 7 principles were easy to accomplish but they certainly are a good meter to test what separates the best from the rest.

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  19. Erik Freitas

    Before reading this blog post, I had honestly never heard of arthur page or his seven principles. After going through them, however, I think that these principles truly offer a comprehensive outline on how to conduct public relations operations for any company, large or small. The principle that stood out to me the most was the principle that a company’s true character is expressed by its people. At every job I have worked at, I have been told That I am representing the company, so I must act professionally and courteously. If an employee acts poorly, the consumer is immediately going to associate that behavior with the company they are working for, so this principle holds paramount among all others.

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  20. michaela marano

    Although PR has changed so much, as we are currently living in a world of social media and electronic communication, the best thing about PR is that these basic principles still hold truth and are usually life skills that are applicable in many areas. Arthur Page set up 7 PR “laws” that should never be broken in order to effectively communicate, despite what format you are using to do so. My favorite principle that Page stated is “Prove with Action”. I believe in the old saying “actions speak louder than words” in regards to my own personal life and i believe the same holds great importance in the PR world as well. You can say and promise anything you want in order to effectively communicate between two parties but those words hold no meaning without any action being taken.

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  21. Areanna Rufrano

    These seven principles created by Arthur Page are truly the foundation to good public relations management. They may seem somewhat obvious at first, but their accurate simplicity holds great meaning. While each of these principles layout a very important practice, together they promote an ethical strategy to manage public relations. Page’s key principles can also be applicable to any area of life and should be enforced whenever they can.

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  22. Tyler Cutler

    How interesting to note that the seven principles Page created have remained at the forefront of what Public Relations strives to achieve. Being a good PR agent means not only achieving all these things in yourself, but also in your work. It’s also interesting because to me some of these seem like qualities that are sought out in people who simply want to be ‘good people’. There’s a lot of overlap, and I think that’s very telling about out industry.

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  23. Ashley P.

    It’s really interesting to see that Arthur Page’s principles are still very relevant today, not only within the world of public relations, but in every day life. His principles are all skills and ideas that every person can learn and benefit from. My personal favorite is “tell the truth” because I believe that truth and honesty are very important things for everyone to practice, especially in regards to building and maintaining both personal and professional relationships.

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  24. elizah9

    It is clear that Arthur Page was a wise man, but who would have known that he was wise enough to come up with several distinct principles that still pertains to the field of public relations in the 21st century. As I was reading the several principles I was amazed by how simple yet complex they were. For instance, his first principle about telling the truth seems like such a simple task, however, some PR people tend to hind the truth by either going around it or simply not saying it. Although they are not necessary lying to the public, they are not necessary saying the truth either. Public relations in my personal opinion is one very complex job that deals with a lot of interesting cases that causes PR people to stay faithful to their several principles, but only to a certain extent.

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  25. mconno25

    Page’s principles are very valuable and need to be remembered in the PR world. I see how important it is at my internship in real like situations. On Friday, my internship gave the interns an assignment and always telling the truth was part of the discussion. We discussed how a reporter who worked for the New York Times was making up stories and publishing them. David, my coworker, said how this threatened the New York Times’ reputation. If you don’t have honesty, what do you have? You definitely won’t have any clients that’s for sure! Also remaining calm, patient, and good humored is something I think people forget but it is extremely necessary. When a crisis happens at my internship I notice David forgets to stay calm. In a crisis situation obviously we want to freak out, but we are PR professionals for a reason. We have been trained to handle the worst situations. So we must remember everything we learned in a crisis situation and of course Page’s Seven Principles of Public Relations Management.

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  26. nixablevins

    It is amazing to see that Page’s Principals are still true today. He explains the rules in a way that everyone can understand, not just Public Relations professionals. This gives great benefit to everyone because it is equally important for the businesses and employees to understand what Public Relations can do for them.

    One of my favorite rules listed is to manage for tomorrow. I think that is one of the most important because many people forget to plan ahead and are eventually overwhelmed if a crisis breaks. It also reminds me that in the PR industry things are happening every day, preparing me to be ready for anything.

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  27. kcormi2

    There is no doubt that these principles reflect public relations as a whole. Everything I’ve learned about PR to this point is in some way covered by one or more of these principles. The emphasis on public perception and pleasing the public as well as anticipation make them appear to be the two most important parts of practicing as a PR professional.

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  28. Amy Schildwaster

    I think the most important notion in Page’s “Seven Principles of Public Relations Management” is to prove what you say with action. I feel that a lot of what is said by companies doesn’t always have the strings follow through. Knowing that a company is speaking honestly and then will follow through with actions really gives the business repot.

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  29. Danielle Notaro

    I definitely agree with Page’s principles. Its crazy to see that these principles are still relevant to the industry today. Telling the truth, listening to publics, planning ahead and keeping your cool are all principles that prove to be just as important to PR today as they were in Page’s day.

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  30. Felicia Colavito

    It’s amazing how some things are constantly changing around us, while other things remain exactly the same. Page’s seven principles are just as important now as they were many years ago. Performing skillfully, ethically, and effectively is so important in the field of Public Relations. The term “ethically” really stood out to me because as a PR student I am required to take Journalism 1, also known as ethics. This idea of being honest and telling the truth, which is Page’s first principle, is essential in the field of PR. It plays a huge role in gaining credibility and even just gaining trust with your public. Another principle that really stood out to me was principle six, “Realize a true company’s character is expressed by its people.” This just proves how a company is just as strong as its weakest link. Employee’s actions and behavior can directly reflect the company. Everything that is done at work, and even not at work can affect whoever or whomever the worker is representing. Page’s principles should be read and practiced by all those who are in the field of PR!

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  31. Sarah Lopez

    Page’s seven principles are so important to outline. It’s so important for a company to back up what they say with the appropriate actions. There’s no use in stating something that is not further communicated to the public with the appropriate programs. The one principle that really stood out to me is the one about crisis communications. It’s so important to remain calm in a situation like this because you need to think about what actions to take in a rational manner, not an emotional one. It’s also important to tell the truth when there’s a crisis because lying to the public will only cause things to get worse.

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  32. Max Eisenberg

    The way Page states his guidelines to conducting yourself in the PR world is pretty straightforward and basic. There is no grey area with these principles, so I’m surprised when I hear that such basic advice is not taken by all professionals all the time. While Page may have formally made these principles, I think most of them are values that we are taught when we are young, which is simply how to conduct yourself in everyday life. Nothing here is groundbreaking or new, but he packages it up nicely and gives a good description.

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  33. Whitney Shepherd (@WhitneyPRGirl)

    I definetely agree that these seven principles are very important to understand and remember when working in the PR profession. Stating honest and truthful facts about a client is probably the most important principle out of all of them. I think my favorite principle has to be the one stating to prove it with action. Words can only get you so far in the PR world. The public likes to see actions. As I read through this post, I could not help but think that these principles could be used towards every day situations as well. The seven principles are simply guidelines to handling problems with effective solutions.

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  34. Jordan Heiden

    I certainly agree that Page’s principles are both relevant and important in today’s line of PR work. However, I think to utilize these principles successfully, a PR professional must be passionate about their work. To really dig deep into an issue, there must be a strong presence of commitment and pride. PR, in my opinion, is not a career in which a professional can cut corners.

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  35. bibianabogues

    Page’s seven principles are extremely relevant in todays society, and I feel like many corporations should stay closer to these rules and it would keep them out of “trouble”. If all PR applied these principles, the PR world would have fewer kinks in it. Communication is key in todays society, therefore it needs to be done in the most effective, truthful, and ethical manner as Page suggests. The PR world needs to strive to fulfill Page’s principles in hopes of a more holistic core.

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  36. Rebecca Costa

    Without a question, public relations has changed greatly throughout the decades. It has even changed drastically within the past five years, but the one thing that is a constant is the relationship with the public. These seven principles all depend on consumers and their perception of a company or organization. My favorite principle is the first one, “Tell the Truth.” When a company is caught in a lie, it loses its credibility and reputation for a long time. This principle is what separates a high quality news story from a less credible source such as a tabloid magazine.

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  37. Sarah Abuharaz

    It’s interesting to see how public relations was relevant in the 1900s. Nowadays, people associate public relations having to do a lot with technology. Obviously, technology was not at it’s best in the early 1900s. Yet the principles of PR are still the same to this day even if PR is rapidly changing and growing.

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  38. Jessica Braveman

    It’s amazing that so many companies and organizations don’t follow these seven steps when communicating with the public. So many companies focus simply on how they can get ahead, not on pleasing their consumers, so I found the fifth point interesting where it states, “No corporate strategy should be implemented without considering its impact on the public.” If more companies focused on this idea, then they would have more favorable public views. Before reading this, I had never heard of Page. Considering these are policies followed by pr professionals today, I’m surprised he isn’t talked about more in our pr classes.

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  39. Vanessa Felder

    It amazes me how individuals such as Page often get overlooked – despite their major contributions. The fact that PR professionals still use his seven principles as guidelines today is a major feat. After reading the principles it is clear to see that Page was a man with great intellect and sophistication. He understood PR and perhaps ahead of his time. I agree that it is important that we embrace his tenants and remember to incorporate them in the PR profession. I feel that without these tools, PR would not have a big impact and even deemed unecessary.

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  40. giapalomo

    Arthur Page’s seven principles of Public Relations Management can actually be applied to everyday life. I think the principle that I identify with the most would be the last one, Remain Calm, patient and good humored. A sunny disposition is better in any situation rather than a negative one.

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  41. Jenna Delio

    I agree with what everyone has said so far. I couldn’t help but think while going through all the principles how relevant they still are today, with telling the truth being the most important. I think that if all PR practitioners exercised these principles in all that they do then we would be successfully fulfilling our duties as PR people. Also I like the very last principle about calm heads communicate best when a crisis arises because it is true especially with what we have seen recently with the NFL. I think if they had listened to this advice they would have most certainly responded and acted differently about the Ray Rice situation.

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  42. agionesi

    I think that all of Page’s principles are extremely relevant today. I was actually speaking with my someone at my internship on Friday about the first principle. He was explaining to all the interns that telling the truth is above all the most important thing, especially to reporters. He went into a great detail of how lying to a reporter will diminish any credibility, and therefore will sever any relationship you have with that reporter.

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  43. Lyndi Catania

    It is interesting how much of an influence Arthur Page had and still has on public relations to this day. Although so much has changed, like the way PR messages are sent, professionals still follow his 7 principles. His 7 principles will always be relevant and all 7 should continue to be practiced. One principle that stands out to me is “Realize a company’s true character is expressed by its people.” In one of my marketing classes we discussed how not only is it important for the bosses to have good deeds, but even those toward the bottom. My professor had informed us of a business that has a friendly, sociable and thoughtful security guard. It’s important for everybody in the workplace to be happy and kind no matter who you are. It proves what kind of a workplace it truly is and how great it must be to work there.

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