chapter  6
12 Pages

Front War: Early 20th-century Utility Public Relations

For the next key development in the growth of large-scale public relations, we turn to the largest telephone and electric utility companies.

First we will see how and why utility leaders responded to early 20thcentury muckraking attacks by developing a "two-front war" public relations strategy that opposed not only the left, but smaller competitors as well.1 Then we will examine some utility public relations techniques, including the use of editorial boilerplate services, the dispatching of managers to become leaders of community groups, the production of ghostwritten articles, and the alteration of school textbooks. Finally, we will examine some of the personal costs involved in selling the concept of "regulated monopoly."2