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REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE ON PUBLICATIONS
To the American Electric Railway Association:
GENTLEMEN :— Your Publications Committee came into existence with the adoption of the new constitution at the 1921 Annual Meeting. That portion of its duties relating to the magazine had previously been under the direction of the AERA Advisory Committee.
With the active cooperation of the Executive Secretary general direction has been assumed of editing all matters presented for publication. As a matter of fact the personal attention of members of the Committee has been limited to a very few articles and reports of Committees.
Acting upon what seemed to be the general feeling as expressed at the last Annual Meeting it seemed necessary to make some changes in the editorial policy of your magazine and also to confine its field to that of a monthly review of the entire industry.
In order to accomplish this and to relieve the Executive Secretary as much as possible it was decided to employ as Editor a man having a broad experience in the publishing field as well as detailed knowledge of the industry. After a careful search had been made the Executive Secretary appointed John W. Colton as Editor, whose active connection with the magazine became effective with the publication of the June issue.
At this time, when the electric railways are emerging from the most critical stage of their development, it is of the greatest importance that all who are concerned about the prosperity of the industry should have the benefit of an authoritative, strong, able and forceful publication to keep them fully informed of changing conditions. This the Committee on Publications is attempting to supply through its oversight of the association's official magazine, AERA. Comments which have come recently from executives and manufacturers indicate that AERA is satisfactorily serving the industry. It is the purpose of the committee to make it better. Improvement can be made only through the wholehearted co-operation of everybody who has the interest of the industry at heart.
This co-operation must take a practical form. It must consist largely of constructive suggestions. Executives and others must be willing to furnish it with articles or to make suggestions for articles. Every member of the association should feel that he has a personal interest in the magazine, and it is his duty, in our opinion, to use it to the full extent of its possibilities.
As the official publication of the association, AERA should speak with authority on matters that affect the very foundations of the industry. It is not and should not be made a news dispenser. The other journals in the field most ably perform that great service to the industry. Rather should it attempt, through contributions from authoritative sources, and in its editorials, to interpret developments and to weld together and harmonize the interests and purposes of the industry throughout the entire land. The committee believes that AERA should not compete in any way with the excellent trade publications. It fills a distinct place of its own, as the official publicatior, of the association, in which record is made of the work of the association; it is a magazine to be kept for reference, to be regarded as the personal organ of every member of the association.
Every executive is at last thoroughly convinced of the immense value of a fully informed public, and that the public can be kept informed only by frequent formal and informal addresses before local clubs of all kinds, chambers of commerce, and the like, and by persistent repetition of the basic facts concerning the industry. In order that there may be available in concise form the facts of the activities of the industry, national in their scope, that may be used as the background for the strictly local picture, it is intended to devote space in AERA to statistics, quotations from reports, important court decisions and other matters that are vital in their effects on the industry. It is the hope and expectation of the committee that such matter will prove to be of inestimable value.
The committee is convinced that AERA may be made intensely interesting not only to executives and officials, but to the employes of the companies, to Company Section Members, to public utilities commissions and to the public, which is especially interested in the maintenance of electric railway service. It will be the aim of the committee so to conduct the magazine that every branch of the industry will find something in it to hold its interest, so that every branch may learn something about what the other branches are doing and that realizatuon of the interdependence of all may be brought about.
Service such as AERA can give the industry is particularly valuable at this time when the structure of the relationship between the public and the public utilities is changing. New forms of franchises are being used; new methods of control are being experimented with; new problems are arising in connection with newly developed vehicles for public transportation; new aspects are being assumed by the everpresent problems of financing; the question of competition is acute in many parts of the country; legal principles governing the protection of capital invested in public service corporations are being settled and a mass of controlling precedent is being established; important ventures in municipal ownership and operation are being attempted. It is vitally necessary that digested, interpretative information upon these and other developments should be presented in AERA.
AERA is now in its eleventh volume. It has justified its existence. The committee intends that it shall become more valuable to the industry with each succeeding issue. It will be interesting; it will be dignified without being dull; it will be “snappy” without being impertinent or offensive; it will be earnest and sincere without being solemn; it will be constructive, helpful, courageous and informative. But it cannot be made of greatest service to the industry without realization by everyone in the industry that it exists for his particular benefit. So the committee repeats that it must have practical co-operation from everybody. All must work together to make AERA of maximum value.
HARLOW C. CLARK,
PRESIDENT TODD :- Gentlemen, you have heard the Report of the Committee on Publications. Is there any discussion?
L. S. STORRS - May I ask the Executive Officers of the Member Companies to help the Executive Secretary and the Editor of AERA by really carrying out a few of the suggestions. We find in writing to the executives of the companies that a few make some suggestions and we ask you all for a little advice that will guide us in finding the exact field that this Magazine shall occupy in order to be of maximum interest. As a result of the number of communications we have received, we find that a large number of the executives are very courteous and say they like it, but once in a while somebody does not like something that is printed in AERA. I do not know how much the magazine is used, I hope a good deal, but we are looking for suggestive criticisms of a constructive nature. We may not adopt them all, any more than you adopt all the suggestions made to you in relation to your street car operation, but these criticisms that you make give an indication of what the industry wants, and it is only through that course that the magazine can be made effective.
PRESIDENT TODD :- Is there any further discussion on this report? The suggestions of Mr. Storrs are very timely, and you gentlemen who have heard them I hope will proceed to carry them out.
We will now have the Report of the Committee on Publicity, Mr. J. N. Shannahan, President, Newport News and Hampton Railway, Gas and Electric Company, Hampton, Virginia, Chairman, co-operating with the Committee of One Hundred, Mr. Guy E. Tripp, Chairman.
REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE ON PUBLICITY To the American Electric Railway Association:
GENTLEMEN: Your Committee on Publicity during the last year has continued to direct the work of the Advertising Section of the Association in co-operation with the Committee of One Hundred.
Your Committee is glad to report a greatly widened interest in public relations, publicity and advertising work in the industry and proportionately increased service on the part of the Advertising Section.
Advertising Work Increasing Today, in marked contrast to conditions when the Advertising Section was organized almost two years ago, half a dozen or more strong influential agencies are actively assisting in telling the facts about the electric railway situation. These include newspapers, magazines and other periodicals, electric railway companies through their various channels such as advertising, signs, house organs, etc., manufacturers of electric railway supplies, through their special Committee, and individual members, state committees on public utility information, investment and other bankers' organizations, and others.
The growth in advertising activities of companies since the inauguration of the Advertising Section has been remarkable. Two years ago only about a score of companies in the seven hundred of the entire country, were using advertising in any form. A survey now being completed under your Committee's direction shows that out of 239 companies, representing one half the mileage of the country, 207 are advertising either in newspapers or through company channels or both, and only thirty-two are doing no advertising. Furthermore, these thirty-two represent only one-twentieth as much mileage as the 207 which are advertising.
Continuing “Truth" Policy Your Committee feels that the policy of telling the whole truth about the electric railway situation, letting the chips fall where they may, is responsible for the gratifying results now being achieved. The Advertising Section is not regarded as a pan-handling agency, but as a reliable source from which facts may be obtained. Today we are being called upon frequently by national news associations, newspapers, magazines, special writers and others for help in the preparation of special material, and our news releases enjoy the same high standing as other truthful industrial statements.
With connections for the dissemination of advertising and publicity material made throughout the country, the Advertising Section is rendering a dual service of great importance. It is supplying the field with all material which it regards as important and meeting special requests for service promptly.
The results of such a service now are reflected particularly almost daily in the financial news columns of the press. Many newspapers, including some which are opposed by policy to all public utilities, have in recent months remarked on the increased attractiveness of electric railway securities due to improved public relations of companies. Recently a widely known Wall street securities house, in issuing a circular advising the purchase of electric railway securities, climaxed its buying arguments by pointing to their improved public relations.
Service Section Renders In a nutshell, this is the service which the Section is performing:
Preparing booklets, posters, suggested newspaper advertisements and similar advertising material dealing with current situations and forwarding regularly to all electric railway companies in the United States.
Giving counsel and suggestion for special campaigns when requested by individual companies.
Co-operating with the Committee on Co-operation of Manufacturers by preparing good will electric railway advertising literature and disseminating it through these companies.
Supplying press associations, newspapers and magazines with news material when the situation warrants, and rendering service to special writers when they desire to prepare particular stories.
Issuing monthly a bulletin publication called “Truth” containing from six to fifteen news items, editorial comment or other material of general interest which may be used in house organs, speeches, interviews and other ways. This bulletin is distributed to the number of 3,000 copies monthly.
Co-operating with the twenty-five State Committees on Public Utility Information, supplying them with regular informational material and rendering special service to meet their local situations.
Co-operating with the National Electric Light Association, American Gas Association and other public utility organizations, Investment Bankers Association and other national organizations interested in the welfare of public utilities in the dissemination of facts.
Conducting an Advertising Section in AERA, the American Electric Railway Association magazine, monthly, giving suggestions for better