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REPORT OF SUB-COMMITTEE ON PUBLICITY
AND POPULAR EDUCATION
To the Committee on Public Policy, National Electric Light Asso
Dear Sir-Your Committee on Publicity and Popular Education feels that the attention of the member companies of our association should be directed toward a more active policy along the line of wider and more general education of the public on questions relating to the electric lighting and power industry.
Until within the past year efforts in this direction have either been lacking altogether or they have been of a desultory character, without co-operation and with no concentration of effort. The officers and members of the association during the past year have done most important and beneficial work toward the education of the public regarding the dangers and fallacies involved in municipal ownership.
Up to within a comparatively recent period the advocates of inunicipai ownership have had the field practically to themselves; doctrinaires and theorists have been in possession, and theories have been exploited where facts should have been presented.
The lack of education of the public is most apparent in the discussions that appear in the public press on municipal ownership questions. We have seen exploited within the past few years statements of all kinds emphasizing the advantages and successes that municipal ownership has achieved abroad, notably in England. Misleading and one-sided statements have until
. lately been allowed to pass unchallenged, and the actual facts are only now being given to the public. In England students of the question who by personal experience and investigation have become familiar with the real conditions, when they learn of the situation in this country and of the dissemination of unreliable and misleading information as to the results obtained abroad, are amazed at the favorable attitude of the public in this country toward these questions, anri they are surprised that the actual facts have not been given wider publicity.
It is largely due to the efforts of the officers and members of our association that most excellent work has been accomplished during the past year in the direction of the education of the public and in the proper presentation of the side in which the public-utility corporations are interested. We heartily indorse, therefore, the work that is being done in this direction, and we make an earnest plea to the general membership of the association for its active and interested support of this work.
Your committee would also recommend to the membership a wider appreciation and use of the method of publicity known as the Company Bulletin or House Organ. It is a notable fact that the public at large, and even the companies' customers, are not so well informed as they should be regarding the wide field that is covered by electric lighting and power service, the many useful ways in which electric current can be supplied and the great convenience resulting from its more general use in the household. The work undertaken by the Co-operative Electrical Development Association in this direction is of great benefit to the industry, and its work of publicity and education of the public should have the active support of the membership of our association.
Your committee feels that publicity in its co-operative features may with advantage be conducted through the medium of the proper committee of this association; co-operative publicity under such direct supervision will result in a better statement of the essential facts which it is desired to convey to the public, and while securing in this way a more effective presentation it can also be done with greater economy.
The attention of the member companies should also be called to a feature that has not received sufficient attention in connection with—or in the case of the smaller companies as a substitute for—the House Organ or Company Bulletin.
Your committee would suggest that each company should prepare leaflets for distribution in connection with its House Organ-or for separate distribution in case the conditions do not warrant the more pretentious publication in which the customers are informed specifically and fully as to some of the important features of the electric lighting and power business and the policy of the company in its relations with the customers and the general public. Such subjects as electric light meters, incandescent lamps, arc lamps, power applications, electric heat
ing, rates for light, heat and power service, and so forth, may well be given special consideration, so that the public may be educated to a proper appreciation of what the central station has to offer and what it costs to obtain it.
Electric light companies' customers should be made thoroughly familiar not only with the facilities that the central-station electricity supply places at their command, but full information should also be conveyed to them as to efficient utilization of these facilities.
Your committee also commends the attention now being given by the electric lighting and power companies to their advertising and canvassing departments. The industry has made notable progress in this direction, and it has profited greatly by the energetic and effective advertising campaigns conducted by means of solicitors and canvassers, signs and advertisements, the distribution of literature and the introduction of an aggressive follow-up system.
It is impossible to conjecture how much of the extraordinary development of the electric lighting industry is due to the active work that the companies are doing through their advertising and canvassing departments; but the importance of this work can not be too much emphasized, and with the standardization that has taken place in the apparatus and equipment of centrai stations a larger part of the companies' activities can now be profitably turned in the direction of an active campaign of business extension.
SJ. W. LIEB, JR., Chairman, Sub-committee