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The Public Relations Activities

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The plant manager put it this way: "Before the board of directors had their meeting here, people in Buffalo knew that Pills-bury had a plant down on Ganson Street, but that's about all. We were just another flour mill. Since the board meeting, though, the people around town have thought of us as real people and real friends. We have tried to reciprocate. When there is something important going on in the community, we are in on it. In short, while we used to be known as one of the plants in town, now we are known as people, who are a part of the town. The board meeting gave us the foundation on which we were able to build our community relations."

A Pillsbury Buffalo sales executive says, "Without question, the Buffalo board meeting created a much better climate in which to do business. It put our trade relations in Buffalo on a warmer and more mutually satisfactory basis."

Editorializing on the day after the meeting, the Buffalo Evening News described the meeting as, "a relatively new mark of corporate statesmanship, and one which Buffalonians should do everything possible to encourage on the part of all those 'absentee owned' industries which dominate this city's economy."

President, Employers Mutuals of Wausau

Every spring, when the crocuses are blooming, Employers Mutuals of Wausau has played host to busloads of high school commerce students. They have come as far as 75 miles to spend a day in our home office, where most of the youngsters have had their first chance to see the inside of a large business operation. They have met some of our top executives, mingled with our employees, and tried their hand at tabulating and taking dictation.

T. A. Duckworth, personnel director, who has supervised the visits, reported that in April and May of 1955 a total of 391 students from 18 schools toured headquarters. Teachers and youngsters alike have looked forward to this chance to see a large office in operation.

These visits have had two purposes, as far as we are concerned. First, they have yielded a bumper crop of new employees. Second, the young people's familiarity with Employers Mutuals has built good will for us throughout north central Wisconsin. This last point is very important because our clerical labor supply has been drawn from this area. Also, after seeing our operation first hand, hundreds of students and their friends and families have realized the economic contribution which Employers Mutuals and its 690 employees make to our entire region.

We've gotten some interesting evidence of the fact that our student visitation project is paying off, public relations wise. High school teachers have written to us and asked for copies of certain forms used in our office. These have been used in classroom exercises by business students the groups from whom we hire a year or two later. Several teachers have been so impressed by Employers Mutuals that they, as well as their students, applied for jobs in our home office! And we have gotten many letters from teachers who were grateful for the chance to give their students a glimpse into the fascinating world of business. Typical was the note which read, in part: "I am confident that I shall be bringing my next year's senior business class for a tour of Employers Mutuals. I don't think I could get out of it even if I wanted to!"

When the students go through our offices we have encouraged them to talk with the girls working behind our typewriters and dictating machines. Every group of visitors has found some employes from their home town often people who graduated a year or two earlier. These personal contacts have done much to "sell" the high schoolers on our company.

The average tour has begun about 9:30 in the morning, and has ended sometime in the early afternoon. (We have arranged the schedule so the busload of students could have time to get back to their home community before dark.) Just before the groups have boarded their buses for the return trip, we have taken a picture of the entire delegation. We have made sure that each youngster got a print as a souvenir, and we have found that the picture usually turns up in the home town paper a week or so after the visit. We know, too, that the pictures are passed around among friends, further spreading the good word about our company.

From a personnel standpoint, the visits have produced excellent results. We have been getting more applications for clerical jobs than we could accept, and this has put us in the highly desirable position of being able to choose the best people to fill vacancies.

There is an interesting contrast between the results of this present "bring them to Wausau" technique and our older method of having our personnel department representatives visit high schools to talk to senior commercial students. Our people would "We used to get some laughs," recalls a member of our personnel department "but we didn't get as many applications as we do now."

We are firmly convinced that our plan for encouraging student visits to the Employers Mutuals' home office has paid substantial dividends in terms of public relations and personnel procurement, too.

Someone coined the saying that it is easier to teach the youngster than it is to upsell the man. The trouble is that everyone wants to be educated, but nobody wants to be taught.

Public relations activities in the home town are frequently and intimately involved in the kind of teachings that requires militating. This can be in the form of going before the voting public, revitalizing a law enforcement group, rallying opinion makers such as educators, or safeguarding the future by getting the support of the student.

Associated Industries of Oshkosh sponsored broadcasts of the City Council meetings, but not without an attitude of reservation or opposition from the participants and the local newspaper. The success was attested when the Chamber of Commerce became a co sponsor.

The National Bank of Commerce in Lincoln, Nebraska, arranged and paid for the City Council to make a trip to Denver. The purpose of the trip was to study their new municipal structure.

Mercer, Howard Company, rather than try to tell its community whom to vote for, wisely chose to tell them not to forfeit their votes on the day of election. A pamphlet "Your Ballot Is Boss" was sent out widely through town.

Once a week in Kansas City, the city manager and other officials went before the electorate on television. They reported on activities in the public interest. Subjects were development of the city, the functions of 21 departments, costs of projects, pros and cons. The program was called This Is Kansas City, Missouri.

When the UMWA tried to organize employees of the merchants of Central City, it posed a knotty problem for the Central City Chamber of Commerce. Most of the town's earners and spenders were mineworkers. They made up over 90 per cent of the business done by the merchants. The C of C wrote a letter to industrialists pointing out that if they sided with the union, the precedent would be established for the nation. Reprints were distributed and all people contacted had a basis for choosing up sides on the issue.

Teaching by Demonstration:

Long Island Association sponsored an industrial exhibit in Garden City. The exhibit illustrated how business and industry contributed to civic developments such as hospitals, schools, parks, and streets. Students from local colleges joined in with a pageant depicting 300 years of economic progress.

Republic Steel in Cleveland made a practice of taking newspaper staffs through their plants. They also carried on a considerable program under which teachers visited the plants and had dinner with local officials, followed by informal question and answer periods. This was the fundamental format for B E Day, nationwide.

The Gardner Board and Carton Company, Middleton, Ohio, brought 25 elementary and high school teachers to its headquarters. The visit began with a management level discussion in the vice president's office. This was followed by a tour along the path of manufacture from market research to design, art, technical research, estimating, and finally, manufacturing processes. A panel discussion concluded the indoctrination.

As a switch on the usual B E Day program an Indiana supermarket grocer took the whole home economics faculty of his town with him to Chicago. His mission was to buy supplies at the marketplace.

Grand Rapids, Michigan, Chamber of Commerce came up with a novel pollination project for teachers. They chauffeured new teachers on a tour of the city.

Many companies in recent years have hired teachers for the summer. This has helped to indoctrinate them in free enterprise.

Sixteen executives of Ralston Purina Company, St. Louis, put on a 14 week course in business management and integration for the benefit of 78 high school senior students. They covered business history, production, research, purchasing, packaging, sales, advertising, and finance. The course was given on the premises of Washington University.

Quaker Oats had a traveling exhibit. It showed how foodstuffs were grown, processed, and marketed. The exhibit was shown to thousands of school children, teachers, and opinion makers in mid west plant cities.

Esso Standard Oil rendered an educational service to teachers and students alike when they published a book recounting Louisiana's natural resources, growth, and progress.

Gestures of Good Faith:

Lukens Steel magazine on its back cover honored local schools. Brief text drew parallels between a free kind of education system and a free kind of enterprise.

Yale and Towne, Stamford, Conn., and Motorola, Inc., in Quincy, 111., sponsored broadcasts of high school sports events. Yale and Towne devoted commercials to emphasizing the values in education. Motorola gave time to lauding current welfare and education undertakings in Quincy in terms of their contribution to the city's desirability as a place to live.

Toronto manufacturers, through the Canadian Manufacturer's Association, donated 119 small scholarships of $25 each for industrial aptitudes. The objective was to stop second and third year students from dropping out of industrial courses.

Delco Remy Division of GM in Indiana invited all high school music organizations within 30 miles parochial and public to take a turn in putting on a concert in the seven plant cafeterias. After each concert, the youngsters were luncheon guests of Delco, with a tour of the facilities included.

Evansville, Indiana, Manufacturers Association put up 30 cash prizes in an essay contest. The subject was "My Plan for a Career in Evansville." The objective, obviously, was to point up opportunities at home for school graduates who were leaving annually. The best essay was awarded $500 toward higher education. The whole thing had nice local warmth about it. There was a booklet explaining how easy it was to enter the contest and how to get started on the project. Local people were contest judges.

The Illinois Police Association sponsored a state wide essay contest on "The Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency." There was $625 in cash prizes and an all expense tour of Chicago.
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