Southern Pacific Railroad History Center


Public Relations Department

The public relations activities of Southern Pacific are directed at: (i) helping publicize and sell the services of Southern Pacific; (ii) creating public understanding and support of Southern Pacific and industry objectives; and (iii) branding Southern Pacific as a progressive, well-managed transportation system and company that contributes substantially to the economic and social development of the areas in which it provides its services.

The over-all public image of any company, of course, is the composite of the impressions left by all of its employees and practices.  Public relations on Southern Pacific is everyone’s business.

To this end, the professional public relations staff works closely with all other departments in any situations which will affect public opinion.  Programs and strategies are developed to enhance Southern Pacific’s image and present the Company as favorably as possible.  In its capacity as a clearing house to other departments, the public relations department ensures that what is said is consistent with current objectives.  Internal information programs may be a factor, as public relations information channels between the public and Southern Pacific flow in both directions.  Among the important current objectives is the promotion of public understanding of the Company’s need for greater freedom to develop new needed services and divest itself of those services which no longer serve any public need, and to promote the comprehensive objectives of the railroad industry in the United States.

Public relations activities to achieve these and other objectives are in three board categories: media relations, community relations, and employee relations.

Media relations include information activities with all mass news media: newspaper, wire services, magazines, books, radio, and television.  The department researches and prepares media releases, addresses inquiries from media representatives on a twenty-four hour basis, assists writers, and maintains contacts with editors and others for the purpose of developing editorial support for Southern Pacific’s objectives.

Community relations include a wide scope of activities with the public relations department as coordinator, ranging from the preparation of speeches to the public to the processing of requests for contributions.  Local managers of all Southern Pacific departments are encouraged to participate in community projects and activities and to be alert for situations that could cause complaints, unfavorable ordinances, or adverse press comment.

Employee relations include publishing of the Southern Pacific Bulletin, special writing projects, providing assistance and guidance to employee clubs, and administering employee participation in such programs as community fund drives, Junior Achievement, Invest-In-America, and United States Savings Bonds.

Other public relations information activities include distribution of booklets and brochures issued by both Southern Pacific and the Association of American Railroads, motion picture liaison work, and maintenance of photo files and historical archives.  These services are used extensively by students, teachers, historians, writers, community organizations, and many others, as well as by officers and other employees of the Southern Pacific.

The professional public relations staff maintains offices in San Francisco, Houston, Los Angeles, Tucson, and Portland.

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