Is a PR campaign needed to teach people how to use the telephone?
Bell Atlantic seems to think so.
With the addition of two new area codes on June 5, 1999, residents in Eastern Pennsylvania will be forced to dial ten digits for all calls.
Believing many of the people in this region will have a tough time adjusting, Bell Atlantic has initiated a PR campaign to make sure everybody is prepared for the changes.
Last November, the company published a six-page booklet - The Bell Atlantic Extra - dedicated to providing information about the new area codes. Additionally, every bill envelope for the next six months will feature a reminder that customers now have a ten-digit phone number.
The company is also taking special pains to make sure senior citizens are appraised of the changes. Bell Atlantic spokesperson Sharon Shaffer participated in Senior Talk, a live radio call-in show on Philadelphia radio station WPEN, which gave listeners the opportunity to ask questions about how the changes will affect them.
'This is just the beginning,' said Shaffer. 'We'll be beefing up print and radio ads in early 1999, and our external affairs managers are getting out there to talk with bus-iness groups and rotary clubs.'
Oddly enough, Bell Atlantic has taken no such pains to educate customers about its rate hikes and service discrepancies.