Thursday, December 8, 2022

Old Newspaper Guidelines Apply To Author Press Releases Today



I recently came across the editorial guidelines that were employed at Hearst’s newspaper conglomerate back in 1933. They are reprinted below. I couldn’t help but think about how authors should employ some of the strategies to their own advantage when putting out press releases.  

Let’s first go over the basics:  

Press releases should not be more than two pages long – and really, four or five paragraphs will do the trick.  

You need an attention-getting headline – or they stop reading.  

Your introductory paragraph needs to be timely, interesting, relevant, and give a reason for why you are advocating for your book. 

The second paragraph should be written with a lead-in sentence that states you are available to discuss the following in an interview – and then list five or six one-line bullet points of things you well talk about and lend insight on.  

The third paragraph can be supportive statistic/trend/time-of-the-year reference. For instance, if your book is about dieting, point out how fat America is (stat), reference how it is getting worse (trend), and how in January, x number of Americans are expected to go on a diet (time of year).  

The fourth paragraph states your qualifications. Answer the question: Why are you best positioned to write this book? Reference any awards, years of experience, or a relevant personal event/experience. 

The fifth paragraph concludes with a quote from yourself. 

Then, leave your contact information and website link. Include a front cover image on top, below your headline. 

Include one to three quotes from professional book reviews or testimonials/endorsements. 

As Hearst suggests, rewrite long sentences, include images, avoid coarse language, avoid offending people (unless that works best), and provide the facts that help people understand the story. Oh, and be sensational. 

Got it? 

Here Are The Hearst Newspapers Editorial Guidelines of 1933: 

1 Make a paper for the nicest kind of people of the great middle class. Don't print a lot of dull stuff that people are supposed to like and don't. 

2 Omit things that will offend nice people. Avoid coarseness and a low tone. The most sensational news can be told if told properly.

3 Make your headlines clear and concise statements of interesting acts. They should answer the question: What is the news? Don't allow copyreaders to write headlines that are too smart or clever to be intelligible. 

4 The front page is your forum. Put important items and personal news about well-known people there. Sometimes condense a big story to go on the first page rather than run it longer inside the paper. 

5 Nothing is more wearisome than mere words. Have our people tell stories briefly and pointedly. Let people get the facts easily. Don't make them work at it. 

6 Please instruct copyreaders to rewrite long sentences into several short ones. And please try to educate the reporters to write short sentences in the first place. 

7 Photographs of interesting events with explanatory diagrams are valuable. Make every picture worth its space. 

8 If you cannot show conclusively your own paper's superiority, you may be sure the public will never discover it. 

Please Contact Me For Book PR Help

Brian Feinblum, the founder of this award-winning blog, can be reached at He is available to help authors promote their story, sell their book, and grow their brand. He has over 30 years of experience in successfully helping thousands of authors in all genres.


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Brian Feinblum should be followed on Twitter @theprexpert. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2022. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester with his wife, two kids, and Ferris, a black lab rescue dog. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s The Independent.  This award-winning blog has generated over 3.2 million pageviews. With 4,400+ posts over the past decade, it was named one of the best book marketing blogs by BookBaby and recognized by Feedspot in 2021 and 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. It was also named by as a "best resource.” For the past three decades, including 21 years as the head of marketing for the nation’s largest book publicity firm, and two jobs at two independent presses, Brian has worked with many first-time, self-published, authors of all genres, right along with best-selling authors and celebrities such as: Dr. Ruth, Mark Victor Hansen, Joseph Finder, Katherine Spurway, Neil Rackham, Harvey Mackay, Ken Blanchard, Stephen Covey, Warren Adler, Cindy Adams, Susan RoAne, Jeff Foxworthy, Seth Godin, and Henry Winkler. He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America, and has spoken at ASJA, IBPA, Sarah Lawrence College, Nonfiction Writers Association, Cape Cod Writers Association, Willamette (Portland) Writers Association, and Connecticut Authors and Publishers Association. His letters-to-the-editor have been published in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, New York Post, NY Daily News, NewsdayThe Journal News (Westchester) and The Washington Post. He has been featured in The Sun Sentinel and Miami Herald. For more information, please consult:



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