Edward L. Bernays
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Carl R. Byoir
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Apprenticeship in the Hearst Empire

Byoir asked George von Utassy, the general manager of all magazines published by William Randolph Hearst, for a job. Surprised the young publisher was out of work, Utassy allowed Byoir to began an apprenticeship.

Byoir conquered advertising by being bold and determined as a sales promotion managed by discovering that successful promotion depended upon a personalized approach. It is here that we begin to see Byoir learning what shapes a consumer-minded public by realizing everyone is important to themeselves first.

After successful positions in Cleveland and Chicago, Byoir was sent back to New York City to increase circulation for Cosmopolitan which had dropped from 1 million to 79 hundred thousand. He analyzed the problem and decided the loss could be reversed if local distributors could be given new incentives to sell the magazine. By creating a contest with cash prizes for distributors who make the largest increase in sales, Byoir obtained his goal of 1 million in distribution after three months. Although the use of contests was not new Byoir chose to gauge a distributors success by percentage increases vs. number of copies sold. This way small distributors could compete with larger distributors who typically won. Byoir was promoted again, but this time, to Circulation Manager for all Hearst magazines.

Byoir later wrote about what he learned while at Hearst:

  • "Tenacity and determination of purpose on the part of a salesman is not a substitute for imagination and knowledge based upon factual analysis of data regarding your product and the business environment that affects it."
  • "... if a salesman told a convincing story in a normal tone of voice it would obviously be more effective than a poor story told by some other salesman who shouted. Logic speaks louder than noise."
    • "It is often easier to sell a big package than a little one."
  • "A successful salesman is an attention-getter."
    • "Never make a sales presentation unless you have personally studied the sales problems involved in great detail, but make your presentation short. A long presentation wears out the interest of your audience."
  • "Thrift is a cornerstone of business success."
    • "I [realized] that it was the editor, and not the circulation manager, who really created circulation."
  • "Having learned...that the editorial content of the magazine really determined my success as circulation manager, I made it a point to get acquainted with the various editors in order to get their cooperation."
  • In June of that year, Byoir would receive a call from Washington to assist on the newly created World War I Committee on Public Information. He had accomplished quite a bit in his 28 years, and embarked on a life-changing career with George Creel.


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