Effective Public Relations: How To Sell the World-Famous Brooklyn Bridge

Effective public relations ... I love this story ..... so here it is ...

"How I Sold the World-Famous Brooklyn Bridge
By Paul Hartunian

Paul Hartunian will be one of our featured speakers at the
upcoming Wealth Building Boot Camp in Phoenix on
October 28-30, 2005. His presentation and real life story
is hysterical, inspiring and oh so shameless.

He shares part of the story with you here .

In 1983 I became the first person in history to sell the
world-famous historical landmark, the Brooklyn Bridge,
piece by piece. That was also the beginning of a very
exciting new life for me. And I have media publicity to
thank for it all.

I started "playing around" with publicity at the age of 15.
I followed what the books were telling me to do. I wrote
the press release just the way they told me. I addressed
the envelopes just the way they told me. I mailed the
releases just the way they told me.

I bombed. I got no press coverage at all. So, I got another
book. I read every word. I followed the plan. Bombed
again...and again...and again.

Eventually, it dawned on me: maybe all those books were
wrong!!! They were telling me how to get press coverage,
but they weren't showing me proof that any of their
techniques worked. They never showed copies of articles
or gave details about any media interviews.

So, I started to experiment with the releases I was writing.
I had no idea what I was doing. I would just try something.
If it worked, I kept it in. If it didn't work, I tossed it.

Slowly but surely, I started getting publicity. As my
technique improved, I got more and more. I wasn't able to
find these techniques in any book. I was just trying any
idea that would come to mind.

Pretty soon, I was on a real roll. I was able to get lots
of publicity...and I was able to get it quickly. But still,
something was missing.

I was getting lots of publicity, but I wanted the
"big kill." I wanted a story that would drive the national
media absolutely nuts!!! I wanted news reporters knocking
down my door to get my story. I wanted my phone to be
ringing nonstop - each one a call from a reporter, hot to
get an interview with me.

I knew that there was still one piece missing in my
publicity puzzle. I knew that when I figured out what it
was, I'd hit the jackpot. My life would change forever...if
I could only figure out what the missing piece was.

Finally, it hit me like a brick! I knew what the missing
piece was!!!

I remember that day like it was yesterday. I was squeezing
my brain, trying to come up with the missing piece of the
publicity puzzle. I took a break to get something to eat
and wham...there it was! The answer.

I went wild. I knew I had found it. I had the solution to
writing a killer press release. The kind that would get me
media coverage around the world.

But I didn't have a story I could use my new formula on.

I was jumping and twitching, waiting for a hot story to hit
so that I could test my new formula.

Well, I didn't have to wait long.

A few weeks later I was watching the morning news on
television. I saw a man being interviewed about the
renovations being done on the Brooklyn Bridge.

Now everyone's heard about the Brooklyn Bridge. Even if it's
just the old line about, "Wanna buy the Brooklyn Bridge?"

It seems that the guy being interviewed was the foreman of
the construction crew doing work on the Bridge. He said
that the wooden pedestrian walkway was being removed
because it was old and rotting. (Up to then I didn't know
any part of the Brooklyn Bridge was made of wood...and I
live just 30 minutes away!)

Anyway, the wood that was being removed was the original
wood that was used when the Bridge was first built.
Standing behind this guy was a huge pile of this old,
rotting wood.

This was it!!! There was no doubt in my mind.
This was the story I was looking for. This was the story I
needed to test my new press release formula.

The first thing I did was call the guy who was interviewed
on the TV. How did I get his number? It was right on the
side of his truck, which was as clear as day during the interview.
I asked him what he was going to do with all that old,
rotting wood.

"I'm going to toss it out. It's junk."

I asked him if he'd be interested in selling it and
delivering it for $500. I told him I was just 30 minutes

With a "my mother raised no fools" tone in his voice, he
said, "Sure I'll sell it for $500."

We made the deal and I gave him the directions.

Next, I made another phone call and made arrangements to
have the wood cut up into 1" square pieces, each about 1/8"

Then, I jumped out of my chair and headed for my typewriter
(didn't have a computer in those days). I wrote the press
release for my idea. Step by step, I followed the formula I
had just come up with. This was the test.

It took me about 15 minutes to finish the release. The
headline read:

New Jersey Man Sells Brooklyn Bridge...for $14.95!
Are you catching on yet?

After I finished the release, I did a rough layout for a
5 1/2 x 8 1/2" certificate. On this certificate, I wrote a
little history of the Brooklyn Bridge and some current
information about the Bridge.

Then I wrote, "Attached to this certificate is a genuine
piece of the original wooden pedestrian walkway of the
Brooklyn Bridge." At the top of the certificate I drew a
small box where the piece of wood was going to be attached.

I was done. I took the press release and the rough sketch
of the certificate to a friend of mine who was a printer.

"Can you make me copies of this press release and typeset
this certificate so it looks professional and have it for
me this afternoon?"

He said, "Sure!"

I zoomed back home. I was on fire. My heart was pounding.
I was headed for the big time. I knew it. I had the formula
for writing a killer press release and now it was going to
provide me with everything I wanted.

As soon as I got home, I started addressing envelopes to
key media people. I don't remember how many I sent out, but
it was probably no more than a couple of hundred.

The whole mailing didn't even cost $100!!!

When I was done, I went back to the printer. The press
release copies and certificate typesetting were done. I was
thrilled. The certificate was spectacular. I told him to
print up a stack of them. I knew I was going to need plenty.

I took the press releases home, stuffed them in the
envelopes and raced to the mailbox before the 5 P.M. pick up.
(Why didn't I fax them? This was before there were cheap
home fax machines.)

Then I waited.

Nothing happened the next day. It takes the mail a while to
get to where it's going.

But...the day after, everything went absolutely wild!!! My
dream came true. The phone started ringing like crazy;
reporters were coming to my door. I was doing interviews
for newspapers, magazines, radio shows, television shows.
Every time an interview would run, more reporters wanted
to do a story on the guy who was really selling the
Brooklyn Bridge.

Reporters from around the country were calling, coming to
my door, coming to the place where I worked. It was a

CNN even sent one of those big trucks with the antennas
on top right to my front door. They wanted to broadcast the
story all around the nation. They ran cables up the stairs;
had reporters with microphones setting up; lights; cameras.
The works!

They shot the interview...and then...if you know CNN...they
ran that interview every 30 minutes for the next 3 days!!!!

The publicity went on and on for over 6 months!!! That's
not 6 days or 6 weeks. I said 6 months. And it was a ball.
Just about every major newspaper sent a reporter. Radio
stations from around the country called. Magazines from
every corner of the nation ran the story.

I was in the newspapers, on radio & TV shows, in magazines.
Everywhere I looked, I saw the story of the guy who was
selling the Brooklyn Bridge. I was having the time of my

After 6 months, things started to cool down. I figured the
publicity wave was over. I had accomplished my goal. I hit
an enormous jackpot.

And then...
The Johnny Carson Show called!!!

They read the Brooklyn Bridge story in a small midwestern
newspaper. They asked if I'd send a sample.

I did. I didn't hear anything for probably 2 or 3 months.
Then I got a phone call.

Johnny was going to do a "little bit" about the Brooklyn
Bridge on the Tonight Show. It would be aired in the next
few days.

Well, Carson's "little bit" turned out to be about 10
minutes worth of airtime for me. Carson even did one of his
comedy knock-off routines based on the Bridge certificate.

It started all over again. A whole new round of media
people saw that Carson show. They hadn't done a story on
the Bridge, but they wanted to do one now. The phone
started ringing again and I was on my way to weeks of
additional free publicity.

>From that day on, my life has never been the same. I know
how to use the media to get just about anything I want. And
I've used it over and over and over again.

Life is a lot of fun when what you want is yours for the

Source: Shameless Marketing News, July 2005, Allen & Associates Consulting, Inc.

What ideas for a press release do you have?

Try our book Media Fundamentals for ideas and learn more here.