Monday, June 20, 2005

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.

How To Write A Press Release: The Seven Deadly Sins And How To Avoid Them

By Thomas Murrell MBA CSP, International Business Speaker

How do you write a press release and what are the secrets of writing media releases that get used instead of deleted?

This is a question critical to gaining ongoing media coverage in a consistent way for any organisation and individual.

And sometimes the quality of news releases actually sent out to the media is pretty poor.

Take this example put out by Tasmanian Liberal shadow treasurer Brett Whiteley in a press release issued on May 24, 2005 and highlighted in The Australian newspaper (June 2nd, 2005 page 20).

"All State Liberal Policy pledges are official State Liberal policy, as are Policy Position Statements. All Policy Position Statements and Policy Pledges are fully costed. The only difference between our Policy Position Statements and Policy Pledges is that further detail associated with our Policy Pledges will be released at a later date. This detail will be released at the time of our choosing."

Phew! What did he say?

Special Deal

If you can write this more concisely, email with your efforts at and the best rewrite will win a copy of my book Media Fundamentals:8M's Essential Media Guide.

We see bad examples of media releases all the time. But it doesn't have to be that way.

Here is my take on how to write a press release: the seven deadly sins and how to avoid them:

1. No News Value
Your media release must have a strong news value and not be trying to sell something or be blatant advertising. The media will see through this.

Ask: what is new about what we're doing?

2. A Poorly Written Headline
A headline must grab the attention of the editor or reporter.

Read more about writing headlines in earlier postings in my blog.

3. A Poorly Written Lead Paragraph
A lead paragraph must continue to hold the attention of the editor or reporter.

Read more about writing lead paragraphs in earlier postings in my blog.

4. No Quotable Quotes
Quotable quotes add credibility and human interest to a media release. They are the flesh that goes on the facts or bare bones of the story. They must be memorable and well crafted.

Take this recent quote from 1992 Olympian, Irish Boxer Kevin McBride in the lead up to his fight with Mike Tyson on June 11th 2005: "I'm not a pretender, I'm a contender".

Nice work Kevin - simple, memorable and direct. The media love it because of its structure and rhyming nature.

5. Lack of Clarity In Writing Style
Clear writing is a sign of clear thinking as my Tasmanian Polly Speak example above demonstrates.

6. No Call To Action
Your media release must end with a call to action. What is it you want people to do after reading or hearing your message?

7. No Comprehensive Contact Details
A news release should always contain current contacts details for the media to follow-up.

Want to learn more? Discover how to avoid these seven deadly sins and much, much more in our Writing and Pitching Winning Media Releases seminar being held in Perth on Thursday June 30th from 9am to 12.30pm.

Book here.

Effective Personal Productivity: How To Focus on 'High Pay-Off' Activities

By Thomas Murrell MBA, CSP International Business Speaker

What are the keys to effective personal productivity?

I've been spending time working with my business coach on growing my business.

We've spent a long time defining my personal productivity and what high pay-off activities I need to do to achieve my business and personal goals.

One goal was to diversify my services, and I'm now doing a lot of one-on-one coaching with clients.

I'm a big fan of Matt Church and his latest email provides a range of questions to help you focus.

Here they are:

1. Is this activity the best use of my time?

…if not change what you are doing.

2. What is the most valuable thing I could do for my client today?

…then figure out how to do it.

3. How dollar productive is today's activity? …decide what you can do to make it better this time or next time.

4. What do I do that someone else could do just as easily?

…then stop doing it.

Source: "Don't just be busy! Be busy doing those activities that are the most valuable.", Globe eNewsletter, 20th June 2005.

These are good questions to ask yourself to maximise your own personal return on investment.

If you are interested in my personal coaching program, visit my website and email me.


Thursday, June 09, 2005

Is Your Business A Leaky Bucket?

By Thomas Murrell MBA CSP, International Business Speaker

Is your business a leaky bucket?

This is a question I always ask small business owners who attend my marketing seminars.

The reason I ask is because many businesses are so focused on attracting new customers they forget about retaining and providing good customer service to their existing clients.

Many are also unable to quickly identify who their most profitable customers are.

In the leaky bucket example we have two businesses in the same industry. Both businesses attract 10 per cent new customers each year. Not a bad effort considering the increasingly crowded and competitive industry they operate in.

Business number one has a 95 per cent retention rate and 5 per cent slippage, while business number two has a 90 per cent retention rate and 10 per cent loss of customers.

Not bad figures to have, but after 14 years business number one has doubled in size and business number two has stayed the same size.

This business is just treading water because it suffers from a ‘leaky bucket' with too many customers slipping through the holes in the bottom of the bucket.

Much of this is due to poor customer service. And they don't even know it!

For example, the research shows a typical business does not hear from 96 per cent of unhappy customers.

For every complaint there are 26 others with the same problem and the average person with a problem tells 9 or 10 others. Thirteen per cent will tell more than 20 people.

So that is the cold hard reality of poor customer service.

But it is not all bad. If complaints are resolved those people tell 5 people and it is usually a positive message.

For example, complainers are more likely to do business with that company again compared to non-complainers, and this rate goes to 95 per cent customer retention if the complaint is dealt with quickly.

Everyone makes mistakes, the key is to learn from those mistakes and act on them quickly and you will have even more loyal customers.

Keeping your customers happy will help fill the holes in your leaky bucket and lead to a more profitable and successful business.

Want to learn more? Discover how to keep more customers in your bucket with our SMART Marketing, SMARTER Profits The 12 Principles to Attract, Win and Retain Even More Profitable Customers seminar being held in Perth on Thursday June 16th from 9am to 12.30pm. Book here.

Why a Good Quality Photograph Is Essential For Building Your Personal Brand

By Thomas Murrell, MBA, CSP, International Business Speaker

Having a high quality professional photograph is essential to building a powerful personal brand.

Having worked in the media for more than 20 years, I've seen people with photographs of appendages coming out of the tops of their heads, with dark shadows over their heads giving them an alien look and shots looking as though they were taken at a nightclub.

Shots with family members, babies and a really poor choice of backdrop are also no-nos that I've frequently seen.

While it may be good for YOUR ego to show off your latest passion (Such as scuba diving) in a photograph, if its not appropriate to your personal brand and who you are and what you do, don't use it.

Here are tips Joan Stewart, known in the US as the Publicity Hound suggests if you're having your portrait taken:


"--Wear your usual hairstyle. Don't try anything new.

--Make sure your hair is styled the way you want it before you arrive at the studio.

--If you need a haircut, have it done one or two weeks before your photo session.

--Wear clothing appropriate to your profession. If you're a gardener, don't have your photo taken in a suit and tie.

--Avoid high-neck clothing that obscures your neck.

--Avoid sleeveless clothing.

--It's risky to wear prints that draw attention away from your face. When in doubt, be safe with solids (but not black or white).

--When applying make-up, pay special attention to your eyes. That's what people see first.

--Eye shadow adds depth. Avoid iridescent colors. Stick to neutral.

--If you wear glasses, ask your optometrist if you can borrow a pair without lenses. That way there won't be any glare.

--Powder reduces shine and helps eliminate shiny foreheads and noses.

--Be sure to tell your photographer the photos are for publicity so he knows what kind of backdrop to use. And tell him not to use a "soft focus" lense. Your photo should have sharp tones with good contrast.

--Don't have your photo taken when you have a dark suntan or it will look like your face is oily.

--Don't forget to smile! If you don't, you might come off looking bored or sad.

When I have my photo taken every two or three years, I splurge for a hair and make-up artist who primps me until I look my best, then stays with me during the entire photo shoot. Her fee is about $150, and the results are worth every penny. But you don't need to spend that kind of money if you don't have it. Just follow the tips above and you'll be fine.

Pay for as many shots as you can afford so you have a good selection of images from which to choose. Also, ask the photographer if the photo shoot can include one or two wardrobe changes.

In addition to the head shot, you might also consider a storytelling photo that shows you with "props" related to your event. A toy train collector who will be featured at a train show, for example, might be photographed behind his model train display. Weekly newspapers that don't have photo staffs would welcome these types of photos.

Ordering your photos

Most print and online publications use electronic photos, but some don't. So you should have several wallet-size photos and at least one 4-by-5 print on hand just in case someone asks for it. If you're mailing prints, attach a label to the back of the photo. It should include your name, address, phone number, email address and the year the photo was taken.

Never write on the backs of photos with a pen or felt-tip marker. If you are mailing more than one photo, slip a blank piece of paper between them. Sometimes the pressure of the post office's mailing equipment can cause the back of one picture to rub off onto the front of another.

I advise Publicity Hounds that when sending prints to publications, don't ask editors to return them. It makes you look cheap. Besides, you want to encourage them to keep the photos in their files for use months or even years later.

Make electronic versions available

If you're posting your photo to your website, you can scan it at 72 dots per inch and it will look fine.

But editors who want to use the photos in print publications will need the photo scanned at 300 dots per inch, at the size they want to use the photo or larger. That means you can't take a thumbnail-size headshot, scan it at 300 dots per inch and offer it to an editor who wants to use it at 2-by-3 inches. That editor needs at least a 2-by-3 photo scanned at 300 dpi. So make several sizes available. I make four sizes available scanned at 300 dots per inch.

For most flexibility, offer a 4-by-5, color jpg scanned at 300 dpi. Any professional editor or publisher will be able to work with that. Some may use it in black and white, some may make it smaller, and some may lower the resolution."

Source: Why a Good-Quality Photo Should Accompany Your Articles by Joan Stewart,, accessed 9/6/05.

So, spend the money and you will be rewarded many times over by your investment.

For more ideas on building a powerful personal brand, visit our website.