Published on September 16, 2014
For Hypnotic Gold Members Only Audio Transcript of “How to Tap Into the Power of Hypnotic Publicity” By Dr. Joe Vitale HypnoticMarketing.com “Sit Back and Watch Your Business Explode When You Tap Into Most Powerful FREE Marketing Tactic In the World – Even the Famous 3 Stooges Used This One!” Joe: Hello, everybody. This is Joe Vitale with another audio recording, a private moment with me interviewing another great when it comes to hypnotic marketing, hypnotic publicity, hypnotic selling and this is only for Hypnotic Gold Inner Circle Members. Well, I'm very excited about this particular interview. I've been waiting, holding my breath, anxious, even having moments of anxiety because I'm so excited about doing this particular interview. I have found a legend in the public relations business. I found it through his book, which I have right here. I've already read it twice. I've taken notes. I've got questions for him. I hounded the author. I found him at his home. I bothered him. I bothered his wife. I got him off the golf course. I managed to get him to agree to do this interview. And I'm talking about Aaron Cushman, who's the author of this wonderful book that everybody needs to have called A Passion for Winning - A Passion for Winning. And the subtitle says "50 years of promoting legendary people and products", and believe me when we talk about legendary people and products. Listen to this: This man has been involved with promoting Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis, Milton Berle, Lena Horne, and of course, the Three Stooges, which we all want to hear about. The Three Stooges needed marketing help at least in the beginning. And of course he's been involved with the Marriott Corporation and with Bill Veck, the famous, or infamous, wild and zany White Sox owner. And of course he was involved with Century 21, and the Keebler Cookie Company. He helped awaken the sleeping giant with Serta mattress. The list goes on and on. He's even gotten to touch some of the people I've known over the years, like the crazy Evil Knievel. So, we are in for a treat. Aaron Cushman, thank you for being on here. Aaron: Joe, it's a pleasure and after that introduction it's hard for me to say one word. Joe: Well, I hope you can say a few more words than just one because I got to pick your brain - just so many things I want to ask you about. The people listening may know a little about publicity
but they either don't know what it is, don't understand it fully, aren't using it or using it incorrectly, inappropriately or even expecting too much from it. Aaron: It's probably the most misunderstood, the most maligned and probably the most frustrating business but I found it to be the single most exciting and interesting business and if anything, I'm guilty of having a love affair with the business after 50 years. I really couldn't wait to get into the office every day, that's how much I really enjoyed it. Joe: Well, it shows and I can see why. I can see that this book can be turned into a movie. One of the most vivid things is when you stopped a plane. You actually called back a plane in order to get one of your guests to get on Donahue. But I'm getting ahead of myself here. I want to go through this and we want to tell some stories and we want these to be teaching lessons because I want the folks listening to understand publicity, public relations and more importantly how to use it for themselves. So, my very first question is why did you write your book, A Passion for Winning. Aaron: Joe, I wrote the book for three reasons. First of all, primarily for business entrepreneurs because after so many years in the business, I came to understand how little they understood how the public relations business can relate to the movement of product off shelves and services. Even people who hired us really didn't know what to expect as a result of their hiring the agency. So, that was my first target. Second one was young people, who either are career minded, as far as communications is concerned or may actually be in the business at the present time. And I thought that there are so many lessons to be learned from the case histories in this particular book that it would be fascinating for them and certainly a great help in their career. As a matter of fact, the last chapter in the book talks about my 20 top tips for success in the PR business. Joe: And I made a note of asking you about that. That's very important. We should go through a few of those at least at some point during this conversation. Aaron: Joe, the last reason that I wrote it was because I thought some of the stories were funny and whoever was available and interested in reading a book might get a kick out of it whether they are business people or whether they are in the public relations business or not; just lay people who wanted to have some fun with a quick and easy read. Joe: Well, I think that's one of the reasons I like publicity in general is it's generally more fun. Now, of course I'm a disciple of PT Barnum and Barnum had a great deal of fun being outrageous and getting people's attention by doing things like showing a Fiji mermaid. And I being a disciple of
him at one point did an Elvis mermaid and had the Elvis mermaid on Ebay and it helped drive traffic to my main web site at MrFire.com. Aaron: What a great idea. Joe: So, yeah, there's all kind of fun things you can do and I also know - I'm going to briefly mention this because I know a lot of people won't realize this. The Rose Bowl started out strictly as a publicity stunt and once involved a bizarre race between a camel and an elephant. The Miss America pageant began in 1921 as a shameless publicity stunt that the Newspaper Publishers Association urged all its members to boycott. The Academy Awards started out in 1929 as nothing more than a publicity stunt for the fledgling movie industry. And what I'm trying to point out here is that there is a whole lot of things that happen in the world of business that we take for granted, like we enjoy the Rose Bowl every year. We enjoy Miss America contests, the Academy Awards we all watch but we didn't realize that publicity, public relations had a whole lot to do with that getting started. Aaron: I've come to realize critical roles that the transmission of information plays in the United States and around the world. And frankly, it all begins with public relations people. Very few people understand that but if you take a look at the information emanates from the White House, from the Pentagon, from General Motors, from the Boston Red Sox or the Chicago White Sox or what have you, it all begins with public relations people. And there's a good reason for that because it's a physical impossibility for media in any major city to cover all of the business, social, charitable activities, sports activities that go on in that community by themselves. For example, the Chicago Tribune has 26 full time, daytime reporters to cover a market of almost eight million people and untold numbers of businesses. It's an impossible job but grudgingly they have come to understand and appreciate that well-advised, well-informed, experienced public relations people can help them and that's very important. If you take a look at each day's newspaper and you delete the comics and the stock market listings and the paid advertising, 82 percent of the editorial content in every day's newspaper begins with public relations people. And for the very reasons that I mention and the things that are so terribly important to us in the business, is to maintain the credibility of the media, which today is shaken quite a bit. There are two strengths to public relations. One is cost efficiency and the other is the credibility. And when media have ethical problems, as they have had with Newsweek Magazine talking about the Koran going down the toilet, when 60 Minutes has to fire a great guy like Dan Rather because of problems, the New York Times has had reporters who write stories that they are not even seeing themselves and you can go on and on with it. In my book, I have a whole chapter on lack of media ethics and most people in the public relations business are scared stiff to come out with the truth about ethical problems in PR because they are afraid of retribution. Since I'm retired, I don't give a damn. I specifically
named names, named people and specific publications and exactly some of the really bad things that they did. Joe: Well, for the people listening, can we become our own press agents or public relations people and what is the preferred word because we hear publicity, public relations, publicist, press agent? What should we be calling ourselves when we are doing our own publicity? Aaron: Well, the terminology actually is threefold. There is such a thing as a press agent, which goes back to the theatrical days in which I spent the first ten years of my life. Joe: Yeah, that was the Three Stooges days. Aaron: It was. Joe: Dean Martin and so forth. Aaron: Actually in most cases, not all, but in most cases if you take the computer away from the press agent or the typewriter, they really don't care because they don't even know how to write. They'll take the telephone because they all know how to talk and a press agent is interested in getting publicity. Sometimes it doesn't make too much difference whether it's good or bad, just wants the name of the client published. The second category is a publicist. A publicist is somebody who is really a veteran strategist who understands the distribution system with the wire services, how to utilize the national media, the deadline problems that people have and how to communicate properly. And they are a key part of our industry. The highest level is the public relation counselor. This is somebody who will sit down and can program a public relations program up for a period of a year; somebody who can budget that program so that the client or the company completely understands exactly where they are and this individual is now a part of management. And he sits in on board meetings and the good and the bad of that is that we have some people in the industry who are wonderful. When the CEO takes a position that the public relations counselor knows is going to get murdered in the media, he has the right to stand up and say, Mr. President this is the wrong road to go on as far as the media are concerned. They are going to eat you alive. Now if he has the integrity to do that and if he's not afraid of his job, then he's really done well. Unfortunately, there are a few people in our industry who are so frightened and so conservative with their own job security that they will not stand up and tell their CEO, you are going the wrong direction. Joe:
Oh boy, they are just being ‘yes’ men or ‘yes’ women. Aaron: That's exactly right. Well, we talked earlier about publicity stunts and you mentioned a great many of them and a matter of fact, the world today turns on publicity stunts. Think for a minute about a month ago when the President of the United States when a 50-city tour to sell Social Security - a publicity stunt. Think back even a little bit further when the President of the United States flew and landed on an aircraft carrier to tell the whole world that the Iraq situation was over. That was a publicity stunt. Unfortunately for him it backfired. I mean everybody came to realize that that ship was only seven miles offshore and they had turned it around so that it faced the ocean rather than the city. When Oprah Winfrey and General Motors get together and give away close to 300 new Pontiacs on her program, a great publicity/marketing stunt, lots of international exposure by virtue of that television exposure. When Macy's has their Thanksgiving Parade in New York City, it's televised all over the world, great publicity stunt. These are the kinds of things that people don't even realize are happening. They read about it in the paper. They watch it on TV; hear it on radio. They don't understand that somebody is in back of that, doing the planning and the placement of all of these things. When you look at the sports stadiums of the world today, very few no longer carry family names, like Comisky Park is gone. It's now it's US Cellular. In Detroit it's Comerica. The only two I can think of right now are Yankee Stadium in New York and Fenway Park in Boston. Other than that, almost every ballpark is now carrying a corporate name and they have paid millions for that because they want the publicity that goes with having their name attached to a stadium. So, that's the point I'm making when I say that the world really is turning on the public relations business and most people don't even realize it. Joe: Now these people that are listening are solo entrepreneurs. They are not corporate types for the most part. There may be exceptions. How can they create their own publicity? And do you advise them to be thinking in the direction of creating a publicity stunt? Aaron: I advise them to think in terms of public relations. And I created an equation which is called Exposure = Awareness = Sales. I don't care how small your business is or how big it is, that equation will work for you providing when you talk about exposure, it must be a continuity of exposure. No one single big splash is going to do it. If you, for example, had a full page in the Wall Street Journal editorially, that would not give you awareness. But if you have a successive exposure factor on and on, then you will have exposure and you will have awareness. And once you have awareness, no matter what your product is as long as it's a good one, you will have sales. Joe:
So, it should be - how should they be going about getting this awareness and this placement? What should they be doing? Aaron: I think the first thing to do is to realize what your own individual position is with regard to your marketing plan. Take for example, a pie chart, a circular pie chart. And as a businessperson, ask yourself if that pie chart represents a hundred percent market penetration for my little business, how much of that market can I afford to buy through paid advertising. I laughingly call it the ad gap. But it's not a derogatory thing at all. It's the difference between what you can afford to buy and what you would like to have. So, if you are a small business, maybe you can only afford to buy five or ten percent of that circular pie chart, which means that in order to get a hundred percent market penetration, you've got 85 or 90 percent to fill somehow, someway. And there is only one way that I know of and that is through public relations because it's so cost efficient. Remember that you don't buy media exposure when you are talking about publicity. You must be creative and develop concepts and ideas that will motivate the media to want to cover whatever it is you are talking about doing. And if you can do that then you will get the publicity, including identification for your company and for your product. And it will move off the shelves because third person, I should say disinterested third person endorsement, which is what the media represent, gives you credibility. Joe: I know that there is a quote in your book by your Bernaise, who's considered the father of public relations, and he said, "Make news, not news releases". Aaron: That's correct. Joe: And I love it. "Make news, not news releases." Did you know Bernaise by any chance?
Aaron: I had met his several times but I cannot honestly say that I knew him. First time I met him he was getting close to about 80 and I saw him again after he was 90 years old. He was a giant in the industry. There are probably, oh I would say six to ten people, like myself, who were pioneers in the business. When we started there were no college courses. There were no seminars and there were no textbooks. We really learned the business by the seat of our pants. And for me, show business was a great answer because when you are selling merchandise like Jane Russell and Milton Berle and the Three Stooges and some of the others that you mentioned before, media sit up and take notice. They want to talk to these people. So, you build great contacts. My first job was with the Oriental Theater in downtown Chicago. And the first celebrity that I had the opportunity to work with was Jane Russell. And everybody said to me, "Hey, you are going to meet a sex symbol." And I said that's interesting because I've never met a sex symbol before. And I didn't know what to expect. I had seen her in The Outlaw, the first movie that she made. And when she walked in for rehearsal that morning at 9 o'clock, here was this gal who was about 5'10", knock-out gorgeous wearing a white turtle neck sweater and no cleavage, nothing like that, just a polite, intelligent, smart and highly religious lady. So, we spent several weeks together and I really enjoyed it. She was a marvelous person. And as you can imagine, every photo editor in the Midwest was clamoring for pictures and special things. So, you build contacts that way. When Milton Berle came into Chicago and I was working with him, I found him standing in the lobby of the theater staring at - Joe: I remember that part in your book. Aaron: We had this large display, like 30 feet long and 25 feet high, and he was staring at it and of course, it had his name on it because he was there a day early and this was the coming attractions. And when I introduced myself, he said to me, "Would you bring me a ladder and a ruler?" And I said, "Come on, Milton. I know you're a funny man but why do you want a ladder and ruler?" He says, "Please." So I call the stagehand. He brought it out and what do you know! He climbed that ladder to the very top and took this ruler out of his pocket and he measure the size of his billing compared to the next person because his contract read 100% billing. No one should have more than 75%. Joe: Wow. Aaron: And I found out later that billing sometimes to entertainers is more important than money.
Joe: Amazing. Aaron: So, he was a fascinating guy. After that the Three Stooges came along and - Joe: Well, we got to hear about the Three Stooges. What were they like in person? Aaron: At first blush, you would have to say that they were just square-head business guys. Joe: You got to be kidding? Aaron: No! Joe: The Three Stooges in person were square-headed accountants or business guys? Aaron: Absolutely. If they were not actually on stage, you would never know who they were. And to prove the point, I would walk State Street in Chicago at noon time with the three guys and we'd go maybe three blocks before somebody would suddenly stop and look at them hard and say, "Hey, aren't you -?" And with that the three of them would turn their backs to this individual, reach into their back pockets and take out their costume, which was a comb. And Larry would fluff out his hair. Mo would pull his hair down over his and eyes and Shemp didn't have much hair so it didn't matter and when they turned around, it was bop on the head, smack on the floor, lay on the ground, scream and holler and suddenly they were the Three Stooges. And in about 5 minutes time we would have 300 people in the middle of the street blocking traffic and it was a madhouse. Joe: Oh wow. Wow. Aaron: But they were the sweetest, nicest guys. Joe: Is that right? Aaron: Yeah.
Joe: Well, it sounds like Jekyll and Hyde there? They were completely different when they were on stage. Aaron: They were just regular people off stage and I'll give you another situation with them. I'm really jumping ahead but in 1950, in September of 1950, I was recalled to active duty. I had been a pilot during World War II. Joe: Yeah, Truman said he couldn't continue without you. Aaron: That's correct. And what he did was he recalled me and I figured if they could do that to Ted Williams, they could probably do it to me too. But I went back into service to fly B29s over Korea and I had a kind of an understanding if I finished the missions, they would then put me where I belonged, which was in public relations. So, I flew a tour and when I came back home, which at that time was El Paso, Texas, with the 97th Bomb Wing, I became Base PIO, public information officer. And that automatically put me on the commanding officer's board of directors, so to speak. And he would call a staff meeting once a month, whenever he had a problem. And he did call a meeting and I went to my first staff meeting. Here was this great big square table and he was a full bird colonel and there were other colonels on the left of him, going down the line, colonels, majors, captains and finally down to me. I was a first lieutenant at that time and he said, "General Lemay has asked me to come up with $50,000.00 from our base for the Air Force Aid Society. And that's the per capita challenge that we face and I need ideas on how to do that because I don't know how to do it." So we went around the table and he asked every one of these individuals, one by one. You never saw more heads go down and more heads shake like they didn't know anything about it. And finally he came to the end of the table and big mouth, that's me, said, "Colonel, I can get you the money." Well, all these colonels and majors lifted their heads up as if to say, “Who is this punk.” And he said to me, “Just how would you go about doing that?” I explained to him that I had a number of friends and contacts in Hollywood and if he would give me a B25 and let me fly to Hollywood, put me up in a Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel for about five weeks, give me a staff car and a driver, I think I can come back to the base with an airplane full of named stars. So, the next day he called me and he said, "You know I don't have any other choice. I'm really not comfortable with this but if you think you can do it, we'll try it. Go ahead," he says, "but you better come through." So, I went to Hollywood and one of the guys I had met in Chicago was George Jessel. Are you familiar with him?
Joe: Yes, yes. Aaron: He, how did he call himself? The - I can't remember what his byline was but anyway he was a great conversationalist and at that time, he was president of 20th Century Fox. And he kept saying while he was with me, "you're the greatest PR guy I ever saw. I want you to come to Hollywood. I want you to work for me and can you do that?" And I said, "No, George, I got to stay in Chicago. My family is here" blah blah blah. And he said, "If you ever change your mind, if you ever come there, call me. Here's my personal phone number. And you got a job." So I thanked him and that was it. Well now I needed him.
Joe: Yeah. Aaron: So, I got on the phone and I called him - five times. And he was either reading a script, in bed with some junior girl, or out on location but obviously he did not want to talk to me. So, I explained to the girl I wasn't looking for a job. I was in the Air Force and I just wanted five minutes of his time. I figured he could open up a lot of doors for me. But they shunted me off and I ended up in another direction but the bottom line was in about five weeks, I had 36 great Hollywood stars lined up to come to El Paso, Texas to appear. And of course the biggest name I had at that time was Ann Sheraton, who you may remember. Joe: Yes. I do. Aaron: And with her was Margaret O'Brien and Eddie Bracken and Marta Toren and Nancy Guild and Colleen Gray and the Rifleman. And the Three Stooges were one of the groups who immediately said to me, of course we'll come. So, we had a big parade and we had a fundraising affair and a show and they ended up raising $53,000.00 and Aaron Cushman was a big hero. Four days later I was transferred to Air Force Headquarters. And that's how it begins in the Air Force. Joe: Well, I was also fascinated, the Three Stooges were very game to do, what did they do? They did charity work. They wanted to go to the hospitals and perform. Aaron: Yeah, the point that they made to me when they said that was this is one time, we do not want any media. So, I said really? And they said, yes, please no media. So I set them up at a hospital and they went there and they spent about three hours with these kids and most of them were cancer patients and they were just funny as hell and made the kids laugh. And they brought some gifts with them and it was just a wonderful thing and no publicity. Nobody ever knew about that. Joe: That is so wonderful. These guys sounded like they were good people. Aaron: They were. They were just wonderful people. Joe: What about Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin? Aaron:
Well, I met them at the Chez Paris in Chicago, which was the nightclub in the Midwest at that particular time, comparable to the Latin Quarter of the Copa Cabana in New York City. And Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis were always a complete sellout because they were hot as hell. And Dean would be on stage at the start of the act singing and from the back of the room, Jerry Lewis would come in screaming. And he would walk from the back of the room on top of the tables. Joe: Oh wow. Aaron: To get to the front and stand side to side with Dean. And you know, occasionally he'd kick over a glass of champagne or something like that but nobody cared. They just howled. He was so funny. I had another interesting experience with him. We had a fire in Chicago. Our Lady of Angels School, catholic school, burned down and over a hundred children were burned to death. It was a horrible thing. One day I got a call from the head of the Catholic Church at that particular time. His name was Cardinal Stritch and he asked me if several nuns could come to the Chez Paris with some of the children who had escaped the fire, who would like to meet Jerry Lewis. So, I cleared it with Jerry and sure enough the next day they came and I took them backstage into his dressing room and I left them there. They were in there about half an hour and they came out and the nuns were smiling and the kids were just glorious. They were thrilled. Loaded with stuffed animals and all kinds of toys. I went back stage and went back in the dressing room and Jerry was sitting there crying. I said, “What are you crying about?” And he said, “Those poor kids.” He says, “I wish I could have helped all those who didn't make it.” You know, it - he was on again, off again. Sometimes he would be a real SOB, so difficult. If you changed a schedule by five minutes, he could scream and holler. And yet this kind side of him always came out. So, that's show business for you. Joe: Did you find it easy to do public relations for the show business personalities because on one level I'm kind of imagining what people are thinking as they are listening to this. They are thinking, well I'm running an Internet business or I've got a dry cleaning retail shop and I'm not the Three Stooges and I don't have atomic flare. And I'm not Jane Russell and I'm not a movie star. How am I going to go out there and make news, not news releases? How am I going to get publicity and public relations to work for me? Aaron: Well, maybe we ought to switch gears for a moment and get away from show business. Joe: All right. Aaron:
And talk about other kinds of things. I went from the entertainment business to small retail stores. And I would assume from what you are saying that that's the kind of thing a number of your people listening - Joe: Yeah, they've got their own, most of the time, one-person business. And it could be a brick and mortar shop. It could be Internet based business but they're for the most part, running it by themselves. Aaron: I worked for a company, called the Evans Fur Company, which at the time was not a great big company. Since they became public and did other things but they had one store in Chicago. And their primary target was to sell mink coats at a very cheap price and the product was not a good product. And they had a reputation of that kind of low price, low quality product. But when I went there, I saw that they had racks and racks of magnificent, beautiful furs, very expensive. And we're talking about anywhere from five to fifteen thousand dollars. And so the gentleman who owned it and I had a long discussion and it was difficult to tear him away from full-page ads screaming about a full-length mink coat for $800.00. Joe: Right. Aaron: But he finally agreed that he would try it and what we did was, using my connections, frankly, in the entertainment field, I would find a movie star who was in town and I would drape a beautiful fur over their shoulders in the Pump Room of the Ambassador East Hotel in Booth Number 1, take a photograph of it and put it in the paper the next day. And slowly but surely, we began to create the idea that here was a company that had two sides to it. It did carry high quality furs and it also carried low-end merchandise. And as time went by and I was with them for several years, the high end volume just increased tremendously because of these kinds of affiliations. I think for a moment, about the Marriott. We're talking about stunt type things to get you a little publicity. There was a new hotel outside of Minneapolis and I watched businessmen coming into that hotel dressed just perhaps as you and I would going into a business situation, with a suit, a tie. And then they were come out the back entrance looking like bums because they were going fishing. And they'd be gone for a week and coming back into this beautiful hotel, we felt it was too much of a trauma for the body to absorb, having slept on the ground somewhere out on a hut someplace and then coming into this beautiful hotel. So we created a decompression chamber for fisherman. And they spent the first night back in the hotel in pump tents around the pool and we fed them flambeau room service, in those tents.
We did allow them to use the washrooms for showers and stuff and there was a wonderful guy named Jim Clobishier with the Minneapolis Star Tribune, who always insisted on being the first guy every year when we did this and he did a full-page story on it. Joe: And did you call it a decompression chamber? Aaron: Absolutely. It was a fisherman's decompression chamber. Joe: Wow. Did you issue, did you make phone calls to tell the media? Or did you issue news releases? How did you inform them? Aaron: We called the media. The first year we called the media to find out what their interest level was if we did this. And they loved the creativity concept of it. And they agreed that they would assign a photographer and a reporter to cover it. Then when I saw Jim Clobishier, he said to me “Hey look, I'm going to do this. And I want an exclusive on it.” And he did. So, he had the first crack, which was worth it because we got the full page in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Joe: Oh beautiful. Aaron: But after that, other people, you know, it was on radio. It was on television and there were little blurbs in the other community newspapers but the Marriott was such a great source for it and I'm not thinking necessarily of the world famous hotel chain, rather than the individual hotels, city by city, some in small markets and some in big markets. But when we were representing them on a worldwide basis, I got a call from Bill Marriott one day and he said to me, "Aaron, we have a ground breaking coming up in Kansas City and Denver and in Newport Beach, California and can you find some way to condense those so that we use as a few or as little of our vice presidents' time as possible." Their history always had every vice president in the company coming to every ground breaking. Of course it was easy to do when he only had 20 hotels but now there are well over a thousand hotels. I was in at the beginning and that's so rare. They had three tiny motels in downtown Washington and over the next 13 years, I opened 65 hotels for them all over the world. Anyway to go back to this situation, we had a staff meeting and I called Mr. Marriott back and I said, "Bill, we're going to call this the Triple Ground Breaking in the Sky." You read the book; you know that it's in there. Joe: Yes. Aaron:
And what we did was released a DC9. We picked up 12 syndicated writers in Boston, New York and Washington. Flew them to Kansas City because they were going to make the whole trip with us and then the next morning, we filled the plane up with local media in Kansas City, political leaders and corporate people who were going to give us business once the hotel was built. Took them up, gave them a sightseeing flight around their city, breakfast in the sky and then at the propitious moment, that plane came down to 500 feet over the ground. We proceeded to fly a bomb run over our exact location. I had cleared it with the FAA and I had a girl coming out of the back of the plane carrying a purple pillow and on top of that pillow was a box with a bunch of flickering lights. Just between you and I and the lamppost, those lights didn't do one thing. And there was a plunger built on top of it and that didn't do anything either. It was all ceremonious. She carried it up the aisle. Put it in Mr. Marriott's lap. The pilot was in touch with the ground by radio. As we came upon the target, he tapped me. I tapped Mr. Marriott. The plane went over on its side. Bill Marriott had pushed the plunger. People looked at the window and they saw dynamite explosions and colored smoke bombs going off and television cameras on the ground and in the plane - incredible coverage. We dumped everybody off and ran like the dickens to Denver, where we repeated the same thing at lunch. Went to Newport Beach for cocktails and finally I got home at 5 o'clock in the morning, dead tired. Joe: I bet. I bet. Aaron: But the media coverage was just astronomical. And it all came from an idea. Joe: Well, that's one of my questions. Where do we come up with these ideas because there are some, you know, creative, outstanding, outrageous even ideas in your book, A Passion for Winning and I can't help but wonder. Where do we get these ideas? How do we generate them? How do we think out of the box? Aaron: Well, I have always said that I can find writers a dime a dozen but idea people, creative people are very hard to find. It takes a particular brand of individual who can sit down and look at something and say, what about doing this and what about doing that. And we had the good fortune of having the staff to kick around an idea. I had one girl who never had an original idea in her head but she knew how to tack onto somebody else's idea and make it better. Joe: That's good. Well, you've worked with people who were pretty creative, whether it was Bill Vick or Marvin Glass. These guys thought out of the box and they were outrageous or Evil Knievel even. One of the stories I want you to tell because I think it's relevant for the people listening to kind of give them a clue to how these ideas might be triggered and it's the idea about how the 200 cartons of chickens were sent to John Glenn's family's home.
Aaron: Yeah. Joe: So tell that story because I read that and I thought this is what it's like. You don't have the money. You're watching TV but you go ahead and tell the story. Aaron: Well, the astronauts had taken off and the media had crowded around the wife of - Joe: John Glenn. Aaron: John Glenn, thank you. And they couldn't get inside and nobody could get close, particularly anybody with any kind of commercial tie in and we looked at that and we tried to figure out how we could possibly get on this national, international television that they are working so hard covering this whole thing. All they wanted to do was talk to Mrs. Glenn. And one of the guys in our group said, you know what, let's package 200 packages of chicken and we'll take those chicken to the media, who are waiting outside there. And so we brought a Marriott truck with the big name on the side and it pulled up and we took these 200 packages of chicken out to all these hungry reporters and photographers and they just crowded around this truck and here we got this great big insignia on that truck, Marriott Hotels. And we were on coast to coast all over the world. Joe: And it basically cost lunch because I remember when they were - you were considering how do we get on TV, it was like $100,000.00 in your budget, which was no where near what was needed to get on international TV. But instead you came up with a more gorilla approach, a creative approach and let's send lunch to John Glenn's family. And the other thing that I want to point out, that's kind of a punch line. A little bit later on after all this took place, somebody asked John Glenn where he was going to stay when he went somewhere and he said, “Well, I would stay at Marriott” he says, “because when I went into space, Marriott sent lunch to my wife.” Aaron: That's right. He never did forget that. Joe: And that's amazing. This all came - this is the kind of thing I'm talking about. It's making news, not news releases and it's being creative. It's kind of sitting there looking for the opportunity, the connection. And I believe, as I remember in the book, A Passion for Winning, people were just
watching TV and thinking how can we get on TV. What's a creative way? And somebody says, lunch! You know! Aaron: That's it. I'll give you another story with Keebler Cookies. Joe: Yes, tell me. Aaron: Almost everybody is familiar with Keebler Cookies. Joe: Oh yeah. Aaron: And I got this call from the president of Keebler who was a client at that time and he asked me to come. We had a meeting and he explained to me that they were about to introduce a new soft centered cookie. And he told me that it was a two billion dollar market. And he said to me, “It's a problem for us because our competition is Nabisco and Procter and Gamble. And even though we are a large company, they could swallow us and never even give a hiccup.” And he said, “I cannot afford to get into an advertising battle with these people. I need a creative public relations effort that will help the brokers and the wholesalers get the grocers to stock this product." And so we took that to a staff meeting again and came up with the concept of David versus Goliath. Everybody knows that story. And this was a perfect example of it. And we wrote all our material how here's little Keebler and they are battling these two great big giants companies for a two billion dollar share of the market and how are we going to do it. So we wrote this release and I took it. As I saw this, there are three publications in the United States - New York Times, Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post. If you make a placement in one of those three papers, it's automatically open sesame to every other newspaper in the United States because they have the credibility. So if it's going to be in the New York Times, it's good enough for me is the concept. Anyway, I went to the Times. Had a good friend on the financial desk and he listened to me. He says, "Aaron I just don't buy it." And then I went to Washington to the Post and I got the same negative response. I figured my last shot was the Wall Street Journal. And when I went there and made the presentation, they gave me their usual response. Let us check it. I said okay and went home. The next day they called me and they said, "We're going with the story." And two days later on the right-hand front page column, The National Cookie War - Little Keebler Battles Nabisco and Procter and Gamble For Two Billion Dollars Share. And after that every broker and wholesaler was pushing their retailers to stock the product and so it went on the shelves.
But the next question for us was how do you get the consumer to come in for the pull through? And everybody knows that Keebler doesn't bake their cookies in regular stoves and ovens. They bake them in the magic oven in the hollow tree. Joe: Right. Aaron: And they don't use cooks and bakeries, they use elves. So, we took a page out of that and made what is today still the single most unusual press kit that has ever been made. It was a box, actually, about 24 inches high, was 18 inches left to right and about 12 inches deep. And on the front of the box was the image of the magic oven, a reproduction of it. And then we hid a drawer, which said on the outside, Instant Press Conference. So you pull out the drawer and there we had two hot pads, because we didn't want them to burn their fingers on the fresh cookies, which are also inside, and we had a tape inside. And one side of the tape was Tom Curren, the president, talking about the two billion dollar market. The other side was the elves talking about how they make these wonderful cookies and then when you open up the sides of the press kit, there were eight packages - four on each side - different flavors of the cookies so that the media people had a chance to taste them and know exactly what they were talking about. Now if you could close your eyes for a minute and imagine limousines on Madison Avenue in New York, Michigan Avenue in Chicago, Rodeo Drive in Los Angeles loaded with these boxes because we hit every talk show host, every magazine and every newspaper editor in the country with these, within two days of each other. And the very next morning, CBS Television on their morning show, did four and half minutes on a press kit. Joe: Wow. Aaron: Without even a live person to talk. They used the tapes! Joe: That is beautiful. Aaron: The bottom line for everything was that Keebler, first year, got 33% market share and their advertising expenditure was nowhere near Procter and Gamble and Nabisco. Joe: Oh, what a great story, Aaron. That is amazing. Well, you talk about these press kits and so forth, it brings up a question that may be on some people's mind. Do you find that it's more effective to send a news release out - now we know it's more important to make news, not news releases - but in order to release that news, is it more effective to send a news release or to actually make a phone call or to go in person.
Aaron: No. The most important thing is to understand who your target audience is. If you're doing a story on your business and you want to send it to the media, you have to identify the individual on that piece of media who should be interested. If you just send a blanket release out, it's going to end up in File 13, in the wastebasket. Joe: So, how do they find out who that is? Aaron: Well, that's not difficult if you read the paper carefully. It tells you every single day what the specialty is on the writers. You know, it tells you exactly. If you look, for example, in the business pages, and you read the stories and the bylines, you can know exactly who to talk to. If you’re talking about fashion or food or entertainment, just turn to those sections in your newspaper. Read the bylines and see the names of these people and then read what they write. See what their interest is, what the flavor is and then when you send your material to them, at least you've got an audience. They might not use it but they are at least interested enough to want to read it. And you should make that first sentence challenging and interesting. The lead on your story has to be enticing enough to get the reader into the rest of the story. Otherwise, if they are not interested in the first sentence, they are going to throw it away. Joe: And the first sentence, are you referring to the headline or the actual first sentence under the headline or both? Aaron: I'm talking really about the first sentence in the story. Joe: Okay. Aaron: The headline is really sort of an abbreviation and that's important too but the first sentence, the lead item in your story has to capture the reader's interest so he wants to read more. If it doesn't he's not going to go beyond it because they are inundated with releases. Joe: What's an example of a good first line because a lot of us have heard, especially if they went to journalism school, put the who, what, when, where, why and how in the first line. But is that a good approach when we are trying to snare the interest of a targeted media contact? Aaron: Not necessarily. I think what's much more important is if you identify what this person's interest is, if what their specialty is then you make the first line in your story specifically related to that.
If they want to talk about fashion and you've got a small store and you sell dresses and coats and things like that but you've got a particular piece that is unique and different and something that they should be interested in if they knew about it, then you pinpoint your first paragraph right to that fashion editor and you let her know exactly what you have in your store as interesting as you can possibly make it. Joe: And you make it a letter, like Dear Aaron or Dear Joe or do you make it as a news release? Aaron: I make it a news release. Joe: And do you put a cover letter on it? Aaron: Not necessarily, no. Joe: Okay. Aaron: But you can also use the Internet on it if you wish and send emails. Some people prefer emails; some people say they get too many. Some people say that they like the written story on hard copy and even other people think that if they get a telephone call, sometimes, that's even better than everything. If I had a small company and not a lot of money, I think I'd pick up the phone and I'd call the editor. Tell him who I was and what I had and if they are interested, you'd be glad to send the material and feel them out. See what they have to say. Joe: Do you ever use the, or recommend, the media directories that all the big cities have that they can get from the Chamber of Commerce that list all the media in that city? Aaron: They are fairly inexpensive and they are very helpful. I know in Chicago the Publicity Club puts out a wonderful book, not only of metropolitan dailies and radio and TV stations but all the community publications and the small stations around. I've heard lately that some people are doing Internet addresses on media. Joe: Yes. But the two sites that I know of on the Internet are PRweb.com (www.prweb.com) and www.imediafacts.com and then of course, what I was referring to there, I'll just explain it for the listeners is that every major city has a media guide or a media directory, usually sold through the chamber of commerce, usually $15.00 to $50.00 just for the published directory. And it lists every media contact, that's all the newspapers, the dailies, the weeklies, the monthlies, the magazines, the syndicated, the radio, the TV, newsletters.
There's usually some information on how to approach the media. It's usually a worthwhile investment. But again that's the practical side of sending that out and making contact. The more creative side of all of this is again, going back to the Bernaise quote, "Make news, not news releases." Aaron: Correct. Joe: And I know we are running out of time here. You have your top 20 PR tips. Are there any of those that you think would be most relevant or which of those would be most relevant to the people listening or anything else that you think you would want these people to keep in mind as they go out there to win the war in business using publicity and public relations on their side? Aaron: Well, let me just try to get a handle on what's in those 20 concepts. Joe: As you are thinking about that, I'm looking through and you've worked with Sammy Davis Junior. Did you know Evil Knievel personally? Aaron: I did. Joe: Okay. Aaron: I did. Actually Marvin Glass, who was the giant - Joe: Oh what a character he was. Aaron: He was a character. As you said to me, worth a book unto itself. Joe: Yes. Aaron: One of the things that he did was a beautiful reproduction of Evil Knievel's motorcycle in a toy. I mean a little toy. It was about 12 inches long and it sold, first year, 25 million dollars worth of product. Joe:
Wow. Aaron: And Evil of course, he had some kind of a royalty off of Marvin's royalty and it was manufactured by Deal Toy and sold by them. He was a very strange guy. He would call me at 2 o'clock in the morning and I always felt that he was, you know, half drunk. And he would say to me, "tell Mr. Glass to send me $25,000.00 right away. I need it." Joe: He was probably calling from Vegas. Aaron: He was! That's where he was calling from! And we'd dodge around it a little bit and then the next day I'd tell Marvin what happened and he'd do what he had to do. If he owed him money, he certainly would send it. But Evil was a peculiar, strange guy. And I guess to be in that kind of business, you had to be a little kooky. Joe: Well, I'm sure he hit his head more than once. I had my own run-ins with him. He wanted me to write his autobiography. Aaron: Really? Joe: About seven years ago when I finished my PT Barnum book and he gave me a nice endorsement for the book but I worked with him off and on by phone for six months and just decided, you know the guy never once took an interest in me. And he just seemed crazy. I ended up passing on it. Aaron: He's very self-centered. Joe: Yeah. But when it comes to publicity, the guy is a great showman. I mean he's a PT Barnum. He knew how to wear the colors and do the activity and work the media. I'll never forget that. Aaron: He did all of that and you know, talk about business for a moment. I walked into Ideal Toy at the toy show in New York City and here was Lionel Weintraub, who was president of Ideal with his head in his hands in the back room. And I said, " Lionel, what's the problem?" And he said to me, "I'm trying to figure out how I'm going to replace the 25 million dollars next year so I can tell my stockholders what we are going to do." Anyway, everyone's got their problems. One of the funnest, funnest things for me, if there is such a word as funnest, was the White Sox situation.
Joe: Yeah. Aaron: I don't know how much time we have left but I'd like to spend a couple minutes because I've got two chapters in the book talking about Bill Veck and the Chicago White Sox. Joe: Oh, and he's another one that's worth a book himself. He was an incredible publicist and an outrageous thinker, another PT Barnum but yeah, we've got a couple minutes. Go ahead. Tell. Aaron: Veck kind of was out to prove that he was better with one leg than most men are with two. He'd lost a leg in the Marines in the South Pacific and you know, he owned several ball clubs - the Cleveland Indians with whom he won a Pennant, he was with the St. Louis Browns and he almost went broke with them and then in 1959 he bought the Chicago White Sox. I am a die hard, lifelong White Sox fan and when the phone rang and the guy said to me, "Hi, I'm Bill Veck", I didn't believe it and I said, "Yeah, and I'm President Eisenhower. Who the hell is this?" But it was Bill and we spent a couple days together and he finally hired us to do the marketing for the White Sox and that was a great experience for me and later on, I bought an interest in it and became an owner with him. But he had an idea a minute. I would visit him in the morning when he was soaking his leg in the tub, like at 6:30, 7:00 in the morning. I'd come to his apartment. He'd be sitting in the bathtub, soaking his stump and he'd have ideas. And one day he said to me, "Aaron, what do you think about a 50,000 piece orchestra?" I said, "Wow! Bill that's incredible!" He says, "Can you make it happen?" I said, "I think I can." So two months later we had music night at Sox Park and in order to come into the ballpark you had to have a musical instrument, either a real one or if you came with a kazoo it was okay or if you brought two spoons that you could play. Joe: I love it. That's so good. Aaron: Anything like that but we had 46,000 people that night and out of the dugout came the conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in white tie and tails at the 7th inning break and we had a little step ladder at home plate. He climbed up there, three steps and led the entire entourage in Take Me out to the Ball Game. Joe: Oh, that's so wonderful. Talk about it - I hope somebody filmed it because that was one of those moments that go down in history. Aaron:
Well, I think that everybody knows about that. As a matter of fact, the Harry Karry - are you familiar with Harry Karry? Joe: Yes. Aaron: He became known because his voice was so terrible. Bill had him sing Take Me out the Ball Game every night at the 7th inning. And that became tradition and when he left the White Sox, he went to the cubs and they continued it over there. And even though Harry is dead, they’re still doing it every 7th inning but that's where it came from. Joe: Amazing. Aaron: Yeah. Joe: Amazing. I admire these people who come up with these ideas and I keep urging people, myself and the people listening to be thinking outrageously, to be thinking creatively, to be thinking differently and sometimes it's just a little bit of a spin or maybe it's taking something that in one context makes perfect sense, like having a 50,000-piece orchestra might make sense to someone on some planet and moving it to some place it's never been done before and let's do it at the ballpark. Aaron: Well, some of the tips that we talked about, I would say one of the most important is to maintain your integrity. Joe: Yes. Aaron: No matter what happens, don't sell out. Be as straightforward and as honest as you can be and do not get rid of your integrity. You must maintain that. And be proactive. Have a nose for news. Initiate news and feature stories on your own. If you are going to write for media acceptance, don't write for client approval. Forget about the client, whether he likes the story or not. What you should be writing for is whether the media are going to like the material. When the client sees it published in the paper or when you as a businessman see it published in the paper, you are going to like it, even if you didn't like it in the beginning. And one thing you have to come to understand, you cannot bury a bad story. It's impossible to hide it. So you got to play it straight with the media. You give them the bad with the good. And pretty soon, if you've built yourself a background of good will, they will underplay the negative stories and stay with the positive ones.
And one of the major things that I tell my clients, whether they are small or big, is there is no such thing as ‘off the record’. If you don't want to read it, if you don't want to hear it on television, don't say it because you cannot trust anybody to keep that confidence. And I also tell them to be solid business people, and talk the clients' language. You know, talk about distribution channels, warehousing, competition, pricing policies, marketing techniques, production, research, and inventory. Don't talk about two column picture breaks and double trucks and stuff like that because that's like talking Chinese to a client. Talk the language that they understand. Joe: Oh, boy! And these are just some of the tips that are in your book. Aaron: That's right. Joe: And again, I want to mention it's called, A Passion for Winning. Aaron: I can tell people how they can get it. Joe: Yes, how? What's the best way to get it? Aaron: One of the best ways is call Amazon.com and the other way is if you want to get it direct by phone, call 1-800-431-1579. Joe: Let me have that again. It's 1-800-4 - Aaron: 431-1579. Joe: 1579. Aaron: Right. Joe: That's a direct line. Is it in bookstores? Aaron:
It's not in bookstores. Unfortunately, the distribution is not there. Joe: Well, the really good books are a little bit harder to get. So, I say call 1-800-431-1579 or order it from my all time favorite place, Amazon.com. Aaron: Right. Joe: And it's called A Passion for Winning. Now Aaron, I got to ask you one more question before I let you go back to playing golf or go in the hot tub or wherever you are going next. And that is what do you wish somebody would ask you when you do these interviews? Aaron: What do I wish somebody would ask me? Joe: I know you do a lot of radio shows. You are getting interviewed from time to time and I get interviewed from time to time and I keep thinking to myself, what a great open-ended question. Just to ask somebody who is a guest, what do you wish somebody would ask you. Here's a quick go-ahead. Aaron: I think the thing I would like people to ask me is after 50 years in the business, did you really enjoy it as much as you said? Joe: Ah, and what's the answer? Aaron: There is no question about it. I love this business. And as I said in the book, after 50 years the biggest pill I ever took was an aspirin and I'm afraid I'm guilty. I love the business. Joe: Oh, that is so wonderful to hear. Absolutely wonderful. I am very grateful that you have taken the time to let me do this with you and to share this with all the people in the Hypnotic Gold Membership. I've been talking to Aaron Cushman. His book is A Passion for Winning: 50 Years of Promoting Legendary People and Products. Get it amazon.com online or you can call 1-800-431-1579. Aaron, I can't thank you enough. I owe you! Aaron: I owe you. Thank you so much for having me. Joe: Okay. Go have a great day. Aaron: You too. Joe: Thanks. Aaron: Bye now.
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