Words to Live By - PT Barnum - April 2014

When the Brooklyn Bridge opened in 1883, no one wanted to go across it.  It was the first bridge made of steel and not iron. Is was also the longest suspension bridge in the world—50% longer than any previously built.

The day it opened – May 24, 1883, a total of 1,800 vehicles and 150,300 people crossed what was then the only land passage between Manhattan and Brooklyn.

On May 30, 1883, six days after the opening, a rumor that the Bridge was going to collapse caused a stampede, which was responsible for at least twelve people being crushed and killed.

The city was left with a bit of a marketing problem… they had just invested a lot of time and money building a bridge to make travel easier but no one would use it.  What to do? What to do?

I can’t find any information online about who came up with this brilliant idea to prove the safety of the bridge but on May 17, 1884, P. T. Barnum led 21 elephants over the Brooklyn Bridge to prove that it was stable.  On May 17, 1884, P. T. Barnum helped to squelch doubts about the bridge’s stability—while publicizing his famous circus—when one of his most famous attractions, Jumbo, led a parade of 21 elephants over the Brooklyn Bridge.

It may have been P.T. Barnum himself seeing a great opportunity for free publicity for his circus.  The parade worked – who can argue that the bridge is doomed to collapse after seeing 21 elephants walk across it.  It was a win-win – the city had a bridge people would use and the Circus got a lot of free publicity!

Now I know (hope!) that you don’t have a marketing problem the size of the Brooklyn Bridge on your plate, but what do you do to promote your business?

Today I encourage you to take a few minutes and think about how you promote your art licensing business.  Make a list and don’t only include what you do and where, but HOW OFTEN.  Without continual promotion the marketplace will forget who you are.

Create. Market. Repeat.

Here’s to your creative success!

– Tara Reed



  • I found most of the Brooklyn Bridge facts here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brooklyn_Bridge
  • I first heard this story in a talk given by Brian Buffini – a speaker and trainer in the real estate market but honestly – he could have been talking about the art licensing industry 99% of the time.