I watched the movie, “The Birdman of Alcatraz” with Burt Lancaster in the lead role as Robert Stroud. Burt is and always was a pretty dry actor yet I think this role was the one he was ment to fill. There are some useful learning points for business from the Alcatraz story.
Myth is more powerful than reality.
And myth is determined by marketing. Alcatraz has benefited from powerful marketing efforts. Myth is spread by word of mouth and the best marketing is word of mouth.
Myth reported Alcatraz as the Devils Island of America
That might have been some spunky reporter capturing a headline or perhaps that was the Federal prison authority leaking inside information.
In fact Alcatraz offered some of the best accommodation in the US prison system with every inmate enjoying a private cell and the best meals.
If you want it to appear terrifying - call it so. Alcatraz was nicknamed “The Rock”.
Myth – it was impossible to escape from Alcatraz.
The main element was that Alcatraz was in the middle of San Francisco Bay. The waters were cold, plagued with strong currents shark infested, and a long swim.
Reality – soon after the escape, Alcatraz was closed. Why close a prison that was escape proof?
Today Alcatraz is a popular tourist site. Why? Because of the myth. Because of the word of mouth marketing.
Host of Business in Motion
Speech Coach for Executives
Co-author of Secrets of Power Marketing