Tuesday 22 January 2013

Everybody Needs A Publicist ... except St. Joseph

(first published in Huffington Post - http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/stephen-weir/st-josephs-mojo-moves-hom_b_2506523.html )

St Joe statue in Toronto store's joke section - sweir photo

I have been a publicist for has-been TV stars, up-and-coming authors, and even convicted (but innocent) murderers. So I am probably the last person that should be canvassed for an opinion, but I believe that aside from St. Joseph, everyone and every product needs a publicist.
As I like to say: Bad news? Good news?  Not enough news?  In need of an ego boost? Have Press Release, Will Travel! St. Joseph is the big exception – and that is thanks to me, in my role as a very active word-of-mouth publicist!
One need only look in the backyards of desperate home owners praying to sell their homes in a buyer’s market to see why He doesn’t need a holier than though public relations firm.  St Joseph is the man. He was the husband of Mary, the Mother of the Saviour Jesus Christ.  He is now the patron saint of real estate agents.
He has global fame, albeit, from beyond the grave, that can't be matched by the drawing power of mere-mortal movie stars. He doesn't need no stinking backstage badges, PR agents or press kits.  He is an above ground, underground and half-in-the-ground world-class star.
Right now, although you won’t likely hear about it anywhere else except on this blog, Joseph is the saint you call on when you can't sell your house! 
"Bury him backwards in your backyard, make sure you put him upside down facing the house," said my California real estate agent a few years ago. " Once you have planted him, step back and wait for the offers to come in!"
I called my wife back in Toronto and told her about St Joseph, the patron saint of lost real estate causes. We were having trouble selling our Cabbagetown home. It was a down market. The curb value had dipped when a thief broke into our house during a real estate agents' open house!
My spouse went to a Bible Store and asked for a statue of Joseph. " Sorry, we are all out of single statues, " said the clerk. " We only have Joseph carrying the Baby Jesus. Want them?"
"Fine, I will take it," my wife replied.  "No need to wrap them up." She drove back home and planted the plaster statue, taking care to keep Baby Jesus’ head out of the dirt. One day later, we had an offer on the house!
Two months ago I told that true story of Joseph to my business associate and urged her to get digging. She and her husband have built a home on Lake Simcoe and are leaving their large Oakville home behind. Trouble is, a year ago she would have gotten multiple offers for the place -- this time of year, things were very bleak.
" I did buy St Joseph, just like you said," my colleague told me over the phone." I went to a church store and asked for Him.  I told the clerk what you told me to do.  She had never heard of it before. She laughed and thought the store should advertise their St Joe statues to real estate agents."
St Joseph, sans Baby Jesus, was planted in the backyard of the Oakville home. The next day my friends had TWO offers for their home.  They sold their home and as I write this they are busy packing!
At Christmas time, a single mom who comes by my office every week to clean up after me, complained that she had put her house on the market in the fall and found a buyer, only to have the deal go sour two-days before closing.  Since then, no one has shown an interest in her Toronto property.
I told her the story about St Joseph.  She decided to give it a try. The next week she came back to tell me the ground was frozen and she hadn't been able to bury Joe.  The house was still unsold.
"Buy a flower pot and put him in it," was my sage advice.  "Make sure he is upside down and facing the house."
Today, she came up to my office to thank me for the tip. Her house was sold above-list a day after the pot was put out.  She moves in mid-February.
I never can keep my mouth shut about folk tales, especially when they are true. I should patent my stories. My tale about St Joseph has spread around the world.  I was in a store on the Danforth buying bacon flavoured candies (don't ask) and noticed that a California company was capitalizing on St Joseph and selling, for just $9.99 a plastic statue of his likeness for backyard home-for-sale burials.
BTW - even though home sellers across North America have profited from my sage advice, sadly our family did not.  We did bury St Joseph in our backyard and we did accept a great offer on our 120-year old downtown Toronto house. But, one of my sons, a toddler at the time, didn't understand why the man and baby were buried in the backyard. He pulled the statue out and gave it to my wife.  Minutes later the phone rang, the buyers were backing out.
Joseph was reburied, but to little avail. It took another three months and a price cut before we sold and moved. Joseph came with us. It wasn't his fault. And who knows what happens to your new house if you toss out the old home's Mojo?