Editor’s Note:For more than 30 years, Linda Goldstein Dunay has devoted her career to helping fine jewelry manufacturers reach their customers. The founder of Goldstein Com-munications in New York City, she has worked with a range of clients, including The JCK Show — Las Vegas, Hearts on Fire, and her husband, Henry Dunay. Yet regardless of the client, achieving great PR relies on following a few basic tenets, which are outlined below.
Cultivate Relationships. A solid public relations program depends on your cultivating and nurturing good relationships with key trendsetters, reputable vendors, and influential editors. Attend industry association events, initiate “fact finding” lunches with editors, and establish a reputation for quickly and consistently disseminating new information or facts about your brand. Also, show your appreciation when your brand receives a substantial placement; for example, one of our past clients threw a yearly “editor appreciation” event for the key influencers in the jewelry and fashion category.
Build Your Reputation. Every brand must realize that the reputation it builds within the industry and with its consumer base is one of the most important and distinguishable traits it has. If you concentrate on delivering superior quality and service, your reputation will precede you — and so will the word-of-mouth advertising. Every business must look at its customers and see not just sources of revenue, but a pool of potential PR agents.
Know Your Product and Its Story. Public relations is, in essence, the voice of your product or service; it takes an intangible and makes it tangible. You must be able to tell the story of your brand and describe what sets it apart from your competitor’s. Take the time to strategically develop and craft your unique selling proposition, and practice how it will be verbalized, visualized, and communicated, both in verbal and non-verbal instances. Recently, Chad Allison, one of the brands that we are working with, carved out a niche as the supplier of product “from white to yellow and everything in between.” The company illustrates this by showing rose, yellow, and white gold products in all of its ads.
Know Your Target Audience. By researching and honing in on who your core market is and researching their demographics and psychographics, you increase your probability of success. One of the best examples of this is Boston-based Hearts on Fire, which has enjoyed tremendous success with its branded diamonds because it has taken the time to understand its buyers, and in which regions and countries it has been most successful. The company has also created a very strong sell-through program to consistently educate and support its retail partners about the brand’s core identity as “the world’s most perfectly cut diamond.”
Develop Effective Messaging. Create a wide variety of vehicles for your messaging to keep it fresh — press releases, attractive press kits, e-kits, and newsletters. Also, always make sure your message is accompanied by professional images of your product. Each month my firm communicates with editorial contacts by sending individual “quick flashes” for each client with a new product. The editors have come to expect these “flashes” and look to us as a viable resource for new and cutting-edge product.
Compile Media Lists — and Update Them. Press coverage is crucial. Every jewelry company should have at least three lists: A list of media appropriate to your news and your market; a list of their individual “lead times”; and a list — regularly updated — of the appropriate editor/producer whom you want to reach. These lists can be developed fairly easily by reading mastheads of publications you want to target, calling your local newspapers and magazines, or conducting research via media service groups, the best known of which is Bacon’s Online Media Source.
Create a Communications Plan. Have a monthly schedule of what information you send to your contacts, so that you can also strategically follow up on communications sent out. Have a clear six-month to one-year strategic timeline for all communications. It should include details such as any upcoming promotions, incentives, contests, or events surrounding the promotion or marketing of your brand.
Know Your Competition. You should not only know your company’s goals, but also be aware of what your competitors are doing and planning. Make it a practice to read all industry publications to stay abreast and ahead of trends in the marketplace. You must also stay on top of publications that your target customer enjoys (e.g., fashion, lifestyle, and weekly celebrity publications), so that you can get a clear indication of their mindset and the messaging they are taking in. You will also be able to decipher how your competitors are finding ways to break through the clutter and market to their audience.
Think Beyond “the Box” and Forge New Paths. To stand apart from your competitors, you must build an identity like no other. If you are promoting a new product that offers educational possibilities — a new diamond cut, for example, or new manufacturing equipment — see whether you can create seminar programs or even a conference that can be aligned with a trade show. Also, consider how you might partner with organizations both in and beyond the jewelry industry, as well as with celebrities. Not long ago, my firm did the production and promotion for the Hip-Hop Theater Festival’s night of music. Taking a chance, we called upon the legendary Harry Belafonte, who had famously convinced Fidel Castro to recognize hip-hop as an indigenous form of Cuban art. We were floored when Mr. Belafonte agreed to open the sold-out show, which was held at The World Famous Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York. The concert brought several Cuban hip-hop artists (for the first time in the United States) on stage with Grammy-winning artists such as Kanye West, Common, and The Roots.
Set Realistic Measures of Success: Shooting for the stars is ideal, but understand that it’s a journey to get there. Be realistic about the time frame it takes to build a solid and respected brand that will stand the test of time. Public relations builds momentum for the future. If you maintain a solid program, ultimately the sales will happen.
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The award-winning Journal is published monthly by MJSA, the trade association for professional jewelry makers, designers, and related suppliers. It offers design ideas, fabrication and production techniques, bench tips, business and marketing insights, and trend and technology updates—the information crucial for business success. "More than other publications, MJSA Journal is oriented toward people like me: those trying to earn a living by designing and making jewelry," says Jim Binnion of James Binnion Metal Arts.