Courting the news media
The shy need not apply. Nor need the thin-skinned or anyone who can't
take "no" for an answer. No, becoming a local media celebrity
calls for a special type of person. Someone like Gary Gordon.
Gordon, owner of Samuel Gordon Jewelers in Oklahoma City, OK, has hired
private photographers to follow him around at charity dinners so the newspaper
photographers would think he's a bigwig and take his picture. He's put himself
on the block at an eligible-bachelor auction, slung hash at a "celebrity
waiter" charity dinner (the tips went to the charity) and given away
jewelry worth $300,000 at cost.
His payoff has been some 50 appearances on TV, countless radio interviews
and a mile-high pile of press clippings.
Gordon gives speeches about his media-courting techniques. The latest
was at the JCK International Jewelry Show in Orlando, FL, in January. He
shared his insights about what it takes to make yourself known. There are
three personae you can adopt to attract media attention (there may be more,
he concedes, but he hasn't discovered them): philanthropist, personality
(basically, someone famous for being famous) and gem expert. Gordon has
been all three at various times.
The philanthropy route is easiest, he says: all you need to do is give
things away. When Gordon donates jewelry for a charity event, he makes a
point of personally presenting it so everyone knows it came from him. Some
of what he gives away is obsolete merchandise; other pieces are bought with
his annual $5,000 budget for donations. Still others are special gifts reserved
for blockbuster events such as November's black-tie gala attended by the
Duchess of York, where Gordon and designer Scott Kay donated a $17,500 necklace.
(Gordon gave two smaller items as well.) The event was splattered all over
the newspapers, he said.
The personality approach is harder to pull off because you need to have,
well, a personality. That and a lot of grit. Gordon volunteers regularly
to be a cohost on the local Easter Seals telethon (he's the only retailer
to do so), judges beauty contests, holds block parties with live music that
attracts the local radio station, plays the drums at his own parties, attends
every black- tie event he can, is featured in his own humorous radio spots
and sets himself up for the limitless ribbing of local disc jockeys.
The toughest path to publicity, Gordon believes, is to sell yourself
as a gem or jewelry-fashion expert. Media people are naturally wary of giving
jewelers a forum they might use merely to hawk their merchandise. One tack
you might try is to join the Jewelry Information Center and let editors
know you are available to answer questions about press releases JIC sends
Gordon has had some success as a gem and jewelry authority but
dreams of more. He'd love to see his staff of graduate gemologists become
on-call experts for local TV stations airing jewelry-related segments.
Copyright © 1998 by Bond Communications.