Promotion & Publicity in the 21st Century
The Information Age will revolutionize the promotion and publicity
efforts of small retailers such as independent jewelers. Some of the Jewelry
Information Center's most creative retail members look at what the future
may hold. JIC President Lynn Ramsey, a communications expert, chips in with
her own advice
Public Relations: The
Tool of the Millennium
BY LYNN RAMSEY
PRESIDENT, JEWELRY INFORMATION CENTER
You are entering a new world. The changes you will experience in the
next five to 10 years because of technological advances will be beyond your
imagination. Information technology gives the consumer more knowledge, more
choices and more power (over you) than ever.
The solution to preparing for this new age is a marketing tool that's
often overlooked and sometimes derided: public relations.
Public relations, or the ethical profession of communicating to an organization's
various publics, is the ideal management function for this new world of
information technology. PR encompasses many disciplines, including media
relations, employee relations, publicity, event planning, crises management,
community affairs and promotion.
To compete in the next millennium, this function must be an integral
part of your marketing strategy. It is an investment in your business that
can be even more effective than advertising, at a fraction of the cost.
The following strategies from the Jewelry Information Center, the public
relations arm of the fine jewelry industry, will help prepare you to compete
in the complex environment of the 21st century:
- Hire a public relations professional or designate an individual in
your organization to work with a public relations professional or agency.
Get recommendations from other businesses or call the Public Relations
Society of America (212-460-1459) for its Red Bookdirectory of member-affiliated
firms and sole practitioners in your area.
- Know your local media. Build good relationships with your local news,
fashion and business editors. Invite them to your store to learn about
new products or changes in your business or staff. Keep them informed with
interesting news but don't overload them with press releases they can't
use. (For information on writing a press release, contact JIC.)
- Empower your staff. In these fast-moving times employee communications
and training will help motivate your staff and maintain loyalty. It takes
only one disgruntled employee to destroy a customer's trust.
- Micro-market. The tools are there to customize your marketing/public
relations/promotions to individual customers and groups. Do you have a
marketing plan designed specifically to reach your best customers? Working
women? Teens? Hispanics?
- Create a Web site. By the year 2000, 150 million people will use the
Internet (up from 40 million in 1997), according to a study by Morgan Stanley
Dean Witter. A millennium study by Deloitte & Touche predicts the Internet
will be the main source of business news for top executives in 2005. It
also will be the main source for many other items, including information
about buying fine jewelry.
- Get involved in the community. Today it's not enough simply to run
a business. Consumers demand that retailers also be good citizens, supportive
of their employees and their communities. If you are philanthropic, make
sure you're recognized for it.
- Be a service-oriented organization. The new currency is time, and no
one has enough of it. Uncomplicate the lives of your customers by providing
extraordinary service and they will reward you.
- Be a pool of knowledge. Value-oriented consumers today want to know
what they're buying. Give them information they can use in other
words, make them knowledgeable. Bring in experts and provide seminars for
your better customers. Given the sea of information we're all drowning
in, you will be perceived as a reliable authority.
- Build strategic partnerships with other businesses to reach shared
customers. To get the attention of your customers today, you have to work
harder. One solution is joint promotions with other businesses in your
community: a hotel, travel agency, florist or dress shop, for example.
- Be prepared. Bad news travels fast in today's wired world. Make sure
you've prepared your staff to respond appropriately when bad publicity
appears in the local or national press. Create a Q&A pertaining to
issues such as diamond switching and gem enhancement.
- Support your industry associations such as the JIC, Jewelers of America,
Jewelers' Security Alliance and Jewelers Vigilance Committee. Not only
do you gain valuable information and benefits for running your business
in a professional manner, you will be supporting the growth of our industry.
In the 21st century, you cannot go it alone. The strategic partnerships
you forge at the local and national levels will bring strength, knowledge
and, ultimately, success.
Lynn Ramsey is a 17-year veteran of public relations and was formerly
manager of the Diamond Information Center, a vice president of N.W. Ayer
and a board director of the Public Relations Society of America New York
Chapter. JIC was founded in 1946. It uses a variety of proven public relations
tactics to create a more favorable environment for the sale of fine jewelry.
Retail membership in JIC begins at $95 a year. For membership information,
call Carolyn Jacoby at (800) 459-0130.
A Message from the Chairman
Gary Gordon of Samuel Gordon Jewelers in Oklahoma City, OK, is chairman
of the Jewelry Information Center
Staying ahead of the curve in promotion and publicity is a skill Gary Gordon
regularly shares at packed trade show seminars and with fellow retailers
who call to chat. He shares his views about the future of these communications
strategies with Professional Jewelerreaders.
|Gary Gordon on local Oklahoma City radio, commenting on his appreciation
of music as well as important jewelry industry issues.|| |
|Gordon promotes his store's four generations, always bringing his son, Daniel,
into the picture.|
"Bonding" with the public will continue to be key. "We
have to be attractive to people, otherwise, why should they come in?"
Gordon says. He continues to believe it's effective to promote himself as
a local personality. Recently, he was the guest commentator at a radio station
because of his reputation as a music fan. The gig gave him hours of free
airtime during which the disc jockey repeatedly introduced him as a local
jeweler and asked him questions about jewelry as well as music. Gordon also
brings his son and heir apparent, Daniel, into photo promotions of the store's
four-generation history so locals can begin to know him too.
Co-op ads linking retailers with national advertisers will continue
and that's a good thing. Though many retailers hesitate to lump
their names with other retailers for fear that consumers will comparison-shop,
Gordon thinks the good outweighs the bad.
National advertising lends retailers all kinds of prestige with local
customers. "People think Town & Country is a classy magazine, therefore,
they think the jeweler advertising in it must be good," he reasons.
Besides, the more jewelry that's advertised, the more editorial pages consumer
magazines seem to devote to jewelry, he says. Even editorial pages covering
clothing are using more jewelry and providing credits. "We put the
magazine articles right in our showcases with the merchandise by the designer
featured. It gives salespeople one more thing to talk about."
posters draping jewelry on passive models will give way to product photos.
Inspired perhaps by Cartier's example, many retailers are going in this
direction, says Gordon. He uses giant lighted Duratrans photos of jewelry
to push product in his store windows, some of which is visible to drive-by
Even when prominent retailers use people in their advertising, the product
is highlighted in a large still life. The model is secondary and there to
push the lifestyle angle of the product, not as a languid mannequin on which
to drape jewelry.
Tiffany's ads are a good example a young bicycle rider conveys
lifestyle, but the large photo of the silver bracelet he buys is the focal
Large photos of jewelry, such as this ad from Cartier,
are the wave of the future for all retailers promoting jewelry, says JIC
Chairman Gary Gordon.
Celebrity product endorsements are on the upswing.
Gordon believes celebrity endorsements are heating up again, though with
the product still in prime view. As an example, look at Omega's ads with
supermodel Cindy Crawford. The watch is prominent.
"Whether people will admit to it or not, they watch
what the celebrities are wearing." Gordon says. Breitling does a particularly
good job of sending to its authorized retailers any consumer magazine photo
of a celebrity wearing its watches. Gordon puts these into a special album
and shows them to customers considering a Breitling watch.
Big names such as Cindy Crawford will continue
to be powerful draws because consumers watch whatcelebrities wear, says
Gordon. Note, however, that a picture of the watch is the focal point of
More Trends From JIC Members
Innovative retailers are pioneering promotion and publicity ideas
with their eyes on the future
Knowledge Will Be King
The thirst for knowledge will grow and retailers who deliver it will stand
out from the crowd.
In-store educational events keep excitement high concerning pearls,
one of the best-selling products for Eve Afillé of Eve Afillé
Ltd., Chicago, IL.
TREND TIP: Bring in out-of town speakers – it
adds to the excitement and importance of the event.
Offer seminars for customers and for general groups, which works
wonders for Curt and Elizabeth Parker of Curt Parker Inc., St. Louis, MO.
Topics include different gemstones and how jewelry is made.
TREND TIP: Hold the seminars in your store
whenever possible. The Parkers used to go to groups' locations, but now
they're focused on getting people to see their store.
Plan an evening cocktail seminar on South Sea pearls, as Colleen
Rafferty and Diane Christensen of Christensen & Rafferty, San Mateo,
CA, plan to do.
TREND TIP: Hold events in the evening and serve
drinks. The social side will provide added attraction to the education.
Talk about products in an educational manner not necessarily
as a selling event. Brent McMaster of O.C. Tanner, Salt Lake City, UT,
brings in vendors to present the talks at evening cocktail events. "People
want to learn and they expect stores like ours to do this." McMaster
says consumers are more sophisticated and knowledgeable and really want
to know details regarding what they plan to buy.
TREND TIP: Tightly target the group you invite.
They should be specifically interested in the product being discussed.
More Sophisticated One-on-One Relationships
In a world of personalized services, cultivating one-on-one relationships
is key to sophisticated communications efforts.
Though phone and e-mail are the main tools for keeping in touch with
busy people, sponsoring special entertainment events for your best customers
reinforces your ties. Here's how some retailers do it:
A fall preview for invited guests only spurs sales for Lex Harrison
of Harrison Jewelers, Pocatello, ID. After invitations go out, individual
sales associates follow up personally. "We make our guests feel special
in the store, giving them candy and playing soft music."
Take to the high seas for high-spending clients. Marion and Lula
Halfacre of Traditional Jewelers, Newport Beach, CA, will take 60 or 70
key clients on a 140-ft. yacht for a three-hour party cosponsored by Cartier
and Vanity Fair. Last year, they held a formal dinner for about 40 people.
Have some customers for lunch. Steve Rosdal of Hyde Park Jewelers,
Denver, CO, invites small groups to participate in cozy luncheons with jewelry
designers. Steven Lagos, for example, came to chat with guests about fashion,
what's happening with color and what inspires him.
Charitable Support Will Continue,
With Mixed Results
Many jewelers cite participation in charitable events, though a great number
say these have a tenuous connection to sales. Still, such acts of generosity
convey a commitment to the community, so they're likely to continue.
Sponsor a black-tie event. Al Molina of Molina Fine Jewels, Phoenix,
AZ, rents a hotel ballroom each year for a charity event that draws up to
800 people. Molina honors the event's chairpeople in his ads and holds an
open-house luncheon in his store the day after the event. Perhaps because
of the sales-related follow-up of ads and in-store events, he reaps direct
sales from his charitable sponsorships.
Curt and Elizabeth Parker participate in an AIDS walk advertising
program and work in booths at their local art fair. Though hard to see
a connection to direct sales, their store comes up in references to the
events and thus garners increased exposure for its name.
by Jack Heeger and Stacey King
Internet Sites Are
Here to Stay
Boost your hipness quotient and your sales and service with Web communication
For jewelers who want to reach tech-savvy consumers, Curt Parker Inc.'s
World Wide Web site provides an enlightening example. The site opens with
this statement: "We're not your grandfather's jeweler. We are up-to-date
in design and technology. We're hip, we're happening, we're now!"
This may seem a bit over-the-top, but Curt and Elizabeth Parker, whose
store is in St. Louis, MO, are determined to make cyberspace travelers realize
the site isn't produced by a traditional retailer. Far from it.
They wield Web technology to convey their message in greater depth or
with lightning speed, depending on the interests of each on-line visitor.
And they spend the time (daily) to answer queries, ensuring their site is
The Parkers' site demonstrates the strategies detailed in this article
and highlights an important fact: if a Web site is all bells and whistles
and no substance, it's essentially ineffective. A publicity-minded brain
is still needed in this newest medium for communicating with customers.
Among the features on the Parkers' site:
- Their Town & Country, Architectural Digest and Vanity
Fair ads. The ads convey they're "in" with the upscale consumer
- Their jewelry design awards. These award announcements include photos
of the prize-winning jewelry.
- Consumer education. Pages on subjects such as deceptive pricing, appraisals
and repairs, truth in advertising and fashion give consumers information
they can learn a key request from today's customers.
- Their philosophy is summed up simply so on-line visitors know who and
what to expect. Photos of Curt and Elizabeth are prominent.
- Industry memberships. The Parkers cite their membership in such industry
organizations as the American Gem Society and the Jewelry Information Center
and the benefits to consumers.
- Jewelry divided by product category. Here, the power of the Internet
becomes evident, as a much wider array of product is shown than anyone
could afford to display in a traditional ad.
The Parkers make sales all over the country from the site, but a review
of its components indicates it's first and foremost a powerful promotion
and publicity tool and, therefore, more effective in their own market.
For more information, see www.professionaljeweler.com. for an on-line
review of the site's technological features.
Copyright © 1998 by Bond Communications.