The Luster of Publicity
Pearls' biggest U.S. proponent shares some PR secrets
Ah, the life of a New York City fashion editor. She gets invited
to the best parties, chats with famous people and dictates to
millions of women what they should wear every day. Everyone wants
to be her friend, but very few have figured out exactly how to
get her to notice them.
Devin Macnow may have discovered the secret. The executive
director of the New York City-based Cultured Pearl Information
Center may not have single-handedly gotten cultured pearl jewelry
back on the pages of the fashion magazines, but his public relations
efforts haven't gone unnoticed. CPIC's tony luncheons and fashion
shows, constant contact with celebrity stylists and fashion -
forward photography have made the consumer fashion press look
at pearl jewelry again and again.
CPIC is operated by Tele-Press Associates, a 40-year-old public
relations, marketing and strategic research analysis firm founded
by Macnow's father. To serve its long-standing client, the Japan
Pearl Exporters' Association, Tele-Press fronted a pearl trade
association that educated and supported retail jewelers. It also
took the bold initiative to do much of the publicity for cultured
pearl jewelry on jewelers' behalf.
"We devote about 80% of our promotional efforts to the
consumer press," Macnow says. "The vast majority of
American women's purchasing decisions are based on what they
read and see in the nation's fashion magazines and newspapers."
To laud a product known in the U.S. primarily as a conservative,
traditional gift for special occasions weddings and graduations,
mostly Telepress took a different approach, pushing cultured
pearl jewelry primarily as a cutting-edge fashion while still
emphasizing its value.
Staying on Top of the Pile
Macnow also represents the South Sea Pearl Consortium in the
U.S.; recent promotions have been funded partially by Perles
de Tahiti GIE and the Cultured Pearl Association of America.
But he still executes promotions with a small staff and relatively
limited budget. For maximum effect, he tries to get inside consumer
editors' minds to grab their attention and make their lives easier.
"Fashion editors get 200 pieces of mail from PR folks
everyday," Macnow says. "They don't have time to read
every piece they'll look at the ones that stand out, that
are unique yet relevant." Each month he reads the major
fashion magazines, including European magazines that use edgy
photography and fashions. He matches current clothing styles
with cultured pearl designs in his own photo shoots to give editors
a quick, practical look at the possibilities. He also designs
unusual, sometimes outrageous images that are sure to get a second
But never expect those photos, which he binds into an annual
trend portfolio, to end up in the magazines, he warns. "Consumer
magazines like to do their own photography."
His biggest success with fashion editors has been his designer
luncheons, where the press gets to meet the hottest cultured
pearl jewelry designers of the season while on lunch breaks.
"We somehow had to give them a quick snapshot of the trends
at a time that's convenient for them," Macnow says.
Celebrity placement has been successful also, especially in primetime
TV shows and movies, including this summer's Thomas Crown Affair.
It's usually as much of a surprise for the CPIC as for everybody
else when cultured pearls appear in a movie. "You never
know until it comes out, because sometimes the director will
cut out entire scenes," Macnow says. "Most of the time
we've been lucky and the scenes with pearl jewelry haven't ended
up on the cutting-room floor."
What hasn't worked? "Celebrity placement for live events"
such as the Academy Awards, he says.
"The competition is very fierce among the jewelry categories,
retailers and designers," he says. "There are usually
four or five decision-makers everyone from the hairdresser
to the public relations person to the celebrity's mother."
by Stacey King
||Macnow and the CPIC combine pop culture, edgy
photography and the latest fashions to catch consumer editors'
Copyright © 1999 by Bond Communications.