At JCK, we’re in constant contact with a swirl of talented public relations professionals whose job is to keep media members apprised of what their clients are doing.
Their goal in reaching out to the media—which is just one facet of a modern PR pro’s job—is to secure editorial coverage in magazines, newspapers, websites, and social media that provides exposure of their clients’ products and accomplishments.
By all accounts, it’s not an easy job. The media landscape in 2020 is mercurial in every way—the very ground it’s rooted in is volatile and impacted by changing advertising models and the evolution of how we consume news and media, among other factors.
The overall number of magazines and newspapers have dwindled in the last decade—increasing competition among brands eager to be showcased in the handful of remaining glossies. Exciting editorial websites often surface and make their mark, but not all have staying power (RIP Gawker and Daily Candy). And social media influencers come with their own set of (ballooning) costs and conditions, which require savvy navigation.
Effective public relations professionals have built their careers on their excellent communication skills and their ability to pivot quickly to respond to marketplace and consumer-behavior trends. But with so many talented and hardworking professionals and PR teams out there, finding the perfect representation for your specific brand can feel daunting.
Which is why I posed a single question to some of the jewelry industry’s most respected public relations professionals: What factors or realities should a jewelry business be seriously looking at or ascertaining when choosing a public relations professional to represent them?
Here’s what they had to say.
Francesca Simons, founder of Francesca Simons Consulting
“There are numerous key factors to consider when hiring a PR representative. Familiarizing yourself with their current client roster and evaluating whether your brand is in line with their clientele. Confirming they do not represent any other brands that may be in conflict with your brand’s collections. Evaluating their results and identifying their strengths and weaknesses. The pricing is always a factor to review, and make sure you are able to afford that price on a long-term basis, as PR is not a short-term investment. PR is a long-term partnership and an investment, not a cost. Also, I highly recommend you obtain references from their existing clients. Does the PR firm have client and/or employee turnover? One imperative factor to consider is also how your personalities align. You must trust, be able to feel comfortable, and have a strong connection with your publicist. PR is all about communication and teamwork—this must shine through in initial stages.”
Jaqui Lividini, CEO of Lividini & Co.
“I recommend you research your potential agency partners and understand their client roster, especially when it comes to the competitive landscape of the retail and jewelry industries. A focused agency will give you an edge. Just as you would choose a partner, medical professional, or financial institution, selecting the right PR firm takes careful research that should be backed up by performance metrics and professional referrals. The PR firm should provide data demonstrating year-over-year growth and long-standing industry relationships cultivated on behalf of their clients. Additionally, more than mere stats on a report, you should select an agency with a proven track record with brands that are similar to yours.”
Jen Lowitz, partner at IHPR
“Any decent publicist can pitch, so look beyond the dozens of slideshow clips they’ll show you. Does the agency have a holistic approach to communications that includes not only product placements, but also thought leadership, storytelling, celebrity placement, etc.? Do they understand your brand and how to tell your story in a way that separates you in a crowded industry? Ask what excites them about your brand—do they love your work or story or are you a paycheck? Of equal importance: Does the agency (or its team) show a love for jewelry and the industry? Does their client roster reflect an interest in innovative designers? Would you feel like your brand is aligned with the agency’s other jewelry clients?”
Jen Cullen Williams, founder of Jen Cullen Williams Communications
“Traditional PR and media relations have vastly changed over the past few years with digital advertising, e-commerce, social media, influencers, and a very fast-paced news cycle. Years ago, having PR representation meant an agency or individual professional would share company and product news with media outlets like magazines, news [organizations], celebrities, broadcast media, etc. Placements in major consumer magazines or on morning talk shows often resulted in massive brand exposure, as well as sales. The reality in this era is there are so many ways for customers to shop, consume media, and engage with brands—it’s a very crowded place to get the attention of a consumer. A traditional PR approach is not enough anymore to drive conversion and awareness. It’s about storytelling and sharing your market differentiation, as well as communicating how a company/product relates to current buying and cultural trends. Before investing in PR services, jewelers need to be thinking about the big picture when it comes to their sales and communications strategy and finding creative and relevant ways to tell their story through media placements, thought-leadership positioning, partnerships, and affiliate/influencer marketing. Companies should also be thinking about crisis management PR and having a team prepared.
Items a PR professional needs from a company include clarity on a company’s purpose, market differentiation, and target customer, a mobile-friendly and easy-to-navigate (ideally shopable) website that tells their brand story and the value proposition through great storytelling copy and photography, product photography as well as photos of real people wearing the jewelry, and an understanding of marketing goals and reach.”
Randi Molofsky, cofounder of For Future Reference
“Our point of view at For Future Reference is a little different than a traditional PR agency—our strategy is to oversee both the public relations and wholesale to make sure that every element of brand strategy is completely integrated. For us, a PR plan of action needs to be fully aligned with a sales plan so that launches are seamless. So, I think you should take a look at how those two elements work together, and if the two sides of the business can be in constant communication to create the best blueprint possible for success.”
Yael Fraynd, president and owner of YaYa Publicity
“When it comes to choosing the right public relations professional, it’s important to seek out an agency with a solid working knowledge of your product category and one that has proven results. They should be able to relay a vast knowledge of the field and provide a portfolio of past work. Your publicist is an extension of your brand; it is important that you feel the agency you choose believes in your products and shares a similar vision of success. Above all, I think it’s important to connect with the agency head and think of them as an important part of your team.”
Top: Crystals from jewelry designer Jacquie Aiche showcased on IHPR’s Instagram (via @ihprteam)
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