Public relations as a marketing tool

There are plenty of opportunities for jewelers to promote their stores through the local (and sometimes the national) media. Linda Goldstein, president and owner of Goldstein Communications, told retailers several ways to achieve this on Thursday during a seminar at The JCK Show ~ Las Vegas 2003.

In her presentation, “Public Relations—An Important and Effective Tool in the Marketing Mix,” Goldstein described how public relations works in a store’s overall marketing plan and how it differs from advertising and other publicity. She also offered tips on how to place a business in the minds of media decision makers—such as newspaper editors and television newsroom directors.

“Public relations will give you the opportunity to reach the end user. It is a great opportunity to bring in lots of wonderful new business,” Goldstein said. “The more dedicated you are, the more it will affect your business.”

Goldstein said that newspapers and local television stations are often understaffed and are always searching for new story ideas. A good public relations program will present good story ideas in a competent and professional manner.

“In regional areas, they [newspapers and television stations] need your help,” she said. “You can easily become their expert as long as you give them the opportunity to speak with you.”

Goldstein explained how to create a press kit, who to contact, how to develop a communications plan, and how to write a press release.

Goldstein said that a press kit cover should be “simple and eloquent.” It doesn’t have to be expensive, but it should express the identity of the store. Press kits should also include:

* A background statement that provides a brief history of the store.
* Great photography.
* A pitch letter. “This is a short note from you telling the editor why you think the information is important.”

Goldstein explained that the communications plan is basically a map of important events throughout the year that should be of interest to the local media. She advised getting a calendar and mapping out those events and providing press information with long enough lead times for the editors to be able to use the information. For example, spring is historically a time for weddings, so timely information related to weddings would be useful to local media. The same holds true for special events such as Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, and Christmas.

Information about the “four Cs,” celebrity endorsements, and the special brands a store carries can also provide useful angles for the media, she said.

When writing press releases, Goldstein suggested that the most important information should be in the beginning of the release and that the release should answer the questions, Who? What? When? Where? and Why? And the press release, like everything else, should be clear and concise.

She also suggested partnering with non-competing but related businesses to host special events. For example, for a special day devoted to weddings, a jeweler could hold an event that included a florist, a limo company, and a hotel that hosts numerous wedding receptions.

Even though the seminar focused on a do-it-yourself way to approach public relations, Goldstein suggested that jewelers hire a p.r. agency, at least in the beginning. When an audience member asked what kind of questions one should ask when considering an agency, Goldstein’s response was, “Go with your gut. Make sure that the company feels good to you.

She also noted that a p.r. agency should provide a six-month action plan, and every month the agency should provide an activities report, which describes what the agency has been doing for the client and how effective it has been. “I think it is very important for the agency to communicate with you.”