I just read your article about finding a jewelry product photographer and I think it is one of the best and most entertaining articles! Thank you for your guidance. I have a question about PR and properly approaching magazine editors in general. Although I have been in the industry a long time, I am launching two collections–one is 18-karat gold/diamond and one is cause jewelry for bullying awareness. I have two separate websites but need exposure. I have no budget to hire a PR team. How would one “emerging” designer get help and, with a zero budget, be in touch with editors? Thank you for any resources or recommendations!
As I was sitting outside on the St. Regis Atlanta patio, treating myself to delicious tea service while enjoying the unseasonable 70-degree March weather that only happens in the south, a man with bushy eyebrows and bushy mustache, wearing round spectacles and smoking a cigar walked past. I immediately dropped my cucumber sandwich sans crust and rushed back to my laptop!
Either you took my suggestion to purchase a Groucho Marx costume before contacting me again to heart, or the gods were reminding me that I’d almost forgotten a dear soul in need of PR advisory! Whichever reason it is, I’m back and ready to finish our last conversation.
When we left off, you were getting some fabulous photography and figuring out what spectacular, intriguing, death-defying, miraculous story you have to tell press to make them take notice of your jewelry collection. How’s that coming, love?
Have you considered what inspires your jewelry making? Have you looked at your frame of mind when you sat down to make a particular piece?
Were you angry at your significant other and channeled that anger into a pair of Spectrolite drop dagger earrings?
Were you just falling in love with your future matrimonial mate and allowed Cupid to guide your hands into making a necklace with alternating ruby hearts and emerald-tip arrows?
Did you finally stand up in your work cubicle, screamed at the top of your lungs “I’m mad as hell and can’t take it anymore!,” stormed out of your office building and walked into your design studio to create a ball and chain motif charm bracelet?
What passion went behind creating your jewelry?
The pursuit of luxury is a passionate affair, and jewelry is one of the most luxurious things we own. If you haven’t yet found your story, return to your emotional motivation to build your line and find a way to talk about it so others can feel your joy, pain, anxiety and triumph.
Now, let’s say you’ve found your story, and by god, it’s a gem of a story! It’s engaging, marvelous! Everyone that hears it wants to be a part of it by buying at least one of your designs.
Be part of it, you ask? Yes! Loyal customers want to be part of your story.
Take a journey back in time with me. The year was 2003, the recession was abating, watches were getting bigger, and I was learning how to sell them. I discovered at this time the power of storytelling to help sell luxury products; and particular, very beautiful items that didn’t do much more than tell time, yet cost $30,000.
One story from my archives is that of my absolute favorite watch brand, Jaeger Le Coultre. They make a watch called “The Reverso,” a handsome timepiece with a watch case that literally reverses on your wrist. The Reverso was the solution for polo players in the 1930s who wanted to wear a watch while playing their sport, but didn’t want to risk a cracked crystal. Et voila! The Reverso! Just flip the case around, hiding your crystal, and carry on fearlessly whacking that ball with your mallet.
I would tell this story to customers — with the requisite drama and flair, of course — and next thing you know, they were handing me their credit card! And then the next, next thing you know, they were coming back to me with their friends in tow so I could tell their friends the story of their new, magnificent toy. By purchasing The Reverso, these customers now saw themselves as part of this story — as part of the legend — and that made them very, very happy.
Communicating with editors isn’t that much different from communicating with a prospective customer. You need to give editors a reason to “buy” your jewelry. Their currency is free editorial coverage for you.
Have I impressed enough the importance of a good story?
Good! Let’s move on.
How should you connect with editors?
The first thing you must do is to figure out who will care about your collection. Just because they work at a magazine doesn’t mean they have the remotest inclination to hear about your designs.
This is the mistake many people make when trying to connect with editors – they don’t take the time to find out the EXACT person that would not only be willing to listen to you, but it’s also part of the person’s job requirement to do a story on new jewelry lines. To be quite frank, not taking this step is sheer laziness that can lead to disastrous consequences.
There are editors who will publicly shame the person that emailed them information that should have gone to someone else. Fortunately, I haven’t heard of any jewelry editors that do this, although their frustrations get shared amongst friends. And instead of publicly humiliating you, they’ll just block your emails.
So you’ve got that, Alison?
Rule #1: make sure you’re contacting the right person.
I know what you’re thinking: how do I know it’s the right person?
Most PR people subscribe to this ridiculously expensive service called Cision. Cision tells us the who, what, when, where and why of an editor or writer. We enter some search times, and with the snap of a finger, we know (or more truthfully, we have an idea) of who to contact. I say “we have an idea” because Cision lists still need to be vetted for reasons beyond the scope of this article.
Before I was able to afford this ridiculously expensive service, when I was still a young grasshopper learning the ropes of this industry, I did things the old fashioned way: I sat in a bookstore (clearly, this was before Amazon), pulled every magazine where I wanted to get placement for my clients, analyzed the masthead, and copied down names.
The masthead is usually in the first few pages of a magazine, and occasionally, in the last few pages. It lists everyone that works for the magazine and their title. What you want to do, Alison, is open up your favorite magazine, find the masthead, and copy down every name that has either “accessories” or “jewelry” in their title.
Now, since it’s no longer 1999 and everyone has access to the internet, you can stop packing that backpack and preparing food for a three-day expedition to find the Last American Bookstore. You can find most mastheads online. And if you’re so inclined, I highly recommend subscribing to the relatively inexpensive MediaBistro, which has a whole section devoted to mastheads and is updated on a regular basis.
While some magazines, like W and Town + Country, have specific jewelry editors; others like O: The Oprah Magazine and Marie Claire only have accessories editors. The difference between the two is that one covers exclusively jewelry, while the other covers anything that falls under the category “accessories,” which jewelry does.
Of course, this is a simplified explanation of the “accessories editor,” as some accessories editors are specific to socks and lingerie, while others cover jewelry and handbags. Each publication is different. Which is what makes rule #2 very important.
Rule #2: Know your prey.
I first heard this phrase back in the early aughts when I attended a seminar on pitching to the press. The editor that uttered these words could not emphasize enough the importance of knowing who you’re pitching inside and out.
Just because an editor covers jewelry doesn’t mean they’ll be interested in your jewelry. There’s any number of reasons why an editor or a particular publication wants nothing to do with your new interpretation of the ear to nose ring that Janet Jackson wore in her Runaway video. The most common reason, however, is that your jewelry is too expensive or not expensive enough for that particular publication.
The jewelry editor at W Magazine was always ready to hear stories of any of the French high jewelry brands I represented, especially since not one of them had pieces less than $10,000.
The editors at Cosmopolitan? Not so much.
Cosmo readers aren’t thinking of how to spend $35,000 on a peridot, yellow sapphire and diamond frog ring; they want to know what belly necklace they should be wearing when they perform the Dance of the Seven Shimmying Doves for their lovers.
You can save yourself a lot of time and rejection by following your desired jewelry writers online: Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and if they welcome you, Facebook. Also make sure you actually read what they’ve written about in the past and what they’re writing about now.
You can get a good sense of what an editor or writer likes by seeing what they’re often posting about. The editors whose tastes and interest are aligned with yours are the ones with whom you’ll have the most luck.
So now, Alison, you know who to contact and you’ve cyber stalked them so you know what they like — down to whether they consider themselves a Samantha, Miranda, Charlotte or Carrie. It’s time to introduce yourself!
Some editors have no problem being pitched on Twitter or Facebook, but many, like myself, do. You’ll be able to gauge which category your prey falls under by examining their social media feeds. If you don’t see them responding to pitches on social media, it’s safe to bet they probably won’t appreciate your contacting them there.
Personal Facebook accounts are often relegated to talking about everything but business affairs. For some, being pitched on a personal account is equivalent to stopping an editor while she’s grocery shopping to tell her about your collection.
You should, however, try to make sincere comments on some of their social media posts and retweet often any inspiration you find from them. You’d be amazed how doing this enough times will encourage the editor to come to you. How else are they going to know who this smart, intelligent person is that rightly shares their views?
In addition to social media, you should also contact them directly via email. Save phone calls for when expressly asked to do so.
In this email, you’re going to tell the editor who you are and why she should want to know about you. You need to do this with no more than six sentences – less if you’re able. Insert one or two images from your collection into the body of the email.
Do not, I repeat, DO NOT send an attachment when you’re first introducing yourself. Until an editor knows who you are, your email with the attachment is potentially a virus infested booby trap. So, no attachments, insert image. She’ll let you know if and when she wants you to send an attached image.
In the meantime, wait for her to get back to you.
I guarantee you she has 9,768 emails in her inbox right now, and she was probably on email 478 when yours popped up. So give her time – five to seven business days should do before you follow up.
If you still don’t hear back after following up, and you’re absolutely certain you have the right person AND your jewelry fits the profile of what she’s known to feature, then this may not be the right time to connect with her. You may be reinterpreting stud earrings while she’s really looking for new concepts in chandeliers.
It’s not you – it’s her.
So give her some time, and check back in with her every six to eight weeks. Make sure you’re always checking back with something new. Sending the exact same information over and over again will definitely get you on the blocked list.
Alison, love, we’ve covered a lot today, and oh my, there’s so much more! But this will give you a good start. Good luck with your new collection, and I’m always here to answer any additional questions.
I’m off to go enjoy this delightful weather and another cup of Iron Goddess of Mercy oolong tea. Until next time…