A widely respected industry resource, Gold & Company is frequently quoted in leading industry and consumer publications.

From "Launch It! How To Turn Good Ideas Into Ideas Great Products That Sell"
By Molly Miller-Davidson, Joanne Stone-Geier and Michael B. Levinson
Harper Collins Publisher

Overview: World style has now gone mainstream. What used to be "exotic" is now commonplace as decorating styles have become democratized, with popular looks and trends interpreted for every market segment and price point. And because of widespread "copycatting" many more products are "look-alikes" for whatever trend is considered to be hot. Consequently, a product line must be really innovative, distinctive, trend-setting, highly lucrative, or just spectacular to stand out from the competition and capture the retailer's attention.

What Manufacturers Are Doing Right:To stay fresh and innovative, product designers can receive inspiration by looking outside of their own specific industry for ideas. "Cross-pollinating," for example, fashion's growing influence on home decor, or stationery designers licensing into the fashion or home accessories market had become much more common.

Trends: Home office, decorative, yet functional storage, and outdoor/garden as a lifestyle. We used to want to bring the garden and garden themes indoors. Now we want our gardens to have the amenities and reflect the style and design of our homes. Opulent outdoor kitchens and entertainment areas have actually become status symbols - one expensive outdoor kitchen/barbeque can trigger the sale of many more, as neighbors try to keep up with the Joneses!

From "www.nationalstationeryshow.com"
Paperclips
Use Publicity To Gain The Competitive Edge!
By Debra Gold

It’s common to wonder, in this highly competitive environment and tough time economically, how do some companies thrive while others struggle? Now, more than ever, publicity plays a critical role in helping a company differentiate itself and its product line from the competition. Publicity can help stimulate sales, attract new customers, and build stronger and positive "branding" in the minds of retailers.

Publicity is unlike advertising, where you pay for a secured placement in a particular publication. Publicity promotes a company's news or products at no charge from the publication. While not guaranteed, when a manufacturer provides editors with relevant, appropriate and timely information consistently, it is highly likely that they will use at least some of this information. Publications are hungry to receive information to report on. Topics including new products, sales rep changes, personnel appointments, new catalog availability, and charitable donations or other community or cause-related activities are great examples of what to communicate. The clearest, most effective way to deliver your news is with a press release, a formalized document which offers a concise summary of information. Here are some tips on how to prepare professional press releases sure to be appreciated by the media:

FORMAT: Press releases are always typed, in either double-spaced or 1.5 space format. At the top of the page, it is vital that you list the name and telephone number of the official company contact person. Also at the top of the page should appear the words FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (this lets the editors know your information may be used right away). Next comes a summary headline – for example: XYZ Company Debuts New Hand-Made Mother's Day Card Collection – which is usually bold-faced and/or underlined. The professional press release also starts with a date line (your company's city/state, and date: LOS ANGELES, CA March 1, 2009).

The first paragraph in the press release needs to clearly state the most important information to be detailed in the release – such as what products or collections you are introducing, who has been appointed to a new position in your organization, etc. Putting the classic "who, what, where, when, and why" information early in the press release helps capture the attention of the editor and serves as a brief summary of your news.

The remaining should give specific details of your news. Your product information should include the name of the new product or collection, colors, sizes, descriptions, and the suggested retail price. You can also include a brief paragraph about the company's history and additional product lines you offer.

LANGUAGE: Make the product come alive! Descriptive words such as "hand-made," "vibrantly colored," "highly detailed," "contemporary," "delicate," etc. paint a picture, and make your release fun to read. Words like "wonderful," "terrific," "totally innovative," or "the best" are opinions and should not be used unless in the context of a quote – such as "we believe our unique product will be right-on-target for the 'tween market." When in doubt, keep your language simple and straightforward or as Jack Webb on "Dragnet" used to say: "Just the facts ma'am!"

Click here to see several samples of product press releases

TIMING: Publications usually work two to three months in advance, which means that they are gathering information for their March or April issues in January. While a manufacturer may send news to publications at any time, the key to insuring your product information will be given top priority is to send information which corresponds to the publications’ editorial calendar. You can obtain a magazine's annual editorial calendar by calling its office or through the publication’s website. These calendars specify the topics the publication will cover each month – such as personal care, candles, birthday greeting cards, invitations, National Stationery Show happenings, Mother's Day, Halloween and so forth. Tailoring your release topics according to the calendar increases the likelihood your information being included.

Press releases should either be mailed along with a catalog and samples to the editor, or emailed with high-resolution (300 dpi) photography A final tip: If you plan to send digital photography by e-mail or disk, be sure to check with each publication for specifics on the required format (EPS, tiff, jpeg formats, FTP sites etc).

UPCOMING NSS PUBLICITY OPPORTUNITIES:

Starting in late January 2009, the stationery industry’s important trade publications will be looking for information on new products set to debut at the May 2009 National Stationery Show. Don’t miss this great opportunity to give retailers a “sneak preview” of your latest items, to create interest and sales leads before market. Click here for a list of top industry trade publications to which you may submit product information and photography.

As with everything else, practice makes perfect when it comes to refining your press release techniques. With persistence and patience, you will have increased opportunities to create a profitable and productive publicity profile!

Debra Gold, president of Gold & Company (www.goldsco.com), is one of the industry’s leading experts on strategic marketing and public relations for stationery/gift manufacturers.

From "nationalstationeryshow.blogspot.com"
Keeping Up With Trends
By Debra Gold

I’ve been thinking a lot about trends as I prepare for NSS. I truly believe that consumers count seeing trends in their favorite stores. They want to know what’s new, what’s now, what’s fresh, what’s fantastic in the market. Today’s trends are turning over faster, and more than ever are tied to current events, lifestyle demands, and most importantly, fashion. What’s hot in fashion – from polka dots and embroidery, to retro-60’s mod, from eco-chic green fabrics to affordable luxe and bling on a budget – will be reflected, interpreted and designed for products to please the current crop of fashion-savvy consumers.

The National Stationery Show (NSS) is a treasure trove of information and products that showcase the latest fashion and lifestyle trends. Paper products are relatively inexpensive to produce, attracting some of the most talented designers, who are on the cutting edge, to get into the business. Many of the trends that have dominated fashion and home décor over the past few seasons –such as oversized black & white damask designs – were first reflected in paper. The social stationery industry was offering recycled and environmentally responsible products long before “Green” appeared on everyone’s radar. NSS was the first show to blend fashion with function for today’s expanding home office product demands, and its exhibitors were earlier innovators in the lucrative, ever-changing ‘tween market.

Stationery has become so important to the lifestyle market I recently learned that internationally acclaimed designers Vera Wang, Lilly Pulitzer, Martha Stewart and Kate Spade are debuting social stationery collections at the Show!

  • Here’s what I’ll be looking for this year:
    • The evolution of “green” products which combine great design with cause-related consciousness
    • Humorous or caring cards which uplift the spirits and cause a chuckle in these challenging times
    • Executive accessories and leather goods which dazzle with vibrant colors and on-trend animal prints
    • Designs which interpret world-style motifs in a fresh and exciting style

As a veteran trend-tracker, I’m so excited about the upcoming NSS. See you on the aisles!!!

- Deb Gold

From "A Shopkeeper's Shopkeeper's Manual "
By Mary Liz Curtin
Wicked Queen Press

"Debra Gold, president of Gold & Company,
a leading stategic marketing and public relations firm in the gift and home industries, states:
"Press releases are a simple, inexpesive, easy-to-use, professional tool that any retailer can use to stimulate sales, reach out to existing and new customers, "brand" your business as a great product resouce in the community, and help make your store stand out from your competition. With a little practice, this one effective way to communicate your store's news and information could be magical for your profit potential."

From "www.AccessoryMerchandising.com"
Top Blog
My true love: decorative accessories
By Debra Gold

Please don't tell my fiance Peter, but I have a secret love. For as long as I can remember, I've adored decorative accessories.

I swoon over intricately woven rug designs. I sigh over the kaleidoscopic colors of hand-painted ceramic bowls. I can stare for hours at art glass candle holders, hand-carved wall sconces, fresh-from-the-garden bouquets of permanent botanicals, lavishly detailed textiles. No matter how many trade shows I attend or retailers I visit, I've never been bored -- for there is always a decorative accessory to delight and amaze me with its beauty, creativity and cleverness. To me, home and garden accessories are magical in their ability to transform an ordinary Burbank, CA, bungalow home into any environment I can imagine: a tropically-inspired paradise, a Moroccan palace, a Zen-like sanctuary, a timeless Tuscan retreat. Some folks bring home T-shirts as souvenirs of their travels, but for me, my memories of adventures and experiences are captured and preserved in the tiles, vases, bowls or original artwork collected during my journeys.

 

Whenever I visit the Atlanta, New York, Las Vegas, Los Angeles or High Point markets, I'm reminded of the monumental changes that have occurred in the industry in the last quarter century. When I entered the gift/home market in 1980, so many things were strikingly different. People chose one style to decorate their homes -- be it country, traditional, Asian, lodge -- and did not deviate by mixing in other themes. Target and K-Mart were not considered "design destinations." "World-style" seemed way too exotic for the average household. A majority of the products were manufactured in the United States. And it seemed only a quarter of today's home/garden décor manufacturers were in business. But now, with the explosion of product options available in every price point, along with the willingness of the consumer to embrace a relaxed eclecticism in creating their own unique home environments, it seems that there is a never-ending deluge of products available to serve today's lifestyles and today's marketplace.

 

Because of these changes (and many more), I believe it is the best and worst of times for home/garden décor manufacturers and retailers. It's the best of times because today's consumer has never been more sophisticated and aware of home/fashion trends and has never been more willing to often change her home décor to reflect those fleeting design directions.

 

But there is also a downside to this constant demand for "what's new?" The time between the emergence of a fresh design direction and the flooding of the marketplace with endless look-alike product copies is now an eye blink; product innovators have scarcely any time to introduce a new and proprietary look before it is knocked off hundreds of times in hundreds of ways. I believe that this homogenization of the marketplace has made it more difficult for specialty retailers to ensure that their stores have distinctive and different products, and it's made it even more demanding for manufacturers to keep ahead of the curve with products that don't look like everything else. Today's retailers have to be detectives, carefully scouting out new ways and new products to delight their customers and differentiate their stores from big box competitors.

 

Next year, Peter and I will move into our new, Mediterranean-style home in the Los Angeles hills. I can't wait for the winter 2008 show season to arrive, bringing an exhilarating opportunity to explore the industry's latest treasure trove of Spanish, Moroccan and Italian-inspired decorative accessories just waiting to be discovered. So, it you run into a tall, curly-haired brunette in the hallways, one with shining eyes, a huge smile and an armful of decorative accessory catalogs, that will be me!

Debra Gold is president of Gold & Company, a strategic marketing and public relations consulting firm exclusively serving the home, garden and fine gift industries. Gold has been most recently quoted in leading industry publications Launch It! – How to Turn Good Ideas Into Great Products That Sell and Shopkeeper's Manual. She also serves on the Board of Directors for Gift for Life, the gift/home industries’ leading charitable organization.