Columnists

The PR Adviser: What the Designer Should’ve Done

ColumnistsMay 16, 2024

The PR Adviser: What the Designer Should’ve Done

Lilian Raji gives advice to designers on how to make the most of great publicity opportunities.

National Jeweler columnist Lilian Raji
Lilian Raji is a strategic communications and PR adviser who helps companies understand their marketing problems, then designs and executes strategies to solve them.
Q: Dear Lilian,

I was intrigued by your column mentioning the Montreal jewelry designer who was selected by Jean-Paul Gaultier to have her jewelry in his show, only to not have anything more come of it. 

You mentioned she lacked proper strategic planning. What should she have done, and what can a jewelry designer do similarly to leverage celebrity placements? How can/should she plan ahead after she sends out jewelry to (possibly) be worn on the red carpet?

Signed, 

You Know Who 

A: Dear You Know How,

Well, You Know Who, can I just say you know exactly how to get into my good graces? Reading my column and letting me know your thoughts is exactly how to butter me up into giving you free advice.   

Take note, dear readers who have questions galore! Emailing me at lilian@thepradvisor.com is the only way to get those questions answered.

Let’s return to our Montreal jewelry designer, whose talent was rightly acknowledged by a greater talent but who wrongly believed her talent alone was enough. 

Jean-Paul Gaultier gave her a steppingstone, and she mistook it as keys to the kingdom. Too far gone with the winds of delusion, she believed, as God was her witness, she would never suffer the injustice of no one knowing her name again! 

Alas, You Know Who, I don’t remember her name. But I do remember very vividly her talent.  Unfortunately, that tremendous talent was overshadowed by her even more tremendous ego. 

Take note, emerging designers: when your Odyssey into greatness presents an opportunity very few will ever know, remember that intoxicating bliss you feel is not meant to last. Don’t get lost in the Land of the Lotus Eaters by believing your hard work is finally over. The hard work doesn’t end until you retire. 

If the designer had taken my advice, she would have made a list of every journalist who’s ever written about JPG and introduced herself with a quick note saying how honored she was to have JPG select her pieces for the show.   

“As an emerging jewelry designer,” she would have written, “Having a journalist of such esteem see my pieces in the upcoming show is another fantastic honor I never believed possible. As you’re reviewing JPG’s collection for this show, please do look out for my jewelry designs.” 

A link to her website and a DropBox folder of high-res images would complete the email.

If you received this email on your way to the Folies Bergère, wouldn’t you have paid just a little more attention to the jewelry? 

If the designer had listened, she would have buttered up someone at JPG’s PR agency and gotten a list of expected press to also send this email.  

She may not have gotten exact contact details, but a bottle of Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame would surely have gotten her the names of expected publications. It wouldn’t have been hard thereafter to identify who each publication was sending. 

With the grace of powerful people whose power lies in how they wield their very mighty pens, she could have extended her 15 minutes of fame. Journalists are always looking for something new and exciting. The Montreal designer’s designs were certainly new, and very much exciting! 

Oh, if she’d only listened to the PR Advisor!

 Related stories will be right here … 

If she had, she would have gently but persuasively advocated for herself to be backstage during the show, snapping pictures and taking videos of the entire chaos. 

This, of course, would have to have been pre-arranged, but nothing a bottle of Clase Azul Mezcal to the lovely PR representative for the show couldn’t have accomplished! 

Together, they could have happily toasted the brilliant idea of her being backstage to stealthily take photos and videos to document the experience and amplify the publicity via social media, because, wow, how grateful is she to this PR person for making it all happen?!

Of course, we know the PR person had nothing to do with JPG choosing her jewelry! But this is how you butter up someone who can help you get further, don’t you know, dear You Know Who?

If she’d only been willing to learn The PR Advisor’s talent for creating miracles out of molehills, she would have been behind the scenes at the show, the after party, the after-after party, and the day after-after party.

No, not celebrating!

Remaining, perhaps, the only sober person at these events because she had work to do. Alcohol and ambition don’t mix! Well, they do, just not for the person who has a job to do. 

And the job she needed to do was to create her next golden opportunity by meeting the right people at these events. She needed to impress them with both her talent and humbleness, then charm them into hoisting her onto another steppingstone. 

Whenever The PR Advisor attends an event, I typically know in advance who I want to meet. I will embody my totem power animal, the panther, and carefully stalk the prey who will ultimately help advance my pursuits. 

While I have a very impressive portfolio of accomplishments, none of it matters anymore. Pursuing greatness comes with the cost of knowing no matter what you’ve achieved, you can always be better. What matters most is what you do next. Our dear designer didn’t understand this, which is why I have no clue what she did next. 

Now let’s address those buzzy red carpet big breaks. If your name isn’t Graff, DeBeers, Harry Winston, Tiffany, Dior, Bulgari, or Chopard, and you still managed to get your designs on the décolletage of a megawatt doyenne, congratulations! Now get to work!

Without billion dollar-backing, it’s very rare to know in advance if your pieces will get a red-carpet debut. 

You often never know until you turn on “E! Live from the Red Carpet,” wrapped in your peach-colored Snuggie and bowl of popcorn in hand, ready to point out how Jennifer Lawrence would have looked so much better in your sapphire necklace, only to realize she is wearing your sapphire necklace!

OMG! OMG! OMG! What do you do next?

Well, first, vacuum up the popcorn you just spilled! Then get online and find every picture of J. Law in your gemstones. You can also capture screenshots of the red-carpet video.

If you’ve paid attention to The PR Advisor over the past decade, thank you! You should have a ready-made list of journalists you want on your side. Send them an email with images attached, a short description of who you are and a full description of the necklace. 

Do I even need to tell you to share it on social media? With your retail partners? In your newsletter? 

You don’t have a newsletter? Tsk. Tsk. Our superhero Consideration will have something to say about that once we return to our Customer Journey series. 

In the meantime, focus on the story you will tell. No, no, no, I don’t care about how your stylist or PR person made it happen for you! (Although we PR people do appreciate when our work is recognized.)   

Unless J. Law wore your necklace in gratitude after you rescued her from kidnappers with your particular set of skills outside of jewelry design – no one cares! 

The story you tell with both video and photos is of the necklace, the design process, the sketches, the selection of stones, and your original inspiration. Tell this story on Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube. 

Unfold it gradually, like Dita von Teese giving a jubilant revue. (Ahem, are you ready for Vegas?)  

The story ends with Jennifer Lawrence, drawn to the emotion and ingenuity imbued in your creation, choosing the necklace for her Academy Awards appearance.   

Take note: the story isn’t that some celebrity liked your design. 

No, no, no! 

The real story is that, with your astonishing aptitude, you created something so extraordinary, a major celebrity couldn’t help but showcase your talent to the world. 

Done well, you can milk this for about three months. Just remember to be humble and gracious. After three months, get started on your next coup. Because you’re only as good as your last accomplishment. 

Our customer journey superhero Awareness has been patiently awaiting our return and comes bearing gifts for my lovely readers. We’ll reconvene in my next column.  

In the meantime, I’m only an email away for your most pressing PR questions. 


Lilian Rajiis a strategic communications and PR adviser who helps companies understand their marketing problems, then designs and executes strategies to solve them.

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