© Written by Rachael Taylor for Professional Jeweller
Back in 2010 when I first started having meetings with key members of the industry about the launch of Professional Jeweller – after I’d dispelled the myth that I was funding it on my own like some sort of fanzine, I wasn’t – the message was (politely) clear: we don’t need another trade magazine.
While the industry that I had worked amongst for some years was beautifully receptive and supportive, I could see the doubts in their eyes. And no wonder. When we launched there were at least five other B2B jewellery titles in the UK: Retail Jeweller, Jewellery Focus, The Goldsmith, The Jeweller and Facets. Where would Professional Jeweller sit in this mix and what would it offer the industry that the others could not? In fact, I remember The Jeweller carried a very amusing column about the launch of a sixth title (the cover was depicted with a glaring question mark) and how there was no room for this Arab-funded magazine (for the record, ITP is actually the creation of a bunch of Brits). For me, the answers to all of the above were simple.
Firstly, we would focus on breaking news. I understood the industry well enough to know that everyone working within it wanted to know what the rest were up to. I also knew that with the way that marketing and communications were changing – shoppers demanding more information on products and looking to retailers to provide it through blogs, newsletters and social media – brands were sending the same press releases created for media outlets directly to retailers. What benefit would there be to us recycling this information and presenting it to them days – or a month – after they had first received it? No, we had to go beyond the fluff to find the off-diary business stories that would get everyone talking, not just about the story itself but about where they had read it.
And this leads us on to the delivery. When it comes to news, timing is crucial and monthly magazines are simply no longer the way to deliver it. If a story is that good, you’d be unlikely to keep it under wraps for a month while you wait for the print date. Back in 2010, none of the other magazines were taking online seriously and I had a vision for how we could use the internet to make sure that our stories were fresh, exclusive and delivered directly to our readership every day.
Yes, every day. This was another part of my sales pitch for how great Professional Jeweller would be that everyone had a problem with – we don’t need a news alert every day, we don’t want it, you’ll never find enough news to fill it, you cried. Well, I don’t even have to labour this point as everyone worth their salt signed up and at industry events, such as trade shows, it was all you would hear anybody talking about. In short, told you so.
As well as fast, accurate and highly engaged with, there was another sparkling benefit to professionajeweller.com: it was free (still is, in fact). And this is a strategy that we also applied to our monthly print magazine that helped us build up momentum quickly.
Back in 2010, times were pretty tough and budgets evaporating faster than a puddle in the desert. Often the first thing to go was magazine subscriptions, which people often saw as a luxury. Our free circulation strategy to mail out the magazine to qualified industry professionals for absolutely no cost meant that there were no barriers to the information: our readership didn’t have to choose between us and another magazine, or debate whether the cost was worth it, they simply had to sign up.
Now that we had this captive audience in the palm of our hand, it was quickly knitting into a real community. So how do we cement those bonds even more? How about a drink and a dance, in a luxurious venue, all on us? Oh, and as an excuse to throw a great party, we’ll create a book of the most beautiful photography of the most inspiring jewellery industry professionals of the year at their most glamorous. And so, the Professional Jeweller Hot 100 was born – another glittering turning point that I don’t have to hammer home to you, because you all know exactly what it is, and love it.
People have often remarked that the speed with which Professional Jeweller dominated the industry’s press was astounding. For me, it wasn’t. I always knew that if we delivered what people wanted, when they wanted it and all for free, we would succeed. And that’s exactly what we did.
This article was originally published in the March 2015 issue of Professional Jeweller. To read a digital version of that issue click here.