Located in the Bay Ridge area of Brooklyn, NY, and a New York institution for more than 65 years, Kleinfeld Bridal boasts a vast selection of dresses that has accompanied thousands of brides down the aisle.
Though quite comfortable with its reputation as New York's leading wedding gown destination, when an opportunity to move into a larger space in Manhattan arose, Kleinfeld saw the chance to dramatically expand its profile.
As with any Manhattan real estate deal, there was a limited time in which the move could be kept under wraps, and Kleinfeld insisted that its longtime employees were notified before the public.
Kleinfeld asked Stanton Crenshaw Communications to help channel the media activity surrounding the transition into positive publicity for the store itself. The main obstacle was that the new store would not be ready when the move was announced.
"We had a New York icon on our hands, and it was changing... like when the Dodgers moved from Brooklyn. We thought, if this is the natural direction of the story, let's go with it," says Dorothy Crenshaw, president of Stanton Crenshaw.
Without Kleinfeld having a physical location to present to the media, the press would likely skew the stories toward news of the move instead of the amenities of the store itself.
In order to work around this, Stanton Crenshaw issued VIP invitations to noncompeting media outlets and publications, encouraging them to take "hardhat tours" of the new building. The tours were complete with spokespeople on location to answer questions.
"The space wasn't finished, but the infrastructure was there, and you could start to envision the grandeur of Kleinfeld in the space," says Crenshaw.
The iconic nature of the store also gave it a shot at the holy grail of urban media: The New York Times. After a rejection from the Business section, the firm realized the tale was more suited to the Metro section, and Kleinfeld soon found itself on the front page.
The reaction from the press was viral. Months before the store opened, articles appeared in five daily newspapers and 12 broadcast outlets, and the tours resulted in coverage in seven daily papers, including a Times follow-up. After the opening, Kleinfeld partnered with Good Morning America to broadcast a live bridal show from the new space.
"I don't know how many people have been able to commandeer the front page of the Times with what is essentially a fashion story," says Wayne Rogers, chairman of the board of Kleinfeld Bridal. "I don't know how it gets any better than that."
The effort also helped Kleinfeld achieve its goal of keeping all 185 employees in the transition.
Building upon the momentum of those initial months, Kleinfeld has settled in and increased its clientele base. It will continue to outfit brides, but they won't have to venture out to Bay Ridge.
PR Team: Kleinfeld Bridal (New York) and Stanton Crenshaw Communications (New York)
Campaign: Relaunching a NY Icon
Duration: May to October 2005
Budget: $75,000 to $100,000
The overwhelming media response was a direct result of Stanton Crenshaw's efforts in creating a snowball effect following the initial outburst of publicity. Recognizing that the first wave of coverage would focus on the old neighborhood and logistics of the move, the firm let the story follow a natural course, then pushed to add a second chapter, pitching follow-up articles and broadcast segments that focused on the new store's future and the Kleinfeld name itself.
Also key was the control over the release of information; by making sure that its employees were kept in the loop, Kleinfeld was able to keep the move a secret, and Stanton Crenshaw utilized that time to properly line up the campaign's messaging.