Buffalo coins present golden opportunity for the US Mint

For the first time, the US Mint is producing a pure 24-karat gold coin for investors and collectors. The new coins are based on the classic buffalo nickel of 1913 and have a face value of $50.

For the first time, the US Mint is producing a pure 24-karat gold coin for investors and collectors. The new coins are based on the classic buffalo nickel of 1913 and have a face value of $50.

The US Mint is seeking to draw the interest of investors worldwide who increasingly prefer pure gold to 22-karat gold. The 300,000 "proof" versions, priced at $800 each, are for collectors.

Idea: Because the US Mint has a limited PR budget and uses no outside agency for new coins, the public affairs team sought to generate awareness through earned media. By inviting reporters to visit its facility in West Point, NY, where the new coins are produced, the US Mint was able to offer a "rare glimpse" into a high-security - though public - facility that is usually off-limits, explained Becky Bailey, the Mint's director of public affairs.

Tools: Prior to the official unveiling, Bailey's team set up interviews with major media outlets, winning coverage in The Wall Street Journal, Associated Press, and The New York Times in the days leading up to the official June 20 launch. For those reporters who were unable to attend the West Point tour in person, the Mint provided photos and b-roll footage, which were used by NBC and CNBC, among other TV outlets.

Measurement: Collectors knew about the new coin, but neither the general public nor the mainstream media did, Bailey explained. That being the case, generating a lot of media coverage was a major objective of the launch. "We try to think of an approach that will capture the imagination of the American people and allow them to understand the significance of the new coins," Bailey said.

Organization:  US Mint
Campaign:  American Buffalo Gold Coin
PR team:  US Mint public affairs
Other marketing:  Trade shows, e-mail notifications, and ads in trade publications
Launched:  June 20, 2006
Budget:  Undisclosed

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