CMO Q&A: Dan Scott, Scott Kay (Extended)

Dan Scott, CMO of jewelry designing company Scott Kay, shares his thoughts about "social relations" with Lindsay Stein.

Dan Scott, CMO of jewelry designing company Scott Kay, shares his feelings about “public relations” with Lindsay Stein.

Explain why Scott Kay doesn't use the term “public relations.”
We don't call it “public relations” any longer. We call it social relations. The key reason we've changed the name is that “public relations” is really about telegraphing messages and getting people to talk. In today's society, whether it's a digital forum, a live one-on-one conversation, or something that is more of a monologue, like a website or TV program, it's still about engagement.

The term “social relations” truly does engage. It gets people speaking about the topic at hand and we're able to learn from what they're saying back, so it turns into a conversation. To me, public relations has changed from a monologue to a dialogue. We'd love this definition to be social. Let's see what people think of it and if it does have clout, we'd love to have it evolve.

Talk about the new focus on cobalt.
We needed something naturally white, hypoallergenic, and incredibly durable. In the medical field, cobalt has been around for years. It's the leader in all prostheses and many medical devices. In aerospace, it has launched rocket ships, but it's never been used in jewelry before Scott Kay. It fools many people when they look at platinum next to this metal.

How are you marketing this new metal?
It's now selling in more than 2,000 locations. Instead of working consumer down, we worked retailer out, so we decided to educate store employees first and foremost since they speak to the consumer first.

It's much more economical and direct messaging, especially when you're speaking to a conglomerate as large as Sterling Corp., which owns Jared and Kay Jewelers. If you're communicating a message properly through training and social relations, then employees are going to relay the message to the consumer. It's one megaphone that speaks one message and broadcasts it out to the front lines.

We created a DVD that had a multitude of visuals, showed how the product was made and the way in which we handcraft it, and we closed with the fact that it's all made in America. CNN made it a headline story and it will be coming back for a follow-up. We also made it to ABC News with a special series through Diane Sawyer called “Made in America.”

It's a much different approach than most, but, so far, it seems to really be working. Our profitability is up nearly 25% from this time last year.

How much do you use social media to connect with the consumer?
We don't say we don't care about Facebook and Twitter because that's not factual, but we care a lot less about them and a lot more about small, targeted groups that are often started by someone who shopped at a Scott Kay retail location. We want to know how that shopper's experience was and if they're starting a blog or a chat room about it.

We've done digital parties and actual parties for consumers. Often we'll comb the Internet to try to find a brand-ambassador-to-be or someone who already has declared themselves as one and ask them if we may follow them around for the day and learn from them. We found that by really pulling people in versus pushing out the message, it's just a better conversation. To me, that's really what social relations are about.

It truly has to be a conversation. If it's not, one side will lose interest and it becomes dull and lifeless and then you have to throw in some crazy promotion or sweepstakes to get people back in the loop. We're trying to build retention, literally, customer by customer. 

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