Archive for the ‘Auction Advertising’ Category

2 Clients Head to National TV Fame

In Auction Advertising on May 14, 2012 at 11:10 pm

I am thrilled to announce that a process that began last August has come to a fantastic conclusion. When the reality show “Final Offer” debuts on Thursday, May 31 on the Discovery Chanel it will feature my valued clients Bill Roland of Roland Auctions, New York, and Jake Chait, of I.M. Chait, Beverly Hills.

This is priceless publicity.

As contestants on the show offer items of value to four appraisers, they will be allowed to accept a monetary offer from just one.  From FremantleMedia, the production company behind American Idol, the show is bound to be a  cliff hanger and – even better – a flat out hit.

As so often happens in PR, success took months to realize.  But now that the veil of secrecy has been lifted, the story can be told.

It all began one hot August day in Rolands’ street level gallery. The buzz from a very overworked Bill Roland was that he was being tapped for a potential spot on a potential reality show.

As it turned out, the producer, FremantleMedia, was in the market for a few other good TV type appraisers.  I gave him the name of Jake Chait, a Natural History specialist, who also happens to be a very handsome young man with an Afro right out of the 70s and a swagger that doesn’t stop for red lights. I referred three more appraisers to the casting director: a Chinese paintings expert, a Southern arts specialist and a Russian art specialist. (Surely, I thought, there could be no other publicity person in the U.S. with such access.)

Through the magic of technology, Skype casting calls were set up. I scheduled the dates, even taught one person how to use Skype and assured another that he could do the interview from a car, while on a consignment call.   One dropped out of his own volition, another just didn’t have a TV-Q and the third was not camera friendly, although very knowledgeable.

We knew before 2011 ended that who was good to go. But with background checks, finances, etc. – there was a lot of red tape.  In the meantime, I kept on pumping out the pre-sale and post sale press releases (an important but thankless job if ever there was one.) And today, I learned by e-blast that Jake Chait was on the show.  And then I heard it again from Roland.

All in all, it was exceptional news that reached me today. I am proud that through all the ins and and outs of small-time and big-time publicity, two of my former clients are now about to become national brands. As their visibility soars, so will their auction houses gain recognition. I suspect their businesses will expand exponentially. And for that, I say, raise a toast to good men and raise another to publicity well handled.

Thank you, Izzy, Jake and Josh Chait and Bill and Bob Roland for allowing me to represent your fine companies during that critical time.


Your Relationship With Your Publicist

In antiques online, Auction Advertising, Auctions, business, selliing antques on February 14, 2012 at 1:48 pm

It’s  Valentine’s Day, a good time to talk about relationships between client and publicist. The best ones are where roles are clearly defined and both sides of the table understand and respect the other’s role.

The spin cycle takes time.

The Spin Cycle Takes Time

When the dialog gets muddled, weird things happen. Clients don’t see immediate results in mass media. Perhaps, they are so busy – particularly in the case of auctioneers mounting monthly sales – they don’t see the results and, worse, don’t read the end-of-month metric reports. That can lead to a breakdown in communication.

We have talked about the two types of media: short lead and long lead media. The short lead media tend to be trade papers, industry blogs, social media. The coverage is immediate and targeted. Long lead media are your consumer magazines, big newspaper, sometimes even broadcast.  When the long leads hit, their impact is huge.

But the waiting can be hard. If it’s difficult for you to see immediate results, you’re not looking closely enough. Publicity grows, slowly at first and then exponentially.  So, if you hire a publicist, be ready to wait.

Case in point.  Last summer I planted a story for a client with a national publication. Nothing happened. Nothing happened. Nothing happened. And then, six months later, in January, the time was right for the story.

By then, the client had grown weary. The daily demands of the auction business consumed the young company. It got to the point they couldn’t see the forest for the trees. They called me around month five of the process and said, “We want to hold off on publicity.”  I advised against it but the client already had his mind made up. So, with kisses all around, we went our separate ways.

Four weeks later, the arts journalist from the national publication called. She was ready to run with the story and was on a deadline. What happened? There was no time to reach out to the ex-client. I had to tell the journalist to call the contact direct. She did. Her name was not recognized. The contact did not take the call. And since I had been asked to “hold off,” was off the case.

The day the story hit, I read it and all of my ex-client’s competitor’s wer named. The only company that went without coverage in that article was the ex-client. Yesterday, I received an email from one of the competitors and – guess what – they included a link to the article.

The ex-client was livid. How could this have happened, they asked when they called.  I explained they had “fired” my firm and then, when I had provided contact information, they had not taken the call.

Moral of the story: When you engage a publicist,

  • Have a clearly defined goal
  • Know the spin cycle takes time
  • Read the monthly metrics reports to know where your name appeared
  • Trust your publicist

The client-publicist relationship is as important as any other relationship you maintain.


New York’s New Auction Houses

In Art business, Auction Advertising, Auctions, business, Chinese art, Cool Exhibitions, Young Collectors on August 15, 2011 at 2:28 pm

The last ten months have seen four neighborhood auctioneers spring up in Manhattan, or just across the 59th Street bridge, in Long Island City. At this rate, NYC will soon become the wholesale auction capital of the United States

Roland Auctions in Greenwich Village

Refreshingly, most are generalists. (Of the two that specialize, Hong Kong Auctions – which has been around for about 5 years – handles only Chinese, particularly paintings.  Gene Shapiro Auctions on the Upper East Side specializes in Russian art, with  successes in American and Continental art.)

Among the wholesale houses, the properties come from estates on Park Avenue, Fifth Avenue and the nearby tri-state area. They run to the types of items rich people collected in the 60s, 70s and 80s. For instance, mid-century modern designer furniture by Hans Wegner, Finn Juhl, Tomi Parzinger and others is being spit out by the truck load. Modern paintings too.

The condition is often excellent and while the provenance must often be discretely handled, almost all the auction houses state the addresses property was taken from.

Because most of these guys run monthly sales, you can’t buy glossy  image laden catalogs, so it is imperative to visit their websites often.  The sites tend towards bare bones, linking to catalogs posted on Live The best way to see what they are selling is to visit the previews.

  • Hutter Auctions is on the West Side in midtown, not far from the Alvin Ailey School of Dance. It’s in a warehouse building, so you can’t peak in the windows. You must take the elevator and poke through a warren of holding rooms. Best buys tend to be traditional furniture, much of it by big name manufacturers.
  • Capo Auctions in Long Island City bills itself as a neighborhood auction houses. It draws from Long Island estates and recently featured weird items from the old Steinway Mansion. I can’t say what their best buys are but it’s easy enough to find out by checking the website and clicking  to prices realized.

Best advice – visit these venues and bid. As of this writing, you are competing mostly with dealers and that makes good odds that you will get what you want at a decent price. Another thing, often the items that don’t sell at auction get posted to 1st Dibs, where their  price increases.

Discounts Rule on Facebook Fan Pages

In Art business, Auction Advertising, business, Drive Website Traffic, selliing antques on April 24, 2011 at 3:30 pm

When it comes to how art and antique dealers and other businesses see Facebook, there seems to be a major disconnect.  C-level officers and fans see things differently.

The IBM Institute for Business Value Analysis recently released results of a 2011 CRM Study, and the fallout leaves plenty of room on to make better use of your Facebook page.

To put a few of the more common perceptions in line, let’s start with the fact that more than 73% of business owners believe fans come to their Facebook page to learn more about new products. In contrast, only 51% of fans actually use Facebook fan pages for this reason.

71% of Facebook fan page owners load the page ups with general information because they believe that’s what fans want. Only 53% of fans log on for general info.

61% of site owners think fans come because they want to be part of a community.  Only 22% of fans want to be part of a corporate community.

How Business and Fans Disconnect on Facebook

The closest fan page owners and fans come to being in sync is when it comes to actual purchases. 60% of businesses believe fans like them because they want to buy something. 55% of fans come to purchase.

The main reason fans come to a business page is to for a discount. 61% of your fans come for the discount and 60% of fan page owners realize this.

The new results of the what may be the most comprehensive social media study to date is sure to make all of us re-think our use of Facebook fan pages.

That said, see you on Facebook. (BTW, we recently posted discounts.)

P.S. To enlarge the image above, click on it.

How to say “I love you” with PR

In Art and the American Way, Art business, Auction Advertising, business, Drive Website Traffic, selling antiques on April 19, 2011 at 11:06 pm

What do you want from your public relations platform?  Most of my clients start out saying they have everything in place except for the buzz.  And with today’s touch-and-go economy, most new clients want to know about the process of creating publicity.

Whether you’re going to use PR To the Trade or use your own time and talents to make an impact, here’s what you should strive for.

First, unify your Brand.

Rubick's Cube - Bringing all parts together

Unify your brand.

You may not have considered this, but everyone in your company needs to know exactly what your brand stands for.

If you’re an auction house, ask yourself: what sets us apart? If you’re a dealer, what makes your inventory different? If you’re an appraiser, what is the one quality you’d like most people to remember after they meet you?  Everyone in the company, from the President to the associates, needs to know the 10 words that define your company.

Next, simplify your message.

Streamline your message


This can get tricky, especially if you’re hyped up over the coming auction of 300 lots or you have just unpacked a container. No matter how stoked you are, you must simplify. This often means using a different approach to the message.  Instead of listing all the inventory you want, talk about the overriding flavor of the offerings.

Third, amplify your message.

Amplify Your Message

Amplify Your Message

Know where you’re going to place your press releases. Do you have a list of journalists eager to hear from you because every press release you have ever sent them has been meaty? If not, this is the time to check your list and ask what the journalist or blogger is writing about next.

Now I won’t give you all our trade secrets, but there are platforms that give you access to tons of journalists and alert you to their most recent and coming projects.

Don’t forget the power of the Internet. Your message may not be timely for some, but it will always find audiences on the Internet, provided you have an enticing headline, a unified voice and a simplified message.

More trade secrets ebb out. Be sure to monitor the traction you’re getting on the Internet. Know how many impressions you are getting, how many full reads and where they’re coming from. And, definitely, make sure you know who is picking up your message.

Ultimately, the three most important words in your PR campaign are: unify, simplify, amplify.

A Benefit for Japan at Arts of Pacific Asia Preview

In Art and the American Way, Auction Advertising, Chinese art, selling antiques, Young Collectors on March 15, 2011 at 12:36 pm

Road Gone / Japan

As the spring Asia arts auctions roll around and NYC galleries prepare for an influx of uber affluent collectors and art lovers, the usual excitement is colored by the sad and devastating news from Japan.  As founder of Asian Arts Week – the campaign to unify and amply  the many aspects of spring Asia Week in New York – I am particularly struck by this.

So, in a spirit of humanism, Asian Arts Week is collaborating with Arts of Pacific Asia producers, Elizabeth Lees and Bill Caskey, to turn the opening night preview into a benefit fundraiser.  Both exhibitors and guests are being asked to donate a suggested amount of $50 to the relief efforts.

Arts of Pacific Asia logo

Turning a Preview into a Benefit

With access to the quake and tsunami zones still limited, Doctors Without Borders has dispatched two teams of three already.

At this time, relief organizations are saying funds cannot be earmarked for Japan specifically. But it is our belief that Doctors Without Borders, which appears on the  CNN list,  historically performs well. Donations made through the Arts of Pacific Asia initiative will fund their work.

I join Liz Caskey in saying that it is most appropriate for lovers of Japanese art and culture and the galleries that have benefited from the work to be among the leaders of givers in  art and antiques world.

Contributions may be made by check or cash.  Any organization participating in the week’s events but not coming to the Preview but desiring to donate can get more information by sending an email to

As for myself, I will be contributing my time to get the word out and making a financial contribution as well. (Any  PR people who would like to donate time to help spread the word can contact me at

For the past several years, Arts of Pacific Asia, unlike most high level antique/art shows, has not had a benefit opening.  It is most fitting that this year, exhibitors and guests rally around our friends to the East.

Arts of Pacific Asia preview party is Wednesday, March 23 at 7W.  (That’s 7 West 34th Street.) NYC, of course.

Homepage Asian Arts Week

Social Media and Good Writing

In Art business, Auction Advertising, Drive Website Traffic, Twitter on February 25, 2011 at 5:04 pm


Good Writing is No Secret

I went to two conferences last week – both on Social Media. Both with famous SEO guys who not only embrace SM (social media) but can talk for hours on it.  Interestingly, one of the key points to come of both sessions is good writing is more important than ever.

If you blog, you already know 250 – 300 words are best for a post.

Facebook gives you a bit more space to talk about the lion you met on the trek to Victoria Falls. Even so, you are still character limited.

Twitter – aha! – now you’re down to 14o characters. (I’ve had people tell me they can’t tweet because they can’t write short.)  Tweeting demands good writing skills.

Forget staring at a blank piece of paper, now you’re confined to space of a window. How can you quickly  master the techniques of good writing? Here are six simple steps.

  1. You can do it. Get the word “you” up front and you’re making instant contact. Nothing grabs a reader faster.  (“You’s” only serious competition is “free.” )
  2. Sell the benefits. If you say, “the desk has two  drawers over four,” that’s a feature. Say. “You get six drawers – two for your watches and socks, four for  your jeans and tee-shirts.” Even a minimalist will take note.
  3. Say why it’s smart to buy from you.  Tell you reader what sets off your shop. Is it free delivery? Trade-up guarantee? Or, it could be a matter of massaging your customer’s ego.
  4. Go conversational. Start your sentences with And or But. It is no longer against the law.

  1. Text msgs don’t translate.  Use “for,” not “4,” “you,” not “u.”
  2. Delete “that.” Getting rid of the “that” make your sentence flow more smoothly.
  3. Tell you reader what to do. The call to action – from “shop here” to “move your car” to visit PR To the – works wonders.

Now, armed with these six simple steps, the task is not as daunting. Oh, one other word of wisdom from the pros…

  • You are your own best product. When using social media, please stop talking about yourself. SM is a  two-way conversation. Give your readers a break on the sales pitch and them get to know you.

So, follow me  on Twitter. Let’s get to know one another.

Coupon & Pre-Sale Advertising for Auction Houses

In Auction Advertising on November 16, 2010 at 6:13 pm

I continue to be impressed by the graphics that auction house Morton Casa de Subastas, of Mexico City and Houston, puts out. Not only do they entice me with email subject lines that generate interest, whoever is doing their marketing has a firm grasp of the cross-overs between public relations and advertising.

When all is said and done, it’s hard to draw the line between publicity and advertising. Sure, sure, advertising is paid and if you think publicity isn’t, check your publicist’s fees again.

Whatever you call it, advertising, public relations, media relations –  it’s all marketing.

All about getting the word out so your auction house is number one with buyers. In the past I’ve talked about the importance of post sale releases.  Today, let’s talk about your pre-sale marketing efforts.

Morton Casa de Subastas routinely peppers the email with vibrant newsletters, as I said. Last week, they used a very old technique in a new way. It’s the  coupon, complete with a cut-along-dotted-line box.   Think it sounds hokey – look at how they managed to follow a very beautiful gilded porcelain vase with a coupon:

Using a Coupon to Drive a Benefit

The coupon was actually an invitation to call a specialist to learn how to bid without being present. Absentee bidding. Clearly, they are reaching out to people who are not familiar with the auction process.

I say kudos on the effort.

On the other hand,  while this coupon blends old technique with new technology, I still see  auctioneers who can’t seem to get beyond the listing … and I mean the endless listing.  Here’s an example:

All Text Auction Ad

Stuff like this makes me wonder how these businesses are faring? Are they selling only to the trade, buyers with an ability to sniff out potential finds? Because if they are looking for new audiences, this sort of listing isn’t going to grab anyone’s attention.

Content may be king on the Internet, but in print, it’s a headache.

Then there’s the other extreme, using one item to represent many. Projecting a classy image. The big houses can get away with this because they’re selling a brand as much as they are selling product.

So, what’s the answer? From a marketing point of view, I suggest re-thinking the way you present your goods.  Even if the trade is your audience, a print ad with photos is going to attract more attention. While I’m not a big fan of ads like this, multiple photos speak more than a 1,000 words.

A Full Page of Pictures

So, given the choice between lot listings and lot photos, which would I choose?

If the ad were for the internet, it would have to be the listings. Not that I expect anyone to read it but at least the spiders that crawl the web would have a content feeding frenzy.

For print, I’d take the photographs. But on the web, the advertiser could expect zero traffic from this ad. Why?  Have I mentioned that content is king?

If both types of ads were turned into videos and circulated on YouTube, they would still need alteration. Clearly, the content heavy ads would need photos. The photo ad would need subtitles for the spiders to chew on.  (We’re talking keyword content for search engine page ranking.)

But looking at these examples, it’s still clear that auction advertising has a long long way to go.

It’s time to turn up the volume. If you want to entice new buyers you must speak their language.

Auctioneers must get up off the heavy duty stuff and lighten up. You’ll win more friends and potential buyers with an attractive ad that looks great and is well written and flavored with keywords.

Take the time to re-evaluate your media budget in light of your audience. And make the design and copy of the ads you’re running fit your media strategy.

Until auctioneers can bite the bullet on

  • good graphics
  • headlines that appeal to people as well as spiders
  • content that offers benefits instead of features …

until then, you won’t expand the circle of buyers.

Let’s advance the business. Turn up the heat on design and copy.

And if you don’t have the time because you’re corralling commissions, combing the warehouse to find sequential lots, getting the catalog to the printer… and the Bee deadline is almost here…whoa! Step back and take a breath. Call PR To the Trade. We’ll help you get your act together bigger and better than before.