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LESS KNOWLEDGEABLE people call press releases “free publicity.” But they are not free, of course, because preparing a good one is time consuming. A better term would be “controlled publicity,” as you can control what is said about your products and services in the media.

Medallic Art Company is extremely fortunate to have its publicity so readily popular. For three reasons.

  1. New medal issues are newsworthy. The first issue of a new medal is a legitimate news item.
  2. A large base of medal collectors, and an even larger population of numismatists are interested in the news, since medals fall within the overall collecting classification of numismatics. This is despite the fact that the majority of those numismatists are interested in coins only.
  3. A moderate number of specialized numismatic publications are easy to reach and their editors look favorably on Medallic Art, which has a reputation that has taken years to build and an active effort to maintain. I will append a list of these publications and their contact data at the end of this report.

Publicity is not advertising. Publicity is pictures and text. You do not pay to have it published in any media. But you must provide the editor with an appealing and acceptable release. The editor is the gate-keeper and you must meet his approval to get published.

In an advertisement you can say pretty much what you wish to sell your produce or service. It can be hard sell. Publicity is not intended to be such hard sell, but rather facts about an event, a newsworthy event. So tone down the exaggerated claims.

In the old days a release included a black-and-white photo with a one or two pages of copy. Today the photo should be in color. In the old days the photo and release were sent by mail. Today they are sent by email. The length is however long it takes to tell the complete story.

So imagine the editor at work. His inbox is full every morning. Make your press release shine to stand out. Sharp, colorful, professional photos should accompany carefully written text. Begin with a good first paragraph with supplemental points in the paragraphs that follow. Use short, punchy sentences with good grammar — no rambling paragraphs.

If you can, be aware of his deadlines. Try not to send your release at the last minute before he goes to press. Often – when he has the time – he can come up with some creative way of treating your story, perhaps you didn’t even think of. But he can’t do this on deadline day.

Here are some tips for your text. Use numismatic terms in describing a medal. Use obverse and reverse, not front and back. Don’t say reverse side, that’s redundant.

Lettering has a name for where it is located. Call it legend when it follows the perimeter around the curve of the edge. All other lettering is inscription. Edge lettering, obviously, occurs on the edge.

The device is the main design element. Any additional design elements, are called subsidiary devices.  The area at the bottom of a circular item between the edge and any device or line across is called the exergue.

Border, edge and rim are often confused. Border is the design element framing the design. Edge is the third side, the thickness of the medal.

Rim is the outermost element of the border. I don’t want to get technical, but right at the rim-edge juncture.

The design is formed by the rise and fall of relief. Please use a term I coined: modulated relief. The sculptural term is bas-relief (the “S” is silent, pronounced BAA-releaf).

A numismatist would call the area on the face of a medal not occupied by the device as the field, the designer calls it background, an engraver calls it the table or matrix. Which term to use depends upon who you are talking to.

Now for taboo words.

These words are legitimate for everyday use, but not in a news release. The list is short.

Unique. In numismatics this means one only, period. Do not use it for an exclusive feature.

Brass. Do not use this unless the item is in brassy-gold color. Most of our medals are brown, they are bronze. Use that.  (I know the difference is a tiny bit extra copper in the formulation, but the color makes the difference.) Brass sounds cheap, bronze is more éclat.

Medallic Arts.  No “s” is used in the name Medallic Art Company. The Art is singular as is “medallic art” and “Medallic Art.” The use of the plural was a serious problem when the firm was located in New York. Another firm  – Metal Arts – also made medals and was located in Rochester (active 1919-1980). We were often confused with that firm. They are no longer in the metal business, or medal making, so it is less of a problem now. But my habit of not using the term “Medallic Arts” is deeply entrenched in my mind. It is still necessary, however, for describing medals of the past to use precise names. Still, it would be best not to use the plural – or the possessive “Medallic Art’s” – in press releases.

Rev.  Would you believe “Rev.” for Reverend, a Protestant minister, was once confused with “rev.” for a numismatic reverse. Okay, forget using this abreviation.

Pr.  This abbreviation should always be spelled out as Proof in numismatics. It has been confused with the condition at the opposite extreme, “poor.”

Insight on the publications.

Coin  World. Has a new editor, Steve Roach, less than a year on the job. His administration has launched a plan of a once-a-month super issue covering all phases of the field, with regular size issues the other weeks of the month.

I was the founding editor of Coin World, and it has survived now in its 53rd year. On their 50th anniversary they did an article on this founding and the early years. But this does not mean I have any influence over anyone else. My articles or releases are judged just as any other.

Coin World started in tabloid newspaper format, printed at a daily newspaper’s in-house newspaper press. Over the years it has morphed into a magazine size and format, now printed on specialized presses in full color. Your release will be delegated to a staff writer who will rewrite your article to their standards and requirements.

Numismatic News.  I have lost the argument with the editors of Numismatic News. They believe in departmentalizing their articles. Medal news is placed under the banner of Exonumia (which I feel is more for token-like medals – not art medals). However, they will run your article pretty much without any rewriting. NN is but one periodical among forty collectors’ publications and books, now owned by F+W Media, Inc.

The Numismatist.  Magazine format  now in its 125th year. Members of the nation organization (ANA) can receive either the print version or the internet version. Pays for articles and photos, which are well edited, but obviously no payment for news releases.

TAMS Journal. Also has a new editor in Fred Reed, who is breathing life into a formerly staid publication. Welcomes new releases on new medals.

MCA Advisory. For medal collectors only, with a small but enthusiastic readership.

The other numismatic publications are somewhat specialized including AMSA Members Exchange for medallic sculptors, JOMSA for military medal collectors, and The Clarion, edited by a collector with strong medal interests.

Other media for publicity.  Occasional releases can be sent, when appropriate, to the metal trade publications, or local press in areas where plants or offices are located.  Use a little imagination and thinking to answer the question: Who else would like to know about this medal event?

Numismatic Press Release List For Medal News 

Compiled by D. WAYNE JOHNSON, Medallic Art Corporate Historian

Coin World weekly news magazine
Steve Roach, Editor
911 Vandermak Road
Sidney, OH 45367
Phone: (937) 498-0800
Fax: (888) 304-8388
Email: editor@coinworld.com

________________________________________________________________

Numismatic News weekly newspaper
David C. Harper, Editor david.harper@fwpubs.com
700 East State Street
Iola, WI 54990
Phone: (715) 445-2214
Fax: (714) 445-4087
Email: david.harper@fwpubs.com

________________________________________________________________

The Numismatist monthly magazine
American Numismatic Association
Barbara Gregory, Editor
818 N. Cascade Avenue
Colorado Springs, CO 80903-3279
Phone: (719) 632-2646
Fax: (719) 634-4085
Email: editor@money.org

________________________________________________________________

TAMS Journal six issues a year magazine
Fred Reed, Editor
Token And Medal Society
5030 North May Avenue #254
Oklahoma City, OK  73112
Phone:  None
Email: Freed3@airmail.net

________________________________________________________________

MCA Advisory monthly newsletter
John Adams, Editor
Medal Collectors of America
162 Farm Street
Dover, MA  02030
Phone:  (508) 785-1014
Email: JAdams@ahh.com

________________________________________________________________

ANS Magazine three issues a year magazine
Ute Wartenberg-Kagan, Editor
American Numismatic Society
96 Fulton Street
New York, NY 10038
Phone: (212) 571-4470  x 110
Fax: (212) 571-4479
Email: uwk@numismatics.org

______________________________________________________________

Coinage Magazine monthly news stand magazine
Editor MGibbel@coinagemag.com
P.O. Box 6925
Ventura, CA 93006-9899
Phone: (805) 644-3824 x 122

______________________________________________________________

American Medallic Sculpture Society
AMSA Members Exchange quarterly newsletter
P.O. Box 6626
Kamuela, Hawaii  96743

For Print Newsletter:
Andrew Perala, Editor
Email: aperala@aol.com

For Email Distribution: As needed
Anne-Lise Deering supermedal@frontier.com
P.O. Box 1201
Edmonds, WA  98020
Phone: (206) 542-0608

______________________________________________________________

E-Sylum weekly on internet
Wayne Homren, Editor
21288 Arcadia Court
Ashburn, VA  20147
Phone: (703) 729-9786
Email: whomren@gmail.com

_______________________________________________________________

JOMSA six issues a year magazine
Richard A. Flory, Editor
Orders and Medals Society military medals only
P.O. Box 120
Chino, CA  95927-0120
Phone: (530) 345-0824
Email: rflory@csuchio.edu

_______________________________________________________________

The Clarion three issues a year magazine
Richard C. Jewell, Editor
Pennsylvania Assn of Numismatists
2543 Glenwood Drive
Wexford, PA  15090
Phone:  (412) 877-0318
Email: rcj2543@earthlink.net

_______________________________________________________________

Book and Internet Listings

Private Mint issues are listed as “Unusual World Coins”  by KP Publications in book form by that name updated every 3 years.

Internet subscribers to NumisMaster:
George Cuhaj, New Issue Editor
Email: cuhajg@yahoo.com
Unusual World Coins constantly updated

KP Publications
70 East State Street
Iola, WI  54990-0001
Phone:  (715) 445- 2214

Supply:  Photo with data: size, weight, composition, quantity struck, mint, mintmark, artist, price (if for sale).

_______________________________________________________________

All medallic and related items, both cast and diestruck are listed in

Dick Johnson’s Databank:
[To go online early 2013.]
Dick Johnson dick.johnson@snet.net
Databank Editor constantly updated
139 Thompson Drive
Torrington, CT  06790-6646
Phone: (360) 482-1103

Supply:  Name of item, year first issued, artist (s) names, catalog or identification number (if any); additional information if award medal, or any special feature.

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Manhattan Beach medal

Manhattan Beach medal

James R. Gill has just issued his first medal: A medal for the centennial of his hometown of Manhattan Beach, California. Struck by Northwest Territorial Mint, the medal was recently delivered, setting off a wave of marketing and publicity efforts by promoter Gill.

Google Alert sent me a news article where I learned of Gill’s medallic efforts which led me to his web site and further information about his town’s centennial activities. The more I read, the more I realized James Gill had done everything right in creating his medal. I contacted him asking for an interview for an article chronicling exactly how he did this.

I wanted to learn every step he took in the process of creating a city anniversary medal he had managed to establish as a tribute to his beloved hometown. This information, I thought, might be useful to others who would like to do the same for their city. Indeed, Gill had done everything right.

Where did you get the idea to do such a medal? I asked Gill.

“I’ve been a coin collector my entire life, since I was a kid. I loved them, collected them. I’m from Manhattan Beach, third generation, so I have a passion for our town. Some time ago I acquired a 75th Anniversary Medal somebody had done, but I wasn’t impressed by it. So for many years when we got to our centennial year I wanted to create one that was more special than that 75th one.”

And where did he obtain that 75th medal? He bought it on eBay. James Gill, 46, was a lifelong resident of Manhattan Beach on California’s southern shore.

“It’s a wonderful beach town,” he related in that interview, “a suburb of Los Angeles, but completely different atmosphere than anything in Los Angeles. The people are different, the way of life is different. Here we wear shorts and flip-flops at all ages, we are outdoors a lot. The beach is our front yard. We have lovely weather all year round, sixties and seventies in the winter time. You pay for that convenience and great weather that’s why mortgages are so high.”  I smiled at that remark.

One of the most important clues to the success of his medal project was that he started early, in 2008, four years ahead of the centennial year, 2012. He learned, early on, he had to deal with municipal bureaucracy, and ultimately a Centennial Committee.

“In the very beginning I began talking to City Council members. I knew since I would use the city seal on the medal, I would have to get the city’s approval. I began by talking to the Council members. They liked it. But they had to wait to see who was going to be on the Centennial Committee.

“Would it be a Centennial Committee decision? Nobody would be sure how to approach such a thing. So it was all up in the air in the beginning. I applied to be on the Committee, but I wasn’t chosen, and that was a good thing since it would have been, they tell me, a conflict of interest.

“The Centennial Committee was a little slow getting started. I would say they began a year before our centennial year, in January a year ago.

Gill had formulated his plan, underwriting the entire project. “From the very beginning I proposed that I would do it all, to create the medal, to pay the money to make the dies, and put up all the upfront money. Also that I would share those proceeds with the committee after I covered my costs. The month the Committee was formed they had an email from me with the proposal, with photographs, with artwork that had been created at that point.

Months before Gill had done extensive work on the design. Taking photographs. Searching the internet for desired images. Selecting those that were significant to the local area. He had taken a bowl from his kitchen to draw a large circle and began arranging design elements – the city pier for the obverse, the city seal, a surfer, a volleyball player for the reverse – all to fit inside that circle.

As a savvy internet user he had gone on the net to find a medal producer who could mint the “coin” he had in mind.  “Northwest Territorial Mint popped up as being one of the leaders, so I contacted them. I learned they are here in the United States of America, it is their main business. I knew that is where I wanted to go.

“I emailed my designs to them. Beginning in 2009 I began working with Northwest Territorial Mint designers on their end, and come back to me with that they thought would work on a coin. We went back four or five times changing the art. I think they felt bad, they sat around on my designs for a year and a half until we finally got the go-ahead.

“The Committee had no input. Their only concern was that if a medal was to be done by the committee it would have to be a public [design] contest, people would turn in art work and [a winner] chosen. I know that would be a problem. But as I learned about this process, that somebody with a beautiful design, artists at Northwest Territorial Mint would have to change it around dramatically and it would look nothing like the one designed.

“I tried to express [the impracticality of a design contest] to them, but the bottom line was the committee was not interested in doing a coin, even though they did one for the 75th, they just didn’t care.

“The leaders of the committee didn’t care. They were already involved with T-shirts and hats, not selling as many as they had hoped, and it was more work than they had hoped. They felt like getting involved in more merchandise was not what they wanted to do. They hadn’t taken time to read my proposals that I was going to take all the risks, do all the work, and share the money.

Then how did you convince them? I asked.

“After going to four or five meetings, speaking up, asking have you looked at my coin proposal? Anybody have any questions about it? Finally, there was a meeting I got to speak, It was literally November [2011], a month and a half before the centennial was to begin. I had almost given up hope, and I got a chance to explain to them, you are not at risk for anything, I am doing the whole thing, I want your permission to go do it. They took a vote and I got approved and off I went.

Step by step.

I asked Gill to relate the steps he had taken to create his medal.

“Around 2008 I got this idea I was going to do this, I got it in my head. I grabbed my camera and went down to the beach. Our iconic image here in Manhattan Beach is our pier. There have been several versions of it but it goes back to the 1900s. It’s an iconic image for us here. First thing I did was I ran down there and took pictures of the pier at different angles in how I would want it to appear on the medal. I came home and printed these on my printer.

“For the reverse I tried to think of the biggest things in Manhattan Beach I would want to have on the medal. Surfing and volleyball are two things that are extremely popular here. I played around with images from Google, I printed those, cut them out, and arranging them on the medal, and see how those would come out.

“Beginning in 2009 I began working with Northwest Territorial Mint designers on their end, and come back to me with that they thought would work on a coin. We went back four or five times changing the art. I think they felt bad, they sat around on my designs for a year and a half until we finally got the go-ahead. I think several employees and come and gone before I actually got the okay to do it.

“I got the all [the images] in there. The one thing I was excited to get in there, and leery what the committee would say about it — my initials. On one of the coins I own was the 1909 VDB penny. I knew I wanted to have my initials on this coin. I stuck them in there on the reverse and hear of anybody on the committee complain about them. But they didn’t. Had they caught it. That was the one piece I was worried about. I got the surfing in. I got the volleyball in. I got the city seal in. I got the pier in.

Persistency pays off. I was impressed with the tenacity Gill had toward this project. I said “Sounds like you were pretty persistent.”

“I was,” re replied. “That was one thing that the council members I had spoken with said — to be persistent, to keep going to those meetings and keep speaking out. It paid off.”

I turned the conversation to the actual medal. “What was your first impression when you first saw the medal?” I asked.

“I was very nervous to see it. I had never dealt with Northwest Territorial Mint before. I had very high expectations. In my coin collection I own some of the most beautiful coins in the world, a 1910 gold coin and the 1905 Indian gold coin, and I even have one of the one-ounce Indian head gold nickels.”

“I had high hopes. Very high hopes. When the box came and I opened it I was ecstatic. I think the [medals] turned out exceeding my expectations!

There’s a testimonial statement from a very satisfied customer:

              The medals turned out exceeding my expectations!

I asked how the sales staff had treated him.  “Sales staff was good. They gave me what I wanted. I knew what I wanted. Sales staff was great working with me. What was interesting was dealing with the artists.

How was that? The contact with them?

“No. I never had any contact with them. I never spoke with them. I never had a direct email with them. It was [always in contact with] the sales staff for the art.

“That was a little scary, because, you know, I didn’t have a direct conversation with any [artist]. But the bottom line they did do a great job, they got [understood] what I was trying to do. And they knew

what actually works on a coin. They did a great job. They never really complained when I had an issue with something minor. So that all went rather well.

Company artists can take a bow.

Marketing the medal.   I then asked about how he was marketing the medal.  Who are you selling it to?  

“This has been the exciting part about it. I am a big social person.

My career has been based around the internet and computers. I was a financial stock trader, working with computers for 16, 17 years. This was an interesting part of it for me, selling the coin.

“I knew the reality, truly the market was Manhattan Beach people, cause the coins are twice the value of silver, so its not the collector who will go for my coins, for intrinsic value or whatever. Its just the people who love and want a keepsake from Manhattan Beach. So I knew my target market was Manhattan Beach.

“I knew I wanted to have a web site. I knew the fastest and easiest way for me to reach a lot of people and get the word out was Facebook. Within a week of receiving my coins I had a Facebook page up and running. The day I received my coins I had it for sale on Facebook.

“So that was all free, easy and very viral. You get your friends looking at it and the minute you hit the like button for your fan page, for your coin, their friends see that they liked on your fan page. That was the fastest, cheapest way to get busy with this. So I was immediately selling coins on Facebook.

“Phase Two was eBay. A very inexpensive way to get it up and running right away was on eBay. So I have an ongoing auction on eBay for people who search eBay for Manhattan Beach stuff. Had that up and running.

“Phase Three for me was to get its own web site up. So now there is a web site called MANHATTANBEACHCENTENNIALCOIN.COM

That is the main web address and I have even created a short web address so I could advertise it faster to the locals. MB100COINS.COM points straight to MANHATTANBEACHCENTENNIALCOIN.COM

“So I have a shortcut one that I can easily advertise that people remember quickly and then a longer one they can find when searching the web.”

Gill reported sales have been “moderate. He has sold 45 silver coins, and 20 brass medals.

“In two months I have about fifty percent of my initial investment back. That includes a second order of silver that is coming in a few days. The bullion payment is also in those figures. I had about fifty percent recovery at this point. I am happy now with that as I feel I will not have trouble breaking even. And that was my main goal — just get it made, break even, and be a part of Manhattan Beach history with this coin.

You mentioned that sales are coming in through three avenues. Is there one that is more successful than the others or is it spread out?

“It’s definitely spread out. Facebook was the fastest thing up and running so I probably had more sales via Facebook, whether or not they purchased them on Facebook or went to my web site from Facebook. I would definitely say my best marketing was Facebook.

“I have also begun another phase here which is publicity. I got it in the local newspaper here. That’s how you learned about me. So I have been in the local newspaper. I am kind of surprised I expected a huge slug of orders come through after that article got out. I think I have sold only five coins from that article.

“Its cumulative.” I said. “Are you planning on getting on local TV?”

“I got on TV in the very beginning. I got a few orders from that too. I tried to record. But I never caught it. It was late in the afternoon. I hope to get a little more of that out.

“Then I am going to local businesses to put a flyer in their windows.

The sales pitch being that the proceeds also benefits the centennial. Hopefully I can put some flyers up in the windows.

“Also I will go to local meetings. I will go to a Rotary meeting. I will go to organizational meetings to also get the word out.”

“Are any local merchants selling the medals for you?” I asked.

“No. I spoke to the Chamber of Commerce about getting it in their office because they do sell items of merchandise about Manhattan Beach there. It would be a perfect place to have it, but they are in a transitional period right now, they just let the CEO go and I am not getting a lot back from them.

“Also if I am selling the silver medal for $85, could they buy it from me at $70 and then sell it for $85? I am a little leery of doing that because I don’t have that many medals to sell to recoup my investment. So I would rather have them refer people to my web site, [but they declined].

Always thinking ahead, I asked: Are you ready to design your second medal? Any subjects in mind?

Gill replied: “You know, all sorts of ideas run through my head. Where could I go with this? If I considered this a very big success. I guess I have an eye for coins and what [designs] looks good on a coin. I don’t know the answer to that question. I don’t know what’s out there to design.

Overall, James Gill, how do you view your experience with your first medal project?

“I enjoyed it very much. I am very proud of the results. It was a great experience. I would open my eyes to a second medal.”

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