Every Thursday during the pandemic, we check members of the jewelry business with the goal of gleaning shareable tips and tricks for doing business – and living as well as possible – during the COVID-19 crisis.
Today we hear from jewelry industry veteran Rebecca Moskal, founder of the Los Angeles-based professional public relations company Communiqué, who contracted COVID-19 in the UK (and has thankfully recovered) and currently lives in the Highlands of Scotland with her husband.
JCK: Where exactly are you based in Scotland?
Rebecca Moskal: We are in a small hamlet called Keltneyburn, located in the Scottish Highlands, about two and a half hours north of Edinburgh. We decided to leave Los Angeles in early March, after a man at our local grocery store offered me $ 100 for the last tube of Lysol wipes I had just put in my basket.
We have a small family in a very rural area and felt it would be a good idea to overcome the pandemic there. Never Did we expect to be still here, seven months later, now under new restrictions as a second wave of the virus grips the UK
After 23 weeks in our rural bubble, we ventured to London on business for a few days in August. Unfortunately, my husband, Stewart, and I contracted COVID-19 from an asymptomatic carrier at a restaurant (the Track and trace This is no joke!) and spent eight very scary, very sick days in bed. It took over three weeks for us to feel almost normal again. The virus is real, the pandemic is far from over and please wear a mask.
What is the vibe and the environment there?
Like much of the planet right now, people here are concerned about the continued increase in COVID-19 cases and what the future holds. Lockdown settings were pretty strict here in the first few months of the pandemic, and no one is looking forward to reliving that in the months to come. Under current Scottish law we are not able to visit anyone or have guests in our home, share a car with anyone outside of our home, and restaurants and Cafes are only open from 6 am to 6 pm Alcohol is only allowed to be served outside and only until 10 pm. We can meet people from another household outside, but in small groups of six.
The UK currently has a three tier system and tighter restrictions have been placed on areas with major outbreaks.
How is your home office?
I’ve been working from home since 2009 when I founded Communiqué, so to be honest my work environment hasn’t changed drastically. As we travel often, I am used to finding a space wherever we are and making it my “office”. Since we both now work from home, we had to negotiate who calls from what room and when, getting creative in our small space!
How has the pandemic changed the way you do business?
So. Numerous. Zoom. Calls! What I have to admit, I don’t mind. I feel like they allow attendees to connect on a deeper level than in an email or even on a phone call. Getting a glimpse of someone’s home office strengthens the experience of the pandemic that we are all together.
It’s also hard not to strike up a conversation or a meeting without asking how someone is doing, which we can normally just forget about due to time constraints.
Presentations to the press have gotten a little more difficult, as the smallest details of a piece are often lost on camera, and nothing can replace the experience of trying on a piece of jewelry. But we’ve found creative ways to make sure our clients get the exposure they deserve.
Have you learned from the pandemic?
This city girl can handle country life… and maybe she secretly loves it. I lived in Los Angeles for 16 years and was in New York City before that. I’m used to the convenience of city life, access to world-class restaurants and cultural institutions, and the energy generated by a city of millions of people. But I must admit that the peace and quiet, the purest air I have ever breathed, and access to unlimited hikes through majestic terrain made me think about where I would like to m ‘install in the long term.
How do you think jewelry brands and companies should approach PR right now, and how important do you think it is during COVID?
The pandemic has given us the opportunity to stop and assess, whether on a personal or professional level, of the brand. Companies have, we hope, taken advantage of this time to better understand their customers, to discover how their needs and their motivations have evolved and how they will serve this consumer in this new dynamic. Messages should reflect these changes in attitude and can be conveyed through a company’s public relations strategy and its efforts to move forward.
A brand’s PR is vitally important during these times. One misstep, inappropriate or callous communication, and you can alienate yourself and lose consumers for good. It’s all about messaging during these times. While jewelry is not an essential purchase, there will always be birthdays and anniversaries to celebrate, milestones to mark, commitments to make. People will and will need jewelry. This is important, and we cannot lose sight of it. We just need to convey the sentiment appropriately, thus reinforcing the importance of public relations!
What have you seen or done in the PR space that you think is really working?
Be real. Remember we are all human and we are all going through rough times no matter what our brilliant social media feeds may show. Recognizing that we are all citizens of this planet, trying to make our way through proverbial choppy waters. And by supporting each other, in any way we can.
More specifically within our industry, seeing brands defending hitherto unknown creators, presenting their talents on a larger platform. Watch charitable initiatives take hold, like the Art Smith Memorial Scholarship Fund, supported by so many prominent creators and jewelry companies.
While all of these initiatives have major effects at the industry level, they most certainly connect with the audience of jewelry buyers at the consumer level. People by nature want to do good. They want to be part of something. By leading the industry in the lead, we have the opportunity to create jewelry loyalists like never before.
How does it feel to be outside the United States during this very crazy time in America?
A relief. I laugh! It has been so difficult to be so far from my family and loved ones. Between the pandemic and the forest fires threatening and destroying so much of California, there have been many sleepless nights. Having said that, it has been very interesting to watch the media coverage of the United States through an international lens. It’s so disheartening to see our country laughing and failing to gain the respect it has in the past, whether it’s Trump coverage, the virus, or the election. As a token American in most of my social circles here, I often have to explain exactly how we got “here”.
No matter what happens on November 3rd, I can’t wait to return to the United States shortly thereafter and kiss my mom and sister for the first time in almost a year.
How did you relax or escape mentally during the pandemic?
We are fortunate to live on a few hundred acres of wilderness here in the highlands. I did a five mile daily hike, which was found to be therapeutic and inspiring. It’s my time alone and it allows me to think, reflect and breathe.
In March, I also started a Sunday night Zoom call with three of my best friends from elementary school. At first it was a recording to make sure we were all safe and healthy, but we continued the calls and the conversations covered many topics. We live in various parts of the United States and before the pandemic we texted every now and then and maybe see each other once a year. Our calls were the culmination of a darker time, and I am grateful to have had these women in my life for almost 30 years.
Do you have any great book / TV / movie / podcast recommendations?
Fact: I’ve never listened to a podcast before COVID-19. Having worked from home for years, I didn’t have a commute and always enjoyed reading about flights. So, discovering the world of podcasts to listen to on my daily hikes has been such a gift for the past six months and more. I’m a real fan of crime (don’t judge) so a few that I enjoyed are The Vanished, The Dating Game Killer and Crime Junkie. The laboratory of happiness by Dr Laurie Santos, the Yale professor behind the hugely popular Coursera online course. The science of wellness is another favorite, as is The New York Times Daily, which is now an everyday essential for me!
Above: Rebecca Moskal and her husband Stewart Bain on a Scottish loch (all photos courtesy of Rebecca Moskal)
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