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Stone Stories: PR for Natural Stone

„Day of the Stone in the City“Update: The „Day of the Stone in the City“ held in just under 40 towns and cities accross Germany was a great success. There were 60 functions and events in all ranging from toured guides through the town centres, to natural stones used in buildings, to displays of masons at work (often with the possibility to gain hands-on experience), and last but not least, to the presentation of stone producing firms and warehouses or stockpiles. The programme can be downloaded (in German).

(September 2008) The first Day of the Stone in the City will take place in Germany on October 18th 2008 paving the way for all sorts of campaigns revolving around the theme: natural stone. To name but two examples: In Berlin stone-masons will be presenting their handy-work, Munich will be staging special geology-tours for pupils throughout the city.

The initiator of the campaign is geology professor Johannes H. Schroeder, lecturer of the Technical University Berlin and indefatigable representative of his guild, who may claim the fame for initiating the Stone-in-the-city network (in German). This latest action was triggered by the International Year of Planet Earth called by Unesco for 2008.

Similar activities in other countries

BusinessStone.com took the occasion to ask around if similar campaigns exist in other European countries. If you, dear reader, know of similar activities in your home country, please write in. We’ll be happy to publish it. Sculpture-symposia are taking place across Europe, all pursuing the same purpose. Special large-scale attractions are taking place in Spain and France:

Spain: The „Dia del Mármol“ („Marble Day“) is being hosted for the 16th time by the Alicante region. The date was set for the 23rd of May and the scene was the area around Pinoso and Novelda, where the most important quarries and production sites for local marble are situated.

It is not so much the aim to advertise for natural stone as such but rather to address specific circles, foremost architects, and draw awareness to natural stone as a building material. This year around 300 representatives were invited to listen to lectures and visit sites. Among the invited were architecture students, together with their professors and docents. Information-material was handed out to those attending.

France: France has – or more precisely: had – the „Mois de la Pierre“ („Month of the Stone“). The campaign was initiated by the trade-journal Pierre Actual as well as two trade guilds. It was „the principle to encourage the stone companies to organize an action of promotion for themselves“ according to Claude Gargi, editor in chief of Pierre Actual in a mail to BusinessStone.com.

Last time around about 100 companies from all across France participated. The public particularly enjoyed demonstrations by stone-masons at work which took on an almost festive character in some instances. Interesting to note that the cool November weather was no hindrance for attendance. Guided tours of local quarries, open-house events in sculptors’ studios or lectures on various subjects were but some of the activities on offer.

There was a public relations center for natural stone and the profession (Centre de Promotion de la Pierre et de ses Métiers, CPPM) in charge of organization. It offered assistance to professionals and companies in form of written material and even helped with advice in dealing with the local press.

„2007 saw the end of the Mois de la Pierre“, according to Claude Gargi naming pecuniary reasons. „The problem was to finance the central organization (edition of documents, help to the participating companies)“. Few companies are keeping the tradition and organizing their own events.

Pierre Actual traditionally reported at length on the activities of the Mois de la Pierre in its January edition. Issues of the magazine in French language may be purchased.

French TV-campaign failed

By the way, another groundbreaking public relations scheme failed in France recently: an attempt to advertise for natural stone on TV („L’Image de la Pierre“). The wood industry had recently had great success with such a campaign. But the stone industry only managed to raise a budget of 240,000 euros, about one-fifth the amount needed.

International Year of Planet Earth