Do good and talk about it // Bizz Talk with PR specialisit Silvia Boccardi

In our “Behind the Scenes” column, we usually talk to eyewear designers and brand founders. This time, our interviewee is not involved in the process of creating eyewear. Rather, through her work, she contributes to the interesting stories of brands being read and images being looked at. An interview with PR Consultant Silvia Boccardi, Senior Account and PR Team Coordinator at Zed_Comm.

Hi Silvia, I’m always happy to talk with you. This time even more, because we’re not talking – as usual – about brands and products, but about you.

Oh dear.

You live in the northern part of Italy. Is that a good location for what you do?

I live in Venice – on the mainland, which for those who know it has a charm quite different from the island! But I come from a small town in the Alps, a few km from Switzerland. My mountain origins are still very strong in me, but the place where I live now has won me over because it is surrounded by beauty. It is a perfect starting point to reach other places. For a nomadic spirit like mine, who can never stay still, it is like being able to live in so many different places all the time!

You specialize in public relations in the eyewear segment. How did you get into PR in the first place?

It was partly by chance, partly by destiny. Fresh from my degree in Languages with a thesis on communication, I answered a job advertisement looking for people to organize training courses. It wasn’t really what I had studied for, but I thought it could be a starting point. The truth is that I never started organizing training courses, but the person who interviewed me referred me to a friend who had a very small communications agency. I started with the press office, my first client was Mido, then I moved on to one of the biggest eyewear companies and for over 10 years now I have been back in a PR agency with Zed_Comm. We can say that destiny made me wear glasses and I have never taken them off!

The term PR is not really tangible for many people. What exactly is behind it?

I would like to immediately dispel a wrong idea … PR does not just mean events where you have a lot of chats over cocktails and finger food. It’s about relationships, yes, that are built and cultivated through constant work made up of knowledge, curiosity, research, but also respect and loyalty. The great thing is that this work leaves a lot of room for creativity and can be different every day, with also a lot of fun!

The field of work is much more complex than one might think at first.

You must study the customer you are going to work with, understand what their needs are, sometimes help them understand their potential. Often you must hold their hand to help them understand what tools are needed to get the ‘visibility’ they want. This is constant seed work to achieve lasting results. Clearly, it depends on the case, but there is little point in the wow effect alone; it risks becoming a meteor that will fade away if there is no strategy behind it. For a successful collaboration, it is necessary to create a relationship of mutual trust, where our figure is seen as a consultant, not as a service supplier.

You mentioned visibility for your customer. Which channels do you prefer?

All communication channels are valid. It depends on the results you want to achieve and who your interlocutors are. I started when the fax was still in use and nowadays, the means to reach journalists are almost no longer email or telephone but social chat! Therefore, the messages must be adapted to the tools, but I always say that one must never lose the human component: that is what really makes the

I know that your work often goes beyond just communication and that you are also involved in the creation of creative content. What exactly do you do in this area?

I like to think of myself as the last link in a value chain. The gear that makes sure that the work of so many other people can be brought to the forefront through my work. I could never achieve a beautiful result if the tools I am given were not beautiful. And I feel a lot of responsibility for this, to gratify the work of others and to feel gratified at the same time. It is the luck of doing a team job because together we share the efforts and multiply the success and satisfactions.

But that’s already classic marketing, isn’t it?

No, it is not classic marketing. In my work, there are no schemes or theories, there is vision, intuition, empathy, kindness, patience and lots and lots of experience. And then there is the ability to communicate with words, whether spoken or written. You must have a deep respect for words and carefully choose which ones to use. This is a general rule in life and especially in my job!

Which part of your work is the most exciting for you?

When I realize that my contribution was really part of a successful project. I am very emotional, I tend to be stubborn and headstrong, I always question myself and take every task to heart. When I run out of steam or am over the limit, I stop for a moment and ask myself what is the real ‘value’ of my work as I tell myself that I don’t save lives. True, but I do contribute to telling good stories and to the appreciation of the work of so many people, and that has value too. I deeply believe in teamwork, and in this I am very lucky, both in the past and now at Zed_Comm, I work with a group of colleagues with whom great synergy has been created.

You have specialized in “eyewear.” What appeals to you about the optical industry, and what makes it special?

What makes “eyewear” special to me is seeing that in such a small product, there can be so much creativity combined with research and history. If you think about it, every brand is born with its own story; it can be a solid history that comes from the past, and you must be good at always being able to tell it as it evolves, a casual intuition or a passion on which a project is born. There are very and many different stories, and they are all fascinating! Glasses are a cultural and trend phenomenon that characterizes the different years in a transversal way from fashion to design. They are a powerful means of communication in telling the story of who wears them.

The large number of brands is certainly an opportunity for a PR specialist. However, advantages rarely come alone. What are the downsides of the optical industry?

I was lucky to work both in a large multinational and for several smaller companies. This has allowed me to have a fairly complete vision of the eyewear sector. If the objective is the same – to increase visibility – the tools and messages are very different. The dynamics, compared to 20 years ago, have changed a lot. I would be lying if I did not recognize the importance of having budgets to communicate, but that is not enough.

But, what is necessary?

Sometimes, the difficult thing is to make people understand that just being present through advertising in magazines, websites or social media is not enough to increase sales or open new markets, and this alone is not a communication strategy. It is only one part of it. Getting results takes time and consistency. One should not aspire to emulate another company simply because ‘you see it everywhere’. One must be aware of one’s own means and understand the identity of one’s own company and product. I am for the policy of small, reasoned steps; a budget is not enough to be successful!

You have several brands as customers in the eyewear segment. Doesn’t that bring with it conflicts?

None of the brands I work with is in conflict because they all have their own identity. You have to be able to go beyond the mere product. If you think about it, there are so many women in the world, similar to me in physical appearance, character or attitude, but no one is the same because each one has her own personality and her own story. Here, the same thing applies to glasses. After all, anyone who only sees with a front and two temples could not do this job. This is to say that there is no conflict, I feel I am a bit part of the team of each company I work with.
What was the most beautiful eyewear campaign you have been involved in so far?

Once I was told that I have a big heart, I keep all my favourites there, for different reasons.

You good … but you might answer the following question:  Your sphere of activity is not limited to Italy. To what extent do you have to consider country-specific characteristics in your work?

The world of digital PR and social media has made it possible to overcome national barriers by taking communication to a higher level involving all countries. However, there are differences in approach and methodology, mostly due to habits and cultural factors. In my case it is not so much what I communicate but how I do it. There are countries where I focus on digital communication and social media, i.e. short, quick texts and lots of pictures, others where there is still a prevalence for printed media and therefore more space for in-depth articles. But above all I know that, depending on the country I am addressing the communication, I have to emphasize certain aspects of a company or product.

As an Italian, you were born with good taste. You see more glasses every day than almost anyone else. Share your expertise with us: what makes a good pair of glasses?

Let us remember that glasses are worn on the face, protect the eyes and touch the skin. I will never stop underlying the concept of quality regardless of any aesthetic connotation. On this I am uncompromising. The aesthetic aspect then is absolutely subjective. What makes them ‘good’ is that they must be comfortable and make us feel good. If it is true that you can talk with your eyes, well, with glasses you can tell a whole story!

When I meet someone who wears glasses, I try to find out what brand they are and imagine why he chose that particular frame. Sometimes I even ask it! Personally, I don’t follow any fashion, I don’t prefer one material to another, I simply let myself be won over by the model and … by the physical contact! The material feeling of things has a great fascination for me. Books, for example, can only be read by flipping through the pages. No technology!

Are there different rules for sunglasses?

The same applies to sunglasses. But let’s say that if they don’t have ophthalmic lenses you can choose a more extravagant model because you don’t have to wear them all the time. I instinctively choose the ones that strike me, even if I don’t always wear them. I have bought very unusual, eccentrically designed glasses because I fell in love with them, but then I was unable to wear them because they were too heavy or not very comfortable. Or simply because I didn’t feel ‘myself’ with them.

What are your three current favorite models, without which you do not go out of the house? 

Three? Impossible!!!


Latest Posts