When Animals Help Tell a PR Story

Beasts and babies.

They’re two of the most trusted ways to get people to pay attention to a PR message.

The latest example (of the former) is an SPCA Auckland campaign that’s designed to change the public’s perception of the intelligence of rescue dogs, according to The New Zealand Herald. The hook? A video that shows how three SPCA dogs are learning to drive.

The video might pull at the heartstrings and garner a few laughs, but the message is an important one for the SPCA. “One of our hopes with this campaign is not only do we see an increase in adoption in the next month but on a long-term basis too,” animal trainer Mark Vette told the Herald.

For companies, brands and nonprofits that use animals for their PR campaigns, here are a few tips on how to communicate the message(s).

  1. Whatever the medium (print, broadcast, Web or online video), be sure to explain in no uncertain terms how the PR effort benefits animals (or humans).

  2. In crafting the campaign be careful that the message is not anthropomorphic and doesn’t portray the animals as human. Consumer brands have a tendency to do this for their advertising campaigns, whereas doing so for a PR campaign might chip away at the credibility of the message.

  3. Whether verbally or in text, explain how the animals were treated (and rewarded) during the production of the campaign and how people can assist the PR effort. Depending on the type of PR campaign, this could mean donating, adopting or volunteering.    

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