Pet PR: Why furry friends pull in plenty of papers

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Did you see the story on Dim Dim, the Megellanic penguin, who swims 5,000 miles once a year to be briefly reunited with the guy that saved him from an oil slick? Or better yet, the feature on that other penguin, in Japan, who collects fresh fish for its owner each week?
Thought so. Even if we are addicted to hard news, and pride ourselves on knowing John Snow from John Pilger, the majority of us love a good animal story. This is no phenomenon of the online era, either. Long since was the decision made to finish off local TV headlines with the plucky pug that detained a burglar, or next best thing. And long may it prevail.
As Pet PR experts we know a thing or two about selling in yarns about abseiling terrapins and pigeons with pilot’s licenses. Really it comes down to a couple of key assets every story needs to have. Readers want to have their heartstrings pulled, whether simply because the kitten looks cute or based on sympathy for the plight of that snake. And, perhaps most importantly, there needs to be a human slant that allows us to empathise- just imagine being in the position of that hamster; what would you do?
Here are a couple of examples that prove those points precisely:
My Social Petwork launch 
Put simply: Smoking Gun PR was tasked with promoting the arrival of the UK’s first ‘Facebook for pets’, allowing people to set up profiles on behalf of their pets.
Why the story sold: Pets are finally given the voice they have been denied all these years, which everyone can empathise with. In turn, we can all personally get acquainted with a rabbit called Jesper, look at his cute pics and learn about his interests, likes, dislikes and behaviour. The animals become familiar characters.
How the story sold: With 90 pieces of coverage including Sunday Times, Mail On Sunday, BBC News, Wired.co.uk, and Daily Telegraph, we saturated the media.
Cats Protection Agency 
Put simply: Pops was Britain’s oldest unhomed rescue cat, which is pretty heartbreaking. After numerous attempts it was assumed his unique looks would deter any would be adoptees. We launched a media campaign appealing for a new home.
Why the story sold: Aging cat needs a comfortable, loving address to enjoy his senior days after spending years living in a shelter. What’s not to click and read about that? Imagine if it were your cat. Imagine if you or someone you cared about were that cat. Furthermore, it has huge follow up potential- what happened after the little guy got to his new house? How’s he doing six months later?
How the story sold: Coverage in Daily Telegraph, Sunday People, Evening Standard, Time Out and Chat, to name but a few? Check. Hooking Pops up with a really nice place to live? Check.
Support Adoption For Pets
Put simply- When a guinea pig named Hitch decided to make a break for freedom the last thing she expected was to climb into some hay, which was then transported 150miles across England. Discovered by the baffled driver of the car, after spending a night locked inside, the rodent was taken to a local Support Adoption For Pets centre, and a campaign began to find the owners.
Why the story sold- A small ball of fur on a treacherous road trip, o’er hill and through valley? Reading like the script to an animated adventure, it’s got everything- a little danger, plenty of cuteness, and the essential cliffhanger; will she ever make it back?
How the story sold- Coverage appeared across titles including Daily Express and Mirror, we managed to help track down her relatives, whilst raising awareness and no less than £500,000 for Support Adoption For Pets.
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