Getting your vet practice covered regularly in the local media will raise awareness of the services you offer and position you at the heart of your local community. Local media love animal stories so follow these golden rules to get your media campaign off to a great start:
Familiarise yourself with your local media: Do you know on which day your local paper is published? Does a particular reporter cover your area? Do you know whether any of the local radio stations regularly run a ‘pets’ corner’ or animal slot? Before you start sending them press releases, make sure you know the basics about the local media in your catchment area.
Build relationships: In media relations, ‘relations’ matter. Drop an email to your local media contacts. Introduce yourself. Meet them for coffee if they have time. Ask what types of story they’re most interested in and find out their copy deadlines – journalists’ lives are ruled by deadlines. Once you’ve started to build a relationship, you’ll be able to send them the type of stories they are most likely to cover – and they will recognise your name and be more likely to open your emails.
Offer relevant stories: Local media want local news. This means stories about local people and their animals. Your greatest resource are the patients you care for but, to be a story, the case must have a news hook. This means it must be:
- unusual or quirky – perhaps an unusual species or an unusual case – dogs swallowing things they shouldn’t are perennial favourites
- heart-warming – have you managed to reunite a long-lost pet thanks to its microchip or helped a pet to recover against the odds?
- community-focused – if your practice (or any of the team) are supporting a charity through a particular activity, this could be newsworthy
- carry a message for other owners – cases of lily poisoning in cats, chocolate poisoning in dogs and similar cases are newsworthy because they carry an important educational message for other owners.
Important: With any story involving a patient, ensure you ask the owner’s permission and, ideally, include a quote from them in the press release.
Ready to write a press release – check out our blog on writing the perfect press release for the local media