The easiest way to get PR for your shelter

Shelter friends: do you wish you could get some rockin’ PR?

You can. And it’s not too difficult.

The media loves you and they want to support you but you have to give them something interesting to write about….like finding unusual ways to market and promote your adoptables.

Here’s an example. In June 2011, the Capital Area Humane Society in Columbus, Ohio came up with a campaign to adopt out their overweight cats. The “fat cats” were “on sale,” with their adoption fees reduced from $70 each to $15 each or $20 for two. Now, before you get all indignant the CAHS was diligent in making sure the cats went to good homes, not just anyone who threw down a trio of five spots.

Some critics asked if it was right to exploit their fat cats for PR. I say, HECK YES it was. Here’s why:

They shared the promotion on their Facebook page and with the local media who picked it up right away. Not only did they get coverage in the critical local paper, the Columbus Dispatch,the story hit the national media as well, showing up in the Associated Press, Huffington Post, Catster, Fox News and many more.

They received a lot of attention and tons of foot traffic and were able to find some good, loving homes for their pudgy felines and plenty of other pets as well.

I can assure you that a local adoption event or news of a fundraiser would not have been such a news story.

There are other examples. Remember Daniel? The polydactyl (26-toed) cat who literally saved the Milwaukee Animal Rescue Center? I interviewed Amy Rowell, the shelter founder and director. She told me how she had rescued Daniel from the local animal control in the middle of a crisis for the center. The organization could no longer afford an increase in their rent and was in desperate need of a new location.

Amy and her staff came up with the idea to ask their community for $26 – one for each of their new mascot’s toes – to help them with a down payment for a mortgage for a new location. They shared their promotion with the local media and they loved it! Then, thanks to the power of the Internet, the national and international media picked up the story. Donations came in from all over the world. Within three weeks, the shelter had its down payment and then some.

That, my friends, is the power of PR, especially in today’s digital world.

Don’t think you could ever be so clever? Yes, you can. Dorian Wagner of came up with some awesome ways to pimp out your adoptables to get you started brainstorming. My favorites are creating business cards for your adoptable pets, leaving your shelter voicemail from a cat (or dog!) and decorating cages. Read Dorian’s tips here.

Readers, do you an idea you’ve been mulling over? Share in the comments or email me at caroline(at)highpaw(! I’m happy to give you some feedback and guidance on getting your great idea in front of your local (and maybe national!) media!