By Brenda Shoss -
Coca Cola. Budweiser. PETA. Yep, PETA. Whatever your
opinion of the animal rights titan -- People For The Ethical Treatment
of Animals has become a household brand name. Even your Republican
in-laws recognize PETA as a buzz word for animal advocacy.
In one form or another, all non-profits and businesses
could benefit from a bit of PETA-like public relations. As animal
rights/vegan momentum accelerates, organizations need to keep pace with
the expanding consumer market. Yet many enterprises are overwhelmed by
the financial magnitude of a professional marketing plan. Ad agencies,
freelancers, photographers, illustrators or writers will periodically
work at reduced rates for charitable causes. Any group or business can
implement a few Marketing 101 tools to enhance its image.
Two key components must be in place when an organization
places products or principles before the public eye: 1. A visually
consistent presence, and 2. A clear call to action.
Invest in a sophisticated logo that shapes the public's
perception of your message or merchandise. A logo is the cornerstone for
ongoing recognition. With repeated use, it becomes synonymous with your
group's mission. Logos should appear on business forms, print or TV ads,
websites and other promotional vehicles.
Develop a signature look for all display materials. A
custom concept may be as simple as maintaining logo, layout, and fonts
throughout a campaign. For example, if variously sized print ads are to
appear in multiple publications, all should incorporate the same
memorable "gimmick." A uniform promotion might utilize a
handwritten-style headline and textured frames around photos. Or, all
key words might appear in reverse (white letters on colored background).
The creative possibilities are endless. But once you unveil your
ingenuity -- commit to it for all related publicity. Haphazard marketing
only boggles the average reader who possesses a three-second attention
Include a clear call to action. Is your goal to recruit
members, encourage action, sell goods, or advertise an event? Once you
have determined your main objective, draw people in with a striking
photo or illustration and to-the-point headline. To avoid a negative
reaction, never overload AR/vegan ads with too much required reading or
Determine who you want to reach. Does your target market
have a specific age range, political bias, income/education level, or
gender? Research which publications, geographic regions or mediums
(print, mail, billboard, TV, radio, internet) cater to your desired
Next, develop a media itinerary. For maximum response to
recruitment or product-sale appeals, ads or mailers ought to appear
frequently in newspapers or zip codes that target the consumers most
likely to respond. These ongoing promos can be affordably produced in
smaller sizes in one or two colors.
Event-specific promos, on the other hand, ought to be
large attention-grabbers, in full color when budget permits, to reach a
big cross section in a limited time frame. Run anti-fur ads in mass
circulation papers around Fur-Free Friday and the holidays. Coordinate
anti-vivisection ads or billboards with international initiatives such
as World Week for Animals in Laboratories. Arrange plugs for
vegetarianism to coincide with MeatOut or other large scale drives. And
time literature about the abuse of animals in circuses to appear with a
visiting exhibitor¹s advertisements. This "layering effect" promises the
most bang for your advertising buck.
The ultimate scenario is to build enough credibility and
curiosity to elicit free news coverage. When the St. Louis Animal Rights
Team circulated press releases about its anti-vivisection billboards,
reporters from ABC, CBS and WB affiliates contacted them for a story.
Some publications will run complimentary editorial in conjunction with
your display ads.
As an incentive for customers, retailers can earmark
part of their proceeds for charities. Snooty Jewelry owner Jeanine
Taylor, who designs animal-free accessories for the conscientiously
clad, advertises her Round Up For Change Program and Snooty Jewelry
Party Fundraisers via the internet, mailings and point-of-purchase
displays. Shoppers are inclined to become patrons when they learn that
their purchases help fund Alliance for Animals, The Peace Abbey,
Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, September 11th Victims
Families, and other charities.
Some mavericks still flinch at the notion of "corporatizing"
vegan wisdom. They prefer to drift against the current. It is the
mainstream, after all, who consume, wear and experiment upon animals.
Yet for any non-traditional discipline to persevere, its messengers must
paddle in a user-friendly direction.
Brenda Shoss is director of Kinship Circle Letters for
Animals, Articles and Literature. Kinship Circle generates letter
campaigns to legislators, businesses and media that address a broad
spectrum of animal cruelty and protection issues. Ms. Shoss writes for
The Healthy Planet, VegNews, AnimalsVoice Online and other
For 15 years, Ms. Shoss has managed a freelance
advertising and public relations business, with clients that range from
doctors, dentists, and interior designers, to companion animal services
and national AR groups such as In Defense of Animals. Ms. Shoss is also
a professional modern dancer who teaches and performs.
"I earn my living as an advertising designer,
journalist, and dance instructor. I inhabit my life as an advocate for
Kinship Circle is a monthly column that appears in The
Healthy Planet and periodically in VegNews, AnimalsVoice Online and
other publications. If you would like to reprint this column, please
request author permission at
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