Press releases are an easy—and free—way to draw attention to your dog training, walking, or daycare business. A good press release gives local news outlets the chance to see what you’re up to and possibly cover your story, providing you publicity and adding credibility to your status as a local canine expert. You can also post press releases online, expanding your marketing reach for any virtual services you’ve added to your repertoire this last year.
Here are some tips for taking advantage of this easy, free marketing strategy:
When to Write a Press Release
Too often dog pros miss opportunities to engage with local and online press. Here are some times to take advantage:
When you launch a new, interesting product or service.
Perhaps you’re offering an online group class focused on something particularly timely, like teaching pandemic manners aimed at professionals and families trying to get through Zoom work meetings and home schooling without canine interruption. Or a walking service that includes dropping off puzzle toys, chews, and other modes of mental stimulation to keep dogs gainfully occupied while not out walking with you. Maybe you’ve created a Facebook support group for dog lovers living with leash reactivity. If your services don’t look like everyone else’s, shout that from the roof tops.
You can use press releases to help navigate the pandemic, too. For example, you might put out a press release to let people know you’ve restarted in-person training services. Or, conversely, that online training has proven so effective that you’re continuing virtual training despite the easing of Covid restrictions in your area.
When you host an event.
Once it’s safe to plan a fundraiser, seminar, trial or other competitive event, or a fun canine-related outing for your community (movie night with your dog at the local theater, a guided weekend hike or camp trip, a holiday dress up party at your daycare) a press release can help spread the word beforehand or brag about the event’s success after the fact.
While we’re still maintaining careful distance, a creative online event can be a great way to draw some attention with a press release—an online tricks party, for example, or a Zoom canine talent show to give clients and local dog lovers a way to break the monotony and enjoy their dogs.
When you receive an award, scholarship, or other professional recognition.
Did you take advantage of time in pandemic lockdown to add some new professional letters to your name? Have you recently been acknowledged as one of the best and the brightest by a professional organization, your local Chamber of Commerce, or a “Best Of” contest in a local publication? Congratulations! Be sure to take full advantage by letting your community know.
Writing a Great Press Release
The key to getting your press release picked up is making sure it’s well written. In addition to impeccable spelling and grammar, a press release should have a few key elements to grab the potential publisher’s attention:
- A catchy, informative title. No need to be funny, clever, or cute here. Just encapsulate what your press release is about in a clear and succinct way. Instead of “Wagsworth Manor Has Gone to the Cats!” try “Wagsworth Manor Expands to Include Cat Playroom and Daycare Services.”
- A first paragraph that clearly outlines the key points of the release. Whoever is reading your press release has a lot on his or her plate, so offering up the most important elements of your message in the first few sentences will vastly increase the chances that your release gets picked up. This first paragraph should answer those classic six questions: Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How? You can expand upon these details in subsequent paragraphs, but provide the essentials right up front to make your recipient’s job easy.
- Quotations that lend an air of authority. If possible, include quotes from two different people related to the news item. If you are a company of one, don’t hesitate to “quote” yourself. This is fine, so don’t be self-conscious. The second quote could be from someone at a partner organization, such as the shelter you’re raising funds for, or a participant, such as a client or student sharing their experience. Make sure your quotes expand on what has already been said, rather than reiterating information you’ve provided elsewhere. They should also include the speaker’s name and position. Anonymous quotes don’t count.
Sample Press Release
Here’s a sample of what all this looks like in action:
Paws and Care Dog Training Hosts Online Canine Talent Show to Raise Funds for Local SPCA
On Saturday, June 26, 2021, Paws and Care Dog Training will host a dog talent show via Zoom to raise funds for the Springfield SPCA, which is planning an expansion of its existing facilities. The show starts at 5pm, and all dogs are welcome to share their tricks and talents. The suggested donation to secure a spot in the spotlight is $15, and $10 per household to log on and enjoy the spectacle. Students from various levels of Paws and Care Dog Training’s Online Tricks classes will be in the lineup to show off their dog’s best stunts, and all members and all ages of the dog-loving public are invited to sign up with their best friends to participate.
“This event is a wonderful opportunity for the local community to help our shelter expand,” notes Springfield SPCA’s CEO, Morgan Rockport. “We are very excited about our plans to improve our kennels and add three new outdoor play areas for the dogs in our care, as well as renovating the HVAC system in the cat facility. We are incredibly grateful to Paws and Care Dog Training for being so generous with their time and creativity.”
Paws and Care’s involvement with the Springfield SPCA dates back to 2007, when the organizations partnered to offer training classes to shelter dogs and their foster families. As part of the upcoming event, Paws and Care’s trainers will also be sharing some simple trick training pointers using shelter dogs currently waiting for their forever homes.
Paws and Care students are excited to be part of this fun event. Sarah Miles, a graduate of Paws and Care’s Level 2 Tricks & Clicks class, says, “Trixie and I are honored to help the Springfield SPCA raise money by showing off Trixie’s tricks. They are doing amazing work for homeless pets in our community, and we are pleased to be able to give back in this small way.” When asked what Trixie is planning for her moment in the Zoom spotlight, Sarah responded, “We’re still deciding. Right now she’s working on learning how to bring me specific toys I ask her for. If we get that polished in time we’re going to go big with that one.”
To register your dog for her moment of fame, or to learn more and buy tickets for the show, visit [www.websiteaddress.com]. Then put 5pm Saturday, June 24th on your calendar for some good family fun. Oh, and don’t forget the popcorn!
Turning Your Press Release into Press
Now that you’ve got a great press release, it’s time to do something with it. Start by cultivating good relationships. Even small local publications and TV news programs receive many press releases, so it’s a good idea to develop and maintain a contact list of editors and producers who are most likely to be interested in your news. Check in regularly, even if you don’t have anything to share, to see what kinds of stories these folks are looking for, and to make sure there hasn’t been a staffing change.
When you send your release (usually by email), include a personal note, and follow up in the next day or two with a phone call (or another email if that’s more comfortable for you).
You can also post your press release online using any number of free press release companies–a quick Google search will show you your options. While not as powerful an SEO tool as they once were, online press releases can still lead people to your door, and they’re free.
When the Silence is Deafening
If your news doesn’t get picked up, don’t lose hope. You may be a victim of bad timing—for example, having to compete with a big school board election taking up lots of space in your local paper the week you issue your release. Or you may be the fifth person in three days to send a release about a similar kind of story. Be persistent, and it will eventually pay off.
And even if your news isn’t deemed newsworthy at the time, you can repurpose your press release into a blog post to keep your website fresh and interesting. Share the information in your print and email newsletters, too. That way, even if you don’t make the local or online news or papers, your time and efforts have been well spent.
Want some help or guidance building a steady marketing plan for your dog training or dog walking business? Join us for Marketing Made Easy—an online dogbiz University course.