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5 Media Relations Tips to Improve Your Bottom Line

Relate like a pro!




PUBLIC RELATIONS AND media outreach are an important part of the overall marketing mix. When an approach is developed and executed thoughtfully, it can lead to media coverage that delivers real value and results. This can range from enhancing your reputation to increasing visibility among your target audiences to generating store traffic and sales. Here are five easy tips that will help you be successful.

1. Position Yourself as A Resource

Become a trusted resource to journalists. To secure media coverage for your business in a local print, online or TV outlet, first demonstrate the potential value you can provide and don’t come across as too salesy. Approach your pitches from an angle that benefits them. A good starting point is asking yourself, what can you offer that a reporter needs or wants?

2. Build Relationships

Invest time in building and nurturing relationships with journalists who contribute to the publications you want to be featured in. Be personable and sincere, and remember media relationships are built on trust and anticipating their needs. If you find a way to make a journalist’s job easier, you are on track to building a mutually beneficial relationship.

3. Personalize Your Approach


Get to know the journalists and their content. Research the handful of ideal outlets where you’d like coverage. Find the names of editors, their interests and the types of stories they publish. This research will allow you to customize pitches that will resonate. Remember, each outlet is unique, so a cookie-cutter approach won’t cut it and can end up hurting your credibility and chances for future coverage.

4. Utilize Editorial Calendars

Editorial calendars are a must-read and a great place to learn about the type of topics and themes that journalists are looking for year-round. The calendar is a great way to get a better understanding on what news to pitch when, so it’s relevant and timely. You can dedicate a few hours to doing the research at the beginning of the year and compile all the information in a spreadsheet, and visit this list for inspiration and reference throughout the year.

5. Select the Right Communication Tactic

Two popular communication tactics for garnering media attention are press releases and pitches. Traditional press releases are still relevant in many situations. For example, media outlets will often publish a press release verbatim if it is an unbiased account of relevant news. That said, a well-crafted and thoughtful pitch has the opportunity to be just as relevant. While the story is not completely written with a pitch, it has enough substance to give the journalist inspiration and guide him in the right direction.

These tips will have you thinking and acting like a pro. Soon, you’ll see how beneficial PR can be in your larger marketing plan to drive real business objectives.


Kristen Levine is regarded as one of the foremost pet marketing experts in the U.S. with more than 25 years of experience. She’s developed a Pet Credible Influencer Program for brands and is a senior vice president at FWV Fetching, an integrated marketing firm that services pet-focused companies, veterinary businesses and consumer brands. Contact her at:




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Shawna Schuh

Assign Tasks with the End Goal in Mind

Ask in a way that will actually produce results.



THERE ARE MANY TIMES when I hear from my clients these kinds of laments: “I should have said that differently.” Or: “Maybe I used the wrong words …”

When this happens, I’m delighted because that leader is becoming more aware that she has control over those words and how they may or may not land. However, sometimes it’s not the actual words but the intent behind them that makes or breaks the situation.

Let’s dig deeper into this.

Here’s a standard miscommunication:

When you say “Would you please do X task?” your words, in your mind, may be clear and determined.

You are asking them actually to do the task, right?

That’s what you think.

In reality, it’s an inquiry with no clear intent of when it must be complete or even a determination of end result.

When I’m coaching clients, we take it down to the elements that will actually produce results.

First question: What do you want? And let’s go deeper than having the task done. Aren’t tasks the means to an end result? If you are spending a lot of time on “tasks,” you may have a checked-off to-do list and still not have the results you desire.

Ask yourself instead: “What will having this task done accomplish in regard to my big goal or highest priority?”

That question will shift your thinking to shift from “task doing” to “results producing.”

But what do you ask then if not, “Will you do X task?”

You have many choices. and all of them depend on the intent.

Intent one: Get a task completed. To do this, ask it as is with the addition of a timeframe: “Will you do X task by 3 p.m. today?” The specificity will help you both.

Intent two: Get a commitment to a result rather than a task. Say: “To further the goal of X, please provide me with a list of tasks and who is best to accomplish them inside our timeframe.”

This request will allow the other person to take leadership of the goal and either take on the tasks or find those abler to do so. Remember, of course, to include a timeframe.

Intent three: further action on your end goal. Ask a new question: “To make sure we reach X place, what do you think is the best plan or path to accomplish it?”

This will help them buy into the goal and give you new ideas.

As a leader, we usually know the goal and know the steps or actions to take. That doesn’t mean we should do those actions, nor that others know the goal.

When you shift your thinking like this, things in your world begin to improve. I see it all the time in my coaching clients. If you want the same results, the first step is to stop and think, “What is my intent?” and then the words will come easier.

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Pet-Business Owners, It’s Time to Stop Using Those Outdated Marketing Tactics

The world is changing. So should your marketing.




IT’S A WHOLE NEW world out there, especially when it comes to marketing and advertising. There are the big, obvious casualties in the advertising world — Yellow Pages and newspapers, for instance. Now, we market using websites, email and social media. But it’s how we use them that I believe is silly.

From observing pet business ads delivered via email, I notice most of them look like print ads that ran in newspapers.

Is there something wrong with that? Well, yes, as a matter of fact, there is …

The medium is email. The name implies that it’s mail, delivered electronically. So instead of making it look like an ad, you might do better to make it look like mail!

Direct-mail tests continue to prove that a snail mail piece in letter form (versus a designed postcard or brochure) will outperform other formats. In head-to-head split-run tests with several of my clients each year, this rule holds up.

Correspondingly, email that looks like a letter tends to be more successful in producing responses in the forms of click-throughs, conversions and sales.

At least try the letter-looking approach in your email marketing: Conduct your own split-run test.

The other area where pet businesses are doing the same old things — just using new media — is in the aim of their ads.

Almost all pet businesses seem to be competing using the same offers to the same prospects for the same reasons with the same-looking ads. We’re all attacking prospects that are ready to buy today, tomorrow or at least this week, trying to get their dollars now.

Problem is, people — millennials in particular — aren’t buying that way anymore. They have changed, but your marketing hasn’t. People take more time to make decisions now. They do their research and they go through a process.

While all of your competition is frantically focusing on the last week or two of that process, the digital age has made it possible for you to get in early and market to these people in the tranquility of an uncluttered cyberspace and an unencumbered mind.

Use both traditional and digital media to drive “suspects” to a landing page instead of your store or even your website. On that page they’ll be able to sign up for a free something that will signal they’re now more than a suspect. They’re now a true prospect.

Before the competition gets to them, you have the chance to establish a relationship, render value, help them establish their own buying criteria that favors you and pre-empts the competition, invite them to make an initial purchase (converting them from prospect to customer) and ultimately get them to make the purchase from you … without ever seriously considering doing business with anyone else.

This takes planning and system development, but it recognizes the digital reality of the new world. It’s a new way of marketing, and while it may take a while to build the marketing program to exploit that reality, it will surely lead to new and higher profits when you do.

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Editor's Note

Better Buying, Thanks to Peers

Here’s to the readers willing to share with the world what works for them.




EVERY ISSUE IN PETS+, we bring you features designed to help you make better buying decisions, so you can sell more products and services to your customers.

Our Hot Sellers section (page 18) asks Brain Squad members to tell us what sold well in the previous month and why.

Our Favorite Sellers mini-column (page 17), gives space for one reader to share his or her favorite product to sell — and, importantly, why.

Both allow real retailers and service providers to share what works for them and to give credit to the suppliers or manufacturers where it’s due.

We believe there are no better endorsements of products or services than those from people who are in the business of dealing with end consumers every day and of knowing what they need and what suits them best.

In this issue’s Big Story, “Brands Indies Love” (page 32), we take that belief a step further.


We asked readers to tell us the suppliers who give them the most support — companies that view retailers as partners, not simply as conduits for their products or as accounts in a spreadsheet.

We also asked manufacturers to tell us ways in which they help and stand behind their wholesale customers.

I should point out here that we list these companies regardless of whether they spend their advertising dollars with us — a reminder of our editorial golden rule we have stood by since our first issue: If a story doesn’t help American pet business owners sell more, manage better, or even just sleep easier at night, it doesn’t go in PETS+.

The companies listed in “Brand Indies Love” is by no means exhaustive. We hope to revisit this subject in the future, and we invite readers and suppliers alike to alert us of great things they are doing.

Meantime, see you at Global! Stop by our booth — 4039 — and tell us what you’re buying in person.

Best wishes for your business,

ralf signature

Ralf Kircher
Editor-in-Chief, Pets+

Five Great Tips From This Issue You Can Do Today

  1. Build in more time for tax prep this year. It may take longer due to the new tax law and lingering effects of the shutdown. (Manager’s To-Do List, page 14)
  2. For even more marketing inspiration, download the 2019 calendars. (Service Shorts, page 28)
  3. Don’t normally sell online? Try a one-day online certificate sale. (Hot Sellers, page 18)
  4. Running late today? A dozen donuts is worth 1,000 apologies. (Tip Sheet, page 50)
  5. If you haven’t raised your service prices in a year or more, it’s time for some research. (Columns, page 54)

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