“Reuniting an owner with a cat that had been lost for 4 years was an amazing feeling. Almost unbelievable. For a while, we were throwing the word ‘miracle’ around.”
So said Jesse Senter, owner of Pet Connection in Barrington, NH, on his store’s instrumental role in reuniting Fuzzy and his owner Michelle at one of the shop’s regularly-held adoption events.
This chance encounter didn’t just result in a happy ending for Fuzzy and Michelle—it also brought in lots of media attention for Pet Connection.
“Michelle was so excited that she called the local newspaper, and they called us for an interview. From there, the story just snowballed!” recalled Jesse. “A lot of the media attention we got was because of Michelle.”
Sharing stories about your customers and their pets (with their permission) is an effective way for pet shop owners to earn positive press locally and beyond.
As a follow-up to our previous article, A New Breed of Pet Shops is Making a Media Splash – How Do They Do It?, we interviewed pet shop owners who’ve gotten healthy press coverage and asked for their best advice on how others in the business can get the word out about the amazing things taking place in their stores.
Here are some more great ideas for getting your pet shop media attention.
The media loves sharing stories about small business owners who share their unique stories with enthusiasm and passion.
Take the Quirky Pet in Montpelier, VT. Owner Cindra Conison knew she wanted her store to stand out and stay true to her local, no big-box-stores-allowed community by giving the shop an inherent whimsicality.
“I’m an artist, and I put the store together as an artist would create a masterpiece,” Cindra explained. “I see my store as a huge collage, and people are charmed by it.”
Indeed, as this profile in Vermont’s Independent Voice points out, Quirky Pet lives up to its name, donning salvaged wood rather than sterile drywall, and featuring unconventional displays for products as opposed to traditional tabletops and shelving.
“A neighbor put a big, wooden snow sled on the street for anyone to take freely. I bolted it to the floor of the store, and now we hang leashes from it!” Cindra said. “We also have an old sewing table my husband found where we display cat toys.”
Repurposing old treasures creates a unique environment, and offers journalists a unique angle for covering your pet shop.
Having a media presence is an accomplishment, one that even the most modest of pet shop owners should feel comfortable sharing with their community.
“We want to stay humble, but it’s important to get our name out there,” said Louise Hung of Calvin & Susie. “When we get coverage from near and far, it gives us a greater way to expand our customers — our family — and better serve pets and homeless animals.”
Having a media page exhibits that you’ve built up a library of compelling stories over time and allows new journalists to find you easily. It demonstrates that there is something special about you that other journalists have written about, and inspires them to feel confident in covering you, too.
“Our media page has helped us stay in the news,” Louise noted.
It’s important for pet shop owners to develop “news sense” —knowing just what it is about their business that’s worthy of media attention.
You can build your sense of what is interesting by publishing your own articles on external sites such as LinkedIn.
Not only will you gain experience in creating your own content, but journalists often use Google and LinkedIn searches to find sources for stories.
Publishing your own newsworthy article could lead one of these journalists your way, earning you more media coverage without even asking for it!
“As a business owner, I feel a responsibility to pay my people well. If I don’t, I don’t feel good about it,” she said.
Michele, who is no stranger to national press coverage, displayed her keen sense for news with the release of this story: by offering competitive pay in an uncertain economy, Pet Wants distinguished itself in the pet shop industry.
“I decided to put up this press release when I was looking to hire someone, and it worked. I got a lot more applicants!” she told us. In addition to attracting qualified candidates, she also gave journalists an easy way to find her for future interviews.
The marvelous stories we’ve uncovered in these two articles about pet shops in the media convince us that there are many more stories out there just waiting to be discovered.
Journalists today don’t have time to hunt out stories off their own bat, so you’ve got to actively reach out to them.
One of the things that has made Doggy Style successful is the relationships Akash and his team have built with their customers. This network not only creates a warm retail environment, but has saved the lives of animals in need.
“One of my regular customers was fostering a sweet, good-natured dog,” Akash recalled. “She had separation anxiety and was destructive to herself when left alone, so it was important she found a home where she wouldn’t be left alone all day.”
Akash told his customer about his neighbor whose mother’s dog had recently passed away. The two turned out to be a perfect fit for one another, and within 24 hours, the dog was adopted.
“My neighbor’s mom was lonely, and she missed her dog. Now that she adopted this one, new horizons have opened for her,” Akash said. “Not only is the dog’s life better, but the owner’s is too.”
Relationships aren’t just great for business—they can actually save lives. Everyone loves a story with a happy ending. and journalists love being able to offer one to their readers.
It can feel like a tricky endeavor for pet shop owners looking for positive media attention. But the key is to keep going for it. Your efforts will be worth it!
“When we first started out, we weren’t always sure what we were doing,” Louise of Calvin & Susie admitted. “But we had to get comfortable saying, ‘We love what we do, and we are special.’ Getting comfortable with that is part of how your store grows.”