It’s almost time for the ASPCA Challenge and the City of Tallahassee’s Reach for the Stars part of that campaign to end. Wow, the humans all around the city have been working like crazy to make sure we are winners and that pets like me find a forever home. I recently visited the shelter and City Hall and decided to share with you the entire scoop I heard as they wrapped everything up. Here is their report:
When Tallahassee was first selected for the campaign, a group of committed of pet lovers brainstormed on how to build the best community outreach campaign possible. There were lots of fears. The campaign included many cities with much larger populations; we were in the midst of tough economic times and wondered if families could afford to take on new pets; we didn’t have a budget to mount a campaign – nearly everything would have to be paid for with in kind services. It seemed like the David versus Goliath challenge, or perhaps we would be the little shelter that could! The decision was made to Reach for the Stars! We set a goal to double our adoptions over the three month period to a total of 1,200! We decided everything would be included in our star studded campaign, from highlighting our animal stars, to finding star agents to help promote adoptable shelter pets in foster care and those at the shelter, to making the students in area schools who adopted pets true Stars! If any community could get excited and engaged in saving the lives of pets and teaching the importance of responsible pet ownership, Tallahassee was it!
Summary of Accomplishments
Communications Plan – In the beginning, we felt it would be important to have a formal communications plan to guide our communication and outreach, as well as record the outcome of each event. See attached communications plan. Our first task was to come up with a campaign theme and brand it. The “Reaching for the Stars” campaign was established. See attached logo and flier. Throughout the campaign a similar look was maintained. The same blues and yellows were used from everything from fliers to Stars Headshots. The logo with the dog and cat were used throughout, as well as the stars. rfts-imagery rfts-imagery
a. Utility Bill Inserts – The campaign was highlighted in two utility statements via the Insight, a brochure reaching over 100,000 utility customers that, according to citizens’ surveys, is a leading way to receive information. The first insight that went with August statements featured the animal campaign as the lead story. The second was sent with October’s statements. Both inserts can be viewed via the links below:
b. Newsletters – The campaign was mentioned in the CityScope, an employee newsletter that reaches 3000 current city employees as well as all city retirees via email. Additionally, the campaign was the first story in the Parks, Recreation and Neighborhood Affairs Department’s newly established newsletter which can be viewed at http://affiliate.imarcsgroup.com/tprd/renderpage.asp?pageid=5329
c. The City of Tallahassee sent out 16 news releases and two media advisories on the campaign
d. The City’s cable access channel, WCOT aired each of the two segments of Pet-ertainment Tonight approximately 220 times (in addition to all the YouTube views). WCOT also aired two press conferences. The first aired 36 times and the second aired 59 times. Viewership via cable TV for WCOT is approximately 42% of 170,000 = 71,400 citizens. WCOT is also streamed live on the City’s website www.talgov.com which is available to anyone who has internet service. Below are links to both Pet-ertainment Tonight videos:
e. Outreach – “Use what you got!” The City of Tallahassee is a college town, so we went to those colleges and asked for their help. Fliers were handed out to some of the 50,000 students at Florida State University (FSU) on Market Wednesday and at Florida A&M University (FAMU) on the Set. The Dept. of Communications staff presented the opening of the voting before the Intra-Fraternity Council and the PanHellenic Council at FSU. Several local businesses stepped up and created their own collateral for the Challenge. Fermentation Lounge made a silent film. The lounge also teamed up with local artist Patty Maney to make t-shirts, which were sold at the Lounge during a special event to support the TLC Animal Service Center (ASC) in this campaign. All proceeds from the shirt sales were donated to the ASC. Hot 104.9, 103.1 The Wolf, 99.9 Hank FM and Q106.1 teamed up and made a flier to promote the Challenge and encourage community involvement. All the stations agreed to match any air time bought by a local business who was supporting the Challenge and give it to the ASC for free for the duration of the Challenge
f. Voting – When it was time to focus on the voting portion of the Challenge, we knew we had to start strong and keep getting stronger! Just prior to October 15th we presented information to college students, asking for their help on the voting campaign. On October 15th we held a press conference to enlist the local media’s help with engaging the community in the voting. We made t-shirts with iron on decals asking people to vote every day and which included the web address. We all wore those t-shirts at every event. We produced 66 laminated 11×17 posters and installed them on all City busses, which conveniently have free Wi-Fi. We printed 3000 fliers which were hand delivered to veterinarians, community centers and various City departments that see high citizen traffic, such as the utility payment center. We worked with downtown restaurants who attached fliers to all to-go bags as well as other local businesses that had been supporting us in the Challenge like Lucy and Leo’s and Fermentation Lounge. And we weren’t done there. We knew we had to push even harder. We sent daily posts to the City’s electronic bulletin board and sent out mass emails to all City employees two to three times a week, reminding them to vote. We held a Stars for Students event and sent a mass email to all public and private schools which included information on the voting. We advertised Critter Coupons at a dog costume contest event called Dog-O-Ween. We took it even further by setting up voting stations at the October 16th adoptathon, the October 22nd & 23rd Stars for Students and Dog-O-Ween events to encourage voting. Our efforts have paid off; we have never fallen below second place in the voting and have been battling with Kansas for first place throughout the voting period. That is no small feat, as Wichita’s Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) shows a population of 603,000, which is nearly twice the size of Tallahassee’s MSA of 357,000. Tallahassee’s population is a mere 170,000.
Community Involvement through the Agents – A diverse group of individuals and businesses were asked to commit to helping the campaign by serving as an “agent”. Word spread quickly about the opportunity to help find a dog/cat a forever home. Within a week’s time, 30 well-respected leaders in our community including a State Representative, television and radio media personalities, attorneys, and several local businesses had volunteered to serve as an “agent” to a dog or cat that needed adopting. Agents browsed an album filled with photographs of adoptable dogs and cats. Once the agent selected a pet (or two) in which to represent they were provided with a picture, a pet profile and adoption procedures. Agents sprang into action launching all kinds of marketing efforts to find their celebrity pets homes. Posters were hung, emails were sent, t-shirts were sold and photos were posted on Facebook, websites and newsletters. A local cup shop, Lucy and Leo’s, baked cupcakes designed with paw prints and cat faces. A local pub, Fermentation Lounge, hosted an event called Dogtoberfest in which agents and celebrity pets comingled with potential adopters. Fermentation lounge teamed up with a local artist and made t-shirts for the event, raising $485, with proceeds benefitting the Animal Service Center. Media personalities promoted their pets on TV and radio daily. Opus Broadcasting sold advertising packages and then matched them with Challenge ads. Star 98 hosted a live remote. The local newspaper editor, Bob Gabordi, not only blogged but also taped a video interview with his dogs. The agents’ efforts paid off double! All in all, 61 animals were represented, nearly twice as many pets as agents, and all but three have been adopted, two of those due to medical reasons. Even better, most all of the agents have asked to continue their efforts after the campaign is over.
Media coverage – The Tallahassee Democrat (circulation 50,000 weekdays, 10.4 million page views on Tallahassee.com) ran 15 articles at 301 column inches on the campaign at a value of $17,970.01. We’ve attached clips of those ads ASC NP DOC
a. Online attention from Tallahassee.com – Number of stories was the same as printed paper. Here is a quick blurb from and link to Tallahassee Democrat Editor Bob Gabordi’s interview with his pets: SPEAKING OF DOGS, I hope you caught my interviews of Lady and Slick, two dogs I’m sponsoring for adoption. They are available via the Tallahassee-Leon County Animal Service Center. Call (850) 891-2950 for more information. If you missed the interviews, no problem, here is a link to the video. http://bit.ly/cRFPmk. Also help us help Tallahassee-Leon County Animal Services Center win up to $125,000. Go to www.votetosavelives.org to vote for TLCASC today and every day through Oct. 31. Additionally, Daisy’s diary was a featured blog on the local paper.
b. 31 TV stories combined from the two local news stations; 27 radio guest spots plus the John and Tammy Morning Show on Star 98.9 mentioned the Challenge at least once a day each weekday for the duration of the Challenge (minimum addition of 65 impressions) and Steve with Star 98.9 did a live remote for 2 hours at the ASC during an event
The exciting part of the media impressions was the variety of people who stepped up to speak for the ASC. The ASC Director and the head of Animal Control went on-air, but usually they are the face of the shelter. For this Challenge, a lot more people got involved. The ASC’s veterinarian went on camera. The Assistant to the City Manager and the ASC Agent Liaison from the City’s Communications Department both did interviews. Animal Shelter Foundation board members, the Mayor, City Commissioners and ASC volunteers, staff and animal control officers all got involved and spoke to the media on behalf of the 10,000+ homeless animals the ASC takes in every year. Even animals were invited on to TV and radio spots to give examples of the animals the ASC cares for.
c. Talgov.com coverage -The City of Tallahassee’s website was a prime place for promoting the ASPCA Challenge and the Reach for the Stars Campaign. From the first day of the campaign, through October 31, the Campaign was a lead story on the city’s home page. During the 3 months (Aug. to October), the city’s homepage had 607,000 page views and the Animal Service Center Page which promoted the campaign had 38,000 page views during the same time. The website promoted all events associated with the campaign and the voting campaign. In addition, it hosted the two episodes of the special TV production “Pet-ertainment Tonight.” The first segment was posted on August 16, 2010 and has had over 3,860 views on YouTube, while the second segment was posted on October 11, 2010 and over 180 views on YouTube.
d. The ASC’s participation in the ASPCA Challenge was not only hyped on the City’s website, the community got involved too. Fermentation Lounge did a blog post about Dogtoberfest, which benefitted the ASC. New Leaf Market sent out information in its newsletter. Good Friends Group Fitness posted its Star on its website. Lucy and Leo’s Cupcakery did a blog post about the Challenge and its Stars. The Southeastern Community Blood Center promoted the two blood drives it did in partnership with the ASC and included a write up and photos in its October newsletter. Star 98.9, WFSU, WTXL, WFLA, WCTV and Tallahassee Democrat all had links to information about the Challenge.
Special Events- attached is a list chronologically from first to last. events list
Social Media outreach – The City of Tallahassee made extensive use of social media as part of the Reach for the Stars Campaign. A special Twitter account was designated COTStars, and at the start of the campaign the city launched its own official Tallahassee Animal Shelter Facebook page, to supplement a page maintained by a volunteer.
a. On Facebook, over the last 3 months more than 330 people “liked” (became fans/followers of) the new shelter page and began getting regular updates. In addition, the shelter’s campaign was frequently mentioned on the city’s Parks and Rec page which has over 1,500 fans. During the course of the campaign, the city and its fans posted 68 posts with updates, reminders and promotions on its shelter Facebook page. Each post promoted responses and “likes.” Facebook was a great place to post our flyers, but most importantly a great place to promote our star pets with great photos of the cute ladies and gents.
b. Twitter – while only 51 people follow COTStars on Twitter, the power of this new tool was that in numerous cases those 51 retweeted many of the city’s updates and messages. The city sent 233 tweets about the campaign from @COTStars, with thousands more reached via re-tweets including help from the local Humane Society. Tweets often include photos from events and star pets.
c. Blog – The blog is told from Daisy’s point of view—Daisy is a Chihuahua mix, one of the Stars at the shelter available for adoption. This light hearted blog was the City’s creative way to tell the story from the dog’s point of view as “those crazy humans” frantically try to find forever homes for her and all her furry friends. We started out with Daisy’s Diary on the ASPCA site but branched out to include wordpress https://daisysdiary.wordpress.com/ and eventually the local newspaper, The Tallahassee democrat because they were interested in featuring her blog on their page but couldn’t link to our current blogs. http://www.tallahassee.com/apps/pbcs.dll/section?category=pluckpersona&plckPersonaPage=PersonaBlog
d. Web Pages and Facebook Pages of Others – From the businesses involved in the Agent to the Stars part of the Challenge, to nearly all of the local media, the campaign was given prominent attention on many other web pages and Facebook pages. The Community’s involvement, support and promotion of the campaign exceeded all expectations. The Tallahassee-Leon Community Animal Service Center Facebook page (the un-official ASC page run by a dedicated volunteer and animal advocate) helped promote the Challenge as well to its 1,418 fans. The Leon County Humane Society (another local animal shelter) promoted the ASC’s efforts via its Facebook and Twitter pages. Support was also given to the ASC on Twitter via users TallyAnimals, TallahasseeNYP, COTNews, j8nd, AnneImanuel, desireegorman, just_kelly, KBohlander, liquidconfetti and more.
- The impossible is possible! Never underestimate the power of a small group of committed people and a caring community to help change the world – or our corner of it!
- Making pet adoptions less expensive can help with adoptions, but it isn’t lasting. The excitement wore off after a few weeks.
- Targeted communication to specific audiences was very successful and when it comes from a trusted third party, it is even better. When every school in the city sent an e-mail to the families of its students, the shelter saw a huge increase in adoptions the next two days during the Stars for Students promotion.
- There are businesses and individuals out there that want to help the shelter – the key is finding them and giving them ways to be engaged. The “Star agents” campaign proved this as agents went far beyond getting a pet adopted and held fund raisers, sold t-shirts, and had regular media mentions of the shelter.
- Over 1,000 pets in Tallahassee are now in “forever homes” thanks to the impetus of the ASPCA Challenge and Tallahassee’s own Reach for the Stars Campaign.
Ongoing Efforts – All 30 Star Agents have unequivocally agreed to stay involved with the ASC as needed from here on out. These new partnerships will help the ASC continue to spread the word about responsible pet ownership and the humane treatment of animals, as well as help find good homes for homeless animals. In addition the networks and partnerships formed through this campaign will benefit the TLCASC for decades to come.