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Fetching for Publicity: Animal Welfare PR

Published on March 11, 2020, at 7:31 p.m.
by Emily Greco.

Individuals and companies are not the only ones that can utilize public relations. From land to sea, all types of animals can also benefit from public relations. Public relations is a compelling, cost-effective tool that can be used to advocate for animals that cannot speak for themselves.

One of the main goals of animal welfare organizations and shelters is spreading awareness to help save animals. Through press releases, media connections and strategic partnerships, public relations agencies can effectively help raise awareness for these organizations and tell the stories of voiceless animals.

Goldman McCormick, a New York-based public relations firm, frequently uses public relations to support animal welfare initiatives and animal shelters.

“Most things in PR and media are about captivating the attention of your audience and making an emotional connection. The welfare of animals is something a lot of people relate to,” said Ryan McCormick, a partner at Goldman McCormick.

McCormick discussed how talking directly to the media and earning coverage of animal welfare-related stories has proved to be a successful tactic.

He then shared how Goldman McCormick’s efforts helped save a special dog named Simon.

Courtesy of Save Simon

After biting a teenager who trespassed on his property, Simon the dog was set to be euthanized by Connecticut officials. He spent 18 months away from his owner in an animal control lockup facility.

Simon’s owner hired Goldman McCormick, and the firm immediately shared Simon’s story with the local community and national media. “As soon as we heard about Simon, we put all of our clients on hold — we have to save Simon,” McCormick said.

Goldman McCormick organized the “Save Simon” campaign, sent press releases and formed protests to help Simon.

“Now Simon is off death row, living on a farm somewhere and having the time of his life,” McCormick happily shared.

Not only did Goldman McCormick help save Simon, but its staff members continue to use public relations to help a variety of animal welfare organizations from coast to coast.

“Nothing feels better than bringing something to the media’s attention, and they go for it and are excited about it. We know we’re making a difference that way,” McCormick said.

Tellem Grody, a Los Angeles-based public relations agency, also specializes in animal welfare public relations.

Susan Tellem, a partner at Tellem Grody, explained why the agency chose to focus on animal welfare.

Photo by Anusha Barwa on Unsplash

“When you look at the amount of funding that comes into nonprofit organizations, animal organizations are pretty much at the bottom of the list,” said Tellem. They’re so important — people love their animals but often don’t think of donating to animal causes.”

She pointed out that when looking at the Los Angeles Business Journal’s list of donations, all donations except one were made to hospitals and universities. Tellem said a potential reason is that people immediately understand the needs of human-based nonprofits, but often struggle to see why animal welfare organizations also need monetary assistance.

“[Human-based] organizations get millions of dollars in donations that they can use for advertising, whereas animal rescues tend to be small and don’t have the same budget. Public relations is much less expensive for them compared to doing extensive advertising campaigns,” Tellem explained.

One of Tellem Grody’s public relations efforts included partnering with “Cats” the musical to help its stray counterpart — cats.

FixNation, a spay/neuter facility, was hosting a special event to raise money. Our entertainment department was working with ‘Cats’ the musical at the same time,” said Tellem. “We persuaded the ‘Cats’ executives to host an event before the show and provide special tickets to sell where a percentage of the proceeds went back to FixNation.”

The marriage of “Cats” and FixNation was a well-thought-out strategic partnership that illustrates how public relations can directly benefit animals.

In addition to Tellem Grody’s agency-wide initiatives, Tellem cofounded the American Tortoise Rescue 30 years ago. So far, the rescue has re-homed over 4,000 turtles and tortoises. Tellem has utilized her public relations skills to garner awareness for the rescue.

Courtesy of

One of her most successful tactics was establishing World Turtle Day® in 2000. By creating a holiday, Tellem successfully earned widespread, free publicity for her organization.

“We started World Turtle Day 20 years ago, and it is now trademarked. It is celebrated all over the globe and has trended number one on Facebook and Twitter. It turned into a major event — it was a really good way of using public relations,” she shared.

The benefits of public relations are not limited to humans; animals can also reap the rewards. Whether you are creating strategic partnerships, forming rallies to get a dog off of death row or trademarking a holiday, public relations efforts can make a difference in animals’ lives.

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