This guest post is by Michele C. Hollow of Pet News and Views.
My most popular blog post garnered over 500 comments. I asked my readers to leave a comment about their adopted pet. For each comment, a leading pet food manufacturer donated 25 bowls of food to a local animal shelter.For those of you who volunteer at animal shelters, you know how hungry shelters can be for food and other supplies. Getting my readers to take action is the goal behind my blog, Pet News and Views. I want my readers to care about animals as much as I do—and they do!
So in addition to blogging about pet care, pet travel and other lifestyle pet and wildlife-related issues, I focus on the positive side of animal welfare. Writing about people who work with and on behalf of animals is my passion. I look up to these heroes, and so do my readers.
The couple in California who rescues dogs from hoarders, the 15-year old girl who runs her own animal shelter, the organization that has helped close a large number of greyhound race tracks, and many others are the subjects of my posts.
I ask my readers to contact state legislators to ask them to support or vote against specific bills. A bill before the Nevada senate denying water to wild horses and wild burros drew thousands to action. In addition to covering it on my blog, others posted similar calls to action on their blogs and on their Facebook pages. We asked our readers to send letters to the Nevada tourism office and to the senators stating we would boycott the state if the bill to deny water to horses was passed.
As soon as we learned that the bill was defeated, we asked our readers to send thank you notes. The power of blogging constantly amazes me.
Readers want to help
A call to action gives readers a chance to flex their voices and make a difference. I get a lot of “thank you” emails from readers who are happy to pitch in.
Accentuate the positive
I focus on the positive side of animal welfare. If I constantly posted all the negative stories, I wouldn’t be able to function—and readers would stay away. So, by reporting on my heroes and the good they are doing, readers are drawn in.
Find great people and their stories
I have contacted most public relations and media departments of animal nonprofits for story ideas and people to profile. I get information—usually a press release—and contact names and numbers so I can conduct an interview. I’m sure many of you can do the same. So many nonprofits have important stories that are often overlooked by mainstream media. Just ask, and I’m sure you will get a welcome reception. Heck, they will put you on their press lists and invite you to their events.
Going for the stars
While my favorite stories are about everyday people who make a difference, I recently started covering celebrities. I don’t watch much TV. I don’t read People, Us Weekly, or gossip blogs. I never cared about the lives of celebrities, but I’m starting to post about those who are using their celebrity to help animals. These stories have a higher Google ranking than my non-celebrity stories.
If I were to write about their personal lives, I wouldn’t get a response. However, when I ask a media rep if I can interview their client about a specific cause that client is involved with, I almost always get a “yes.”
Do a Google search, and enter the name of the celebrity followed by the word “causes.” Check out the cause, and if it is a match for your blog, contact the nonprofit. For instance, Reese Witherspoon volunteers on behalf of the Children’s Defense Fund and other child-related nonprofits. Obviously, she is not a fit for my blog. But if you are a mommy blogger, she is a good candidate.
I have written a lot about Farm Sanctuary; it is one of my favorite nonprofits and they get a lot of celebrity endorsements. Thanks to my connections at Farm Sanctuary, I was able to post stories about Emily Deschanel of the hit series Bones and Wendie Malick of Hot in Cleveland. I also got to post a story on Jackie Chan, who volunteers on behalf of several wildlife causes. His celebrity got to me—I was starstruck!
By focusing on the good that the celebrity is doing, I get to promote a cause that is also important to me. Plus, I get to interview someone who will bring my blog numbers up. Even the B-list celebrities count! Some musicians have their own following, and when I post a story about an up and coming group, they let their followers know—which brings more traffic to my blog.
And as an added bonus, the staff at the nonprofits I cover are regular readers of my blog. My biggest thrill was reporting on the Born Free Foundation, and the director left a comment.
A friend told me not to worry about my numbers, but to be concerned about who is reading and commenting. Pet News and Views is a niche blog. It covers people who have pets and who care about wildlife and farm animals. I’m reaching my peeps—people I truly am in sync with.
My advertisers know that, too. I recently told an advertiser from the U.K. that while I have readers in the U.K. (and I want more), the majority of my readers are in the states. His company sells pet products in the U.K., and I thought he would be better off finding a blog with a larger U.K. readership. He said he wanted to advertise on my blog because the readers really care about the topics and seem to take an active role.
So that takes me back to blogging for a cause and knowing my audience. They are concerned about the same issues I am. And for that, I feel fortunate.
Michele C. Hollow writes the blog Pet News and Views (http://www.petnewsandviews.com), a site for pet lovers and admirers of wildlife. Her blog focuses on pet care and the people who work with and on behalf of animals.