Best media relations campaign
Cost of living campaign
When Dogs Trust experienced an unprecedented rise in the number of dogs being brought to its rehoming centres, the charity saw an opportunity to promote its fostering services that could provide temporary homes while owners coped with rising living costs.
Its campaign was targeted at dog owners across the UK, as well as potential dog fosterers. With a minimal budget, Dogs Trust determined that success would be determined by the number of mentions appearing in the media in relation to the cost-of-living crisis.
In June 2022, Dogs Trust commissioned YouGov to survey dog owners to establish how they felt about their personal circumstances. This revealed that 68 per cent were worried about how they would care for their dogs next year with finances under strain, while just over half those surveyed said they would not consider rehoming a dog even if their household bills rose.
The findings were covered exclusively in The Sun and shared on Dogs Trust’s social media channels. The exercise was repeated in July and August, which revealed that dog owners were still concerned that they would not be able to cope with the cost of feeding or caring for their pets, while the dog welfare charity continued to receive record numbers of queries about handovers.
At the beginning of August, Dogs Trust issued a press release highlighting the issue. It also made a plea for experienced dog owners to come forward as fosterers to free up space in its kennels and allow it to tackle the waiting lists for rehoming.
The press release was accompanied by a series of initiatives, such as providing access to recordings of some calls that the charity had received as well as offering a variety of spokespeople, ranging from chief executive Owen Sharp to front-line staff at rehoming centres. It also provided fostering case studies and identified strong local hooks for regional media.
Dogs Trust’s campaign generated around 430 pieces of print media coverage across the month of August, and 80 broadcast items, including interviews on BBC Breakfast, BBC News Channel, ITV’s Lunchtime and Evening News, Good Morning Britain, Radio One and Talk Radio. Sky News Radio covered the story, which meant it was carried across multiple regional radio outlets. Many bulletins ran several times.
The story was even picked up overseas, including an appearance in the Washington Times.
There were also more than 130 pieces of online coverage, and the story was syndicated across regional press online and, thanks to an interview given to Reuters, shared across Yahoo and MSN.
The campaign met its stated objectives: Dogs Trust saw an increase in the number of people wanting to rehome their dogs, but also had a 387 per cent increase in applications from people wishing to become foster carers. Traffic to its foster appeal webpages tripled while its main website saw an 31 per cent increase in organic search traffic.
The judges ‘loved’ the campaign, which ‘achieved amazing results for less than £10,000, and the objectives were clear: get more people applying to foster dogs, which they did’.