If there’s one thing we’re certain of, it’s that social media loves dogs. American Humane is aware of this too, and in 2021, they knew that everyone’s spirits needed an extra lift. While the animal-supporting non-profit has been featuring the top dogs in the country for over a decade, in the immediate aftermath of the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic, American Humane decided to honor the bravest boys and girls across the nation with the 2021 edition of the Hero Dog Awards. For its ingenuity and success, the campaign earned a 2022 Ragan Social Media Award in Media Relations.
The strategy and rollout
The awards honor dogs in several different categories, including therapy, military, service dogs, and more. The campaign began with a period of nominations that saw 411 dogs from across America get to the voting phase of the competition. But with so many good dogs, how can you tell all their stories? In the case of American Humane, that strategy involved getting some major influencers on board to talk about the backgrounds of these heroic canines.
With a contest that spans the country, you need strategies and influencers that will reach households from sea to shining sea. With this in mind, American Humane enlisted celebrities including Carson Kressley, Vivica A. Fox, and Lisa Loeb to share the details of the campaign on their own personal social media platforms. In addition, the campaign used email, social media, and blogs to encourage voting for the best dogs in the field (even though they’re all great).
In addition to outreach conducted online, the Hero Dog Awards also used the airwaves of traditional national and local media to spread the news of the heroic canines. Press releases that were customized for the hometowns and local media markets of specific dogs in the contest were sent out to help garner interest ahead of the voting.
The awards were capped with an in-person show and gala that celebrated the winners while raising awareness for the mission of American Humane to advance animal welfare efforts.
With a strategy that spanned all forms of media, both digital and traditional, American Humane was able to spread the word of heroic canines across the nation successfully. In addition, the campaign’s collaboration with high-profile influencers helped propagate the campaign, resulting in higher participation than ever before. Most importantly, this widespread awareness helped shine a light on the great work American Humane does for animal welfare.
If you’re interested in attending the 2023 Ragan/PR Daily Social Media & Digital Awards Luncheon in New York City this June, click here.
Sean Devlin is an editor at Ragan Communications. In his spare time he enjoys Philly sports, a good pint and ’90s trivia night.