Hi I'm Rachel and I'm a crazy dog lady.
I love talking about pets and writing about pets as a freelance journalist and pet blogger.
With the pet industry booming and new and pawsome pet brands being created every day, I now offer tips for pet business owners on ways to promote their work.
That might be appearing in mainstream media, so newspapers, magazines, TV and Radio shows and websites.
It could be working with new media creators, so bloggers, podcasters or social media influencers.
Or creating a blog of your own.
As a journalist of 20 years I know what makes a story and what journalists want.
And as an award winning pet blogger at https://www.thepawpost.co.uk/, I know what pet owners love to see, read, watch and listen to.
On my podcast I'll be sharing how to best promote your business so you can get known, win clients and make money.
Tune in each week for tips and advice, interviews from petpreneurs who have been in the spotlight, plus experts in the industry.
And if there's a subject you'd like to cover, I'd love to hear from you.
Stay in touch on social media @rachelspenceruk on all platforms and thanks for listening!
Review - Janet Murray's Build Your Online Audience programme
Are you thinking of joining Janet Murray’s Build Your Online Audience membership programme?
Would you like to learn how to get more eyes on your business on social media platforms and online?
Perhaps you’re thinking of launching a blog or podcast or YouTube channel and you want to create a buzz before you get started?
If the answer is yes, then the Build Your Online Audience programme is a way of increasing your visibility and following.
PLEASE NOTE: I am an affiliate for the programme and if you read this post and decide to join via my link, I will be paid a commission.
This doesn’t affect the price you pay and this is an honest review of my personal experience of the Build Your Online Audience programme.
First, a little background....
Two years ago, I was flailing around as a freelance journalist, being told there was 'no budget' for my ideas and being offered tiny fees for stories that took weeks to put together.
I didn't know if I could carry on freelancing and needed another way of making a living, and I tuned into Janet Murray's podcast.
Jan was a former Guardian journalist who had started an online PR coaching business and at the time, I thought she might be a bit posh and snooty as she worked for a broadsheet - I was writing mostly for tabloids.
Several episodes in, in episode 300, she talked about being in the same position as a journalist herself, being told there was ‘no budget’ and being paid paltry fees for stories she’d spent weeks working on.
I pulled over to the side of the road and sent her a message on Twitter.
Then I signed up for her membership, and, after a month as a private coaching client.
I invested a lot, over £3000, but I knew something had to change and I needed someone who had walked the path before me to help me.
Janet has helped me to build my online business, giving me the steps to follow but most of all the confidence to put myself out there.
That's the background to how I came to Build Your Online Audience, and in this episode, I run through what's involved in the programme.
The aim is that if you're thinking of joining, listening will help you decide whether it's right for you.
If you have any questions, please feel free to drop me a line on my website here on my https://www.publicityforpetbusinesses.co.uk/contact/ (contact form)
Key timings in this episode:
0.20 - Background and why I'm talking about the programme
6.02 - What is the Build Your Online Audience Programme and how the membership works.
9.31 - What do you learn on the Build Your Online Audience Programme?
11.30 - Examples of sessions in the programme.
14.22 - Why do you need to build an audience?
15.32 - What else is included in Build Your Online Audience Programme?
18.00 - What does the Build Your Online Audience Programme cost?
19.17 - How much time do you need to allocate to the Build Your Online Audience Programme?
22.58 - Get it done sessions
23.01 - Why I signed up in the first place and why you should follow someone who has walked the path you want to go with your business before you.
Links mentioned in this episode:
Find out more about Janet Murray's Build Your Online Audience: https://my.captivate.fm/Build%20your%20online%20audience* (Build your online audience*)
Check out the Janet Murray Media Diary: https://www.janetmurray.co.uk/shop/2021-social-media-diary-planner-pre-order/ref/39/?campaign=MediaDiary (Media Diary 2021)*
Learn about Janet Murray's event: https://www.janetmurray.co.uk/2021sorted/ref/39/ (2021 Sorted)*
Listen to the Janet Murray Podcast: https://www.janetmurray.co.uk/category/podcast/ (The Janet Murray Show)
How Karen Maher went from Fashion PR to Dog Trainer
Have you found your way into the pet industry as a second, third or fourth career?
Did you once dream of escaping your old job to follow your passion?
Karen Maher, a dog trainer and behaviourist and founder of Maher and Hound, felt the same.
After 20 years working in London in fashion PR, Karen ditched the City for country life and now works as a successful dog trainer, specialising in rescue dogs.
She featured in the Telegraph earlier this year sharing the story behind her career change.
In this episode she shares insights to her fashion PR background, including meeting actress Jane Horrocks who played Bubble in Ab Fab - the iconic show about publicist Edina Monsoon, played by Jennifer Saunders.
Plus how her own rescue dogs inspired her business Maher and Hounds.
And how with social media and the need for so much online content, there has never been a better time to raise awareness of your pet business.
Key timings in this episode:
1.25: About Karen Maher
1.47: Karen shares her rescue dog stories
2.22: Karen’s fashion PR background
3.48: How Karen's first dog ended up in the press
4.33: Leaving London for the countryside and adopting rescue dogs
5.18: How her Aunt's terminal diagnosis made her realise life is too short
7.00: Taking her pet business full time
7.10: Background of Tiggy her reactive rescue terrier who had been used for ratting and hunting
9.00: Getting Fred her dog who inspired the business
10.30: Karen’s Telegraph interview talking about Tiggy the Jack Russell
11.37: Working in fashion and Ab Fab’s Bubble’s appearance in her office
12.30: Working with Alexandra McQueen and the fashion business now
13.25: Setting up Maher and Hound
15.55: What life is like now compared to living in London
18.33: Working with street dogs and rescue dogs - giving them their life back
21.00: How Karen builds up clients confidence and help them with their dog through being
kind and compassionate
23.18: How using PR skills and social media helped Karen’s business
27.00: If you don't have anything nice don’t say anything at all
28.00: Sharing her own dogs as case studies and how her Hunting hound learnt to recall
31.00: How social media helps boost her pet business
34.00: Being featured in the Telegraph and how it helped build her profile
36.39: Understanding pet parents and being kind to clients
38.29: Karen’s PR wish list for her business, including local press
41.20: How there’s so many media opportunities out there for pet business owners
Links mentioned in this episode:
Karen in the Telegraph: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/life/quit-career-follow-heart-never-looked-back/ (I quit my career to follow my heart and I’ve never looked back )
Karen's website: https://www.maherandhounddogtraining.com/ (Maher and Hound)
Follow Karen on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/maherandhounddogtraining/ (Maher and Hound)
If you found this episode helpful, you might like https://www.publicityforpetbusinesses.co.uk/how-to-write-a-press-release-for-your-pet-business/ (How to write a press release for your pet business) or https://www.publicityforpetbusinesses.co.uk/media-stories-pet-business/ (How to find stories in your pet business.)
How to find stories in your pet business that journalists will love
If you’re thinking of raising awareness of your pet business in the media then the first thing you need is a story.
Remember journalists aren't sitting waiting to write about people's businesses. They're looking for stories, for news.
They need to keep their readers, listeners, viewers or followers informed, educated and entertained.
If your story idea doesn’t do any of those things, then it’s likely to end up in the trash folder.
This weekend I did a talk at Virtual Pet Index, a trade show set up by the Pet Industry Federation about how to find stories in your pet business.
This podcast is based on the presentation and if you'd like the worksheet that goes with this episode, https://www.publicityforpetbusinesses.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Challenge-PitchWorksheet.pdf (click here )to download it.
These are the key timings for this episode:
2.01 - What to do if you want to get press coverage and understand PR but aren't ready to hire a PR company or consultant
2.35 - What makes a story
3.50 - Why most press releases end up in the bin - research by Ginger Comms found 63 pitches a day were sent but only 23% were of interest - https://www.gingercomms.com/2020/07/09/heres-the-biggest-pitching-mistake-that-prs-can-make/ (link to poll )
5.00 - Why your pitch might be ignored - four reasons
8.20 - Why your press release might be ignored - four reasons
12.00 - How can we give journalists what they want - real life, business, news stories
17.00 - Prompts for story ideas and examples
18.45 - Case study Kim O'Donnell
24.10 - Key takeaways - it's not about you, it's the reader. Is it going to create an emotional response? Are you making the journalist's life easier?
26.25 - How to keep in touch @rachelspenceruk on all social media platforms.
26.50 - How to join in the https://www.publicityforpetbusinesses.co.uk/coaching-programme/ (membership programme.)
Links mentioned in this episode:
Ginger Comms research: https://www.gingercomms.com/2020/07/09/heres-the-biggest-pitching-mistake-that-prs-can-make/ (Mistakes PRs make)
Story ideas worksheet: https://www.publicityforpetbusinesses.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Challenge-PitchWorksheet.pdf (Story ideas for your pet business)
Suzanne Gould in the https://www.telegraph.co.uk/food-and-drink/in-depth/crisis-can-bring-best-us-meet-small-businesses-creating-hope/ (Telegraph talking about her Facebook Group for Edinburgh Dogs in Lockdown).
Janey Lowes - https://www.thepawpost.co.uk/meets/janey-lowes-why-im-saving-sri-lankas-street-dogs/ (Meet the vet saving Sri Lanka's dogs)
Sally Cousins from Woofers Walkies in her local paper talking about https://www.suffolknews.co.uk/haverhill/news/a-milestone-year-for-dog-walking-business-9120616/ (five years in business).
Carla Finzel - https://www.thesun.co.uk/money/12837734/paws-and-claws-zoned-out-pooch/ (Meet the vet nurse helping pets in their homes)
Conor's story - https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/brits-take-labrador-cruelly-used-13816545 (Meet the Zante Stray who is now living in a nursing home)
Karen Rhodes - https://www.eadt.co.uk/business/coddenham-dog-owner-launches-luxury-dog-hamper-business-1-6392876 (Suffolk pet business owner launches canine luxury dog hampers)
Kim O'Donnell stories:
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7821419/Ex-School-nurse-sees-dog-accessories-modelled-Boris-Johnsons-dog-Dilyn.html (Her collar and bandana being worn by the Prime Minister’s dog Dilyn.)
https://www.pressreader.com/uk/the-daily-telegraph-saturday/20200111/281625307243064 (Her Labrador Leo going to a doggy boot camp.)
https://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/1222039/Labrador-Britain-favourite-dog-breed (Leo being a ‘lifesaver’ and helping her cope with her health condition.)
Think you have a story and need some support? Book in for a Power Hour here: https://www.publicityforpetbusinesses.co.uk/power-hour/ (Power Hour )
How to take the pain out of content planning with Janet Murray
How do you feel about content planning?
Do you love it?
Or find it overwhelming, like feeding a beast that is permanently hungry?
If you’re in the latter group then you will love this episode with Janet Murray, a content marketing expert.
Janet - aka the Content Queen - has spoken all over the world about content creation AND is a former Guardian journalist and editor.
Her social media posts, blogs and podcasts have reached millions of people and she knows what content will engage people - and what will flop.
In this episode she shares how pet business owners can create content with ease.
Janet spent nearly two decades working as a journalist for national newspapers, focusing on politics and education.
She was Education editor at the Guardian before moving into PR, then content marketing and launched The Janet Murray Show in 2015.
Janet’s podcast started out focusing on how small business owners could win press coverage.
Soon she realised people needed a wider understanding of marketing rather than just press and PR.
Now her focus is on building online audiences and her flagship programme is called Build Your Online Audience.
It covers branding, social media, content and e mail marketing equipping business owners from all kinds of background with the skills they need to stand out online.
Find out more about the https://www.janetmurray.co.uk/build-your-online-audience-new/ref/39/?campaign=BuildYourOnlineAudience (Build Your Online Audience programme here.)*
How to create engaging social media posts
It can be hard to know what to post on social media and disheartening when you share content and get little or no response.
Janet says she has experimented with lots of different styles of posts and she has whittled the most successful ones down to four different types.
They are ‘I need to know this,’ ‘I know about this,’ ‘This is what I think,’ and ‘I know how that feels.’
Each post can be adapted to show empathy and understanding with your pet business clients and Janet shares examples in the episode.
Why having a pet business is ‘social media gold’
Janet works with business owners from all kinds of backgrounds and says pet business owners are at an advantage because they work with animals.
This means there is an endless supply of adorable photos and cute anecdotes, it’s simply a case of trying and testing different styles of posts to see what works.
Janet says: “There’s just so much opportunity to create really engaging content that people connect with because people really love their pets.
“So I always get really excited if I get a client that does anything pet related, it’s just brilliant.”
Key timings and points covered in this episode:
1.02: Janet’s background
3.03: The power of content that makes people stop in their tracks
4.23: What is content? Defining the different mediums of content in 2020
6.13: The challenges of creating content as a business owner
6.45: The importance of timing
7.08: Why people need to ‘care’ about your content
10.42: Where people go wrong on social media
13.15: Calling in favours to get your content seen from family, friends and colleagues
16.32: Understanding the topics your followers or clients are interested in
18.20: Remember people will be watching your content so keep showing up!
20.30: How cornering a niche can help your content be more successful (and your business)
23.08: How to use your Facebook page as a signpost to your Facebook group
24.45: Janet’s four types of posts
25.02: I need to know this content
26.47: I know about that content
28.20: I know how that feels content
32.55: This is what I think content
36.00: Case study - cat hotel post ideas
37.56: Case study - pet product maker ideas
39.45: Case study - pet business service providers
41.59: Lead magnet ideas for pet business owners
42.15: Considering the problems your clients
The impact of Coronavirus on the Pet Industry with Nigel and Alexandra from PIF
In March 2020 the world was turned upside when the devastation of Coronavirus hit the UK.
As well as the confusion as to what the virus was and what it was capable of, we feared for our health and that of our families and loved ones.
Then on March 23rd full lockdown hit. We were told to ‘Stay at home, protect the NHS, save lives.’
For many working in the pet industry, their businesses skidding to a halt overnight as they were no longer able to go out and walk dogs or care for animals.
At the Pet Industry Federation, Nigel Baker, Chief Executive Officer and Alexandra Baker, Chief Operating officer had to make sense of the new restrictions.
In the days and weeks that followed, they lobbied ministers on a number of issues such as whether pet shops and groomers could operate, whether dog walkers were providing a key service and campaigned for financial support across the industry, particularly for catteries and kennels who were left devastated when the travel industry shut down.
In this episode they share their views on the impact of COVID 19 on the Pet Industry and what the future holds.
We talk about their second Pet Index event, a free trade show taking place on October 11th and 12th 2020 and how pet business owners can get involved.
Plus how they can upskill at the event and come back from the Coronavirus crisis stronger.
Register for https://vpi.vfairs.com/ (Virtual Pet Index here).
Key timings in this episode:
2.00: Introduction to Nigel and Alexandra and the background of the Pet Industry Federation.
3.30: What the PIF has been doing to support members since lockdown was announced in March.
4.30: Working with the Government, DEFRA and the Canine and Feline Sector Group and processing the ‘see-saw of information’ for their members.
7.30: How pet shops selling small animals were hit and the steps that needed to be put in place to ensure thousands of baby animals survived.
8.54: Campaigning for groomers to be allowed to continue to operate.
12.34: Using social media to communicate in the crisis to keep members informed.
14.45: Alexandra shares her plans to be more involved with government legislation in the future around pets post COVID.
19.51: Nigel and Alexandra talk about licensing for dog walkers and the rise of the volunteer dog walker in lockdown.
25.11: The benefits of using a professional dog walker.
26.44: Launching the UK’s first Virtual Pet Industry Trade show, Virtual Pet Index in June 2020.
27.03: Welcoming 1700 visitors from all over the world, and how some trade stands reported having MORE sales than at a physical event.
31.33: The global reach of VPI and how it attracted visitors from Canada, America, South America, right across Europe, down to South Africa, China, and Asia.
34.14: Tips on how to make the most of having a stand at VPI to attract global clients.
36.05: The positive side of Coronavirus, being creative, putting on a virtual show and reaching an audience they never would have imagined would come to a UK trade show.
39.02: What’s happening at VPI in October 2020.
40.09: What’s lined up, from taking awesome smartphone photos to packaging to the transport of animals, pet bereavement and American industry experts reflecting on what the next big thing is to hit the UK.
45.00: How to register for the event and take part.
46.50: How the pet industry has adapted and made business owners look inwards, reflect and adapt to serve what’s happening in the world today.
48.43: Can COVID be a positive for the pet industry?
49.15: The puppy boom and concerns about where puppies are coming from.
52.29: How life slowing down has inspired people to have pets and how lockdown has lifted barriers to pet ownership.
54.12: How pet business owners can move and evolve and emerge stronger from the crisis by diversifying.
54.56: Why it’s vital that petpreneurs find a route to communicate with new pet o
What to do if your pitch or press release is ignored
Are you thinking of pitching to the media but you're worried about being ignored.
Or worst, your story being rejected?
Being knocked back is hard and it can often stand in the way of people pitching to journalists.
In this episode I share the five reasons why your pitch or press release might be ignored.
Plus what you can do to improve your story, and bring back to life an idea you didn't think would land.
Key timings in this episode:
1.08 - How the fear of rejection can stand in our way of pitching - myself included
2.30 - Why you shouldn't feel demoralised if your pitch or press release isn't picked up and how you can turn things round.
4.16 - Reasons why your pitch may not be picked up.
4.20 - Because it's not suitable for the publication
6.17 - Because the topic isn't of interest to their readers
7.16 - Because it's not a strong enough story either for that title or if working with a freelance, for them to sell in
8.00 - Using the 'why would anyone care' test.
10.45 - Because the reporter isn't working there at the moment
11.50 - Because they've already covered a similar story recently
12.30 - Case study Kerry Lawson in the Express
14.10 - The next steps if a pitch is ignored
14.30 - Follow up with the journalist by sending one or two e mails
15.20 - Why journalists don't like being phoned
16.25 - Look for another hook or angle
18.55 - Trying a different publication
20.01 - Just because it's not right, right now, doesn't mean it's a no forever
21.03 - Why you should try not to let it get you down or take it personally
23:00 - Using your idea as content for your own website, social media or newsletter.
24.00 - Recap on the points covered
Links mentioned in this episode:
Claire's Coronavirus advice for pet owners: https://3sts.co.uk/blog/how-to-cope-with-coronovirus-and-self-isolation-if-youre-a-dog-owner/ (Coronavirus and self isolation)
Sherry and her marathon on two legs: https://dogs4rescue.co.uk/donate/sherrys-marathon/ (Two legged dog runs Marathon)
Dog friendly offices post lockdown: https://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/1320546/Dogs-at-work-dogs-in-offices-UK-offices (Tips on making an office dog friendly from Kerry Lawson)
Join the Facebook community: https://www.facebook.com/groups/publicitytipsforpetbusinesses/ (Publicity Tips for Pet Businesses Facebook Group)
Download my free press release template: https://www.publicityforpetbusinesses.co.uk/how-to-write-a-press-release-for-your-pet-business/ (How to write a press release for your pet business)