Your Championship Dog Show is a perfect opportunity to show the local community what dog shows are all about. For the uninitiated, the purpose of dog shows, the motivations of the people who take part and the benefits of dog showing may all be a mystery. But you can nurture relationships with your local media that will raise interest in your Championship Show and shed light on the world of showing as a whole!
The KC's Role
The Kennel Club Press Office sends out a press release to local press prior to each general and group Championship Show which goes to that show's local press. This may lead to interest from journalists wanting to cover your event. The following Six Point Plan shows how to handle this interest effectively and how, with some simple steps at your end, we can jointly help to ensure that we get maximum positive publicity for the show and for dog showing.
Any questions please contact the Kennel Club Press Office or call 020 7518 1008.
Six point plan
1. Making your event appealing to visitors
Many people will never have been to a dog show and may not think it is relevant to them but it is important that we reach out to new audiences and show them the many benefits of dog showing and canine activities as a whole. There are steps you can take in the very early stages of planning your show that will help to make it more appealing to visitors, and to the press who write stories that will interest these visitors, giving your show good publicity:
- Diversify - Get together with local groups and clubs to arrange multi activity events at the show, such as agility and obedience.
- Participation - People love to get involved sohold a Companion Dog Show. You may even be able to consider hosting Have a Go rings for agility or the Good Citizen Dog Training Scheme.
- Invitations - Invite local celebrities or VIPs such as the mayor or MPs along to the event.
- Advice -Ask a local dog club or society to give information to dog lovers about the different breeds of dog, training and how they can get involved in dog showing.
2 . Assign a dedicated Media Liaison Officer
This person will be responsible for coordinating all press activity related to the show. The person will ideally have some PR, Journalism or Marketing experience, or have had previous dealings with the press. In any event, the person should be a good communicator, friendly, approachable and committed to nurturing relationships with journalists to help you get the best possible publicity for your event.
Ask them to contact the Kennel Club so that they can be sent a full media information kit, including interview tips and a guide to dealing with the media. Their jobs will entail:
- Handling calls from journalists interested in covering the event. They will ask them their angle, who they wish to speak to, what their deadline is and arrange a response for them as appropriate.
- Their most important task will be to organise any potential interviewees, who will get across the right messages. For example, they will ensure that there is somebody available and briefed to talk on behalf the show (it may even be themselves) and that there are good local 'case studies' available - exhibitors and/or judges.
- Send press release about the show (see below).
- Handle any enquiries from journalists asking to attend the event (see below).
3. Prepare spokespeople for interviews
- Spokespeople - Line-up who it is that will speak on behalf of the show - the show organiser, media liaison officer etc and ensure that they are briefed on the key messages.
- Key messages- Prepare what it is that the show's spokesperson is to say. There are lots of messages that you will want people to take away about your show - the WHAT, WHEN and WHERE all being quite obvious, but don't forget that your spokesperson should also get across the WHY.
- People should be told why dog shows are important and why people and dogs love to take part. Also be mindful of why visitors should attend.
These might include:
- Dog owner bond - Dog shows are a great way for dog and owner to spend quality time together doing something that they both love.
- Socialisation and temperament- Dog shows are a great way to socialise your dog and to ensure that it is obedient and well behaved around other dogs and people.
- Health - Judges are trained to ensure that only healthy dogs are rewarded in the show ring, so it is an incentive for the breeding of healthy dogs. Show monitors are also in place at championship shows to ensure that any dogs they suspect of poor health are reported to the show vet, who can remove them from the competition.
- It is inevitable that some journalists may want to talk about issues surrounding dog showing generally and we should welcome the chance to turn this into an opportunity to talk about all the many positives. Make sure that your Media Liaison Officer asks the Kennel Club for our Interview Guide so that your spokesperson is prepared for handling awkward questions.
- Case studies
You are in a great position to be able to focus on the WHO side of your dog show, bringing the lives and loves of the people who are competing and the great bond that they share with their dogs to light.
As in any walk of life there will be all sorts of people competing at your show who have really interesting stories to tell about their lives and their journey into showing. And not just the owners! There will be dogs that have perhaps come from rescue and are now part of loving homes or dogs that help others as Pets as Therapy Dogs outside of the show ring. If so, we need to tell people about these stories, they are a great 'hook' for creating stories about your show!
For your pre-event release these will primarily be local people, who will be the most interesting to your local press. However, those with really lovely stories from elsewhere in the country may well be of interest too, particularly if they get a placement in the Breed Class or upwards. Remember to find out how your selected interesting case studies have done.
Examples of the kind of stories about the people and dogs attending your Championship Show that would be of interest are:
- An important/interesting person/one who overcame great odds in their life in your local community who is taking part
- Somebody who found true love/friendship through showing
- A family of two or three generations who all like to show
- Contrasts - demonstrate how dog showing can be enjoyed by all ages by finding a younger and older local person who are exhibiting
- Somebody who found that showing helped to rebuild their confidence or give them new purpose in life
- Rescue dog is now loved by a new family and looking forward to its Championship Show.
- Fit For Function dogs that shine in the show ring and that also work, do agility etc.
- Dog looking forward to shining in Championship Show also shines outside of the show ring (perhaps as a PAT dog and or has helped others in some way)
- Staffordshire Bull Terriers - Staffordshire Bull Staffordshire Bull Terriers have received a bad press because they are all too often bought by the wrong people who buy them as status dogs and train them for the purposes of fighting and aggression. We can show that it is in fact the owner and not the breed of dog that determines whether a dog is well behaved and that Staffordshires, in the right hands, are loving, gentle and well behaved. There will be no better behaved and well socialised dog than one in the show ring.
Do you have communications with these people? Perhaps you can include a note for them to contact you if they fall into one of these categories in any communications you have with exhibitors. Find out if these people would be willing to chat to journalists about their own or their dog's story and then you can begin to publicise them (see below).
Make sure that your chosen case studies have all of your key messages and interview information, so that they help to promote the show in a great way.
4. Before the event
Writing and sending a press release
- You will probably wish to see details about your event in the local press before it takes place. Although the Kennel Club sends a press release out pre-event you can compliment this activity by sending out a press release of your own.
- Writing your release- The Kennel Club will send a release about the show to your local area about two weeks before it takes place. You can compliment this by sending out a more detailed press release listing the kind of people that will be available for interview before the event (you may even like to ask journalists along but please note the guidance for this at the end of this Six Point Plan). This will include your show spokesperson and local case studies. The Kennel Club has produced a template release on its website that you can use as a model for what you write. Click here for a press release template.
- Contacting the press- Once your release is written find details of the newspaper and radio news and forward planning editors, for media which serves the area where your show will take place. If you need contacts you can ask the Kennel Club Press Office.
- Phone calls - Follow the sending of your press release out with a phone call to the local newsdesks and relevant media. Phone them before 10am ideally (as this is when they go into planning meetings to discuss the day's news) and keep your call short and to the point. If they are interested give them your media liaison officer's mobile phone number so that they can get in contact at all times.
- Make sure you have spokespeople available-You will probably have listed the people who are available to talk about the show in your press release. Make sure you have their landline and mobile numbers, their availability and that you are sure they are happy to be interviewed so the press can contact them quickly and easily. If they are under 16 ask parental permission!
- Ask the Kennel Club for help- Remember that the Kennel Club is always willing to help give telephone interviews to radio and print journalists, and also conduct studio television interviews from London, depending on spokesperson availability dependent. Make sure to seek out all of the information from the journalists where appropriate to brief the Kennel Club prior to the interview.
5. At the event
Dealing with press at the event
Newspapers/radio/TV may wish to come along to interview people, take photographs or film at the event. We advise that you contact the Kennel Club if a journalist requests to come to the show and if you are in any doubt about how to handle this, so that we can jointly help ensure the best possible outcome.
If it is decided that this will result in positive publicity for the show then follow the following steps:
- Registering press at the event- Arrange for somebody to ensure that only registered and pre-agreed members of the press are coming into the show and that your media liaison officer is around to meet them and accompany them at all times while at the show ground.
- Interviewees - Make sure the interviewees who the press have expressed an interest in talking to are around on the day that the press come along to the event. Have their mobile numbers so you can contact them at the show.
- Dealing with TV - If TV is coming along to the event it would be reasonable and sensible to draw up a contract outlining where they can film and for how long. Contact the Kennel Club Press Office for guidance before allowing a film crew around.
6 . Post show
- Write a press release post event, with a synopsis of how the event went, for your local press.
- Write releases about any 'interesting winners' to send to the local press. Remember that the Best of Breed winner's and Best of Group placements are equally as interesting to non specialist press as Best in Show, particularly if the winners have an interesting story to tell. See here for an example of the kind of post event release that the Kennel Club will write. Dogs that have interesting lives outside of the show ring and people who are also Kennel Club Assured Breeders are always good case studies to focus on. These should be sent to the local area of whoever has won the prize.
- Arrange for a photographer with a good camera to take photographs and send one good quality photograph of the event along with your press release. Aim to get good shots of the Best in Show winner and their dog in a loving pose, post celebration win. Also get some good relaxed shots from around the show ground and send the best with your press release.