Animal Planet plans 'Whale' of a PR strategy

NEW YORK: Animal Planet is increasing its media relations, particularly broadcast for the second season of its Whale Wars program.

NEW YORK: Animal Planet is increasing its media relations, particularly broadcast for the second season of its Whale Wars program. It's also developing story ideas around cast members, who are part of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. The show follows the ship "The Steve Irwin" as it intervenes with Japanese whalers to saves whales.

"One of the things that we're trying to shed a spotlight on this time is the lengths people go to stand up for what they believe in," said Brian Eley, director of communications for Animal Planet. As for the people on the ship, "we're trying to delve deeper into their personalities."

The PR campaign kicks into high gear with an article in the June issue of Outside magazine. The show debuts on June 5. Online, Animal Planet is on Twitter and is working to sync up the cast's personal Facebook pages with the page for Whale Wars.

The "aggressive, but measured" PR strategy includes working with The Dowd Agency, which came on in mid-March, to focus on media relations, Eley said.

"We really concentrated on print [for the first season]," he explained. "This time, we're really going heavy after broadcast." The show is pitching the cast members to morning shows, late night shows, and daytime shows, particularly those with a focus on food, as the ship's entire crew is vegan.

One challenge the network has is to have a strong PR strategy without throwing support behind the Sea Shepherds, which have sparked controversy for the direct action they take against the whale ships.

"We have to make a great, big campaign," Eley said, "but we have to make it one where Animal Planet still maintains its integrity."

Other PR tactics include a Zogby poll, which will "assess the general public's interest and knowledge of the whaling issue," Eley said, and a SMT and RMT to keep buzz going after the show launches.

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