PUBLIC SECT0R: Vivisectionists institute takes PR plunge

Vivisectionists are to promote their 'special relationship' with

animals in an attempt to gain better coverage of their work.



The Institute of Animal Technology, which represents animal technicians,

has created a media communications office, the 37-year-old body's first

foray into PR.



The office is tasked with driving through a campaign that will promote

human interest stories of the relationship between vivisectionists and

animals.



This is the first time this focus has been attempted. Previous campaigns

by the pro-vivisection lobby have focused on medical benefits. The

office will also rebut accusations of cruelty.



The PR initiative was set up following consultation with its 2,000

members, who felt technicians are the best placed people to promote

their work.



The office is staffed by two PROs Karen Gardner and Nicky Erskine and

five technicians on hand to give comment and interviews.



Gardner said: 'Our members care about animals and have a special

relationship with them, that's why they do their work. Issues such as

the medical benefits have been well publicised and done well. What we

want to do is something different.'



The media office is initially targeting health and science

professionals, which the IAT says are sectors still with unease towards

animal technicians work.



The service will then roll out to the mainstream media. Gardner says

talks are taking place with two as yet unnamed broadsheet newspapers, to

run features over the next month.



Tim Phillips, director of the National Anti Vivisection Society,

condemned the IAT PR strategy: 'I don't think people will believe it, in

the same way that no-one would believe that a slaughter man has a loving

bond with animals.'



Last month pro-vivisection lobbyists The Research Defence Society

launched its campaign to highlight cases of seriously ill people whose

lives have been helped by experiments on animals.



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