The ASPCA is a leading animal-welfare organization. What are its media goals?
Alison Zaccone: Our main goal is to be a primary resource for the media so we can spread awareness about animal welfare and cruelty issues. One of our focuses this year was on reaching out to reporters for our Meet Your Match family of pet adoption programs.
USA Today is a high profile outlet, but what made it a good target for this campaign? How did you pitch reporter Sharon Peters?
Zaccone: We knew a story about pet adoption would have universal appeal and therefore would be perfect for USA Today's Life Section. We had developed a relationship with Sharon over the past year, and so as we started the outreach for our Feline-ality cat adoption program, we contacted her via e-mail, offering her the first chance to write about it.
Because of its national presence, USA Today gets inundated with cause-related story ideas. How did you cut through that clutter?
Zaccone: We realized this animal adoption program was a lot like Match.com but for pets, so we used the idea of finding that perfect pet for you and your lifestyle as the hook. Sharon immediately was intrigued by the concept of, "what a person is looking for in a pet's personality is a lot like what they're look for in the personality of a spouse."
Did you media train the ASPCA's Dr. Emily Weiss for her interview?
Zaccone: We didn't formally train her, but she developed Meet Your Match and worked with us in creating key messages. We did set Peters up with a pet owner who adopted through Meet Your Match and arranged an interview with the head of a shelter using the program.
What was the impact of the hit?
Zaccone: Site visits jumped by 9% [just] after the article ran. We also had 300 click-throughs from the USA Today site to ours, and the piece triggered interest from other outlets resulting in [additional stories].