Golf course strikes back against animal cruelty

It was one specific incident that prompted Baltimore Municipal Golf Corporation to use its resources, and those of AOR Maroon PR, to help prevent animal cruelty.

Client: Baltimore Municipal Golf Corporation (Baltimore, MD)
Agency: Maroon PR (Columbia, MD)
Campaign: “Closest to the Pin for BARCS”
Duration: May 22 – June 16
Budget: Included as part of $4,000 monthly retainer

On May 22, a groundskeeper and golfers at Carroll Park Golf Course (CPGC) saw five children beating a puppy with a tree branch. The adults intervened, but the puppy died. Baltimore Municipal Golf Corporation (BMGC) is the nonprofit that manages and operates CPGC and four other municipal courses. Marketing director Tom Pierce says the incident prompted BMGC to use its resources, and those of AOR Maroon PR, to help prevent animal cruelty.

The team moved quickly to organize and promote the “Closest to the Pin” competition on Memorial Day weekend to take advantage of high traffic on all five courses. Golfers entered with a $5 minimum donation for a chance to win golf rounds.

Donations benefited Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter (BARCS), which Maroon EVP Tim Richardson connected with via the Baltimore mayor's Anti-Animal Abuse Task Force.

Local media relations and social media outreach announced the contest and informed audiences about BARCS and animal cruelty prevention.

BMGC executive director Jon Ladd conducted an RMT. Maroon pitched print and online outlets covering animal rights. Pierce, along with BARCS and task force representatives, conducted TV interviews prior to, and at, the May 29 and 30 events.

“We used shelter dogs in TV media and at some courses,” Richardson notes. “It helped make personal connections as to why it was important to support the event.”

About 24 BARCS volunteers and employees talked to golfers at each of the contest holes. They also manned tables and passed out written materials about animal cruelty and BARCS' mission

The team also posted Information and media coverage BMGC's  existing Facebook and Twitter pages, its website , and its YouTube channel.

A check presentation (and another round of media interviews) was held at CPGC on June 16 with Ladd, BARCS and task force heads, and a shelter puppy.

Pierce says the campaign was recognized in a larger story about the task force's year-long findings, which were presented at a June 16 public meeting.

More than 1,000 golfers participated, resulting in $5,408 donated to BARCS. Pierce notes that BARCS reported the donation is the largest gift it received from a fundraising event.

Media impressions totaled 786,360. Richardson says coverage helped lead to the arrest of two of the children involved in the incident as Baltimore residents contacted the authorities after seeing the news pieces. Pierce adds that coverage also resulted in several dog adoptions. 

Based on the campaign's success, the team is considering a more proactive event to benefit BARCS next year.

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