5 tips for pet food companies speaking to reporters

A public relations strategist shared her top five tips for pet food company representatives when speaking to the media, especially during a crisis.

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(Rasulov | BigStock.com)
(Rasulov | BigStock.com)

When speaking with reporters, pet food company representatives must be transparent, authentic and genuine, timely and consistent with their messages, Janine Smiley, senior public relations strategist with marketing communications firm Woodruff, told Petfood Industry.

Smiley shared her top five tips for pet food company representatives when speaking to the media, especially during a crisis, like the recent spate of raw pet food recalls. She provided these tips as a preview of the session that she and Brittany VanMaele, Woodruff community manager, will present at Petfood Forum 2018.

Tips for pet food companies interacting with reporters

1.           Multimedia

“Prepare for what is being reported on to be published across multiple channels,” she said. “Many reporters (and their news organization) will use more than one channel to report stories. People follow news differently, and news organizations and reporters have offered that accessibility through their own social pages or handles, or company pages and handles.”

2.           Consistency

“Your response and messaging should be consistent, regardless of the ‘channel’,” Smiley said. “Don’t deliver one set of facts in one medium/channel and something different in another. While different mediums have character or response limitations or opportunities, your core response should not be widely different. This will be confusing to your customers and leave the reporter to determine what to cover.”

3.           Social media

“Take your interaction with the reporter offline,” she said. “Just because the reporter is using social media to extend the story, even if they tag the brand or company online, doesn’t mean that all of your communication with the reporter or additional background/context you want to provide needs to happen on the channel as well. Crisis situations usually involve a lot of background and context for education or knowledge building, and neither of those approaches work that well within social media.”

4.           On the record

“You are always on the record,” Smiley said, “It is always best for the public relations, social media, legal, operations and customer service teams to be in collaboration and know the latest facts, educational background or the latest updates, whether it’s working with a reporter on a story, the customer or partners such as suppliers or retailers.”

5.           Offer materials

“Offer visuals or created materials that help tell the story as it evolves,” she said. “With crisis situations, usually there is more than one story that develops as the situation evolves. Companies need to think in terms of what they can provide for the reporters’ reader/viewer/listener.”

Petfood Forum 2018

Learn more about interacting with the media, during Smiley and VanMaele's presentation at Petfood Forum 2018. Petfood Forum provides an opportunity for pet food professionals from around the world to network, exchange ideas and do business with one another and with the industry's leading pet food manufacturers and suppliers. Petfood Forum 2018 will take place at the Kansas City Convention Center in Kansas City, Missouri, USA on April 23 -25, 2018.

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