PETA’s Media Relations Win: Groundhog Day as Animal Rights Platform

PETA's Media Relations Win Groundhog Day as Animal Rights PlatformHere’s a a fantastic model of an organization linking its issues to a major news event to generate headline attention.

Shortly before Groundhog Day, PETA took on the Punxsutawney groundhog club, heralding its call for groundhog (and more broadly, animal) rights via a blog post and press release. And PETA advocates went one step further to suggest that Punxsutawney Phil’s annual weather forecasting responsibilities be taken over by a robot.

PETA says it’s wrong that Phil is subjected to the bright lights and crowds related to the Feb. 2 tradition. Event organizers downplay those concerns and insist that Phil is beyond fine, living better than other groundhogs in his climate-controlled environment.

An extremely active conversation blossomed in comments to the blog post. And, even more significantly, major news outlets like NPR, the LA Times and the Christian Science Monitor picked up on the controversy. At this moment, 9:23 am on Groundhog Day, a Google search on “peta ‘punxsutawney phil’ ‘groundhog day'” generates 43,000 results! PETA rules.

Kudos to PETA communicators for realizing there are few days (any others?) when animals are scheduled to make the headlines and acted on it. In connecting Phil’s rights with a national event, they secured widespread mainstream and niche media coverage of animal rights issues at little or no cost. Phil’s in good hands!

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Photo: oygirl.files.wordpress / CC

Nancy Schwartz on February 2, 2010 in Case Studies, Media Relations and Press, Nonprofit Communications | 5 comments
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  • mjfrombuffalo

    Well, I guess you could say it was effective in getting people to say or type PETA, but I don’t know that it won hearts and minds. Most of the times I heard the story mentioned it was prefaced with something like “Get a load of the latest stupid thing PETA’s protesting” and followed by comments like “They used to be relevant, but now they’re just stupid.”

  • MJ,
    I definitely understand what you’re saying about negative publicity. But I think this is a situation of “no publicity is bad publicity.”
    This story is getting animal rights and PETA into the news bigtime. It’s generating conversations, opinions and responses.
    PETA, like most advocacy orgs, doesn’t expect everyone to support its POV. But getting the conversation going is half the battle. So this campaign is a hands-down win for PETA.

  • PETA will complain about anything if it gives them publicity

  • Aurea Astro

    I completely agree- PETA has always impressed me with their PR and campaigns. Like MJ said, “in generating conversations, opinions, and responses,” PETA is really effective. They rocked the party over Phil. Whether I agree with PETA or not, I did spend my commute this morning re-thinking about the relationship between people and animals because of the PETA campaign over Phil.

  • Elaine Fogel

    Whether people agree with PETA’s stance or not, this campaign represents smart PR practices.

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