As a writer, I am always searching for information; always gathering news and observing trends in the world of dogs. This isn't limited to breeding, raising, feeding and showing. It goes much further than that. Today, the "dog community" has broadened into psychology, fashion, legislation and all manner of discoveries, coming at us in a bombardment of information like never before.
Like all of us, I find this information on TV, in magazines, papers, newsletters, radio, Internet, at seminars, conventions, lectures and in the movies. And, like many of us, I wonder why more of it isn't on the sports pages of my local newspaper.
Recently, an editorial in one of our foremost magazines illustrated the scope of this question. I've been observing the writings of this editor for a while now, because very few dog lovers dare to say out loud what he is expressing, even though we might often think the very same thing. This particular editorial caught my attention as if it was written in bold print.
What was he saying that "hit the mark?" He was telling it like it is.
He was saying that, as a kid, he knew the make of a gun better than he knew anything about dogs. Put into today's perspective, kids know guns, cars and drugs better than they know dogs. Why is this?
With all the media we have at our disposal, where are dogs while these kids are growing up? Yes, I know they're in commercials and movies. And I know certain dog shows are prime time events now. But, where are Lassie and Rin Tin Tin when you need them? Where are the stories of Albert Payson Terhune that showed brave dogs in an honorable light? Is "cute" the operative word these days? What has happened to the stronger qualities that dogs can show us? We live in a bigger world than ever now. Are dogs taken seriously by the media or are they just ... "Fluff?"
For an answer, I went to a place where I so often do my best thinking. I went to a dog show. I looked around at all the people. I studied the artists and vendors at their booths. I felt the sense of excitement and the pulsing murmur of voices. It was good. It was creative.
It was inspired by the love of dogs all around me.
I wondered if the local newspaper was covering this gathering of an estimated twenty-thousand people walking through the gates of that show in two days. Were reporters covering the event? I didn't see any.
So, I asked myself: Why not? I asked myself why so many people must stumble into our world of dogs by accident instead of knowing about it as well as they know about baseball, or football or golf? And, just like the magazine editor I mentioned at the beginning of this article, I knew the power to change this was in our own hands.
How do we make such changes? Actually, it's as simple as taking a piece of clay and shaping it into whatever you want it to be. If clay can be compared to "Life," then you, as the artist, can transform that clay into whatever you want it to be.
I guess, after a lifetime of working with clay and paints, I do make it sound easier than what it is. But, not really. You see, making a sculpture in clay -- or a painting, a book, a song or anything creative -- is a matter of making the right choices and decisions leading up to the objective you hold in mind. If the objective is to raise the profile of our dogs in the news, it means reaching out to decision-makers who speak to the public
Every dog show is a public event. It's news in the town, county and state in which it happens. Events that draw thousands of people are as important as rock concerts!
Spreading this news isn't just up to the "powers that be." It's up to the players, themselves, too. If your dog wins a class, that's an accomplishment worth reporting to the general public. It doesn't hurt to type up a brief report and send it to a newspaper editor.
If enough dog lovers sent reports of their victories to their local newspapers, radio stations and TV stations, these places would report it. If not, then we must ask why.
When submitting press releases like this, do whatever you must to make your stories interesting enough -- important enough -- for news coverage. That's how public opinion is shaped. It's shaped just like a piece of clay. Only, this kind of clay is in the hands of dog lovers like you.
COMMENTS & QUESTIONS
How do you write something for the newspaper?
When a report like this is written for the paper, or radio or TV, it's called a 'press release.' There isn't really a special format for press releases, except that they include certain basic information. Be sure your press release is typewritten, that it includes the name of the organization holding the event, the person a reporter should contact for more information and a concise report of what happened (or what is going to happen). Brief and to the point is best when it comes to these things. And make sure everything is spelled correctly!
How do we know if an editor is going to run our story?
You don't. All you can be sure of, is that the editor (or someone in the newsroom) has seen your story ... they might run it or they might not. But, you can count on them noticing if you submit another story on down the line. And, eventually, they could very well start publishing your reports. Especially if other dog lovers in your area are doing the same thing. That kind of activity catches their attention.
Any other advice?
Yes. A lot of dog lovers are afraid of sending out press releases. Yet the more publicity dog lovers get, the stronger our numbers will be. This will have an impact on everything affecting dogs in our towns, our states and our whole country. Most important, it means those kids we talked about will see how their love of dogs can be the ticket to a whole new world.