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Keene State Journalism Students Assist Humane Society with Marketing Campaign

Representatives from Monadnock Humane Society visit Prof. Timney's PR class to inspire his students to do their best marketing work.
Representatives from Monadnock Humane Society visit Prof. Timney's PR class to inspire his students to do their best marketing work.

Monadnock Humane Society has done its job well—so well that the role it’s been traditionally known for—as a shelter for stray dogs and cats—is expanding. As a result, the agency is adjusting its image. By effectively educating the public to spay/neuter their pets, they’ve pretty much eliminated the problem of unintended litters in the region, so MHS’s focus is no longer just trying to find good homes for all the homeless animals in the community. MHS is still very much a shelter for unwanted animals, due to circumstances such as behavior issues or changes in family status such as loss of job, moving, death of owner, or health issue (both human and animal). “We don’t need to hammer the spay/neuter message as hard, and we are shifting to a message of how we can help people with their pets,” explained MHS’s Community Outreach Coordinator, Amee Abel. “But, we still are a safe haven for homeless animals.”

Therefore, the agency is expanding its long-held image as an adoption center to provide other important services to area pet owners and their animals—though you can still find a great pet there. “Monadnock Humane Society is not your father’s animal shelter,” MHS Transition Director Joe Olsen pointed out. “We don’t just do adoptions. We also have dog-training programs, pet boarding and dog daycare, and emergency food and shelter, to list just a few of the services to the community.”

In order to adapt and meet the region’s evolving needs, survey the public for its opinion, and help folks understand the agency’s new role, MHS partnered with the students in Associate Professor of Journalism Mark Timney’s upper-level Public Relations Practice class to help create and spread the word. And it turns out the collaboration began at just the right time: “MHS was developing its campaign, and they were just beginning to do everything I wanted my students to learn,” Dr. Timney said. “Our work includes helping them establish communication goals, researching the public’s present opinion/awareness of MHS, helping them understand what the research means, establishing tactics that will fulfill MHS’s goals in light of public need, carrying out the PR campaign, and then helping them evaluate the results.”

Earlier in the semester, two of Dr. Timney’s students attended a presentation by MHS’s Director of Marketing & Development, Carol Laughner, who explained the fundamentals of marketing, MHS’s overall goals, and the message they wanted to send to the public. “During the presentation we had breaks and would brainstorm as a group on such things as brand equity and who the local competition was,” said journalism major Kendall Pope. “It was a very neat opportunity; I heard several ideas we’d already covered in class, but also learned many things that took me beyond the classroom.”

“We are lucky to be working with Ms Laughner,” Dr. Timney said. “She’s great … and has really made this a wonderful experience for our students.”

Pope expects this real-world experience to make a big difference as she goes out into the professional world. “One thing that I absolutely love about Keene State’s journalism program is that you have real-life work, physical proof of the work that you did here,” she said. “It might be writing, video, photos, radio, or public relations. When you graduate, you can hand an employer a portfolio filled with incredible work.”

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