Pet press and animal blogs
Aside from the numerous pet publications in the UK, including YourDog, YourCat, PetsMag, Animals and You, Take a Break Pets, animals also make great reading in our national tabloids, broadsheets and more. We have animal specific mags, such as Practical Pigs and Practical Fishkeeping, and lifestyle or news publications that have pet columns. In fact, there isn’t really a place where animals don’t take centre stage.
In the online world, a hugely popular animal news outlet is The Dodo which is centred around rescuing animals, good news stories about pets and their happy endings. Other popular blogs include The Paw Post, Katzenworld and The Dogvine.
Readership figures for pets in the press are huge. Even niche areas are well read. ‘Cage and Aviary Birds’, a specialist magazine has a circulation of 18000, and Practical Reptile Keeping has a circulation of 9000. Meanwhile, ‘My VIP’ (from Pets At Home) has a combined ABC of 567,385. 1
The psychology of pets
People simply love to see and read about animals. Research has shown that viewing pictures of animals causes positive reactions in our brain. When we see a picture of a cute animal, it triggers a human’s nurturing drive. The brain is reminded of human young so much that our brain tells us to nurture and that is a pleasant feeling. Pictures of animals can trigger a rush of dopamine, the “feel-good” chemical that is also released when we have sex or eat tasty food.
Neuroscientist, Olav Krigolson, suggests that watching videos of animals can help heal the brain. This is in line with the Japanese study of Kawaii (the quality of being cute), which proves that staring at cute things can boost mood and concentration by tapping into the same chemical reward system in the brain that makes cocaine addictive.
Krigolson’s notes that looking at these images is habit forming; “You are not expecting to see something cute and cuddly and then you see it and it’s perceived by the brain as a reward.” 2
Looking at photos of baby animals is also known to increase productivity. A Hiroshima University study had subjects play a board game similar to ‘Operation’ after looking at various photographs: some of food, some of adult animals, and some of baby animals. Subjects actually performed best after looking at a picture of a baby animal. 3
Researcher, Joshua New (Barnard College, New York) proved that humans respond to animals in images more than any object or thing (including whole buildings!). New also states that “research suggests that people actually pay as much attention to animals as they do to other people.” 4
Why write about pets?
Pets are a PR dream. Pets are a journalist’s dream. Most importantly, pets are a reader’s dream!
Animals make appealing news sources because there is so much to talk about, but if you want to grab attention quickly, insert a cute animal picture into your feature and that will happen.
Animals are so appealing because they mirror the best of humans and leave out the worst bits. Animals are not cruel. They’re not political. They don’t post inappropriate things on the internet. They’re not racist / homophobic / sexist / ageist. They are the best bits of us without the bad bits.
With animals you get the cute factor. They bring happiness, loyalty, joy, humour and sadly even sorrow in our lives. They are interesting and worth writing about. We love to view pictures of animals and we love to read about them.
Want to write about an animal?
Journalists, please do feel free to approach us at The Animal Talent if you’re interested in writing about any of the unique pets on our roster. We have a real skateboarding dog on our roster, a parrot that scores a strike when ten pin bowling, and alpacas that have visited Buckingham Palace.
Some of our dogs and their owners have participated at Crufts (the world’s biggest dog show). Another dog and their owner has travelled around the United States. One of our dog owners has 250 000 followers on Instagram. One of our dogs videos went viral worldwide when he became famous for stealing part of the agility course structures at Crufts. Some of our cats are therapy cats. We work with people who keep goats as pets and we also work with a sheep that rings a bell for his dinner!
Want to take an animal and have a human-interest angle? We work with therapy pigs, dogs who assist those with autism, life-saving animals, and much, much more.
Pets in news stories
Whilst news stories aren’t always cute and cuddly, we do have some serious topics we’d love to be covered as well. Journalists, we implore you to use your platform for good. Feel free to get in touch with The Animal Talent to discuss the health and wellbeing of pets. We encourage positive, reward based training and bonding stories. We’d really like to use our voices to discuss the travesty of Breed Specific Legislation. We’re advocates of animal rescue and adoption and can share many a wonderful story about this.
We are always open to suggestions, so please feel free to get in touch here: [email protected]
By Paula Stewart 2020