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Pets In The Political Sphere

Have you noticed an increase in advertising and content utilizing images or videos of animals? Political pets were a prominent feature in the 2020 presidential election. Now, as more people are working from home alongside their animal pals, we anticipate pets in advocacy and campaign communications will continue to be popular.

Politicians often feature their pets in ads, on social media, and in email communications. Pets are a way for candidates and elected leaders to show us that they are human — that they, like us, care for and love the same furry friends we do. It makes them relatable!

Pet ownership is synonymous with humanity and relatability

Pet ownership is ubiquitous in America, — 67% of U.S. households, or about 85 million families, own a pet. Politicians are arguably at their most genuine when interacting with their pets. The use of animals in ads implies that the person who owns or is featuring such an animal would share similarities with the animal: friendly, genuine, loyal.

Elizabeth Warren’s dog, Bailey, has her own Twitter account.

The importance of conveying humanity and relatability

Even if you don’t have a pet, there are ways to convey humanity and relatability in your content. Start by using social media. The very best social media accounts — the ones you want to keep tabs on and are excited to follow — are truly social and convey some level of human vulnerability.

Establish a personal connection with your audience

Establishing your organization’s humanity is important because it helps build a rapport with your audience and thus conveys and builds trust. It’s important to remind people that you and your organization or candidate are not just bots. People buy from people. People invest in relationships with people. You’re trying to convince other complex human beings to invest in you and your organization with their time or hard-earned money. They’re going to be more excited to give to another relatable, HUMAN entity than to a faceless conglomerate.

U.S. Senate Candidate John Fetterman’s dog, Levi, has been featured in fundraising ads.

How your organization can convey relatability

Conveying relatability can be done in a variety of effective ways. It doesn’t have to be centered around a pet — you just have to show your audience that you’re human and that personal connections are important to you and your organization or team.

Show off your own pets and your staff

Take a cue from other politicians and organizations and use pet photos as an opportunity to introduce staff or convey an uplifting message. Use animal photos to further your organization’s talking points.

It’s not just about the pets, it’s also about you, so show your face! When appropriate, include photos of staff on social media and in emails. Show off real images of your organization making a difference or doing its important work out in the community. Put a face to your name or brand.

ACM Strategies Email Strategist, Erin, and her dog Ryder

Don’t over-polish

Don’t be afraid to hop on Live or post an unedited, grassroots video. Social media algorithms favor videos, and they don’t have to be fancy. On social media, it’s usually better to be fast and good than pretty.

Acknowledge your mistakes

We know mistakes happen, and when they do, name your mistakes, own them, learn from them — and then share what you’ve learned with your audience. When you mess up, don’t try to cover it up, especially if it’s on the internet where a lot of people might have already seen it. It’s OK to be human and vulnerable and admit when you make a mistake. But it’s important to own it.

You can create trust by revealing a little more info than you have in the past — for instance, did a fundraiser or ad campaign recently fall short? Can you present this honestly in a fundraising email and use this as an opportunity to convey humanity while also fundraising?

An error page on Action Network. This page uses a cat photo to show relatability and friendliness.

Utilize social media

Social media should be social. Be responsive and make sure to tag followers and respond to them directly, use their names in responses, and answer their questions. Hop in on trending topics, but make sure the person drafting your content is able to engage authentically and strike the right tone. There’s nothing worse than an organization that you can tell is trying really hard to be “on-trend,” but is unknowingly failing.

Ultimately, creating a connection with your audience is important for success, and pets are one of the best places to start. If you need some help boosting your online persona and conveying relatability and humanity to your audience, we can get you on the right track. Book a free strategy call with our team today.


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