Communicating AKC's Mission
Communicating the AKC mission to the public is one of our most important goals as an organization. Our leadership and staff are dedicated to sharing our message about purebred dogs, the work and expertise of the AKC, and responsible dog ownership as broadly as possible on a daily basis.
Last year, the Communications department generated 22,937 clips and mentions, appraised at approximately $20 billion in media value by our independent monitoring service. In the last 10 years, the total audience of people who have read or heard about AKC in the media has grown from an average of 1.3 billion per year to an average of 17 billion per year. We distribute press releases, media alerts and content on national, state and local levels. Targets range from national publications like ABC, CBS and the New York Times, to local publications that promote AKC Sports and Events.
Our key messaging includes:
-The work of the AKC and how it benefits all dogs
-Value of the purebred dog and registration
-The importance of breeders and choice of pet acquisition
-Promoting the sport and its value to dog owners
-The benefit of AKC’s expertise to dog owners
-Responsible dog ownership
In 2018, the Communications department secured placements in key publications including NBC News, USA Today, The Associated Press, Reuters, Fox News, People Magazine and hundreds more. Through expert interviews and TV segments, the AKC is consistently positioned in the media as an expert voice with credibility and authority. Additionally, the department ended 2018 and began 2019 by mounting an aggressive campaign to announce the AKC Museum of the Dog’s return to New York City, which resulted in more than 1500 articles and videos internationally in 14 languages.
Other efforts include:
•Executing impactful PR campaigns around the AKC National Championship, AKC Meet the Breeds, Responsible Dog Ownership Days, AKC’s Most Popular Breeds announcement and many others
•Distribution of over 110 press releases and media alerts (on average per year)
•Creating 52 weekly articles for syndication to over 600 newspapers
•Create a weekly newsletter “AKC Communicates” that goes to 86,000 people
•Developing PSAs for the 501 (c) 3s that air in major markets
•Managing media relations for AKC Museum of the Dog and AKC Reunite
•Building content with AKC’s Chief Veterinary Officer for distribution on akc.org and on social media, while increasing AKC’s presence at veterinary conferences and schools.
The AKC marketing department’s purpose is to bring the mission of the AKC to consumers in ways that engage, connect and spur action. Specifically, marketing focuses efforts on three primary goals:
1.Increasing ownership and registration of purebred dogs
2.Increasing awareness of and participation in AKC sports and events
3.Improving dog lover’s perception of the AKC (which will in turn help achieve goals 1 and 2)
We use multiple tools to achieve the above goals.
The AKC website received a significant overhaul and relaunched in March of 2018 which can be a major disruption. However, 2018 closed on a high note with AKC.org December traffic +10% versus 2017 and the site now has an aggregate of 8 million users per month. Other important measures like organic traffic also improved to record-setting levels. (Organic traffic measures the number of sessions generated by people who find our website after using a search engine like Google or Bing and is an important indicator of overall health of a website).
Our content team is focused on optimizing existing and creating new content that aligns with key audiences in our constituency, including puppy seekers, breeders, dog sports enthusiasts, and dog lovers. The team is collaborating with subject matter experts from across AKC to produce helpful and inspiring pieces that showcase our mission.
AKC Marketplace traffic has been fairly steady at about 2.5 million sessions and 1.6 million users per month. Breeder opt-in continues to rise, now at over 22%. Litter listings are also growing -every month in 2018 beat the same month in 2017 and total litters listed in 2018 were +26% vs 2017. The marketing department continues to innovate features to ensure breeders (and puppy seekers) continue to have the best experience using the site.
In 2018, AKC marketing sent 137.6 million emails across 1,018 campaigns which was +10% over 2017. A good portion of this increase was in support of critical new developments like the AKC Museum of the Dog and AKC.TV. The department continued to support important initiatives such as multi-sport event promotion, Parent Club membership drives and AKC National Championship.
Our social media presence continues to grow even as the overall usage of some platforms is plateauing. AKC Facebook began 2018 with 3.81 million followers and ended 2018 with a total of 3.91M followers. This represents a 2.6% increase year over year. AKC Instagram ended 2018 with a total of 272K followers, which is up 4.2%.
In 2019, our social media strategy continues to expand, emphasizing creation of compelling, shareable videos, deeper coverage of sports and events, and daily engagement with our fans and followers. Our 2019 year-to-date engagement across platforms has increased year over year by 30%, and we still have more innovative social media programming yet to roll out this year.
In Q3 of 2018, marketing piloted a brand-new program called Pups & Pints as a grass roots effort to educate millennials about purebred dogs, responsible dog ownership, and the AKC.
Over 550 of our target consumers engaged with 27 different breeds and learned from 25 breeders/club members in a new and unexpected way, all while generating a donation of almost $10,000 for AKC Humane Fund. The real win though is the amplification of the event across social. On Facebook well above 400k consumers read about the events and learned more about AKC.
The Marketing and Communications departments and other teams at AKC are committed to furthering the mission of the AKC through ongoing efforts and outreach to many different audiences. As we continue to expand our reach to dog lovers everywhere, we are successfully communicating the value and important work of the AKC on a greater scale than ever before. We are feeling the impact of this work in many ways, including increased brand awareness, stronger presence in the media, an enhanced corporate reputation and measurable public understanding of how AKC serves dog lovers everywhere.
William J. Feeney, Chairman
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