What My Dog Can Teach Us About Effective Public Relations


For more than eight years now, I’ve shared my office with a charming 13″ Saddleback Beagle I call “Lilly the Wonder Dog.”  Over the years, my children have had plenty of fun with Lilly, but it has become increasingly clear that her calling in life is to support me as my Executive Assistant.  I recently noticed that we can all learn a lot about connecting with others and communicating our message from Lilly, so I thought I’d share those thoughts with you here.

Lilly’s most pronounced trait is that of enthusiasm, a quality she managed to display each and every day, regardless of the weather.  Working from a home office, as I do, Lilly is great about reminding me to “attack the day” much as she does one of her beloved chew-bones.

Another wonderful characteristic of Lilly’s is that of curiosity.  (I don’t know if she was here in my office when I was watching the recent speech by Elizabeth Gilbert (author of “Eat, Pray, Love’) about curiosity as a sign of genius, and a quality that we all have — even if, as Gilbert says, not all of us can claim to be passionate about something.  (Personally, I do think that each of us really is passionate about something, but I’ll give Lilly the benefit of the doubt on this one.)

Lilly is also a champion when it comes to the quality of commitment.  Public relations can be a challenging process, one in which there is a lot more rejection than “green lights” from the media.  She is my role model in this area, too.


Perhaps best of all, Lilly is great when it comes to loyalty.  I’ve been a fan of Charles Schulz’s classic “Peanuts” comic strip since my childhood, and I remember one strip in which Charlie Brown comments that “at least I can count on one thing; my dog loves me.”  At that point, a “thought bubble” appears over Snoopy’s head and he thinks, “There’s that funny round-headed kid who feeds me again; what was his name, again?”  I hope I mean a bit more than this to Lilly.  I think I do.

If there is a common thread to these admirable traits, I believe that they are all united by a “desire to serve and connect.”  And I believe that’s what motivates Lilly, too.  She seems extremely proud of herself when I make a “revolving” motion with my index finger, and she proceeds to “roll over,” and receive a well-deserved reward.  (I’m motivated by “treats,” too!)

Speaking of serving others, I remember reading that the great naturalist Jane Goodall once said, “You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” Lilly seems to know this instinctively.

For those who share Lilly’s desire to connect and serve, I’ve recently started offering one-hour public relations coaching sessions. I love having an opportunity to work with clients on all facets of a public relations project – writing the press release, designing a media campaign that’s a perfect fit for that project, and connecting with the journalists I know (and many others) to pitch the story idea – but I realize that many individuals who want to connect with others to share their expertise, offer their book for consideration, and otherwise (what?) have limited finances but great desire, and this public relations coaching framework gives me a chance to support them. Here’s a link, if you’d like to learn more about this. Learn More About Tom Martin Public Relations Coaching

I also enjoy sharing ideas like these – ways to reach a wider audience and tips on gaining the attention of journalists – in my weekly newsletter. If you’d like to subscribe, please just follow this link.

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Thanks – and if you’re a dog lover (or cat lover) too, I’d love to hear how they support you in your work!