How PR Can Take On The Negative Views Of Horse Carriages

Recently there have been several incidents that brought horse-drawn carriages into the media. Most recently in Charleston, a woman dressed up in an inflatable t-rex costume and deliberately tried to “spook” the horses, hoping to draw attention to the negative outcome she expected would occur. It would seem that she stuck around and growled at the horses a moment too long because by-standers saw her and witnessed the antagonizing. Why am I talking about horse-drawn carriages on my pr/social media marketing site? Well, because this industry is currently under attack by a number of people who are quite literally ignorant when it comes to horses and the care they require. A good PR strategy can be the carriage industry’s savior.

“My Two Cents” that I shared on my personal Facebook page: 

“I generally stay pretty quiet on this matter. Horse people, let alone people who have no education of horses, all have their own opinions on what the best practices are for horses. But, as I read the comments on this story about the lady dressed up as a T-rex antagonizing and growling at carriage horses in Charleston (not this particular post), I realized that if my voicing my opinion about this, even if just once, helps educate one person about the needs of a horse and the humane treatment of carriage horses, then I should probably speak up. My husband and I own 3 horses. They get fed before us each morning and each night. They are on the top of our priority list. We will own each of them and will continue to take the best possible care of them until the day they die. (Hopefully not any time soon.)

Would you believe me if I said that carriage company owners, especially the one we consider a friend, love their horses just as much as we do? They love their horses so much that they want to share the pleasure of being with them and experiencing them with visitors to our city. “Animal advocates” say it’s wrong to make the horses work, to have them in a city area, to “enslave” them. The likely alternative for these carriage horses if these “animal advocates” force the carriage companies to close is SLAUGHTER.

Are any of those so-called advocates willing to adopt/purchase the horses? To take on the care- the time required, the money that must be spent on feed, hay, farrier, vet bills and boarding? Just to feed our three horses grain and hay twice a day, it costs roughly $300 a month per horse. The farrier is upwards of $40 every six weeks per horse, and that’s cheap because they just get their hooves trimmed, not shod. Our vet comes out multiple times a year for bi-annual shots, coggins, teeth floating, plus anything else that comes up. (For example in our case for Rowdy, a hematoma in the sinus cavity & cancer on his nose/mouth & penis.) If you don’t have your own property, boarding costs vary, but I can assure you, they’re not “cheap.” The owners of these carriage companies aren’t in it “for the money” because most of the money is spent on the care of the horses. Horses are legally considered “livestock” animals. Livestock is defined as “animals kept or raised for use or pleasure; especially: farm animals kept for use and profit.” So, these horses aren’t on the “farm.” In a lot of ways, they get better treatment working in the city than they would on the farm. (An Amish horse’s life is not an easy one.) And in the life of a carriage horse, they provide a service and a pleasure pulling a carriage that even I can move when it has no passengers. (They’re actually very light.)

These carriage horses are extremely well taken care of. Their bodies are in optimal shape and body condition. Their hair/coats are shiny and healthy. They get the exercise and attention they need. A horse is similar to a dog in that they yearn for exercise and purpose. If they don’t get the exercise they need, they will create “jobs” for themselves which more than often is considered misbehavior to us, similarly to a bored dog chewing things they’re not supposed to. Before you attack the diligent, loving owners of these horses, who have chosen a life caring for equines, think about the well-being of these horses. Would you rather them dead? Those calling for the carriage horses being “saved” and let “free” onto farms obviously know nothing of horses. I’d think that true animal advocates would appreciate the impeccable care these carriage horses receive.

In terms of treatment, I would equate it to parents and their children. Some parents go above and beyond to care for their children. Others not so much. There are the rare bad eggs in anything, but overall, carriage horses are pretty pampered and very well provided for. Draft horses are so large because they were bred to slowly pull heavy workloads. They’re amazing really. Horses were bred for purposes just like dogs were. They enjoy doing what their purposes are. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t do it. They’re big enough to be noticeably defiant if they didn’t like their treatment. In regards to hot temperatures, they’ve adapted just like we have. We drink extra water/Gatorade, hose off or go swimming, take breaks, etc. So do they. [ See Weather Channel’s helping-horses-when-temps-get-hot ]

Draft horses are our favorite, and I would hate to see them cast aside or lose their worth because they’ve become targeted.

We will continue to support horse drawn carriages because we know how much she loves her horses and how well taken care of they are, just as much as ours are. If you want to get behind a movement, look up equestrian cross country/eventing deaths, where riders and horses alike frequently die or are severely injured. Or look up what happens to off the track thoroughbreds that didn’t make a name for themselves. (Side Note Here: Not every horse in these industries experience mistreatment.)

There are lots of things to get upset about. Hating the carriage companies because they love their horses shouldn’t be one of them.”

I shared the above with a video of the exceptional press conference that Palmetto Carriage Works held after the targeted attack on their horses, their driver and their guests. I definitely recommend you watch it. Live with Tom Doyle at Palmetto Carriage Works

So from a Public Relations standpoint, what should the carriage companies do? Inform. Inform. Inform.

Many of the people who are “against” horse drawn carriages simply do not know the physical and mental stimulation needs of a horse. They simply just don’t know horses. It’s not an easy fix to the mob mentality that surrounds and is against this industry right now, but this is a straight forward plan. Inform them.

Readily Provide Information About:

There are various ways to reach the target market, but a few ideas are:

  • Discussing the information within the carriage tour itself
  • Visually appealing and organized pamphlets on the carriages
  • Hosting a meet and greet with the horses
  • Signage near the horses’ main post
  • Q&A session with an equine vet

This isn’t an exhaustive list. It’s just a start. Unfortunately, I don’t think everyone will listen. You’ll have those individuals that would rather hold onto their ignorance than allow themselves to be educated on the matter.

Even if you help just one person learn and understand more about horses and the carriage industry, it is all worth it in the end.

Welcome to MY Instagram

Let me first start this post by asking you to follow me on Instagram! >>>

When you’re a social media marketer, you’re constantly and obsessively on your clients’ accounts. You’re the voice behind their brand. My favorite part of this is that I get to give the brand their signature attitude. I get to help how others perceive the brand. It’s really quite fun especially when I get to be a little snarky and clever. The downside to this is…. my own social media accounts tend to suffer. The other con is that there is a fine line between allowing others to know that I am the voice behind the company and just letting them think the brand has some awesome marketing skills. I’ll be honest… I’ve failed myself on the marketing part.

That’s why I found myself in a position where my Instagram and Twitter were pretty outdated. I’ve been working on that. I mean who’s going to hire a PR person who doesn’t market themselves?

Top 10 List: How to Communicate Like a Human Being (Instead of a Marketer) by Eric Roach Co-Founder and CEO, EveryoneSocial

Love this article by Eric Roach Co-Founder and CEO, EveryoneSocial. 

It’s so hard for businesses to be human when they start activity on their social media platforms. Take a look at Mark’s Top 10 List:

Top 10 List: How to Communicate Like a Human Being (Instead of a Marketer)

“We’re living in the midst of a content explosion in social media. Can we survive? Yes, but it will require new skills. As cofounder and CEO of social media platform EveryoneSocial, I see organizations and employee advocates sharing a great deal of content. Some of it is even good. But for maximum success, here are my top 10 tips on how to cut through the marketing clutter in the content you share and learn, instead, to communicate and share like a human being.

1. Write the way you actually talk. First off, in a tip from Melanie Davis of Convince and Convert, practice writing the content you want to share in the way you would actually speak.

For example, consider this piece of information: “Beyond the basic benefit, both individual and spouse buy-up options are available Please note an election of voluntary life coverage for a spouse can equal up to half your individual life buy-up, although depending on the desired level of coverages, EOI may be required.”

Huh??? Clear as mud.

Try this instead, Melanie says: “The company is going to buy some life insurance for you. If you want, you can buy extra. Whatever extra life insurance you buy for yourself, you can also buy up to half that amount for your spouse. Now, depending on how much additional insurance you’d like, one or both of you may need to answer some questions about your health to see if you qualify for it.” Ah.

2. Let people respond naturally. Here’s another tip from Melanie. Instead of the typical web contact form, think about providing something like this:

“We check our email with alarming and unhealthy frequency. Just fill out this form and we’ll get back to you on the double.”

Hey! My name’s _______________ . I’d like to talk to Jellyvision about _____________, so please call me on _______________________ or email me at _________________________.

Oh yeah, and my favorite food is ______________________(in case you ever need to bribe me). Thanks!

Melanie’s firm received 83% higher response than from their old traditional form. Surprise!

3. Avoid the Curse of Knowledge.   This is a real thing. We know what we know and we tend to assume everybody else will as well. In an actual experiment, individuals who tapped out the rhythm to a familiar tune assumed 50% of people would “get it.” Only 2.5% did. The moral of the story: Lose the jargon, if you want your readers to truly understand what you mean.

4. Don’t pitch. Here’s a tip from speaking expert Ryan Lee, for  Ryan understands that if you’re like most people, you hate being pitched to and you can smell a marketing pitch from at least 100 yards away.

But Ryan Lee “gets it.” He tells his audience up front about how his speak will go. He tells the audience they’ll have the opportunity to buy from him, if they choose, when he’s done.

His audience loves his candor. Then he gives them quality content and good education, but he’s still able to convert sales. The ticket is his honesty. He treats his audience the way he’d want to be treated as well.

5. Use good headlines. When you speak to a friend do you lead into your topic with a boring headline? Of course not! You want to stir the pot and get your audience appropriately excited about what you’re going to say. Be true to the promise of the content you’re offering, of course. But in a headline, don’t be afraid to tell it big!

7. Create a Two-Way Conversation. Remember when you share content that it’s a dialogue you’re looking for, not a one-way megaphone blast. Respond to comments (politely, if at all possible). If you can’t honestly thank your reader for anything else, thank them for taking the time to read and respond. Your willingness to engage will go far.

8. Educate, don’t hype. Have you heard the one about the carpet cleaner who created a million dollar career? Actually, this story’s a true one: Marketer Joe Polish realized in his 20s that sending direct mail and email on topics like “How to extend the life of your carpet” and “How to choose a reliable cleaner” were much more successful than blaring specials and ads. Pretty soon his business outpaced all others and he became a million dollar enterprise… selling his marketing “secrets” to other businesses like his own. Educative marketing. It’s a thing. You should try it.

9. Be authentic. Your audience can smell a phony from miles away. Don’t create sneaky back links or promos that leave your audience feeling “tricked”. Do what you say you’ll do. Conduct every aspect of your marketing as if the world is watching from behind the scenes (because increasingly, they are). Be yourself (albeit your very best version of self) and you’ll be far better poised to succeed.

10. Tell good stories (about the things people are actually wanting to hear).  Would you tell your friends a boring story? No, you wouldn’t. Well, at least not for long. Include details. Visual images. Power words. Like blog writer Henneke Duustermaat says “

Seduce your readers into begging for more.” Don’t put them to sleep.

Have you got the picture? Yes, good content marketing is both an art and a science, but if you can learn to think like a human instead of like a human marketing machine you’ll be well ahead of the game.”

3 Ways Inbound Marketing Can Help Grow Your Business by Amanda Pensack

This is a great post I saw on Social Media Today that enhances understanding on Inbound Marketing. 

Post by: Amanda Pensack Marketing Director, ECM Solutions

Posted on October 27th 2014

3 Ways Inbound Marketing Can Help Grow Your Business

“Think back to the last time you were driving on a highway and saw a massive billboard with a slogan, company logo or even a call to action displayed in oversized letters. Did you pick up your phone immediately and call the company? Check ‘em out on Facebook? Visit their website? Or did you continue on with your drive, only to block the billboard’s message out of your mind altogether because you were more focused on finding the right radio station to listen to?

This is a prime example of a failed attempt at an outbound marketing tactic. Think about those “in your face” ads you see everyday: those banner ads on the sides of buses while you’re sitting in traffic, the seemingly shout-y car salesman on your television, the giant logo taking up half of the Sunday paper. Does this style of marketing entice you to research more about the product being advertised?

Probably not. Outbound marketing targets the masses and not the ideal target audiences like inbound marketing. With the exception of achieving brand or logo recognition (which, don’t get me wrong, is still important when branding yourself), outbound marketing typically eats up your marketing dollars faster than you can say, “Where are my results?”

What many businesses today don’t know, however, is that a successful marketing plan doesn’t need to target the masses in order to see a return. It shouldn’t target the masses, but rather focus on creating quality content that pulls people toward your product or service; where they naturally want to be. This form of marketing is known as inbound marketing. Below are 3 tactics on how inbound marketing can help grow your business and drive results immediately:

1.     Harness the power of building a community

You’re a business. You sell a product or service. And, most importantly, you have customers. Customers are a brand’s best advocates because they already trust your brand. They chose YOUR business to buy from, not your competitor’s. They already believe in your brand; otherwise they wouldn’t be your customers. Rather than spending valuable marketing dollars on attracting the wrong type of customer, harness the power of your ideal consumer and build a community focused around their wants and needs. By establishing a buyer persona and nailing down your customer’s wants, needs, and yes, even fears, you will be able to come up with a solution to market to your customers. It is a brand’s job to fulfill their customer’s needs and wants with their products or services. Figuring out our consumer’s fears will help answer how to give them better “peace of mind”. By putting ourselves in the shoes of our consumers, we will be able to better understand our consumers, resulting in the creation of a specific consumer centered community. This is the first ingredient of inbound marketing’s secret sauce. Harness the power of building a community that loves your brand.

2.     Lure in your prospects through tailored content creation

In order to harness the power of building a customer-centric community, successful inbound marketers must lure in more prospects through waves of content. What do I mean by this exactly? Creating valuable content that drives traffic will keep your prospect coming back for more. By offering consumers “nuggets” of advice, knowledge, or answers to their questions—all relating to your industry—people will naturally gravitate towards your brand. Why? Because as a marketer, you are filling a void with tailored content that applies directly to your consumer. Successful marketers are ones who are able to vary up their marketing tactics to increase interest in a brand. Those companies that take advantage of creating a mini-series, for example, by means of blogging, vlogging, ebooks, infographics, etc. will get people talking. Once prospects are interested in learning more about your business, hook them in with communication and engagement. (See my previous Social Media Today post on “3 Ways to Craft an Effective Marketing Plan for Your Business” here for more on brand engagement). All of these steps lead to the ultimate goal every marketer strives to achieve for their brand: establishing trust. Once a prospect fully understands and trusts your brand, it’s only natural for them to turn into a paying client.

3. Actually be SOCIAL on social media!

Thanks to early social media pioneers like Mark Zuckerberg, we have a near infinite number of social networks available at our fingertips. However, it’s how marketers actually utilize these networks that plays a major role in how inbound marketing can help grow a business. The concept of social media is simple: connect with people online to grow your network. Unfortunately, this concept has somehow gotten lost over time. Brands who become so focused on their selves and getting their message across, tend to ultimately forget about what social media can do for their business simply by engaging with their audience. In my professional opinion, one company who does a great job of staying social on social media is US Airways. If you check out US Airways on Twitter (@USAirways), their feed is constantly addressing the questions, comments and concerns of their customers. They are, in essence, being social on social media. If someone’s flight is delayed and an angry consumer tweets to their account, typically within minutes US Airways is responding to their tweet with more information that usually includes the employee’s initials who will be helping with the situation and even a phone number to call.  Now let’s play devil’s advocate. On the other hand, what if US Airways decided to ignore their customers and simply posted generic and self-promoting tweets? What if US Airways used social media as a one-way tunnel of communication and ignored their followers when they had questions, comments or concerns about their travel plans? Would you still want to follow them on social media? In conclusion, brands need to learn to stay social on social media if they want to see an increase in brand interest and build relationships.

In conclusion, inbound marketing is about providing added value and earning customer loyalty rather than pounding a message into consumers’ heads and hoping it will stick. By learning to harness the power of building a consumer-centric community, luring in prospects through tailored content creation, and remembering to stay social on social media, brands will ultimately see big results through inbound marketing. Not to mention, your wallet will thank you when you are saving marketing dollars on inbound tactics that have a proven success rate versus “wider-net but less targeted” outbound marketing methods. So what do you think—is your company “in” with inbound?”


Disclaimer: I did not write this post. I shared it from Amanda Pensack Marketing Director, ECM Solutionssocial media today.