Happy 90th anniversary to Guide Dogs
On the left is an old black and white photo of a guide dog owner walking with his dog. On the right is a modern colour photo of a lady walking her guide dog in the same position

January 24, 2022

Overview

Guide Dogs provides life-changing support, skills and dogs to people living with sight loss in the UK. In 2021, it celebrated 90 years of helping people with sight loss live the life they choose. The Guide Dogs 90 Appeal encouraged people to support so the charity can continue to help people with sight loss live the life they choose for the next 90 years (and beyond!).

The challenge

In 2021, Guide Dogs celebrated 90 years of helping people with sight loss live the life they choose. With several high impact campaigns planned, the PR team was incredibly busy and needed an extra pair of hands to help boost its press coverage even further. In particular, Melissa’s focus was on the time-intensive, tailored media relations required to secure in-depth features and reach new audiences.

The strategy

  • Conducted a media audit to identify key feature opportunities to target
  • Reviewed case studies and helped the team pitch and place their stories in relevant national and regional publications
  • Provided media relations support for the charity’s campaigns – particularly its 90th anniversary appeal and Born to Guide project
  • Compiled a comprehensive press list with relevant media targets
  • Worked closely with all Guide Dogs team members to source, collate and develop strong stories for press
  • Built relationships with key journalists; pitching news and feature ideas to help generate press coverage
  • Provided PR counsel to the Guide Dogs communications team

The results

Over a four-month period, Melissa secured over 80 high-quality pieces of coverage. Highlights included:

  • Segment on This Morning reuniting the studio team with guide dog puppies Luna and Clover. The interviews with their owners and Guide Dogs’ Tim Stanton highlighted the vital work the charity does for people with sight loss
  • Dedicated feature on Wired and Wired UK showcasing the charity’s pioneering Born to Guide genomics project. Running on the homepage of both sites, the article had a global reach of over 30 million unique users! What’s more, being featured by a world-leading consumer tech title helped raise awareness among a demographic not usually reached with Guide Dogs’ traditional media stories
  • Science feature in the Times also showcasing the Born to Guide project and Guide Dogs’ innovative, cutting-edge approach to breeding and training guide dogs
  • Double page spread in the Daily Express giving an insight into how guide dog puppies are trained at the charity’s National Centre
  • First-person piece in the Scottish Sun showcasing how guide dog Murphy helped his owner, Sarah, live a full and independent life since losing her sight
  • Case study stories showcased in titles including Yahoo!, London Live, Smiley News, Artefact magazine and Boots magazine among others
  • Guardian Angel feature in which the Guardian rewards one of Guide Dogs’ dedicated volunteer puppy raisers
  • and more!

Melissa supported the Guide Dogs Communications team in 2021 and 2022

Guide Dogs logo: yellow paw print on a navy blue background

"I'm still feeling supremely grateful that the Guide Dogs comms team have been able to benefit from Melissa's PR talent for the last few months.

"From day one Melissa was looking for creative hooks, new story angles and opportunities for the charity which have led to some outstanding features, news items and interviews for our 90th anniversary within a very short space of time.

"Beyond her media relations expertise, her drive and ability to network and build internal connections means she is able to add real insight to her stories and is the ultimate self-starter. She's also a team player who everyone likes working with."

Charlotte Speedy
Head of Communications, Guide Dogs

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