As dog trainers were forced to stop working during the Coronavirus pandemic, behaviourist Karen Boyce knew that media coverage would keep her front of mind with dog owners.
In the past 18 months alone, Karen, from Beastly Thoughts in Wales, has been featured more than 30 times in the press, including many times through lockdown.
This has meant she’s become the go-to person for new dog owners and has even been called the ‘Puppy Queen’ of Wales.
It’s been amazing for her profile and I’m so excited to share this episode with you as it really shows how publicity can help your business.
In podcast Karen shares her background and what led her into the pet industry, her tips on how to work with journalists and how media coverage has skyrocketed her profile.
You can listen on the player link below or continue reading as a blog post.
Karen’s background at Beastly Thoughts
Karen specialises in working with reactive dogs after her personal experience of her own pet attacking another dog.
It happened after her first German Shepherd had pups and on her first walk after many months at home, and it made Karen want to educate herself about Canine Behaviour.
This was 30 years ago, and she started by studying the work of Ian Dunbar, which led her to taking a behaviour course.
Karen says: “I never told my story until I joined a business mentoring group with Dominic Hodgson. I never thought my clients needed to hear it.
“But when your dog is being reactive, you’re scared, you’re embarrassed, you’re confused.
“Particularly with a big dog, as I do a lot of German Shepherd work. It’s helped me in my business as I can actually relate to how the owners feel.”
Now Karen is a multi award winning trainer
Fast forward 30 years and Karen has a string of accolades to her name, has shown and won many times at Crufts and is known as the ‘Puppy Queen’ of Wales.
We started to work together on her publicity two years ago after she won at Crufts and she secured local press coverage.
Since then she’s had dozens of pieces of press.
Recalling her first piece of coverage, she said: “I’d won big at Crufts, and I wanted to write about the experience.
“I followed the template provided and sent it off along with some nice pictures. It was the first time I’d done something like that, and the Wrexham paper even interviewed me!
“We made the front cover and page three inside of one paper, one did a three page spread and another did a page three story.
“In all of the coverage I’ve received, my contact details are normally always get added, no matter what we are talking about so potential clients can get in touch.”
Bitten by the publicity bug, Karen has gone on to secure a monthly column in Love Wrexham Magazine, online and in print
She said: “I write for Love Wrexham on a monthly basis, this could be me sharing something that I’ve done that month or based on some tips for dog owners.
“I’ve written about topics such as what to do with your dog when you have a new baby and what to do with recall.
“It’s very handy having this because when I want to speak to clients or other journalists I can drop in the links from Love Wrexham.
“If you Google my name and ‘dog trainer’ the first thing that comes up is ‘Puppy queen of Wales!’ which is a story I pitched just before lockdown.
“We’d had 70 puppies booked on in three months and I thought, ‘this would make a great story.’ So I got in touch and that story has been great for my business.”
Other features Karen has written and pitched include dogs enjoying treats spelling out We Love the NHS, National Dog Photography Day, Christmas Gift guides for dogs, training tips for lockdown, Christmas puppy walks and advice on keeping pets calm during the fireworks.
As well as having an eye for a story, Karen says it’s important for pet businesses to think of images too
She asked her followers on social media to share photos of their dogs for National Dog Photography Day, and for the NHS campaign.
When she hosted events prior to lockdown, Karen ensured there were plenty of cute pictures of pups to send off with her ideas.
And as well as the benefits of reaching more people through publicity, Karen has seen her social media channels grow.
Her Facebook page has 3000 followers and she’s built up a following on Instagram and Twitter by doing lives and collaborations, and joining in online events.
Her profile meant things were easier when she needed to take her work online
Karen is a regional manager Puppy School, and over lockdown she pivoted, taking the classes online and started to produce webinars and online videos.
Karen teamed up with other dog trainers and put on an online conference where she was the puppy specialist.
She helped clients online with dog obedience and behaviour training and in between Lockdown 1 and 3 she taught COVID canine classes, designed for pups who’d grown up in Lockdown.
Karen said: “When the first lockdown hit, it was hard. I’m not afraid to say it. I came down to earth with a bump. I sat at my computer crying.
“Then I picked myself up, dusted myself down and carried on and it’s been all right.”
She added: “For the future I’m focusing on online courses, in case things don’t go back to normal for a while.
“I really enjoy doing the webinars and having chats with those attending at the end. I’m also training some young instructors.”
Karen says it can be daunting putting yourself out there
And her advice to anyone worrying about ‘bigging themselves up’ is to take a deep breath and hit send, because if you don’t shout about yourself, no-one else will!
She ensures each pitch has a story or helpful, relevant advice, and Karen has built up a bank of media contacts and can now think like a journalist.
She said: “I’ve learnt a lot about getting my pitch in quickly and making sure it’s current, plus how to connect with people on social channels and how to take professional looking photographs.
“I’ve learnt so much and learnt how to believe in myself! That’s so important if you’re pitching, and remember you’re helping people better understand their dogs, and that’s a huge thing.”
You can find out more about Karen on her website www.beastlythoughts.co.uk
Links mentioned in this episode:
Puppy Queen of Wales: Dog trainer Karen’s milestone achievement
How Karen trained 220 pups in Lockdown: Wrexham puppy trainer helps record number of pups
Trader of the week feature: Karen knows all there is to know about dogs
If you enjoyed reading this, you might like to read How Julie secured 15 pieces of coverage in six months for DogG8, How Suzanne Gould went from shy dog walker to trainer to the stars, and How Kim went from feeling invisible to having a global pet business