I love my dog. I love my job. This past year, these worlds collided, and I’ve been lucky enough to match my passion with purpose.
In April, I learned about a crisis in the veterinary community that shocked me: Veterinarians are almost three times* more likely than the general population to die by suicide.
As part of a company that works for and with veterinarians — and the pets they care for — every day, the team at Bader Rutter knew something had to be done.
We decided to use our marketing chops and industry expertise to bring attention to this issue. In June, we helped a small group of concerned veterinarians bring to life the Veterinary Hope Foundation (VHF), a nonprofit that offers resources for members of the animal-care community who are in crisis, while also driving public awareness of the issue.
Within a few months, the team at Bader Rutter had designed a brand, coordinated PR, activated social media, built a compelling story-rich website — and produced one of Bader Rutter’s first in-person trade show experiences in nearly two years.
Bringing hope and awareness
When Petfood Forum in Kansas City, Missouri, offered the VHF a position as one of its charities of choice for 2021, we knew it was a perfect venue to raise awareness for our cause. This trade show would be full of people who wholeheartedly love pets and work closely with veterinarians.
When we thought about what we wanted our footprint to look like, we considered what attendees needed to see at their first in-person trade show in 18 months — something that was not a warning about yet another crisis but a message of hope instead.
Once we had a theme, the next question to answer was: How can we make sure every attendee stops and looks? So, we thought big — as in 26 feet long and 10 feet tall BIG.
The final idea involved an engaging mix of old-school and new-school technologies, as we invited show attendees to share Polaroid photos of their pets or animals via a QR code to be posted on our HOPE Wall.
By the end of the first day, trade show attendees had already filled out the letters H-O-P-E with hundreds of photos — something that we thought might take the entire conference.
As I stepped back, I saw people becoming emotional and saying that, while they had a veterinarian in the family, they had no idea about this crisis. I saw people wanting to donate, to help and to learn more. And I saw our foundation founders emotionally moved by the whole event; as veterinarians, the outpouring of support hit especially close to home.
It was a whirlwind 48 hours full of engagement, emotion — and hope. In that moment, I was reminded that every mission starts with one idea. Like most campaigns, our mission was born by identifying a problem and being inextricably compelled to create a solution. And we’re not done yet.
Dogs can’t talk, but we can.
My dog has been to the veterinarian many times in his short two years — sometimes for routine reasons, such as an annual checkup or a round of shots, and other times for emergencies. Each time, the veterinarian and vet technicians at my local clinic have nursed my precious pup back to health. An invaluable service. He would have said thank you, if he could talk. He can’t, but I can.
The best part of what we do as marketers is getting to use our skills to support important causes, in both small and large ways. There’s so much more we can do, and will do, to bring awareness to this important issue. It’s not hard to get people on board — we just need help spreading the word. Will you join us in amplifying this story?
Learn how you can get involved at VeterinaryHope.org.
*Tomasi SE, Fechter-Leggett ED, Edwards NT, Reddish AD, Crosby AE, Nett RJ. Suicide among veterinarians in the United States from 1979 through 2015. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2019;254(1):104-112. https://doi.org/10.2460/javma.254.1.104
About the Author
Kate Joachim has nearly a decade of public relations experience in a variety of industries, including manufacturing, supply chain technology, tourism and B2B businesses. From inception to execution, Kate tackles initiatives by asking the right questions and working with the client to determine the best solutions. She has successfully managed media relations efforts, content strategy, influencer programs, store opening events, trade shows, campaign launches, media training, PR writing and more. Outside of “the office,” Kate enjoys spending time with her husband and her dog (not necessarily in that order) and digging into a good book.