This is a guest post by Arin Greenwood. Arin writes for the Human Animal Support Services project. She was previously the animal welfare editor for The Huffington Post, and is author of the novel Your Robot Dog Will Die.
Fido is an 8-year-old brown female dog who needs a home. But is that how you want to describe her in an adoption ad or social media post, when your aim is to get potential adopters imagining how great Fido would be as a member of their family?
Humans understand and engage with the world through narrative—through details and yarns, that bring facts to life. That’s why newspaper articles begin not with straight data, but with stories.
Your adoption ads and social media posts are little stories, too. They are your chance to “humanize” a pet, and help members of the public feel they know and care about the animals you are trying to get attention for, and to place into loving homes.
Here are 13 questions you can ask animal care staff, volunteers, and foster families, that will help you elicit the details to write a great, compelling adoption ad or post. These come from a longer (but not too long) recent presentation on narrative hooks in animal welfare.
- Does Fido have any funny little habits that make you laugh or smile?
- Does Fido have a favorite toy?
- Does Fido have friends?
- What was Fido’s life like before coming to the shelter or into rescue?
- Do we know anything about why Fido is in the shelter?
- What sort of shape was Fido in when she arrived to us?
- Does Fido have any personality quirks? What is Fido’s personality like?
- What is a typical day like for Fido, and what’s her favorite and least favorite parts of the day?
- How did Fido get her name?
- What is the cutest thing about Fido?
- What have we done to help Fido?
- Can you share some pictures of Fido?
- What else would you like me to know?