Categorized | Social Entrepreneur

Working for the Greater Good

Name of Social Enterprise and URL?
Pet News and Views

Who is the person? What is there background?
Michele C. Hollow. I am a blogger with a background in journalism and animal welfare. I grew up in the Bronx, about three miles from the Bronx Zoological Society. On weekends, I took zoology classes there. I’m also a journalist with 15 years of experience. I’m a generalist who has been published in the NY Daily News, Newsday, NY Times, Star-Ledger, Philadelphia Inquirer,,, Cat Fancy, Dog Fancy, Pet Product News, Country Decorating, and other lifestyle print and online publications.

What is your product or service?
My blog is Pet News and Views, an animal advocacy blog that focuses on pet lifestyle topics and the people who work with and on behalf of animals. I am using the blog to share information about pets and wildlilfe. My readers are wonderful. They like to help, and will sign petitions, send e-mails or make phone calls to congress people regarding animal legislation. Every month, I try to partner with a major company to do a giveaway of product to animal shelters. My most successful partnership was with Iams. For every comment I received on my blog, Iams donated 50 bowls of food to animal shelters throughout the country. I got over 1700 comments.

Date officially launched?
September 2010

What came about that made them help in social change? Why was this social venture created?
I have always admired animals-cats, dogs, and wildlife. As my blog grew more and more companies wanted to partner with me. They asked if I would review their products. My response is only if you give away a substantial amount-a minimum of 50 products. I rarely do giveaways for my readers. My readers love leaving comments because they know they are helping animal shelters. I recently did a contest with Hill’s, makers of Science Diet, where readers who won the contest got to decide which animal shelter should get the free food. As I said, my readers love helping out. They really care about animals. Many of them volunteer at their local animal shelters. So, they know how desperate shelters are for these freebies.

How many years and how many people has this person helped? How many people need help?

Working for the Greater Good

Michele C. Hollow

I’ve been doing this for two years. My goal is to run one contest a month. It has helped thousands of animals. It doesn’t cost much to run these contests-just time. When I do a major contest-like the one with Iams-I also send out press releases, and have developed relationships with online, print, and radio personalities who also spread the word about my contests. Everyone is happy to help because they really care about animals. And by helping animals, we help people!
I’ve asked people to sign petitions and contact congress people regarding animal rights. Right now, I’m asking my readers to please sign a petition telling Skechers to pull their Super Bowl ad. Yes, that takes a lot of hutzpah! The Skechers ad was shot at the notorious Tucson Greyhound , one of the worst greyhound tracks in the U.S. My readers send me e-mails and leave comments at my site telling me they are happy to oblige.

What is the cost per person that is being helped? Are you working on decreasing that cost by being more efficient?
The cost is my time. I research and write a post, bring awareness to a topic, and then market it on Facebook, LI (Pet News and Views has its own FB account), Twitter, Care2 (which is an excellent site for promoting social issues), and Tumblr.

Could others help you and how?
A lot of my readers cross post and share the Pet News and Views’ story with their friends and followers. It’s great. I could use an assistant because I know I am missing opportune times to Tweet and post on FB.

What free online or offline tools do you use?
Facebook (two accounts), Twitter (two accounts), LinkedIn (I belong to several groups and host a Pet News and Views group), Care2, and I recently started using Tumblr. It’s so easy and a lot of fun. When I’m working on a major project, I will send out e-news releases to media people.

How many people are currently working, including employees?
It’s me and who ever I partner with.

Do you tweet, facebook fan page, myspace friend or use any other social media to get the word out?
I use LinkedIn is my favorite site. I also like Care2, Facebook and Twitter. I have two Twitter accounts.

Here is a funny YouTube video about Pet News and Views:

This YouTube video is about traveling and staying in pet-friendly Alexandria:

Here is a video with actress Loretta Swit:

What is the best advice you never got?

To be patient and to know that it is okay to ask for help.

What is the one thing that you did right?
Immersing myself in a topic I’m passionate about.

What was the biggest transition you had to make?
I had to learn how to use social media, how to use PhotoShop, and how to use WordPress. YouTube is a great place to learn. There are a lot of how-tos on the site. I also had to get over my fear of public speaking. I’m a writer/journalist first. Speaking in front of large groups terrified me. I practiced, took a few Toastmaster’s workshops, and now I love moderating panels and speaking on animal advocacy, blogging, and social media.

Are you doing any type of Search Engine Optimization?
When I write, I plug in all of the metatags on my WordPress blog. I know my blog posts have key words that search engines like, but I don’t write around those words. I tell a good well researched story, and then if I can I will plug in some key words.

What can you tell other potential social entrepreneurs who are deciding to make a difference?
Find an issue that you are passionate about. Partner with people who can help you and who share your passion. Write a short-one page-query to these people you want to partner with, or call them and talk to them about your ideas. When you explain that you are not only helping animals, but will also get the word out about their company and yours, everyone wins.

What book(s) have you read that others should read?
I love to read, and I read a lot. Every business person should know how to write, and you should have “The Elements of Style,” by E.B. White on your desk.
The other books I read are about animals. It’s my industry and I want to learn as much as I can.

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