Monday, June 07, 2010

Monday Writers Craft Online: Writing Adopt Me Notices

When The Star started buying Katz Tales and Dog Talk columns, the editor gave me a little space to highlight pets who need a home.  There have been more than 150 Adopt Me boxes published so far, and I've noticed that the best results come from following a formula.

I've also noticed that when people rescue an animal from the streets, they tend to focus on the change in their charge.  So they write about the broken paws/fleas/starvation etc at great length.  This is a mistake.

Most people want to adopt a healthy pet, not inherit an animal that may be spending all its time in the vets.  If they were in the market for an animal that needs such help, they'd step out of the house and pick one up themselves - it's not like Malaysia isn't full of such sad cases. 

To get good results, consider that most people look at the picture first, and then the text.  BUT they don't read beyond the first few sentences if the message doesn't feel right. 

In order to get the best impression of your charge, put up a great picture showing the pet in action or smiling.  Then keep the information short, to the point, and cheerful. Focus on name, age and character.

SAY: "Harry, aged 6 months, is a lively dog who loves to go on long walks and play frisbee."

DON'T SAY "Harry was left with a broken paw after a hit-and-run car accident..."

Of course you must be open with people who write/call/visit and disclose the animal's history.  However, if the pet is 100% OK, then that's the thing you lead with to gain interest.  The more people you get to show an interest, the better your chance of finding a good match. 

Winning formula: great picture, short text with name, age, and character summary.

I just wish I could write every week and double the adoption boxes available.  There are so many pets out there who need a chance.  Like my two fuzzies: Au was a battered kitten when we got him from Dorothy, an animal lover in Malacca, and Target had been rehabilitated by Naemah, an animal rescuer in Subang Jaya, when he joined our family.  They've brought us so much joy, it's indescribable.  


Katnip Lounge said...

One of my favorite boys is my Scouty, who I can't even pet, he's so feral. But what a purrsonality! Just because an animal is "damaged" doesn't mean he or she won't make a loyal friend. So I agree--accentuate the positive first.
MomKat Trish

Mishkat said...

This is great advice - thanks! (Also thanks for doing the "Adopt Me" feature.) My husband and I tend to find animals that need help for some reason - and we are willing to do the vet trips - but I realize that many people can't do this.

P.S. Re your question on our blog - I'm doing physical therapy for the next month - then a re-evaluation by "specialist vet" (a.k.a. orthopedist). Just hoping not to have surgery! Physical therapy is not fun, but I hear that's normal.

Cat-from-Sydney said...

Aunty Ellen,
So, what do we write in lieu of "bad breath" in Brad's adoption poster? shhhh....don't tell my Mama. Am trying to get rid of this pest without my Mama's knowing. purrr....meow!

Rosemary B❤️ said...

this is an amazing post. You truly are an angel.
We do not have many strays here in our neighborhood but a lot of kitties running loose. people here are so dumb about that.
in these bad economic times mom and dad had to cut back on their contributions to a few charities but they increased the contributions to the local shelter and the local womens shleter.

bonks to Au and Target. I am glad to know them and their mom is truly a hero for the defenseless

Boo-Bah AKA Iris said...

It is so wonderful that you are able to help in finding good homes for those who need a forever home.
Both my cats are rescues. I love them dearly.

Amy & the house of cats said...

That is really great advice - we think that the idea of pointing out the positive is a good one! It is also so great that you help to get some publicity for the animals who need it there! I know I wouldn't rule any animal out because of a problem, but a lot of people are not that way (though I am guessing most pet bloggers are good enough to look past it to!)

Ellen Whyte said...

I don't do much: I just enable rescuers to reach a section of the public twice a month. From what I see and hear, many Katz Tales readers aren't the sort who surf online, so the box is a nice way for them to hear stuff that other people see on web sites and over mass email. If you want to give kudos, give it to people like Sabrina Yeap and Wong Ee Lynn and Lynette.

Pam said...

There are adoption columns in our paper as well. I hope all the animals find good homes.

~CovertOperations78~ said...

Thanks for the great tips! I think a lot of rescuers tend to focus on the "look how much the poor little guy has gone through" aspect, not the "this is why you should bring him home -- because he is a great dog and a lot of fun to have around!" You-know-who is seriously sabotaging his own chances because each time anyone asks about that particular dog, he keeps telling people what a handful the dog is! But he isn't! He's a normal dog! It's just that you-know-who isn't a dog person at all and thinks all dogs are noisy and a lot of trouble! What an ass he is!