Top Tips from March Luncheon: Navigating the Zoo

    By Liz Gibbons, Communications Committee Co-Chair

    At the March luncheon, members of the Colorado Chapter of PRSA were able to learn how Jake Kubié, director of communications for one of the country’s most popular zoos, approaches strategic planning, stakeholder management and crisis communications. Kubié was joined by his team including the zoo’s Public Relations Coordinator Carlie McGuire. Below are some takeaways from the luncheon.

    1. Some challenges are just misguided efforts. Kubié explained that, often, the zoo’s objectives are misconstrued. Many visitors do not know that the zoo is a non-profit and that they engage with many types of conservation efforts around the globe. Kubié and his team see their jobs as an opportunity to correct any misperceptions through PR.
    2. Adapt a proactive multichannel approach for PR and marketing. Identify where your gaps and opportunities are to move your audience through your marketing funnel. The zoo’s integrated marketing communications approach includes proactive approaches like online video, TV channels and blogs. You may see more success with news media if you post regularly on your channels instead of sending out press releases irregularly.
    3. Identify your audience and where you can engage with them. Identifying different audiences across platforms is important because it helps to know how to strategize the content shared. Ask if your audience is engaging with your channels, if they are loyal and if they advocate for your brand. For instance, the Denver Zoo has identified their main social media audience as outside of the Denver area, which affects which news they share on those platforms and how they write copy for their social posts.
    4. “We’re not going to wait anymore... We’re going to do our own stories, our way and share everything we want to tell about that story.” All stories may not always be suitable for the media, but are still important to share. Kubié’s team collaborates with many stakeholders, such as the City, the zoo’s board and the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District, to find the appropriate medium to share each story.
    5. You never know where a high performing story will come from. The zoo’s team promotes a storytelling culture within their organization by asking experts (zookeepers, board members) to share stories that otherwise might not be known or shared through traditional media. With an increase in media transparency, many who want nothing to do with the spotlight are being called upon to tell a story. The story may not be photogenic, but it may be important to highlight.
    6. People are used to viewing raw content. Kubié’s team does not feel that all content needs to be polished. Instead they say to figure out how to be transparent and authentic, and how to incorporate user-generated content.
    7. Use vernacular your audience can understand. Don’t get caught up in jargon that will dilute your messaging.

    Incorporate diversity into your marketing communication efforts and platforms. The Denver Zoo values diversity, including answering and posting in different languages; accessibility efforts, like discounted prices for those less affluent; and diverse visuals, like photos.

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