A pro-hunting public relations campaign is providing an example of how to get a positive message out to non-hunters.
If hunting–and by extension, healthy wildlife populations–are to continue, we absolutely must enlist the support of the general, non-hunting public. In PR-speak, we need to “sell” hunting to the non-hunting world.
Hunters are losing the public-relations war for a stupid reason: We’re not even showing up. Fact is, the majority of people still support hunting, or simply don’t have an opinion one way or the other. But that’s going to change, and not in our favor, if hunters don’t start engaging the general public in an approachable way to let them know that what we do matters.
You’ve seen the other side’s emotion-filled public-relations campaigns, which convince well-meaning but uninformed people that wolves are endangered and the last polar bear has already floated away on the last patch of (Photoshopped) sea ice. We’ve got the facts on our side, so why aren’t we playing the game?
A lot of industry organizations and hunting groups are involved in efforts to bring more hunters into the fold, but despite their best efforts, these programs reach a relatively small number of people. What we really need is a big, sweeping, cutting-edge public-relations campaign that tells the story of hunting and its benefits to wildlife conservation and the world at large.
That’s why I was thrilled to discover there is a least one entity out there doing exactly that–in Colorado. Colorado’s Wildlife Council came up with an interesting and effective PR campaign to educate the public about the benefits of hunting, a campaign that should be emulated nationwide.
The heart of it is a series of TV ads called “Hug a Hunter” (they have “Hug an Angler” ads, too). These ads are light, fun, and do a great job of getting a positive message out to non-hunters.
One ad shows a hiker walking on a wilderness trail up a gorgeous mountain. On the peak is a hunter, glassing. The voice-over says, “Coloradans are proud of the wildlife and natural beauty in Colorado. And we have hunters and anglers to thank for helping support it. So if you love protecting Colorado and its natural beauty, go ahead and hug a hunter.” The hiker walks up to the bemused hunter and gives him a hug.
Another ad discusses the economic benefits of hunting to Colorado’s rural towns and small businesses while showing a camo-clad hunter serving breakfast to patrons in a small cafe and getting a hug from one of them at the end. (Watch the ads here.)
What I like about these ads is that they don’t lay it on too thick. They don’t drone on and on with statistics. They don’t take themselves too seriously. They make a simple point, do it quickly, and do it in a feel-good way that leaves the viewer smiling.
According to Hugahunter.com, Colorado’s Wildlife Council (the entity charged with this outreach) is funded by a 75-cent surcharge on each hunting and fishing license sold. The council hired an advertising agency to create ads that convey a simple message: “Once you understand everything hunters and anglers do for our state, you may want to give them a hug.”
A campaign like this needs to happen nationwide. It’s time hunters stopped losing the PR wars. At the very least, it’s high time we started showing up. One state has now provided an example of how it can be done.