by Tony Burke
An Interview With Pete Wedderburn, a veterinary surgeon with a passion for communicating the love of his work through blogging, social media, radio and television. He is known as ‘Pete The Vet’.
Pete, you say your mission is to use the media to act as an advocate on behalf of animals, and you spend 50% of your working week on media work. How did you become so involved with using the internet and digital marketing as a form of exposure?
One of my main writing jobs for the past seven years has been a weekly column for the London-based Daily Telegraph. As part of my Telegraph brief, I found myself writing a three-times weekly online blog on animal issues. I was sent a weekly break-down of my blog viewing statistics and it was clear that readership numbers were a critical part of performance assessment as a blogger. To maximise my readership, it was logical to use social media to let people know whenever I’d written a blog that I thought they might find interesting. I soon discovered that social media was an excellent way of highlighting many of my other media activities, including television, radio and print. Most media organisations now have online output, and I discovered that my website, Facebook and Twitter presence allowed me to direct people to their websites to engage with my work.
You also dedicate a lot of time writing for Newspapers, both in Ireland and the U.K., do you still enjoy the writing process?
I love spending three or four hours a day writing: it stretches my brain, and I find it fulfilling. I also love being a “real” vet, treating animals in our recently modernised and extended clinic in Bray. The mix of half-a-day vetting and half-a-day writing is my ideal working routine.
Everything you are involved with ends up on your website blog. Are you addicted to Blogging?
Well, that depends on your definition of “addiction”. Wikipedia says it means “continued repetition of a behaviour despite adverse consequences”, so in that sense, blogging is not an addiction, because there are no major adverse consequences (apart from the eating-up of my time). I would prefer to say that I am an enthusiastic blogger, rather than an addict (but then, perhaps, like many addicts, I am in denial…..)
So how important do you think online social engagement is for your brand?
My online presence is very important for two reasons. First, from a career point of view: the traditional print/television media is gradually being eclipsed by the internet, and if I want to continue to spend time engaging with the public, I need to be active online. Second, the internet is a tremendous way of connecting with many people in a short space of time, enabling me to fulfil my personal mission of promoting good quality information about animal health and welfare.
How often do you update your blog and your social media?
I have an organised schedule of blog posts, aiming to put up something new on my website at 9am, every day of the week. Regular readers of my blog will know that there is a set routine: Monday means a dog story, Tuesday is a product or book review, Wednesday is a cat story, Thursday is my weekly TV3 clip, Friday mentions a Rescue Pet of the week, Saturday is a post about my weekly Daily Telegraph column, and Sunday is my radio podcast of the week, from East Coast FM. This schedule is not set in stone, and I may add or subtract to it, depending on what issues are topical, but it forms a good framework. When I write a blog post, it automatically links to Facebook and Twitter, and there’s often some interesting social media interaction afterwards.
I know you put a lot of time at the beginning of 2014 streamlining your brand’s online presence, combining some of your websites into one central hub. How has this benefited your workflow?
Now I can post everything that comes to mind from one location. This saves me a lot of time thinking about what may be suitable for different sites, and allows my team and I to focus on quality content.
Finally, what advice would you give to companies about starting to think about investing in digital marketing?
Create a budget for online marketing, and get started as soon as possible. If you don’t do it now, you will be even further behind when you finally get around to it next year. The reality is that the general public is online these days, and most people get news and information from social media. Any business or cause in the public domain has to be online, and needs to focus their online activities to grow their business.