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In an effort to reach and recruit a younger audience, PETA has launched peta2, its youth activist program that carries the slogan “not your parents’ animal rights.” According to its Facebook page, peta2’s goal is to arm youth with all the “info, literature, advice, and (most importantly) stickers [they] need to get active for animals.” Essentially, PETA has launched a campaign that, if successful, will recruit, educate, and energize a new generation of PETA supporters. 

petapicThe Uses and Gratifications Theory asserts that people are “active users of media,” meaning they are aware of different media outlets and can thus be selective of the media they use. This theory is important for public relations practitioners to understand because it allows them to target their messages more strategically and effectively to reach one or several key target audiences. It relates to the peta2 campaign because PETA, its parent organization, wanted to reach a younger audience. In order to increase the chances that youth would even come in contact with peta2 and its message, PETA launched peta2 accounts on many of the popular social networking websites, such as Facebook, Myspace, and Twitter. A peta2 channel was also launched on Youtube, featuring spoofs of the television show “Full House” and the 2008 Presidential Election, as well as clips of celebrities voicing support for peta2. In addition, peta2 has launched advertisements and Facebook photos starring celebrity spokespeople and animated cartoons. The peta2 website has also created a series of games to appeal to its target audience, including “Dress Up the Trollsens,” a spoof on the often fur-clad Olsen Twins, and “Bloody Burberry: The Fur Fighters.” All of these are specifically marketed towards kids and teens, making it more likely that younger audiences will hear about peta2 and make an increased effort to learn about and advocate for animal rights issues. 

petapic2The Elaborated Likelihood Model recognizes that most people are aware of and actively think about an idea. It is much easier to reach these types of audiences with a message using standard means of communication and media outlets. However, some audiences may not have any knowledge of the message or subject, or may not be interested in it. In these cases, it is useful for public relations practitioners to know how to take a “peripheral” (as opposed to “central”) route, often aided by repetition, credible spokespeople, and tangible rewards. This model directly relates to the peta2 campaign because a “peripheral” route was utilized to reach and recruit a younger audience. Repetition was employed  to encourage kids and teens to continuously think about and remember peta2’s messages, slogans, and campaigns. The same messages, photos, and advertisements repeat themselves on peta2’s main website as well as its Facbook, Myspace, and Youtube pages. In addition, highly recognizable celebrities and bands are featured in clips, all voicing their support for peta2. No audience is more influenced by pop culture and celebrity spokespeople than kids and teens! Rewards, such as “Free Stuff Friday,”and contests like “Cutest Vegetarian Alive” encourage kids and teens to visit the sites, tell their friends, and provide their email addresses. These giveaways coax peta2’s target audience to continuously visit the site, thus increasing the chances that they will internalize the message and pass it on!



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Post by Kinsley Suer


Agenda Setting Theory: Agenda Setting Theory suggests that the media has the power to set the agenda for what issues publics think about but not what they think specifically. Addressing the influence of media, the Agenda Setting Theory allows public relations campaigns to bring certain issues to the forefront while not necessarily relying on shaping the public’s interpretation of these issues.

The Agenda Setting Theory relates to the approach public relations practitioners take when communicating with their publics. As a Theory of Mass Communication, PR people may choose to simply focus on bringing their issue or campaign the most attention rather than focus on how it will shape it’s audiences opinion.

PETA’s 2004 campaign, “The Holocaust on your Plate”, provides an apt example for the application of the Agenda Setting Theory. Juxtaposing pictures of Holocaust victims with photographs of suffering animals in slaughterhouses, PETA created an incredibly controversial campaign that sought to bring the issue of the treatment of animals in the meat industry to the public’s attention.

Addressing the highly controversial and emotional issue of the Holocaust, the campaign received an excess of appalled responses from offended publics (including prominent religious leaders) and thusly garnered significant press coverage and media attention for their target audience of people who are unaware or unsympathetic of the state of the meat industry.

Though the slaughterhouse photos used were certainly picked to highlight intense suffering and garner sympathy for these animals, the campaign seemingly didn’t intend to provide as compelling of a case for not eating meat as it could have. “The Holocaust on your Plate” campaign relied on inciting controversy and provoking responses rather than relying on highlighting facts, data and certain specifics regarding injustices in the meat industry. Using such contentious and potentially offensive images of Holocaust victims, “The Holocaust on your Plate” campaign was arguably not about gaining support for their cause of injustice in the meat industry but about setting the agenda of issues for their audience to consider.

Post by Hari Khalsa

PETA has used a wide range of streams of communication in order to reach different demographics. Recently, they have increased their efforts of appealing to youth through social networking. Facebook, which is used by students across the world, has given PETA a platform to spread its messages on a large scale. Myspace, a similar networking site open to the public for a much longer time, has fulfilled similar goals.

petacookbookPETA has also used many other networks of communication such as E-cards, merchandise, and cookbooks. PETA even has it’s own vegetarian cooking blog. This medium demonstrates the two-way symmetrical PR model because audiences often comment on the success of the different recipes and add their own material.

The large assortment of types of communication gives PETA the ability to reach a wide variety and number of people. This tactic is an example of the Uses and Gratifications Theory.

Uses and Gratifications Theory- People choose the media that they are influenced by due to their own preferences and values. People form personal relationships between the media that they consume. This relates to the PETA campaign because PETA understands that everyone is different, and therefore people are influenced by different types of media. Some demographics watch the news on television every night while others read the news online. PETA has recognized that today’s youth has a much different selection of media that they use than adults.

Post By Mark Raney

Systems Theory: Organizations and their environments are interdependent; therefore public relations professionals must serve as “boundary spanners,” or individuals who facilitate communications with both the organization and its stakeholders. Boundary spanners allow for organizations to adapt to surrounding political, economic and cultural forces.

Systems can be open or closed. Open systems seek public feedback and use boundary spanners to obtain it. Closed systems do not rely on public opinion, but instead operate based on internal forces and history of organizations.

PETA is currently campaigning to end Canadian seal slaughter. The target audience of this campaign is the Vancouver Olympic Organizing Committee. On the PETA website, supporters can write letters urging the committee to take action about the thousands of seals skinned each year. PETA website


There is also an online Flickr account with photos of the slaughter and protesters. (Photos)


This campaign has altered the Olympic logo so that the red ring is dripping blood. The Olympian is clubbing a seal. More Info



The Vancouver Olympics campaign demonstrates situational theory because PETA is communicating with outside organizations to accomplish their goals. Essentially, every person that writes a letter to the committee serves as a boundary spanner because they are facilitating cooperation between PETA and the Olympic committee.

This example is an open system because PETA seeks input from its target audience, and even relies on it to accomplish its goals. It can also be considered an open system because publics can write letters, participate in protests, and comment on the Flickr account.

Public relations counselor Pat Jackson said that the most important effect of the practice is to change behavior. According to our textbook, systems theory suggests that organizations depend on their environments for resources. In this case, PETA is dependent upon the influence of the Olympic committee to change the behaviors of seal slayers in Vancouver.

The information from this example comes from the websites listed above.

Post by Emily Hutto.

I’d Rather Go Naked Than Wear Fur Campaign
PETA is recognized for its extremely visible campaigns often because of various controversies surrounding the overtly published campaigns. One example of PETA’s highly visible campaigns is the continual “I’d Rather Go Naked Than Wear Fur” campaign, which uses celebrity faces (and bodies) to send an anti-fur message to the public masses. The campaign includes different contagious slogans and themes such as “Ink not mink” (Carey Hart), “bare skin not bearskin” (Jamie Bamber) and “I always fake it” (Holly Madison). By using well-known naked celebrities in its campaigns PETA has gained a lasting spot in the media’s spotlight. This specific campaign is a prime example of both Press Agentry and Elaboration Likelihood Model.

Press Agentry: Press Agentry is a Public Relations model that exemplifies the idea of getting good press into the mass media. Press Agentry is a one way model where the organization releases information to its public. The central idea behind Press Agentry is to gain favorable mention in the media. It is obvious in this day and age that people are getting information from all media sources. It is also obvious that there is a new social obsession with celebrities. PETA recognized both of these aspects of today’s society and took advantage of celebrities’ ability to reach out to the masses in order to gain press. With PETA it is not always about completely positive press but it does try to utilize the “shock value” to their best advantage. This can be seen through their hiring of such unexpected celebrities like Pamela Anderson and Khloe Kardashian. Neither of these celebrities are considered “wholesome”, but instead it is their outspoken personalities personified in the media that will gain the type of media coverage PETA is striving for. Also, the very design of the campaign (naked celebrities) is controversial and shocking enough to gain a constant coverage in the media. The following website is an example of how Khloe Kardashian’s campaign gained media coverage on the World Wide Web.

Elaboration Likelihood Model: The Elaboration Likelihood Model is a Public Relations Model used to get people to think about an organization’s message. The central idea behind this model is that people generally process information through a “central route” which means they are actively thinking about an idea. However, when people are not interested in a message it is important for organizations to access people through a “peripheral route”. This entails a repetition of a message through a highly credible spokesperson (or people). The Elaboration Likelihood Model essentially motivates people to think about an issue through spokespeople and sometimes even rewards. PETA’s anti-fur campaigning as gained so much media coverage because of the celebrities used. The campaign is constantly in the media with each new celebrity willing to strip down to preserve animal rights. Because of its constant coverage in the media, people are forced to think about the issue PETA is campaigning for. PETA is very selective with picking the right celebrities in order to reach out to the greatest number of audiences. The myriad of celebrities range from sex symbols like Holly Madison and Pamela Anderson, musical groups like Danity Kane and Simple Plan, actors like Eva Mendes and David Cross and even athletes like Amanda Beard and Carey Heart. This multifaceted group of celebrities allows PETA to get their message to men and women of all ages, interests and even ethnicities. With a continual production of different advertisements directed at new audiences PETA utilizes the Elaboration likelihood Model by having a “credible spokesperson” for every type of audience and continual reminder to not wear fur. The following site is from PETA’s Media Center and shows the various anti-fur campaigns and spokespeople.

Post by, Katie Wang

On the beach in Malaysia

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, founded in1980, is the largest animal rights organization in the world. It has four areas of focus: factory farms, laboratories, clothing trade and the entertainment industry. PETA targets these areas with research, legislation, special events, media campaigns and protests. Ultimately, PETA would like to completely eliminate the world’s reliance upon animals for food, clothing, experimentation and even entertainment. It receives help from its 20 million members who live all over the world.

Our group will analyze five of PETA’s public relations endeavors using both public relations and mass communication theories.

To check out PETA’s website and their blog, visit our blogroll below.

Click here to play the PETA Paint Pour Game.


Post by Patrick Sullivan.

Post by Patrick Sullivan.