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VNN Media Insider Newsletter December 31st, 2009
In This Issue
Ketamine Recall
Unpacking the HSUS Gravy Train
VNN 2.0
Featured Article
Flashing emergency light

By now, you are all aware of a continuing controversial situation involving ketamine  and Teva Animal Health.
The important thing that you as veterinary reporters need to be aware of is the fact that this story has really gone viral and is a trending topic on many sites.  Just like the pet food recall, there is a lot of speculation and concern by pet owners and some of the "pet experts" on the web.
We created a short list of Message Points that are designed to help you calm fears and reassure pet owners that their pet is still safe in your hands.
We are also continuing to watch the story and will update you as needed.
Featured Article
Red light siren
As veterinary professionals, we all believe in doing what's best for the pet as well as what's best for th client.  Oftentimes, that line seems to get blurrred with other animal welfare or rights groups.
In a recent blog, the Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF)announced that the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is not being honest with it's contributors with respect to how money is spent.  The blog gives a link to the HSUS' 2008 IRS tax form that shows (according to CCF) that less than 40% of every dollar donated goes to help animals.
To be fair, there are accusations that the CCF is simply a tool of the restaurant and agricultural (meat) industry.  But, it seems to me that the numbers are pretty black and white.
We should also keep in mind that HSUS has done some amazing work with respect to animal welfare in the past and continues to strive to keep animals safe.
We have asked for clarification from the Emerging Media Director of HSUS and have not received a serious response back yet.
We will develop Message Points and resources for this topic as I think it will be an ongoing controversy for some time.  For now, the easiest thing to say if this comes up in a media setting..."Give to your LOCAL shelters and rescues".
Quick Links...
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Dear VNN Reporters:
As we watch the scenes of devastation from Haiti, our hearts and prayers go out to all people affected by this tremendous disaster.  We are also keeping the brave men, women, and military/search and rescue animals who are heading into the disaster zone.
Did you notice how quickly relief groups and even some national organizations used the social networks to set up donation sites?  Again, it's the power and viral nature of this amazing thing we call the Internet.  When used for's magnificent!  But, when it's used to scare, manipulate or misinform's horrible and even inurious at times.  This is just ANOTHER reason why we want you to understand and be active in this medium.
Dr. Jim's column today has a wonderful description of what Web 2.0 is and how it is continuing to change.  He also points out the VNN is adapting to these changes and identifies how we will morph into VNN 2.0.
Finally, be sure to read the sidebar columns to the left. The ketamine recall is big news among the social sites and blogosphere and a story about the HSUSand their finances will continue to sneak under the radar for a little while...but you should still be prepared.
VNN 2.0
Dr. Jim Humphries
I imagine all of you have heard the term "Web 2.0".  For a while now I've simply read over it and went on searching for what I needed.  But I stopped last month to actually learn the definition of Web 2.0 as I wondered, are we heading to 2.1 or 3.0? 
Actually the term began to be used in 2004 and it is defined as a major evolution of web communications where web applications facilitate interactive information sharing, interoperability, user-centered design, and collaboration.  Simply stated, it is when the web went from being a one way medium (info delivery) to TWO WAY and INTERACTIVE communications.  
Interactive is the key phrase.  If you think way back in the pre 2004 days, the web was a library-type resource and you could find and print or read just about anything.  Now however it is extremely user interactive, searchable, findable, customizable, and mobile plus today the whole thing is in the palm of your hand.  (I just joined that evolution with my Droid smartphone).  
So now you know.  What about 3.0??  Some say Web 3.0 is the return of experts and authorities to the Web (i.e. all the techies went running when we lowly consumers took over).  Others like CNN Money's Jessi Hempel expects Web 3.0 to be new and innovative Web 2.0 services with a profitable business model.  Hmm..., profit would be nice.  We do media to teach and to educate, but also to drive traffic which means profit. 
NOW, what does all this have to do with VNN.  For five years now we have provided you over 100 media friendly, newsworthy stories that you can customize and place in local media with your name and face.  Each of our stories are done in several versions or formats to meet your media needs.  Television, radio, print, podcasts, press releases, talking points etc., all for you to customize and use.  VNN is meant to be a resource for you to save you time and to help our overall goal of educating the public.  We have done that - very successfully.  Last year we proudly announced that our numbers of media veterinarians is approaching 400 and our overall media reach for the year was almost 700 Million people.  Even in the big media world - that is impressive.  
(One quick note; none of this would have happened had it not been for Western Conference (Dr. Steve Crane) and Merial).  
However, it is time to change.  NOT change the things that are working, but rather change the formats in ways that are... well...2.0.  
I have harped on Social Media for the past several months - and I warn you now, that will continue.  Social Media / communications IS THE way we communicate, now and in the future.  If you are not diving into this whole new area - you are already behind.  Paid advertising will soon be dead and by ramping up your social media, you will have a marketing strategy that is on the leading edge (and cheaper!)
Knowing how the social media evolution will most likely unfold, we at VNN must change our story versions to provide you with the most effective story formats for your media.  And that is VNN 2.0.  
Beginning this Spring we will stop producing the Broadcast Quality TV News Stories and replace them with b-roll packages and edited stories that will be very simple for you to host with a web cam on your blog - Video Blog!  Share these on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and many other video hosting sites.  We will be sending you Tweetable Moments so you can dive in to this micro-blog phenomenon.  We'll show you how to manage all this for minimal time impact.  Also, our stories will be reformatted in size to be easily used by you on anything from your hospital web site to your Facebook Fan Page.  
Tom and I are literally sticking our heads into every type of social media site, and testing the waters to see what we recommend to you and by learning it ourselves we are able to teach it to you.  Teaching you will save you LOTS of time and mistakes.  
To that end, we have already built a great Forum.  If you have not done so already, we would love to have you participate at  It is fun and you will be helping thousands of people.  We have a nice presentation on how to use the site.  This is an outstanding way to dive in to social media.  It is also a way that VNN can help itself become financially independent.  
We have constructed presentations on how to get started with Twitter and we have pages where you can see how to build and how to use the site.  And this will continue.  We gladly assume the role of your guides into the crazy evolving world of social media communications.  
I am teaching a two hour class at Western this year and I'll make those notes available to you at WVC time.  We will be delivering articles in this newsletter, we have built VNN Fan Pages on Facebook and Linkedin.  We encourage you to participate in all of them.  Next week I am meeting with an expert who I will ask to hold a variety of webinars for all of us to learn even more.  
The change has happened, and we are morphing to stay in tune with Web 2.0 and all the social communications happening now.  Doing this PLUS our other story formats, will cause us to further increase our overall reach as a network.  
We are willing to help you individually as time permits or in these webinars and "gotomeetings" to help you squeeze all this into your very busy lives.  
Warning: this stuff does take time.  WAY too much time.  But let Tom and I bear that burden for you and trust us to guide you in making Web 2.0 and VNN 2.0 as simple and effective for you as possible.  
Don't forget to visit and apply for certification as a veterinary journalist.  More on this exciting organization is coming as well.  
Cheers and here's to the new technology of communications.  

Dr. Jim Humphries


Veterinary News Network


719-495-2100 Direct Line

888-254-9946 Fax

719-963-6852 Cell


Executive Director

American Society of Veterinary Journalists


Remember, Dr. Jim and I are available if you have any questions about social media or how to get started.  You can call Dr. Jim at 719-495-2100 or email him at  My contact information is below.  You can also connect with Dr. Jim at LinkedIn...just send him an invite!
Our goal is to continue to provide you with the highest level of media resources and information to grow your practice through publicity and PR. 

Thomas Dock
Veterinary News Network