Taking over the lead of any volunteer organization is no small feat these days, but taking the lead of one that began in 1935? Fearless Carol Bryant, a fellow PR maven and highly accomplished writer and blogger agreed to take on the task as president last year for the Dog Writers Association of America (DWAA).
As DWAA was one of the first media organizations to partner with Goodnewsforpets.com back in 2000, we took the opportunity to celebrate our 20 year partnership with DWAA and the leadership Carol has shown in Goodnewsforpets.com’s first 20th anniversary year guest interview.
Congratulations Carol, you are doing not only good, you are doing great! — Lea-Ann Germinder, — Editor and Publisher, DWAA member.
Can you tell us first how you got involved in the dog writing community? Did you always write about dogs?
I’ve been writing since my diary and journaling days as a child growing up in a small town in northeastern Pennsylvania. Two constants in my life have always been books and dogs. Time has passed, but I’m that same girl with a pen in her hand and a dog by her side.
Prior to entering the dog writing world, I wrote medical copy behind the scenes. These days, I serve the pet industry from journalistic, pet parent, social media, marketing, public relations, and philanthropic perspectives. Ten years ago, I launched a successful dog blog, FidoseofReality.com, which is going strong and has its own fundraising arm called Wigglebutt Warriors.
The idea of belonging to an organization that offered me the opportunity to meet those in the know in the dog writing and publishing world is why I initially got involved with DWAA. Knowing I was part of an organization that stood for and about dog writers had been a long-time goal.
For those who don’t know me, I’ve appeared on many television segments, radio shows, podcasts, speaking engagements, and has contributed to numerous pet publications, including BlogPaws, Dogster, Paw Culture, Dog Fancy, Fido Friendly, Pet360, AKC Family Dog, Today.com, and Hamptons Pet.
My trademark is my mantra, which I proudly permanently wear on my left bicep, My Heart Beats Dog ®.
How did you learn about DWAA?
I learned about DWAA many years ago pre-Google when I was looking to see if any organizations existed to help dog writers. Imagine my glee and surprise when I landed on DWAA! My application came in the snail mail back then.
What has changed about the organization since you took on the role as president?
Since taking office after the awards banquet in 2019, there have been many positive changes to benefit the organization. These include:
- The more streamlined DWAA website and blog thanks to webmaster, Jill Caren, founder of 2 Dogs Media and a DWAA member
- Increase in writing competition submissions from 619 in 2018 to almost 1,000 in 2019
- New location and offerings at the DWAA Awards and Banquet in 2020
- New contest and banquet chair, Darlene Bryant
- Significant growth in membership
- Streamlined membership process under the direction of Kristin Avery, our Secretary
- New board member, Laurie Williams
- More special award sponsors
- Social media growth and a new Instagram volunteer
- Honoring our members and the DWAA legacy while embracing technology and a digital age to attract more members.
- Selling out the 2020 DWAA Awards and Event Banquet
For a long time the DWAA banquet was held in New York City. Can you tell us why it is being held in Secaucus and what has been the response?
According to the Contest and Banquet Chair, Darlene Bryant, “As a successful event planner, my goal is to give the members what they want. I’ve attended the yearly event many times with my spouse, DWAA President Carol Bryant, and spoke with guests. After listening to feedback and hearing what members want, my goal is to deliver on those requests.”
Members asked, we listened. Cost is a big factor, but we did not want to sacrifice quality. In addition to a lower-priced ticket, attendees receive more choices in menu items ala buffet style, an affordably-priced cash bar, and more. The short 5.2-mile jump over to New York City means affordable hotel pricing and parking on the Jersey side. Most notably, the more affordable overall costs are easy on the pocketbook while still providing the glam, glitz and allure of New York City without the massive crowds, traffic jams and parking concerns.
It’s a win-win for everyone. We are a sell-out event a month in advance, and the feedback thus far has been wonderful and very positive.
What are some new changes with the banquet itself?
This year’s keynote speakers are Anne Serling and Larry Woodward. Anne will be speaking about the role of dogs in her life and on the topic of getting published. Larry will be speaking on the role of getting a book published in these modern times.
In terms of the event, the DWAA Hall of Fame Recipient will be a surprise and announced at the event. In addition to a reasonably priced cash bar, the meal is a scrumptious Italian buffet. Attendees will be treated to giveaways, take-home goodies, surprises, and more. The event will also be streamed via Facebook Live and winners will be announced via Twitter.
The DWAA presidency is a two-year term. What changes are in store for next year?
Over the next year, the executive team will continue its mission to grow the organization, add a private Facebook group as a member benefit, and continue to improve the influence and offerings of DWAA as a whole. When we hand off the torch to the next round of officers, we will feel confident that we’ve made our mark and made a difference.
You are a blogger and have written a fantastic book. Can you tell us about it?
Yes! When I first started my pet blogging and social media journey well over a decade ago, I went looking for a book on the topic but came up empty-handed.
Looking back, I can’t imagine how different my life would be if I had a thorough resource to guide me on my pet blogging journey, avoid pitfalls, and show me how to make money with it.
Fast forward to the present day, and how times have changed. I am the co-author of a brand-new comprehensive book, Pet Blogging for Love & Money. My co-author is Maggie Marton, who is the Vice President of DWAA.
Our book gives readers the most comprehensive, up-to-date, action-oriented information needed to start and run a viral pet blog and its social media properties. Our book focuses on long-term success. We know that by following the steps in our book, anyone with an interest in having their pet, pet-themed business, or love of pet online can benefit.
Maggie and I are successful pet bloggers who each spent a decade developing our own blogs and brands while working for the largest pet-specific influencer network in the world. We spearheaded campaigns that drove growth, brand awareness, and revenue. We channeled all our knowledge into this one resource. It is available in paperback and e-book form on Amazon.com.
What is the most important tip you can give new dog writers entering the field?
DWAA includes, but is not limited to, writers, authors, journalists, publicists, bloggers, social media influencers, photographers, illustrators, and on-air personalities.
For new dog writers and dog bloggers, my biggest piece of advice is to plan for success but be willing to adapt and change as needed. Looking back over the past decade, while dog magazines have evolved, changed, or closed their doors, others have emerged, digital has a stronghold, and everyone wants a piece of the social media pie.
Don’t spread yourself too thin and try to learn and do it all. There’s a time and a place for everything, so recharge your body and mind even more than recharging a phone. Play with your dog and be in the moment. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and seek new opportunities. Make suggestions, try new things, and attend the DWAA event each year. There’s a lot to be said for IRL (in real life) networking!
What is the biggest benefit of joining DWAA?
The networking, exchange of information, and being a part of an organization with roots steeped in advocacy for its members. Since taking office as the President of DWAA in February of 2019, this is a question I am hearing more and more. In these ever-changing digital times, is being a paying DWAA worthwhile? In short, yes, absolutely, it pays to be a DWAA member.
For example, I’ve attended the awards banquet for more than a decade. I exchanged business cards and had face to face meetings with book publishers, editors, and more. While social media is awesome and has many benefits, nothing comes close to meeting someone and having a conversation in person. I’ve pitched and landed assignments, grown as a writer, expanded as a dog blogger, and took steps to advance myself through the benefits of DWAA membership.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I’d love for your readers to stay connected with DWAA across social media on:
Facebook: Dog Writers Association of America
Follow the DWAA team of officers on our respective blogs by visiting:
Carol Bryant, President: FidoseofReality.com
Maggie Marton, Vice President: OhMyDogBlog.com
Kristin Avery, Secretary: MyRescuedLife.com
In closing, thank you, Lea-Ann, for your ardent support of DWAA over the years. As Goodnewsforpets.com celebrates its 20th year, your dedication to the pet industry and DWAA members shines! DWAA believes in your mission and sends hearty congratulations on your double decade of success. Thanks for always supporting and sponsoring DWAA and its members. We look forward to the next 20 years and beyond!
Thank you Carol Bryant!