How To Media Train A Cat

First, you start off with a very smart cat. Then you put him in front of a camera, with a nice cameraman who doesn’t mind having his tripod, bag and camera thoroughly sniffed, and a really good reporter who thinks he’s the cutest thing she’s seen in years. Then you let him do his thing.

Much easier than trying to explain to an exec how to hold his head, where to look while on camera, and how to modulate his voice. Only to watch him forget everything and blow the interview. Don’t even get me started on what he should not say that he just did and now I have to sweep up. Cats are easy. They don’t have to talk. They just have to be cats.

How do I know? I just did it. With my own cat.

I’d better back up a bit. I have a 3 1/2 year old Maine Coon cat named Spock, who is large even by Maine Coon standards. He’s full of personality, and smarter than your average human. When Facebook pages became a thing, and I had to counsel clients  on how to run one, I set up a page for Spock. Spock and Friends

He likes to look out the front window, if I have the curtains open, and his  great size and Lynx-tipped ears have caused my doorbell to ring a few times so passers-by can express their concern about the Wild Animal they think is living in our house.image

I’m being kind. I have a lot more adjectives that I usually use for those people. Maine Coons are the gentlest creatures – they get along with everyone, never scratch or bite, love cuddles, and just prefer to exist beautifully, chasing squirrels whenever possible. Failing that, they are happiest when breaking coffee cups. For some reason, those must die.  This pic was taken when he was a 6 month old kitten. I stopped thinking it was cute shortly after that.image

Spock isn’t your average cat, as I’m sure you’ve guessed. He just kept growing. And growing. He recently lost the kitten-goofball expression he had and started looking like the magnificent beast he is. Even if he is still a goofball.

Just before New Year’s Eve, our friend Terry was speaking with a reporter from our local paper and he mentioned I had a cat that people kept thinking was a wild animal. Since most news lately hasn’t been what you’d call upbeat, she was interested in doing a ‘feel good’ story on the local Big Cat. An interview was arranged, and she spent a nice hour talking to me and giving Spock ear-scratches. On Thursday morning, the story dropped online. Here’s the link.

That afternoon, I received a call from one of the major TV stations in San Francisco, asking if they could feature a story on Spock for the 11pm newscast. After 25+ years in PR, there was no way I was going to say no. This kind of attention usually only came after hours of crafting The Perfect Pitch, and here it was being offered without any effort on my part. Go figure. The reporter and cameraman arrived soon after, immediately started commenting on how enormous Spock is, and the camera was rolling right away. They shot well over an hour in b-roll, for a one minute, 12 second spot.

I’m just glad my house was clean.

The next thing I knew, I was miked up, and trying to hold a wiggling, 27 pound cat in my own living room.image

Most of the questions they asked me, other than about the ‘concerned’ passers-by, was about how I had to anchor all our fragile items down with earthquake putty so Spock wouldn’t break them. The reporter thought this sensible precaution was hilarous. They even had me lift one of our rosewood nesting tables by the Korean celadon vase to prove the point. This video I took on my phone shows that part of the shoot.  My, this brings back memories. 3-2-1…

They wanted to include some neighbor interviews, but the closest ones were still at work. So, I figured I’d pay Terry back, and called him to come over. I don’t know who worked the camera better – Terry or Spock.  Then my darling next door neighbor and her adorable boys came home – just in time for the boys to be included in the spot. Tomas and Nico were incredibly good. Too bad their answers to questions was cut from the final report. Still, their cuteness shows. Kids and pets – what’s not to like?

The social media portion started rolling immediately. The reporter’s tweets produced some instant results. image

Throughout, Spock was a trooper. He mugged for the camera, gave them money shots, and even a close-up. He behaved better than any exec I have ever coached. Because he is Spock, and he is awesome. His Facebook page has exploded with likes, and I’ll have to pick it up again. Spock still has a lot to say.

Here’s the link to the spot, as it was aired not only in San Francisco, but Fresno, Honolulu, Los Angeles and other markets that I don’t know about at this time.

After two hours, everyone finally left. Spock and I were exhausted. My husband came home from work and his only comment was “Glad I wasn’t here.”  I pulled it together enough to fix both of them  a nice chicken breast for their dinners. After that, we settled down for a glass of fine port for The Hubs and me, and a lap-nap on the faux fur blanket for Spock. Our beloved Sharks even won. Boom.

And that port? It’s called “Noble Companion”. Most fitting. Here’s to you, Spock!image