Sarah Barnett

Sarah Barnett
Senior Reputation Manager


Describe your role in PR.

“I’m a Senior Reputation Manager at the Humane Society of the United States. What that means is, I focus a lot on our brand and brand management when it comes to online conversations about us, making sure people know about us and getting our work out there. We do a lot of work for all animals all across the spectrum, from pigeons to puppies. A lot of it is crisis communications… and making sure our staff has what they need to answer tough questions. There’s a group that’s been established to attack us, so a lot of my job involves refuting their claims and keeping an eye on that.”

Can you share your favorite success story?

“Nowadays journalists don’t seem to have the time to fact check sometimes. My favorite success story is when a story gets taken down that is completely inaccurate… and even better when it turns into them doing an even better story that shows what we’re all about. Most recently, I did an interview with an online radio show and it was nice to be able to answer [pressing] questions about our work.”

How did you get into your position?

“Prior to joining HSUS, I worked at an animal shelter cleaning kennels. I started in the social media department responding to people. We have a policy at HSUS that every person on social media gets a response when they ask a question. Over the years, we’ve become more and more effective, so our opposition started ramping up. We had to develop an offense towards them. Once we realized it was becoming more about reputation management… we transitioned the role so that it included things like staying abreast of monitoring programs and technology and integrating social media with PR.”

What social media outlets help your campaign or cause, and why?

“Everybody wants to say Facebook, but we really can’t measure that when it comes to PR. We can’t say, ‘Well, 15 journalists saw this on Facebook, therefore Facebook is the best.’ So for us, the answer is all of them [Facebook, Twitter, Instagram]. For the media relations department, specifically, we do have a Twitter account which is just focused on stuff for journalists. And we have a main Twitter account, where advocates can go to take action on issues, and then we have a news account for news reporters looking for stories. I say LinkedIn is also becoming a good resource. We recently pitched a few people via LinkedIn, which is something we hadn’t done before, and I think that’s the next area.”

What is your dream project?

“I really like talking to people and getting their feel for an issue and bridging them together. I like building bridges between people that wouldn’t otherwise be communicating. A lot of times you have somebody who is upset about something, and when you talk to them, you discover that they have some really good ideas or really good crucial feedback that you don’t want to miss. You’re also [in turn] able to educate them about that same issue. I really like the concept of building bridges.”

Note: Sarah owns an 8-year-old shar pei named Dimitri who was rescued from a puppy mill and is partially blind. Dimitri is described as slightly cross eyed, with an affinity for sweaters, stuffed animals and peanut butter. Learn more about Dimitri on his Facebook page and blog.