Pet Care During A Pandemic: How COVID-19 Shaped One Animal Hospital’s Marketing Strategy

Saint Francis Veterinary Center


If there are any winners to come out of 2020 it’s our pets. COVID-19-related lockdowns and restrictions that required many Americans to work and learn from home also allowed us to spend more time with our cats, dogs and other animals. During this time together, many owners have become more attuned to their pets’ needs, picking up on possible red flags that might indicate more significant health issues sooner than they would have before.

New pet ownership also trended up in 2020. According to Shelter Animals Count, a non-profit that helps share data on shelter animals, the community adoption rate for pets from January – June 2020 was 73%, up from 64% during the same time last year. At the same time, COVID-19 has led to many challenges and opportunities for the nation’s veterinary hospitals. Deemed as an essential business, most veterinary hospitals were able to continue operations after making the necessary adjustments to conform to social distancing guidelines to help keep staff and clients safe.

With two locations, Saint Francis Veterinary Center of South Jersey is an award-winning 24-hour emergency, wellness and specialty vet practice and hospital that has provided exemplary veterinary care to South Jersey and Philadelphia residents for over 30 years. Throughout the pandemic, the practice has been fully operational in both locations, providing much needed veterinary care to the pets of Southern New Jersey.


Throughout 2020, R&J was tasked with communicating to Saint Francis’s existing customer base not only the new safety protocols in place at the practice’s two locations, but the importance of staying current with their pet’s veterinary care and when to seek medical attention during these uncertain times. With the recent rise in new pet ownership, R&J also needed to capture the attention of potential new clients in the Philadelphia region.


R&J utilized its full suite of integrated digital, creative and public relations services in order to keep existing customers informed and connected while also raising awareness of Saint Francis’s award-winning services, with the goal of expanding their client base.

Looking to quickly spread the word about the practice’s new protocols, R&J turned to social media to communicate directly to pet owners. Our digital and creative team worked together to align messaging and create branded infographics to showcase Saint Francis’s new Curbside Concierge service across their Facebook and Instagram accounts. To differentiate Saint Francis from its competitors, the custom infographics included step-by-step instructions of what clients should expect when dropping off their pet for an appointment while adhering to the necessary safety and social distancing protocols.

Creative & Digital Services

SFVC Curbside Concierge

R&J also took the opportunity to leverage the many social trends emerging during the time, in order to drive brand awareness, as well as engagements. Our team created a customized, branded Bingo board specific to pet owners for followers to play, tag their friends in and share on their own social platforms, including Instagram Stories.

In addition to the COVID-19 content, R&J also saw the opportunity to incorporate a #SummerSafetyWithSaintFrancis campaign, sharing tips on how to keep pets safe throughout the warmer months. Our digital and creative team collaborated to present a series of posts that included a range of safety tips for pet owners to follow on customized, branded graphics. This content was also saved to the Saint Francis’s Instagram story highlights for followers to easily refer back to when needed.

Public Relations Services

Throughout the year, R&J implemented a proactive media relations and thought leadership strategy to coordinate interview opportunities and secure media placements about general pet care and wellness for Saint Francis’s vets with local and national publications. These included but were not limited to The Wall Street Journal, NBC 10 in Philadelphia, KYW Newsradio, Jersey 101.5, and Pet Place. Additionally, practice managers were featured in industry publications such as Today’s Veterinary Business and NAVC Spark! to discuss changing operations during COVID-19.


The R&J team utilized the Saint Francis social media accounts to expand the type of content that was shared in a new and engaging way. One of the client’s main goals was to create a uniform, branded presence for the practice and establish its social channels as a trusted, efficient vehicle to which clients can turn for timely, reliable information about their operations. Our digital and creative teams worked seamlessly to successfully establish the client’s social platforms as an effective communication tool, as well as created an additional touchpoint to keep the practice top of mind for their clients.

Throughout 2020, R&J’s media relations efforts resulted in 45 earned placements and 21.6 million impressions across local and national broadcast and print media, as well as industry publications.

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