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Kristen Levine: “Every good thing you want is on the other side of fear”

I believe that we need pets as much as they need us. Thousands of scientific studies show the mental, physical and emotional health benefits that having a pet provides. Pet Living is an online pet parenting guide that helps people live happier and healthier lives with their companion animals by advising them on health, wellness […]

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I believe that we need pets as much as they need us. Thousands of scientific studies show the mental, physical and emotional health benefits that having a pet provides. Pet Living is an online pet parenting guide that helps people live happier and healthier lives with their companion animals by advising them on health, wellness and lifestyle topics. Also, we advocate for pet adoption because we want to be part of a future when healthy dogs and cats are never euthanized for overpopulation reasons. Connecting unwanted pets together with people is a win-win on many levels.


Aspart of my series about “individuals and organizations making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kristen Levine.

Kristen Levine has connected hundreds of thousands of pet parents with valuable pet care education and in return, has connected hundreds of pet and animal health brands with targeted, solution-seeking customers. Her client roster is impressive including big names like Purina, Petmate, Petplan and Embrace Pet Insurance, BluePearl Science, Zoetis, World’s Best Cat Litter, Vetericyn, Thunderworks, Tomlyn, Vetoquinol, and PetSafe. What’s more, is that she is truly authentic and only endorses products that she personally approves or uses in her own home.

She served as the Tampa Bay SPCA Public Relations Manager from 1988 until 2003 where she promoted pet adoption and pet lifestyle education for 15 years. During her tenure, she found her niche and decided to share her approachable style and knowledge with a wider audience. Pet parents were looking for advice and solutions and pet brands were looking to reach pet parents in need of their products. In 2003, she became the connecting point, creating the first marketing and public relations agency focused exclusively on the pet and veterinary industries — Fetching Communications. Ten years later, Levine acquired PetPR.com, the PR Newswire of the pet industry.

In January 2017, she brokered an acquisition by the fully integrated marketing agency, French|West|Vaughan (FWV) to further expand her services. The pet practice, now named FWV Fetching, develops strategic communication and public relations campaigns, brand ID, digital and creative content for pet and veterinary product manufacturers, pet service providers, veterinary specialty practices and animal non-profit organizations. Levine was initially named Senior Vice President and in April 2019 was named President of the division.

In addition to leading FWV Fetching, Levine created the multi-media content platform, Pet Living in July 2014 to connect pet parents with each other. Based on her personal belief that people need pets just as much as they need them, she shares stories, science and advice to illustrate the benefits of pet companionship. In 2020 she rebranded as Kristen Levine Media.

As one of the leading pet influencers in the U.S., she has served as a brand advocate for multiple clients including Nestle Purina, Mars, Toyota, Qualcomm, Comcast, and BISSELL. Levine is a regular television personality and has appeared on more than 1,000 live broadcasts including six segments in the past year, including Good Morning America and FOX & Friends. She has reached millions of pet owners through features in national print publications and online outlets including The New York Times, USA TODAY, Reader’s Digest, Good Housekeeping, Martha Stewart Living, Woman’s Day and Inc. Magazine.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Sure! It was a happy accident that I ended up working in PR for pets back in the late ’80s. I had just moved from the Chicago suburbs, where I grew up, to the Tampa Bay area to get married when my husband, an assistant state attorney at the time, introduced me to the Executive Director of the SPCA Tampa Bay. He knew her well because he frequently prosecuted animal cruelty cases and worked with the SPCA on the investigations. I began as a volunteer at the SPCA, and shortly thereafter became the PR Director, a position I held for 15 years. That experience is what launched my pet and veterinary marketing career.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?

When I was working in PR for the SPCA, I connected with top journalists, producers and reporters in my market every day. I was often intimidated by them as they had such power over what I was trying to accomplish — getting my organization’s stories told. (Incidentally, it wasn’t that hard getting publicity for an established, animal shelter with a strong reputation). Within a couple of years of starting my own agency, Fetching Communications, PR for pet and veterinary businesses, some of those same journalists I used to pitch, began applying for jobs at my company. Those were the early days of the traditional media decline. Layoffs were happening at newspapers and in broadcast. I was amazed at how the tables had turned and I embraced the reciprocity.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Looking back, my pricing model was pretty funny! I would just come up with a price guesstimate that I thought sounded fair. It was a couple of years into my business before I learned how to account for labor and expenses when pricing services.

Can you describe how you or your organization is making a significant social impact?

I believe that we need pets as much as they need us. Thousands of scientific studies show the mental, physical and emotional health benefits that having a pet provides. Pet Living is an online pet parenting guide that helps people live happier and healthier lives with their companion animals by advising them on health, wellness and lifestyle topics. Also, we advocate for pet adoption because we want to be part of a future when healthy dogs and cats are never euthanized for overpopulation reasons. Connecting unwanted pets together with people is a win-win on many levels.

Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?

Just in the past 3 months, at least 5 colleagues and friends have adopted puppies or dogs into their families.

How do you define “Leadership”?

Leadership is the ability to lead others to achieve the vision of the company.

Can you explain what you mean or give an example?

It’s less about title or seniority or the day to day work. It’s about communicating a clear vision and empowering a team to work together to achieve the vision.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

  1. It’s probably a good thing I didn’t know what I didn’t know when I started my business because it may have been intimidating. Plus, it allowed me to fail and learn from those failures. But, there are definitely things that would have been helpful to know to smooth the journey.
  2. I wish someone had told me to find a mentor or a business coach BEFORE I started my business. It was about 3 years into running my agency before I discovered a business mentoring group that taught me foundational practices that I needed to have in place. I credit that group and my coach in part for where I am today.
  3. I wish someone had told me that there would come a day when I wanted to do something different, so I would need a plan in place to transition my business. Sure, I figured all that out on my own, but the transition would have been much faster, and smoother had I had a blueprint for it. Approximately 4 years prior to French/West/Vaughan (FWV) acquiring my agency, I knew I was ready. I was taking on too much responsibility and had other exciting opportunities I wanted to focus on as well.
  4. Here’s a biggie! I wish someone had told me that the Internet would completely change the media game! I started my PR agency when print, radio and tv were the arbiters of communicating to the masses. Just a few years into being in business, we had to learn how to reach our clients’ audiences online, through social media as we watched the way we had always done things slowly diminish. It was challenging to keep up with an ever-changing media landscape to be able to effectively serve our clients. Of course now, digital is a huge part of our business.
  5. To this day, I wish someone would remind me daily that we are making lives better for pets and people. It’s easy to get caught up in the day to day work routine and lose sight of how our work impacts and educates and influences how pet parents care for their animals. When I do stop to realize that, it’s very fulfilling and energizing!

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I’d love to inspire a movement that resulted in pet adoptions increasing to the level that no animal healthy companion animal ever has to be euthanized because they are simply unwanted or unadoptable. Pet overpopulation is a man-made problem caused by indiscriminate breeding, irresponsible pet surrender, etc. We need pets as much as they need us. They offer companionship, loyalty, and love that results in key health benefits such as reduced blood pressure and heart rate and they keep us active. What if it became the norm for doctors to prescribe pets for healthier lives?

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Every good thing you want is on the other side of fear.” That quote from Michael Hyatt has been relevant for me at every significant personal and professional milestone.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

I’d love to have lunch with businessman and star of The Profit, Marcus Lemonis so that I could ask him questions about a new venture I’m working on. He’s brutally honest, generous and has incredible networking resources that I’d love to tap into.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

kristenlevine.com

https://www.linkedin.com/in/kristen-levine-pet-living
https://www.facebook.com/KristenLevinePetLiving
https://www.instagram.com/pet.living
https://www.youtube.com/user/KristenLevine

This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!

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