How a Passion for Animals Created a Community Manager

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Rebecca Braglio How a Passion for Animals Created a Community Manager

After passing the bar exam in 1999, I became a public defender and practiced criminal defense for almost 12 years, with a focus on representing the mentally ill who were charged with serious felonies and violent crimes.  It was tough work, to say the least.  I quickly burned out and knew I needed a change.  But I had no idea what I would do.  I felt completely stuck and pigeon-holed.

Along the way, I got a dog named Dash.  He literally changed my life.  He has a behavioral problem called separation anxiety – when he is left alone he completely melts down.  My neighbors weren’t too thrilled with me, so I started taking him with me when I would go out.  It turned out that Philadelphia was a very dog-friendly place – I thought dog owners should know about all of the dog-friendly businesses and events that were going on.

So, in 2009 I taught myself html and created a site called ThePhillyDog.com.  I blogged about the problems I was having with Dash and did reviews of the local dog-friendly businesses.  I also started doing event promotion for the local charity/rescue fundraisers in exchange for spreading the word about my new site.  Then I started getting products in the mail from pet companies to review.  So I started holding giveaway contests.  After a few local businesses began asking to advertise, the site exploded.  I made it my mission to learn everything and anything about the pet industry, blogs, and social media.  I started getting invited to trade shows and asked to speak at conferences, and became heavily active in the animal welfare/pet community.  I wished (like a lot of bloggers) that I could blog full-time, but it just wasn’t a reality for me.  I made some money on local advertising, but not enough to support myself.  I honestly don’t know how I managed to do all this while still working full-time as an attorney.  It was some serious hustle.

And it made my daily grind much more tolerable.  I had resigned myself to a lifetime of being unhappy in my career.  And then about two years ago, I was looking through LinkedIn and I saw that one of my pet industry contacts was connected to a guy (Brock Weatherup) who was the CEO of a local pet industry company that I had somehow never heard of –Pet360, Inc..  It turned out that they were the parent company of two sites that I did know – PetFoodDirect.com and petMD.com.  I asked to be introduced, and emailed Brock asking if I could take him to lunch/coffee – just to pick his brain on how to get out of my current career and into the pet industry.

He declined my offer, and instead told me that he wanted me to talk to his HR manager.  Pet360, Inc. was right in the middle of launching their new site, Pet360.com, and they were going to have a community component to the website.   While I’d never been a community manager before (I’d been a moderator on several forums and sites), I knew their target market better than anyone because of my experience in the animal welfare community.  I knew I could predict what would be popular content and what would be offensive.  I knew how to recruit these members to the community and I knew we needed to differentiate ourselves from other pre-existing pet communities.  Long story short, I got hired.

Rebecca Braglio

Community Engagement Manager at Pet360.com
Rebecca Braglio is the Community Engagement Manager for Pet360.com . Although she went to law school, her true love was always pets – especially dogs.   Upon graduating from Villanova School of Law, she began a 12 year career in criminal defense in the Philadelphia metropolitan area. After becoming the proud parent of a Yorkshire Terrier named Dash, she created her own website called, “The Philly Dog” to showcase pet-friendly Philadelphia and to have an outlet to discuss Dash’s struggles with severe separation anxiety. Once she began blogging, she never looked back. She has been featured in the 2013 State of Community Management by The Community Roundtable, on MyCMGR.com, The Well Kept Wallet Podcast, and on ViralHeat.com.  She was also a featured speaker at Blogpaws Salt Lake City 2012 and a panelist at Barkworld 2012.

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