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Special Report: Media Mavens 2012

Media Mavens: Michael Markarian, Humane Society

Chief Program-Policy Officer Develops Programs, Communications and Marketing Strategies for Nonprofit

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Michael Markarian
Michael Markarian

Résumé: Michael Markarian develops programs, communications and marketing strategies for the Humane Society of the U.S. Mr. Markarian began working for the Fund for Animals, an outfit that provided care to animals at wildlife-rehabilitation facilities. He became president in 2004, and joined the Humane Society that year, when the Fund for Animals linked with it.

Challenge: "Traditional media is shrinking, and there's more competition for stories," Mr. Markarian said. "That challenge also becomes an opportunity. We're putting news out through our own channels, [but the] challenge is keeping on the front end of what those changes and new tools are."

Until relatively recently, the condition of pigs being held in gestation crates was not a major concern at food companies or among the public. That's hardly the case anymore, thanks in part to the Humane Society of the United States and Mr. Markarian, the nonprofit's communications architect. The Humane Society has a minuscule marketing budget, but Mr. Markarian said the organization relies heavily on its YouTube page (where it posts videos of undercover investigations), Twitter, Facebook and PR. In 2012 alone the HSUS announced that more than 25 major food companies have vowed to phase out gestation crates in coming years.

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