Behind the (Writing) Scenes with…
Jo Jo Harder, Boca Raton Branch
Dogs Make a Difference
The world has gone to the dogs! They’re everywhere — TV, movies, commercials, magazines, art, and so on. If you’ve ever loved a dog, then you know the kind of joy, love, and inspiration they can bring. Without my Romeo, I would not be in the place I am today.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed how people live, and pets benefit from the new perspective gained as well. My bond with Romeo is stronger than ever before. The comfort of our companionship resonates in the many projects that I was fortunate to complete the last two years.
As life came to a standstill during the pandemic, I rose to the challenge of adapting to a virtual reality. Business moved ahead for my brand, America’s Top Dog Model.
The seed was planted in 2005. While writing my first book, “Diva Dogs: A Style Guide to Living the Fabulous Life,” I created America’s Top Dog Model national contest as a way to connect with pup parents everywhere. In 2008, while touring the country to promote my newly published book, I also promoted the contest. My book sold worldwide, and the contest took on a life of its own. The brand now includes e-commerce, model management, a blog, YouTube reality series, and Paw Prints Magazine.
When lockdown started, America’s Top Dog Model had just launched its 15th annual contest. We had to cancel live events and extend the contest deadline, as contestants were unable to get professional photos taken. In place of our live casting call, I created a virtual one. It turned out quite well, as it gave viewers a peek into the contestants’ personal lives.
Instead of the annual calendar featuring our 12 winners, I decided to publish their winning photos and stories in a book. “America’s Top Dog Model Book of Fairy Tails” was released in 2021 by TriMark Press.
Additionally, with Romeo by my side, I was able to write, produce, and direct four episodes of the second season of America’s Top Dog Model YouTube Reality series, “How to Get to the Top.” It was all done virtually.
The popularity of online shopping not only helped our e-commerce business, but the commerciality of pet influencer marketing also boosted my model management consulting business.
Finally, the year 2020 inspired me to convert my Paw Prints newsletter to magazine format. America’s Top Dog Model Paw Prints is a lifestyle magazine designed for pup parents and dog lovers who desire to stay on top of the latest news about fashion, modeling, contest, cuisine, travel, events, grooming, art, and photography.
Overall, these past two years confirmed that to survive in the digital age, we must zero in on our true differentiator and focus on that niche. America’s Top Dog Model brand is proof that fun ideas can inspire humans and canines alike.
Jo Jo Harder is an author of three dog books, stylist, producer, publicist, and creative strategist. She has been a member of Boca Raton Branch since 2001, and served on the board as publicity chair and corresponding secretary.