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Kogod’s Audience Dog Program Secures New York Times Feature

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Kogod student presents to one of KCBC's audience dogs.

On August 5, 2016, Kogod School of Business celebrated a generous feature in The New York Times. The article and video, showcasing Kogod Center for Business Communications’ (KCBC) Audience Dog Program, was posted online in the education life section.

The Audience Dog Program was founded by Bonnie Auslander, former Director of the KCBC, as a resource for students practicing class presentations. Students schedule times to present in front of “locally-sourced” dogs, who are selected for their calm and attentive personalities. The program advances the Center’s mission – helping students refine their writing and presentation skills – by helping them improve their public speaking.

Ericka Acosta, Public Relations Manager at AU’s Communications office, pitched the story in April after speaking with Auslander. “When Bonnie told me about the program, I immediately knew we had to share it with the public,” says Acosta. “She provided me with all the information I needed to craft a strong media pitch. She was wonderfully enthusiastic about the program and her students---and the dogs, of course.”

“Practicing with a dog serves a lot of functions: it decreases anxiety, forces you to hear yourself out loud, and allows you to spend time presenting in front of a non-judgmental living creature,” says Auslander. “Students need to be strong writers and speakers to be successful in the workplace, and this program really helps them develop these skills.”

Acosta was thrilled when the paper decided to feature the program. The Times followed-up by sending a reporter and videographer to Kogod School of Business to attend an audience dog presentation session. The Times staff spent their visit interviewing Auslander and her students and befriending a couple new canine companions.

“It was fun, but admittedly a bit zoo-ey,” Auslander says. “There was a lot of excitement from staff, students, and dogs a like!”

The Audience Dog Program will continue under the KCBC’s new director, Caron Martinez. To garner additional feedback, Martinez plans to assign a peer consultant to each participant; she also hopes to reserve part of the program’s budget for dog treats for the upcoming semester.

How to Give a Better Speech: Talk to a Dog” by Nicholas Fandos was also featured on The New York Times’ Facebook page. It has already received over 1.4 million views and 10,000 shares! “Public Speaking? Woof!” has received 1.6 million views.

The article is set to appear in print in an upcoming NYT, NYC issue.