Cannabis PR is changing as fast as the cannabis industry is changing. Our 3 tips for cannabis brands to make news and engage journalists include incorporating larger consumer and cultural trends.
In order to secure earned media today, cannabis brands need to think competitively and creatively. In order to secure press coverage, tomorrow’s biggest cannabis brands need to think about larger cultural trends and what’s affecting society, the industry, and the media all at once. What’s more, out of chaos comes opportunity. Uncertainty makes consumers ask big personal questions – and this can be an opportune time to key into changing priorities. People questioning their priorities in light of the pandemic are a heterogeneous group, they don’t belong to any one demographic or generation.
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Purpose vs. Activism in Cannabis
For consumers in a state of change, Accenture found that buying motivations have shifted. Trust & Reputation ranked over Ease and Convenience and product Origin. 66% said they now expect brands to take more responsibility in motivating them to live by their values and to make them feel more relevant in the world, according to the same Accenture report.
Cannabis has a long history with activism; it’s part of the culture. As the cannabis industry has grown, so have the causes. As a cannabis PR firm, we will never discourage our clients from activism or supporting causes.
If your customers are within the cannabis industry, you’re a B2B cannabis company, then there are some really interesting and important causes, including sobriety, equity, and racial justice to engage in to support the growth, maturity, and reputation of the cannabis industry. Some activist movements within cannabis have failed to catch fire outside the cannabis industry. While many of these initiatives are extremely worthy, few of them have caught on with the broader consumer base. And that’s OK because there are long-term advantages for the industry, but they may or may not be media-worthy.
However, if you’re looking to secure press with your brand activism, or you’re looking to engage your customer through purpose, then it’s time to think creatively about the campaigns. Look deeply at the activist causes you invest in, because consumers today expect brands to engage based on corporate values, which means the brand has to live it’s purpose, not just promote its purpose.
Cannabis consumers today are hardly a niche. Consumer cannabis brands need to think globally and be able to act consistently in order to activate on purpose. Consider these 3 tips to maximize earned media in 2022.
Products vs. Experience
A large post-pandemic trend continues to be consumers, particularly younger consumers, craving experiences over products. Cannabis brands should be looking at newsworthy activations that include experiences. While there are limitations for cannabis brands, this is a time to be creative in the ways you engage the press for launches and activations. Simply launching a cannabis product these days isn’t newsworthy. Attaching a celebrity is less newsworthy today than it was 2 years ago, especially as celebrities launch their own cannabis brands. In order for the press to pick up on it, there needs to be a newsworthy story.
Also, be thinking about what markets have the most journalists and editors. Creating an activation in Kansas might make local news in Kansas, but it’s unlikely to inspire NY or CA journalists. Another option is to do activations within other events, be they cannabis trade shows or cannabis-friendly consumer events or even outstanding activations around big events that get covered in the press. It’s really time to be creative.
Collab Outside of Cannabis
How can your brand collab with brands outside of cannabis?
There is still media appetite for interesting collabs. The recent Bic Lighters campaign with Snoop and Martha Stewart was a brilliant example of collaboration outside of cannabis. Extremely well thought out and ongoing, it’s successful because it’s cheeky, memorable, and creative. For most cannabis brands the collaboration could include an experience (like a fashion show) or they can include a purpose (environmental, for example), or they could include a special product.
The key to choosing collabs is to think way in advance and activate in a 360 way – don’t start thinking about a 420 collab in February. Major brands and outlets plan these kinds of activations way in advance, but thinking ahead will generate significant advantages.
2022 promises a great deal of exciting cannabis industry products and news, but in order to cut through the noise, cannabis brands need to think about what makes news, what engages journalists, and where they can make an impact on culture.