The cannabis industry is growing at a rapid rate, and cannabis-related products are being introduced to the market daily. As a result, cannabis PR firms have become increasingly popular for cannabis businesses looking to establish themselves as thought leaders in the cannabis industry. Three considerations when hiring a cannabis PR firm:
1) Strategic Expertise
For cannabis-focused PR agencies, there’s been unprecedented growth in recent years and it has led to an increase in consolidation and new entrants who may not provide clients with the level of strategic expertise that typically takes much longer to develop. As millennials continue driving change within organizations across all industries, we will see more PR agency consolidation and increased hiring among independently owned cannabis-centric agencies as they need help to build their industry-specific practices.
This means, the team working on your PR may be new to PR even if the agency isn’t. Before you sign on up with any PR firm, get to know the team you will work with on the day-to-day.
2) Media Relations Expertise
The cannabis industry is entering an era of mainstream media coverage like never, meaning cannabis PR firms that don’t show cannabis media relations expertise risk becoming irrelevant. Traditional PR agencies will need to develop cannabis-specific expertise with niche media outlets in order to remain relevant. Cannabis news outlets are a unique subset of the traditional cannabis industry trade press and the next generation cannabis-focused PR agency needs to help clients get into these specific cannabis publications.
While cannabis industry media coverage is important, you’ll also want a firm who can demonstrate cannabis PR in lifestyle, business, or niche communities to ensure your reach gets to the audiences who are most likely to respond to your brand.
“In addition, cannabis-oriented public relations agencies have popped up everywhere from Colorado to Canada,” says Roger Stonehouse, CEO of Stonehouse Group, a global financial services firm specializing in capital formation for cannabis companies. “Some cannabis-oriented PR agencies have been effective, others less so.”
3) Identifying Target Audience
In order to deliver high enough ROI, cannabis business owners need the ability to identify the target audience and create a message that will resonate. To develop a cannabis PR campaign that is an investment, not an expense, businesses must be able to understand their target audience and deliver a targeted message. Cannabis-focused public relations professionals can help cannabis businesses do just that by developing a cannabis public relations plan that delivers results for your company and the investor community as you establish legitimacy through thought leadership.”
Media outreach efforts should begin with promoting articles promoting brand visibility, positive cannabis industry news, and cannabis company milestones.
“If you’re starting a cannabis-related business and want to reach the cannabis consumer, make sure your cannabis PR firm has established media relationships with leading cannabis publications,” says Stonehouse. “This will increase the likelihood of your press release or client announcement making it into one of these sites and give you access to cannabis consumers.”
Effective cannabis-centric PR firms understand how to develop client messaging that resonates with target audiences and cannabis media outlets. Cannabis-focused PR professionals can also help cannabis businesses secure valuable cannabis media placements that provide high visibility within the niche publication and then leverage this coverage through social content (influencer marketing) and public relations outreach efforts on behalf of the cannabis brand to mainstream media outlets like the Associated Press, Reuters and/or Bloomberg News.
“However, it’s critical cannabis businesses don’t neglect the potential impact of ancillary cannabis industry coverage in publications like Forbes, Fortune, or Inc.,” says Stonehouse. “By elevating cannabis category visibility in leading business publications cannabis businesses can begin to change negative perceptions well outside the cannabis space.”
“Cannabis public relations firms need to focus on building relationships directly with consumers,” says Stonehouse. “After all, without people buying your products or services it doesn’t matter how good your cannabis PR firm is. By focusing on cannabis media, cannabis influencers, and cannabis consumers, cannabis-centric PR firms can help cannabis brands cut through the noise and provide an interesting story that resonates with their target audience.”