We’re just about to round the corner to a key consumer buying season: the fall. And about the only thing that’s certain is consumer uncertainty; but consumers aren’t giving up on conscious consumption. Nothing shows that more than the latest consumer trends from Google Searches. What do Google searches have to do with PR? Consumer media outlets keep a strong eye on consumer trends, and usually respond with seasonal content that matches the customer’s mood. Fitting into that season content is key to earning digitally savvy PR during the fall. There’s another important reason to get it right this fall: you’re likely to have a larger share of voice for any of your marketing efforts as some competitors will pull back, so if you’re not pulling back, or you’re jumping into the market now, it’s great timing because research shows that brands who stay with marketing during economic downturns, get ahead.

What does this mean for consumer brands?

It gives you insight into key themes you can use in your PR and marketing this year. While some of these facts seem contradictory, put these in context with what you’re seeing from your customers.

Searches for “specials this week” is up 60% year over year / Searches for “designer outlet” have grown 90% globally year over year

Keep in mind, that consumer spending remains strong, so this is about the consumer feeling the need to feel like they’re getting a deal. 31% of consumers say they are still rewarding themselves by buying things they want. Consumers haven’t stopped loving name brands, they’re just in need of a discount. They also want to feel their brand choices are premium choices.

Luxury and premium brands with strong brand affinity should lead to smaller, more affordable items for the masses, rather than discount the brand. Premium consumer brands can use this mindset with bonus gifts.

Align your brand with premium publishing outlets by getting an early start on your consumer PR and ad re-targeting. Have your programmatic and PR teams talk before they launch their respective campaigns.

Consumer brands should publish any kind of black Friday promotions well in advance, and use competitor pricing as a benchmark (25% less than a comparable brand), to anchor value.

Now is also the time to focus on loyalty for existing customers. Don’t make your customers search you out. Be there during the key buying triggers for your customers. If your customers tend to buy on Fridays, be there on Thursday with the bonus giveaway or loyalty reward.

Searches for “say no to plastic” have grown globally 200% year over year

Consumers want brands who want what they want. This new purpose-driven alignment applies to all consumer brands. Even if you can’t get around plastic packaging (yet), now is the time to celebrate your sustainability efforts. What’s comforting to consumers right now, more than anything is brands they can trust. So if you’ve been working hard on building consumer trust, now is the time for you to celebrate the efforts in a way that reinforces your consumer’s choices.

Consumers want personal content

87% of consumers said they want personal and relevant content. Keep this in mind with your email marketing and social media. Use your own data to ensure your delivering the right message to the right audience. Consumers want to see themselves in your content – by the way, editors know this trend too, so positioning your brand clearly allows editors to follow this content expectation too.

One of the most notable attributes of “relevant” content is content that is emotionally resonant. Your consumers want to know that you understand them. Note that during previous times of uncertainty, nostalgia and comfort messages surge. Very often, this means consumers would prefer to stay with their favored brands, but that favored brands need to continue to provide the experience customers have come to expect.

More than ever, having digitally savvy and data-informed PR, branding, and advertising will make a difference in your seasonal marketing. Now is the time to dig deep into your customer insights and give your agencies the information they need to supercharge their efforts this fall.

Widely accepted as one of the most powerful ways for consumer brands to increase awareness, public relations is also one of the most traditional and inflexible forms of marketing. Avaans Media aims to reinvent the paradigm with its new Sprint Packages.

Avaans Media, best known for its bespoke PR services, is announcing a competitively priced alternative for CPG and DTC brands. Sprint packages are available in limited quantities for each buying season.

“It’s all about ease for consumer brands,” said Avaans Media CEO and Founder Tara Coomans, and Entreprenuer.com contributor.

Most PR firms require long-term commitments, and according to Cision, 45% of brands increased their PR in 2021, Coomans attributes increased PR costs to the ease of entry into consumer products and the important role PR plays in SEO, along with the growing need of consumer brands to stand out in the minds of consumers.

Avaans Media’s Product PR Sprints break that rule with micro contracts and competitive pricing. Perfect for brands launching products, or in need of a competitive boost for a short period of time.

PR is more effective than branded content at all stages of the purchase funnel, generating 10-50 times that of advertising conversions, according to Nielson.

“These packages are the ultimate in flexibility for CPG and DTC brands, while still delivering highly valuable earned media in national brand consistent media outlets while keeping customer acquisition costs down,” said Coomans

“It’s a truly special offering, that’s why we’re limiting the availability of these packages,” she said.

Find out more about Avaans Media Product PR Sprints.

About Avaans Media
Originally founded by Tara Coomans in 2008 as a digital communications agency, today Avaans Media offers digitally savvy bespoke PR. From startup through IPO, Avaans Media clients include emerging industries like drones, robots, cannabis, and AI as well as highly ambitious consumer tech, CPG or DTC brands. Avaans Media successes, along with award-winning team members has allowed Avaans to become one of the top PR agencies in the country.

As the holiday season approaches, product PR becomes more important than ever. Competition from major brands, standing out from the crowd, and capturing people in a buying mood are all great reasons to do product PR during the holidays.

 Now you might ask, “which holiday season do you mean?” The answer: whatever holidays are most important to your company or brand.

There are a few key reasons why product PR is so important during the holidays, and why Avaans is now offering Product PR Holiday Sprints.

Competition from Major Brands

Most of your competitors won’t invest in holiday PR, but if you do, it gives you a considerable edge when people search for your brand or product.

You simply can not outspend the major brands with advertising, but using PR evens the playing field a bit, especially since a lot of journalists prefer to showcase smaller or boutique brands, or at the very least want to include one as an alternative to more well-known brands. It’s also an opportunity for smaller brands to showcase diverse founders too, something big brands just can’t do.

Ever since iOS14 rolled out, which allows consumers to opt out of allowing apps like Facebook and Instagram to track browser history, CPG and DTC brands have seen a considerable decrease in ad effectiveness. And to make matters worse, the massive brands have far more data and the ability to buy ads on a multitude platforms, so it’s nearly impossible to compete during the holidays when digital advertising costs surge.

In contrast, when you secure PR beside major brands in holiday gift guides, your brand receives a trust bump, so you’re benefitting from all the brand recognition of the larger brands, alongside the brand recognition of the outlet.

People are in the Buying Mood for Product PR

First, people are generally more receptive to marketing and advertising during this time of year.  Holiday PR is an ideal way to capture people when they’re in the mood, and in the moment.

The average person spends $1,463, during the holidays (Deloitte Holiday Survey)

There are a few things that contribute to this increase in spending. First, people tend to travel more during the holidays and spend money on things like gas, hotels, and food. Second, people buy gifts for their friends and family, They’re also more likely to be thinking about gifts for loved ones, which means they’re more likely to pay attention to products that might make great gifts. . And finally, people tend to spend more on themselves during the holidays – maybe they buy a new outfit for a holiday party or get a massage to relieve stress.

Less than half of consumers are worried about higher prices on discretionary purchases (National Retail Federation)

Stand Out from the Crowd with Product PR for the Holidays

The holiday season is a busy time for everyone, so standing out from the crowd is essential. And that means meeting your consumer where they’re at. Consumers are searching for gift ideas and they value gift guides because they trust journalists to test the products (they do).  99% of products never receive any press, by simply securing press, you’re already standing out. And you can leverage your press all year long.

Avaans Media now offers PR Product Sprints. Designed for CPG and DTC brands, these micro PR campaigns are perfect for brands with ambitious plans, but not ambitious budgets.

 

 

Meet Kary Radestock. Based in San Diego, Kary is a cannabis industry packaging expert. In addition to her creative packaging, Kary is also the Marketing and Advertising Committee Chair for NCIA (2021-2022)

First, a little background about Kary Radestock:

I came from the high-end commercial print/mainstream packaging background and cut my teeth in the LA market working mostly with Ad Agencies, Entertainment, Automotive, Museum, Music + Fortune 500 companies.

I saw the need for professional packaging development/production in the newly emerging cannabis industry in 2015.

After researching the industry for nearly a year, I quit my corporate job just 2 months shy of my 20th anniversary and launched Hippo Premium Packaging as a sole proprietor on March 1, 2016.

When did you first start working in cannabis?

In 2015 when I heard from a supplier that the cannabis market was really pulling out all the stops when it came to their packaging, I immediately got my medical marijuana card and headed to a dispensary to investigate.

I was disappointed to find edibles in baggies with cheap stickers and lots of mason jars full of weed. I scratched my head and thought “I don’t see any of this cool packaging I’m hearing about – but the industry sure does need help”.

Do you sit on any industry boards or associations that you’d like to mention?

 

I am honored to have the opportunity to serve on the National Cannabis Industry Association’s Marketing and Advertising Committee for the past 5 years, this year (2021/22) as the Chair.

What lesson did you learn BEFORE cannabis that’s been most valuable in cannabis?

Success is built on a series of failures. We post and talk about the things we’re most proud of – therefore many people only see a series of successes. This gives an impression that the road is easy – the arrow climbing sharply upward.

But, pitfalls and setbacks are around every corner and it’s my job as a human being and an entrepreneur to find the resiliency, commitment, and belief in myself to rise up with optimism after each defeat.

Is there a particular cannabis project you’d like to highlight?

Gosh…that’s like asking me to name my favorite child! I’m proud of the longevity spent with and the beautiful work produced for women-owned, Garden Society, a Sonoma-based manufacturer. I love the packaging decorating prowess of the Hi-Klas (AZ) Vape Cartridge line and I’m currently excited about completing a new hemp CBD tincture line printed on Mohawk’s Hemp Renewal stock.

What’s the biggest misconception cannabis companies have about marketing?

The biggest misconception is that packaging should be easy. “It’s done all the time!”

But there are more than 30 ways a project can go wrong and only one way for it to go right.

And, that is for all 30 people touching the project throughout each stage of the development process, to do their bit perfectly. Professional packaging production uses all the lessons learned along the way but each project is custom, with its own set of challenges.

 

In your view, what is the biggest cannabis marketing & branding challenge facing cannabis companies today?

Lack of access to capital.

There are so many amazing brands trying to launch that never make it due to being under-capitalized. Couple this with 280E, jacked-up rental rates plus exorbitant licensing fees, it leaves little budget left for marketing & advertising.

What will get easier in cannabis marketing & branding? What will get harder?

 

Harder = Intense competition – there are literally thousands of cannabis brands flooding the market in every state. Retailers won’t be able to carry them all.

How will they choose? If the brand has a presence in the market, it’s a no-brainer. But if they are unknown, it will come down to how they look. The branding and packaging are the easiest way to ‘judge a book by its cover’.

What can cannabis companies do to alleviate their cannabis PR and branding challenges?

Brands must continue to focus on building customer loyalty using direct-to-consumer (DTC) marketing tactics.

Many brands are beginning to develop these strategies strengthening their foothold. Operators who carry a distribution license are able to sell and deliver directly to consumers, eliminating the dispensary (and therefore passing the savings directly to the customer). Savvy California brands are developing and deploying these DTC strategies which is helping to counter the difficulties competing with the black market.

In your view, what is the most under-rated tool in the brand marketing toolbox for cannabis companies?

 

Data – Dispensaries and cannabis companies with a DTC strategy have so much data at their fingertips: consumer profiles, buying frequency, and product preferences. In the future, I believe we’ll see personalized variable data direct mail campaigns as well as complex cross-media campaigns using text, email, and direct mail to drive loyalty and build brand and product awareness.

In your view, what is the most over-rated tool in the branding toolbox for cannabis companies?

Instagram.

What’s the BEST piece of advice you give everyone you work with?

Measure twice and cut once (triple-check everything).

That, and allow enough time for proper cannabis packaging ideation, development, and production (60-90 days for domestic, typically).

What’s your advice for people who want to get into cannabis brand marketing?

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that the cannabis Industry is like mainstream…it’s a whole new animal with a whole new set of challenges.

Use your expertise to the fullest, but put yourself in your client’s shoes when developing your offering and tailor your solutions to meet their specific challenges.

How can someone contact you, Kary?

Facebook/Hippopackaging
Twitter/HippoPackaging
Instagram/hippopackaging
Linkedin/HippoPackaging

Pinterest/hippopackaging
Facebook/kary.radestock
Linkedin/in/KaryRadestock/

Thanks for sharing your cannabis branding insights with us today, Kary, you rock.

Maybe you’ve never hired a PR firm before, or maybe it’s been a while and you’re just unsure of what a PR agency costs. Either way, you’re asking yourself, “how much will a PR firm cost me?” Since PR usually falls within the marketing budget, let’s start there.

To grow your position in the marketplace, a good marketing allocation is about 15% of revenue. In 2022, the average marketing budget for B2C brands was 13.7% of revenue, and for B2B brands, it was about 10% of revenue.

So if you’re an average company, and you’re looking to maintain your position, you’re probably spending in the range of 10% of revenue. If you’re looking to dominate, your budget should be higher. Ambitious startups typically allocate between 12-17%. A typical breakdown might be that 1/3 of the budget is advertising, 1/3 of the budget is content, and 1/3 of the budget is PR. Large international agency budgets can be $380,000 or more annually, while a mid-range agency budget typically clocks in at $156,000-$180,000 annually and a smaller agency budget would be $120,000 per year, a mid-range freelancer could be anywhere from $36,000-$100,000 a year. If you’re a CPG or DTC brand with a marketing spend of under $100,000, then you might consider consumer product PR sprints, which feature micro contracts that align with key buying seasons. Hiring a PR agency is an investment, but considering PR converts ten to 50% better than advertising, PR is indeed a place where the ROI pays off.

 

So what goes into a PR agency’s fees?

 

According to Muck Rack’s 2021 State of PR report, the number one cost to a company to PR is the agency, which makes sense because unlike programmatic ad spending (a typical minimum is programmatic spend is $25,000/month), PR agencies rarely have a minimum spend or activation fee requirements outside their retainers.

PR agency rates increased, and in 2020, the average PR agency CEO billed $417 per hour, while VPs clocked in at $319 per hour and Account Managers billed $256 per hour. The average blended rate was $240 per hour. It’s safe to say that if your PR team has executive PR experience, and your agency spends an average of 10 person-hours per week on your account, your monthly retainer will be around $13,226 per month.

If you require more executive hours, your fees could go up. If you work mostly with a junior team, your rates could go down. Oftentimes, fees are different depending on your strategic objectives. For example, if you want to keep a firm on retainer for a few calls a month, and no proactive media outreach, your annual fees may be considerably less. If you are trying to secure investment or you’re pre IPO, you may find your fees are on the higher end of an agency’s fee structure.

It’s a balance to strike your budget with your goals, but when asked, I always give the same advice to CMO’s and startup founders. In 2020, 45% of companies increased their PR budget. If your budget is $400,000 or more per year, hire an agency that does $20 million+ in revenue. If your budget is $180,000 per year, hire a boutique PR firm, with less than $10 million in revenue. If your budget is $60,000 per year, don’t hire an agency, hire a freelancer.

Odwyer PR’s annual report shows rates increased considerably between 2019 and 2020, so if your agency didn’t raise its rates, you’re fortunate.

Agencies are notoriously reluctant to share minimum retainers, but in 2013, several agency executives did just that with PR Observer, an industry publication.

“To properly scope a client program and assign the proper team support, we feel $15,000 – $17,500 per month is a reasonable starting point.”Anne Green, President & CEO, CooperKatz & Company, Inc.

“Our retainers range from $7,500 – $50,000 or so. Crisis costs are different and generally charged by the hour with a $20,000 minimum.”—Ronn Torossian, Founder & President, 5WPR

“We have some clients that pay us $100,000 or so per year, some clients that pay us more than $100,000 per week, and many clients that pay us $100,000 or so per month.”— Mark Hass, President & CEO, Edelman United States

“Our clients generally pay between $15,000-$30,000 a month depending on the workload.”—Stu Loeser, Founder & President, Stu Loeser & Co.
So what’s typically included in a bespoke retainer rate? Well, again, that may depend on each agency’s specialty. For example, if your agency specialized in digital communications, you may find that social media content creation is included, but media relations are not. But the following services are a good rule of thumb to expect within our typical PR agency retainer:
  • Strategies about how to stand out from your competitors using PR
  • Internal and external communication strategies that match your growth goals.
  • Campaign development and creative activations for marketing opportunities.
  • Media relations, and securing regular media coverage, speaking engagements.
  • KPI and business impact reporting.
  • Copywriting such as press releases, speeches, white papers, and branded journalism.
  • PR crisis planning – but not necessarily crisis management.
  • Partnership strategy and potentially management such as cause, social impact, or purpose-driven PR initiatives.
  • Executive training, including media training, interview prep, and research or executive ghostwriting.
  • Content strategy for video, social media, and inbound leads.
  • Content creation oversight, including social media, photography sessions, and video development.
  • Poll or research development, implementing the poll may or may not be within the agency’s retainer.
  • Peer agency coordination, such as with branding or advertising agencies.
  • PR campaigns that “make the news,” are designed to create word-of-mouth or media opportunities.

For a complete list of what we would include in your PR retainer, reach out to us and tell us more about your business and your goals.

Hiring a PR agency is an investment, but considering PR converts ten to 50% better than advertising, PR is indeed a place where the ROI pays off.

Because of the competitive nature of customer acquisition, hyper-growth DTC (D2C) brands are always looking for ways to improve word of mouth and awareness. So it’s no surprise that a lot of fast-growing DTC brands of all sizes are asking, “should we join the metaverse?” The answer to should DTC brands join the metaverse naturally depends on several external factors. From an awareness and PR perspective, there are some considerations before DTC brands joining the metaverse.

What Have You Learned From Watching Other Brands?

Brands like Nike, Warner Brothers, Gucci, and Wendy’s are already in the metaverse. Have you watched these brands closely and experienced their ventures? CMOs and founders intrigued by the metaverse and its opportunities should be sure to sit back and watch a bit. What worked, what didn’t? What inspiration can you take from these digital experiences? Notice many of these ventures are co-branded, which is a great way to double the potential audience size – so what partnerships would enhance the digital introduction of your DTC brand? Gamers are already intimately familiar with NFTs and Virtual goods, so what games appeal to your audience? From breakfast cereal to gaming super powers to fashion add-ons there truly are endless ways for DTC brands to join the metaverse.

Have You Tried Virtual Goods Yet?

46% of consumers haven’t bought a virtual good yet because they don’t understand how it works and 35% might try it if it comes from a brand they trust (full report here). Those two considerations are a lot to unpack. But if your customers are curious early adopters, AND they trust your DTC brand, a great way to test the waters is to experiment with virtual goods (NFTs) like music, memes, or even artwork.

If your customers are curious, but midrange adopters, maybe you set the stage and start educating your consumers a bit, adding to that trust bucket so when the day comes for your brand to fully invest, your customers are ready to come on the journey with you. . The key to intriguing your customers to start their virtual good collection is to pair it with another passion or interest. Virtual goods like avatars or virtual event tickets are easy enough to understand to most consumers, even if they aren’t ready to use them or engage with them yet.

There’s a tremendous value in being the trusted brand that takes your customers by the hand to introduce them to the digital landscape that will make social media look like a flash in the pan.

What Will You DO Once You Get to the Metaverse?

With something like the metaverse, the end goal isn’t to BE there, it’s to activate there. Given that for most consumers, the metaverse is just some vague notion they don’t know how to even access, you’ll need to take stock of where this lands on your priority list. If your customers aren’t in the 18-34 age range of typical NFT purchasers, then this is a pretty big consideration.

Now, if your only goal is to be an early mover, and you have the bandwidth, that is the financial and team resources to do so, by all means, go for it, it’s an interesting brand move right now and it may even get you some press. Media coverage over brands with placement in the metaverse won’t garner attention for long – the metaverse will be as common as having a website and social media. And yet, even now, simply being in the metaverse itself doesn’t garner media attention. You’ll want to activate in some interesting, notable way. The options are endless, but keep in mind that your audience is likely to be small, but starting with a metaverse experience is a great way for the brand and its customers to connect in the virtual world.

 

The “Ready Player One” vision of the metaverse isn’t quite here yet. For one, adoption hasn’t reached a tipping point yet, but it won’t be long. Today’s consumers are now used to moving into new platforms every few years and the metaverse will follow a similar trend of other platforms: younger people will start, but soon their parents will follow, then their parent’s friends. Instagram was the domain of the youthful for a long time, then its users expanded; for TikTok that process was much faster some of the most vibrant TikTok hashtags belong to GenX, and they’re in their 50’s already. The metaverse is coming, tomorrow’s brand will be there.

As a digitally forward PR firm, we can help you maximize the digital world. Give us a call.