You don’t need to be an influencer or celebrity to make public relations work for you. Having a good PR team on your side can help a business increase its visibility, brand recognition, and bolster its reputation in the community. These things can eventually translate into more customers and a bigger slice of the proverbial pie.

However, hiring a PR team isn’t free. A PR agency is an investment. Before deciding if hiring a PR firm is the right move for you, consider what makes a PR team an asset. Then ask yourself if a PR team is worth it for your business. Having a clear vision of your short- and long-term objectives and goals will help you understand the desired direction of your business. When looking towards the future, you may be surprised at how much value the right agency can add to your image and your bottom line.

What is PR?

Public relations agencies are businesses that specialize in helping their clients craft and distribute information about their business or industry. However, this information is not distributed in the form of paid ads or commercials. It is essentially “free” media that doesn’t cost a company anything to circulate. Free media can include local news stories, national news stories, newspaper articles, or magazine articles. Stories can also be distributed via the Internet or certain social media outlets. This type of media allows customers to see information or stories about a business without the filter of product sales.

The goal of PR is to put the right message in front of the right people. By generating favorable media coverage, a PR firm can help a client cement their image in the minds of potential customers. A good PR strategy can build brand recognition and customer loyalty, adding value to a client’s business.

Why is PR Worth It?

Numerous factors can make PR worth the price of a good agency. However, what makes a PR firm is worth its weight depends on the client’s needs, goals, and overall objectives. You get from PR what you help put in. Outlining your values ahead of time and communicating your needs with a PR firm helps them understand what you want to get out of the relationship. From there, a PR team can craft a unique strategy that can help you reach your objectives and allow them to target the audience you hope to capture.

An important way that PR can help bolster a client’s business is through brand recognition and credibility. PR professionals understand which media outlets can help build credibility while simultaneously increasing their visibility in the community. A solid PR firm will then be able to pitch story ideas and distribute press releases to the outlets that may help give their client the clout they need.

For good or bad, a strong public relations team can use the power of words to change the hearts and minds of people. Placement of positive stories and positive messages about a client can help build trust and loyalty. When something traumatic or negative happens, a strategic PR firm may also attempt to mitigate potential damage to a brand or turn the incident into a humanizing moment. Crisis management is just as important to a brand as positive story placement. A solid PR firm should have experience with both skills.

Skilled Professionals Who Know the Business

Many businesses handle PR internally. This strategy may work for certain industries. However, if you are considering what makes a PR firm worth hiring, consider the skilled professionals they hire to fill their firms. Many current public relations specialists are former journalists. This is important to note because former journalists have inside information about the business. They tend to have a wealth of contacts in the media industry and know how to get a media outlet’s attention. From drafting compelling press releases that don’t end up in the trash bin, to reaching out to community contacts, they know how to leverage their contacts for the client’s benefit.

News stories come from a variety of different sources. Because of the saturation of information, it’s not enough to simply email a press release or event notice to someone these days. It takes carefully crafted communication, outreach, and tenacity to pitch stories and get them placed in the right outlets at the right times. Good PR professionals are transparent, proactive, and passionate about what they do. They want your continued business and will go the extra mile to make sure that you see the value they add to your business.

How Else Can PR Benefit a Business?

Contrary to popular belief, PR is more than just submitting press releases and sending out event invites. At its core, public relations is about good storytelling. It is about crafting compelling and engaging messages that linger with an audience and spur them into action. A skilled PR firm should have experience handling different tasks as well as monitoring and responding to new and emerging trends within a client’s specific industry. Generally, a solid public relations firm will understand how to handle the following:

  • Crafting press releases
  • Following up with media outlets
  • Writing pitches
  • Speech writing
  • Copywriting
  • Blog writing
  • Event planning
  • Strategic crisis management
  • Market research
  • Community engagement

With these elements in play, a PR firm can contribute to the success of a business by:

  • Increasing credibility
  • Increasing brand recognition
  • Enhancing a business’s public presence
  • Enhancing a business’s online presence
  • Generating positive word of mouth
  • Handling crisis situations
  • Building community and customer relationships

What do these contributions all translate into? For many businesses, they translate into increased growth and sales. New customers are drawn to the business while existing customers develop brand loyalty and keep coming back as repeat customers.

If you are looking to grow your business or remain competitive in a thriving marketplace, you may want to consider the benefits of hiring a PR agency. Spending money on a firm today may add tremendous value to your company tomorrow.

If the legalization of marijuana in a growing number of states has taught us anything, there will likely be an emerging market for other products like psychedelics, as interest grows in their recreational and medicinal benefits. The stigma around using psychedelics, while still present, is starting to shift. The potentially beneficial and pharmaceutical uses for magic mushrooms and other substances are increasingly evident, and the market will likely follow.

Some estimates indicate that the market for psychedelic drugs could grow into a $6.9 billion industry by the year 2027. As psychedelics continue to gain mainstream acceptance, psychedelic companies are still in their marketing and PR infancy. Getting in on the ground floor means investing in a PR campaign today that could solidify your status as a psychedelic authority and leader in the industry in the future as it grows.

The psychedelic industry is a sophisticated enterprise that still suffers from stereotypes and misinformation. It’s much more than mushrooms, black lights, and velvet posters. A strategic PR campaign can help transform this image. It can also lend credibility to what should be considered the next big untapped drug market brimming with potential. As companies continue to grow and gain access to more capital, the opportunity for an IPO, or initial public offering, emerges. A strategic PR campaign can help push these companies into the big leagues.

Why Do Psychedelic Companies Need to Think About PR Now?

The legalization of marijuana has spurred new ways of thinking about old drugs. Psychedelics are getting a fresh look from both the public and private sectors. Researchers are uncovering promising data about the potential for these drugs to treat mental disorders such as depression, PTSD, and anxiety. With greater mainstream acceptance comes more pressure on government entities to decriminalize psychedelics and cannabis, both on state and federal levels.

The best time for psychedelic companies to capitalize on changing consumer sentiment is right now. Much of the emerging psychedelic industry is still in its infancy. When a substance is still considered illegal in much of the country, a stigma will obviously exist. The status of mushrooms and some psychedelics as Schedule 1 drugs also create major hurdles for companies when it comes to marketing. Changing the tide of both patient and political bias needs to happen now.

A strategic PR campaign can aid psychedelic companies in normalizing the conversation about psychedelics and help establish them as respected industry leaders. Changing the narrative on psychedelics doesn’t happen overnight. It takes a concerted effort to get the attention of policymakers and patients alike. PR professionals are uniquely positioned to help psychedelic companies leverage media coverage for a positive effect.

What is PR?

PR professionals specialize in helping companies get free media placement. Free media is media that does not require the company to pay for its distribution. Examples of this type of media include local news outlets, national news outlets, magazines, newspapers, and websites.

PR agencies tend to employ former journalists who have extensive contacts in the media industry. These professionals also know what it takes to pitch a story and what outlets are looking for in the source material.

What Can PR Do for Companies in the Psychedelic Industry?

The possibilities are almost limitless when it comes to what PR can do for the psychedelic industry. PR is a valuable tool in helping change the narrative about psychedelics. A PR agency can help a business craft a compelling and strategic messaged aimed at consumers or policymakers. The firm can then take that message to media sources for potential coverage. These outlets can distribute the story and help boost a company’s brand recognition within the psychedelic industry. Since this media coverage is not paid for, like commercials and ads, it also helps increase a company’s credibility.

Media coverage can also help shape future policies. It is essential to steer the conversation about psychedelics away from the negative and stigmatic image of drugs and towards more beneficial and informative coverage. Experienced PR agencies are experts at communicating. They understand crisis management and how to take potentially negative information and transform it into teaching moments. Although the conversation about marijuana and psychedelics is evolving, there is still work to be done when it comes to helping the industry shed problematic stereotypes.

It is also crucial to note that while change may seem slow to come, the needle is moving in a more accepting direction. It is easier to establish yourself as a reputable psychedelic company now and get in on the ground floor than it is to claw your way to the top of a crowded marketplace. Getting involved with a PR firm early gives you a head start when it comes to brand recognition, building credibility in the industry, and developing a loyal following and potential customer base. Your company can emerge as an industry leader just as other companies are attempting to jump on the bandwagon. Investing in PR today is investing in the future reputation of your business.

If these factors aren’t enough, consider what else a reputable PR firm can do for you:

  • Craft a brand story
  • Help establish you as a psychedelic industry leader
  • Generate visibility and brand recognition
  • Pitch stories that can help influence the public and policymakers
  • Help change the narrative surrounding psychedelic drugs
  • Target your key audience
  • Build brand loyalty
  • Build community relationships

Good public relations teams don’t sit back and wait for you to have news. They help strategize ways to make news. PR should not be passive. PR should be proactive in any market and help companies make their mark and shape the industry. A company’s needs for positive PR in the psychedelic industry are no different.

Whether you are a public or private psychedelic company, now is the time to start thinking about your image. With the help of an experienced PR team, you have the power to build your brand and mold the future of the psychedelic industry. The psychedelic business could quickly become the next big industry to experience hyper-growth. Getting started with PR early means you will have a strategic advantage over the competitors that wait to enter the market.

The unfair and highly politicized stigma that once surrounded the use of cannabis is quickly dissipating as more states embrace legalized cannabis and cannabis-related products. The earliest cannabis brands hired PR firms to reduce stigmatization. With a budding industry on the rise, more companies are jumping on the cannabis bandwagon. While this hyper-growth is great for consumers, it has created competition in the cannabis marketplace. How can cannabis companies set themselves apart to capture a chunk of the profit? No doubt, hyper-growth cannabis companies absolutely have distinct PR needs.

To keep up with industry growth, the time may be right to consider hiring a cannabis PR agency. PR isn’t just for high-profile celebrities. Public relations firms can help you market yourself, your unique products, and let the public know how you stand out from the crowd. However, before you hire a PR firm to represent your business, consider how a cannabis PR firm may benefit your company and how to choose the right firm for your needs.

What is a PR Agency?

Public relations agencies are multifaceted firms that specialize in promoting and growing other businesses through editorial coverage. Editorial coverage is sometimes known as “earned” or free” media because it isn’t a paid placement in an outlet. A PR agency generally doesn’t buy or place ads on social media or through billboards. A PR agency knows how to leverage the media for the benefit of a company. Media can include local news, national news, newspapers, magazines, and websites.

The ultimate goal of a PR agency is to promote the best interests of its client by generating favorable media coverage. When potential customers view this coverage, it builds brand recognition and trust in the company. The positive public opinion can then help translate into sales for the business.

What Does a Cannabis PR Firm Do?

A cannabis PR firm specializes in drumming up positive media coverage for growing cannabis businesses. They generally will use their resources to pitch story ideas to various media outlets. They will then follow up with these media outlets to convince them that the story will interest their viewers or readers. In the end, the media outlet gets a piece that entices its audience. The cannabis company then gets recognition. A good agency understands how to take a company message or campaign and translate that into a positive media piece.

On the flip side, a cannabis PR agency can also help a business mitigate the fallout from a less than ideal or unfortunate situation. A good firm is always strategically thinking about how to protect a client from potentially hurtful coverage. An agency can also help formulate a response that is both appropriate and has the potential to turn a situation around.

Overall, you want a cannabis PR agency to be well-versed in the following:

  • Writing and distributing press releases
  • Following up with appropriate media outlets after the release of a press statement
  • Crafting pitches
  • Product placement
  • Writing speeches
  • Crisis management
  • Copywriting
  • Blog writing
  • Market research
  • Event planning
  • Community engagement
  • Non-profit relationship management

Some of the most successful PR firms have former journalists and news people on their staff. These individuals generally have inside knowledge of the media industry and can leverage their former contacts and skills for the benefit of cannabis clients. These professionals know what stories media outlets generally select and can help convince them that coverage of your materials is beneficial to the outlets and the community.

Picking a Cannabis PR Firm

In many areas, cannabis is a relatively new business. When looking for a PR firm to manage the image and media coverage of a cannabis business, there is an important initial question. A company should ask if the agency has previous experience working with the cannabis industry. Why is this the most important question? There are limitations on the types of material and information that can be distributed about cannabis in some jurisdictions. A business will want to make sure that the PR firm they are working with understands the intricacies of working with the media and cannabis-related businesses. Knowledge of the industry helps ensure that your coverage is positive and accurate. It will also ensure that media outlets distribute coverage with the best chance of being picked up and not tossed in the press-release trash bin.

Beyond looking for an agency that understands the unique challenges of working with cannabis-related businesses, you will want to sit down and outline your marketing goals. What are you hoping to achieve? What is your budget? What are you expecting a firm to deliver? Establishing your objectives and goals early will help in selecting the best firm for your company. Once you determine these objectives, find a PR firm that aligns with your goals. Consider the following:

  • What is your budget?
  • Do they specialize in a specific industry?
  • How do they measure success?
  • What is their communication style?
  • How often will they be in contact?
  • Does their team have experience in PR and marketing?
  • How do they generate coverage?
  • Do they have experience handling crisis situations?

Hold meetings before you settle on a PR firm. In these meetings, you can ask plenty of predetermined questions pertaining to your concerns and goals. Consider these meetings an interview process. You want the best candidate for the job. Effective coverage doesn’t happen passively. It is a process that needs to be actively pursued and nurtured. The PR team you choose should be aggressive, responsive, and communicate with you throughout the PR process.

PR as an Investment

Making investments in your business is essential to growth. You know how to cultivate relationships with growers, suppliers, paraphernalia manufacturers, consumers, and sometimes even local artisans and craftsmen. Securing the help of a PR firm is another form of investment in your business. A solid relationship with a cannabis PR firm can help increase recognition, brand loyalty, and visibility in the community.

Eventually, these attributes can start translating into new customers, repeat business, and profit growth. The relationship between the cannabis industry and the media is always evolving. If you’re ready to experience growth and visibility for your business, hiring an experienced cannabis PR agency is the next step to developing your product’s brand.

5 PR Trends CMOs Need to Watch for 2022

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There’s no shortage of uncertainty in marketing and PR planning for 2021. But there are some trends happening that are sure to impact PR and Marketing in 2021. At Avaans PR, CMO’s love us because we know consumer trends impact where our target audience will be, the frame of mind they’ll be in and what journalists will write about.  On a tactical level, trends impact our content creation, journalist relationships, and campaign recommendations we’re making now and in the next year. We’re ready for 2021 to require agility, but we’ve found that even agility requires forward-looking and yes, some planning. These are 5 of the marketing and PR trends for 2021 we’re watching on behalf of our consumer-forward brands.

PR Trend #1: Techlash Continues

From a PR trend perspective, this has a tremendous impact. Now is the time to reimagine how you’ll use social and digital media in 2022, from both a marketing and PR perspective.

The sting of social media won’t soon to be forgotten by consumers, regardless of political affiliation. During 2020, in particular, during the pandemic, social media took on outsized importance, but also affected consumers in new ways, and not all of them positive.

Yes, consumers continue to spend time and even buy on social media, but they are spending more and more time in micro-groups of their own on platforms like Slack or Messenger, or in like-minded platforms. This means brands will have to be extremely smart about their placements and presence in 2021. The separation also requires brands to be exceptionally clear about who their customers really are.

Further, the coveted 25-55 college-educated, earning $100,000 or more per year are using social media for customer service. This coveted group will not support companies who don’t support customer care. If 2020 was the year of pandemic-related customer acquisition for your brand, 2021 will most definitely need to be about keeping them happy and engaged. Part of that will most definitely be a branding effort to existing customers, ensuring your values align with theirs (more on purpose-driven initiatives below).

But it’s not just customer service affecting social media in 2021.  e-Marketer reported:

We have increased our forecast on mobile messaging and now believe time spent by US adults will grow by 4 minutes in 2020, to 24 minutes per day, not only due to the pandemic but also data showing strong engagement on messaging services like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Apple iMessage.

 

PR Trend #2: Work With Media in New Ways

Whether it’s TV, programmatic, or print, all media outlets are bracing for reduced advertising revenue in 2021. This will have very real implications for public relations initiatives.

First, according to Edelman, trust in media actually increased in 2020. This means you should absolutely be leveraging the trust of other outlets, particularly in lieu of the distrust around social media. However, you should do so with earned media and branded content.

Expect to see more “branded content,” in 2021. Well done branded content can be very effective in both PR and branding, so consider these options carefully. Branded content is better received than traditional ads, in fact, Second Street Lab reported in June that branded content through premium publishers sees a 50% brand lift.

Further, outlets will need to keep eyeballs on their content, to help drive ad revenue, brands with media relations campaigns should be looking at ways to support outlets who support them. At Avaans PR we are actively doing this for our clients already and seeing great brand lift and also enhanced journalist relations.

 

PR Trend #3: Purpose-Driven Buyers

Trusted brands saw huge increases during the pandemic, up to 50% growth, according to McKinsey. This is due to an unprecedented shift in brand loyalty during the pandemic.

Even pre-pandemic, affinity for brands who take a stand and align with consumer’s values were seeing real ROI on purpose-driven initiatives. As Americans slog through the pandemic, they are consistently re-evaluating priorities, this is especially true for Millenials and GenZ.

PR trends for 2021, include self-love and body positivity will be a purpose for many buyers, especially those who emerge from isolation hibernation with a few extra pounds. GenZ is feeling stressed. While some are still below the age of 18, they remember the great recession. Right now, self-care and home comfort are top of their list. Pre-pandemic, GenZ was actually returning to malls, but the pandemic has left this generation feeling a bit powerless and reconsidering purchasing behavior, at least for now. But 51% of GenZ’ers say they will return to in-store shopping. But when GenZ returns to stores, according to Retail Dive, they’ll do so with the expectation of safety and a frictionless environment that mirrors the ease of online shopping.   GenZ is also moving towards “thoughtful consumption,” especially those brands with responsible sourcing, environmentally friendly policies or support social issues. Local businesses and minority-owned businesses are also on their radar in a whole new way.

As for Millenials, the eldest of whom are in their 40’s already, are leading the way, followed by the often forgotten GenX, to continue online shopping across almost all verticals from essentials to alcohol, according to McKinsey.

Plus, record low-interest rates have created a whole host of new home buyers. In September 2020, 60% of U.S. homebuyers were Millenials, they’re likely to spend an increasing amount of time at home, items that allow them to spend more quality time with friends and family will be attractive, so delivery and home-based products will take a new focus for that generation.

PR Trend #5: The New Corporation

The media loves cultural changes and the radical changes to corporate America as a result of the COVID pandemic are monumental. From new work structures resulting from work from home to updated DEI hiring practices, diverse executives, and the great resignation, the media is covering companies through a very different lens today.

Technology is a considerable sub-topic here. If your brand is using technology or inventing technology to address these radical changes, there are considerable thought leadership opportunities for you.

From a spokesperson perspective, the media is also being more proactive about gathering a multitude of diverse perspectives on almost any topic. If you’re hiring corporate spokespersons or brand representatives, be clear on your objectives, and your audience. Not all spokespersons are useful in PR, and that doesn’t mean they aren’t perfectly good spokespersons for things like ads or social media, but they might not get a lot of lift in PR.

Trust is no longer a trend – it’s an imperative. From a public relations standpoint, you’ll want to be thinking about how your brand will differentiate itself in the media and marketing activities. With trust and security taking new precedence, brands will need to think about how they will reinforce those messages in a brand-consistent way.  Now is the time to explore partnerships and the potential activations, which will create the memorable moments consumers are craving.

From tourism to retail to direct-to-consumer products, brands will need to be thinking about how they will be relevant at the right moment.

From content to media relations to events, now is the time to plan, but bake in flexibility. For example, secure your video producers now, and create three original scripts, secure the time and the talent now, so you can move faster than everyone else when the moment is right.

PR Trend #5: Cross Collaboration

This is the year where everything needs alignment. If you haven’t already, tear down the silos between PR, Marketing, and Branding. Get those people together now so they can be more effective together in 2022. Think about how each department can align on digital and in-person initiatives. Think about initiatives that are word-of-mouth worthy, there will be plenty of industry and even national coverage for brands that are thoughtful about how they align.

A unified, personal experience will be an expectation in 2021. So ensure your messaging, your purpose, and your plans are operating together, not just in tandem, but together.

Use your owned, earned, and paid media together in new ways and your brand can benefit from the realignment of brand loyalty happening right now.

 

If you’re ready to use these and other marketing & PR trends for 2021 in a more customized way, let’s talk. 

This article has been updated

A GLOBAL TOURISM DESTINATION TELLS SUSTAINABILITY STORY-GLOBALLY WITH PR & SOCIAL MEDIA

THE CHALLENGE

One of the world’s best-known visitor destinations seeks to unify its global social media story-telling by providing agencies representing the destination in Europe, Asia, North America and Pacific regions with best practices, guidelines, processes, and procedures which reflect the global nature of its social media communications.

The organization also needs insights on tracking successful social media campaigns, both organic and paid with KPIs which can be easily reported to stakeholders.

Global social media crisis communication systems and processes are also needed.

At the same time, maximizing resources and merging brand paid social media budget.

THE SOLUTION

Support development of social media KPIs, establish best practices, including user-generated content UGC policies and guidance regarding GDPR. We maintain communication with agencies in Hong Kong, China, New Zealand, Australia, UK, and Germany to ensure consistent on-brand storytelling in social media.

We also manage a global social ad campaign, with a sophisticated funnel, that reaches into 12 countries and is translated into 10 different languages or dialects.

GLOBAL REPUTATION MANAGEMENT


From copy to images and video our international social media oversight ensures the brand story is consistent across languages and platforms including WeChat, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter.

ESTABLISH GLOBAL SOCIAL MEDIA KPIs


We identify, evaluate and maintain organic and paid social media KPIs across 12 different global markets. We watch for shifts and changes and make recommendations to partner agencies and brand based on trends or shifts.

ESTABLISH & MANAGE GLOBAL SOCIAL MEDIA AD CAMPAIGNS


In addition to developing successful advertising campaigns, we developed a system and a process to manage multiple languages and cultural touch points across campaigns.

SUPPORT CRISIS COMMUNICATIONS


We help build systems and processes to implement crisis planning to agencies around the globe for social media distribution. Additionally, we create and establish guidelines for agencies for confident brand communication during periods of crisis for their location.

ESTABLISH INTERDEPARTMENTAL COMMUNICATION CHANNELS


We help build systems and processes to implement crisis planning to agencies around the globe for social media distribution. Additionally, we create and establish guidelines for agencies for confident brand communication during periods of crisis for their location.

ESTABLISH SOCIAL MEDIA GUIDELINES


From crisis management to content and branding, our team develops guidelines and training for agencies around the globe. We also support the organization with recommendations on important changes including GDPR, FTC Influencer Guidelines, and User Generated Content (UGC)

THE PR SUCCESS RESULTS

494%


Increase in social brand reach

494%


Increase in social brand reach

91%


Increase in social media brand engagement

25% 


Action rate on paid social website click campaigns.

133.6% 


Action rate on paid social video view campaigns

100.4% 


Overall action rate on paid social ad campaigns.

SOCIAL MEDIA WITH PURPOSE


Social media with purpose allows you to drive loyalty and attract new customers because your in touch with your customers. We are a digitally forward agency that combines emotional intelligence with strategy and data to build social media campaigns and programs. From startup to IPO, we build brand value. We’re a team of big thinkers with an eye for detail.

SOCIAL MEDIA

CONTENT STRATEGY

REPUTATION MANAGEMENT

CONTENT DEVELOPMENT

PAID STRATEGY + EXECUTION

CRISIS & REPUTATION RISK

CONTENT AMPLIFICATION

COMMUNITY MANAGEMENT

EXECUTIVE POSITIONING

SOCIAL MEDIA VIDEO & PHOTOGRAPHY