Meet Michele Ringelberg, CEO of ThrivePop, a digital marketing firm specializing in cannabis. Fast-growing and ambitious brands in cannabis industry work with Michelle and her team to create digital marketing strategies and digital marketing implementation.

First, a little background about Michele Ringelberg:


I have been in the marketing industry since 2000. I have seen a lot of changes in the digital marketing space and the evolution of cannabis marketing has been exciting to watch. Cannabis marketing is challenging and innovative. We have definitely made our mistakes, but have learned from them and are here to teach you what NOT to do! Let me just say, Facebook and Instagram can be unpredictable and difficult when marketing cannabis-related products.

Our team enjoys what we do and has been known to push our clients out of their comfort zone. When we are allowed to try new creative tactics, we can show our clients astounding results!

If your business is ready to grow fast and is seeking help implementing digital marketing strategies that will increase visibility, generate leads, and grow revenue, then we can help.

Let us teach you what we know and create something fabulous together!

 

When did you first start working in cannabis?

2017

 

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

NCIA Marketing Committee

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

Do what you love and what you are naturally good at and stop trying to please every client request. When I first started we were doing a lot of online applications systems and complex web development programs for companies. My brain just doesn’t work that way. I was trying to do something that I didn’t like and it stressed me out. I am not a developer and don’t pretend to be. I am creative and love marketing, not backend web development. I had a complex project that my developers could not produce, they continued to tell me that they were almost done, but as a non-developer I couldn’t look at the code and tell if they were actually telling me the truth. I had to go to the client and let them know we just don’t have the team to complete this project and I refunded them all of their money. I felt this huge weight lifted once I told the client they would need to find another web company to perform this project. It was very difficult to do and they were not happy, however; it was the right thing to do. It was then that I focused on what I love to do and that is marketing. We chose to not take on any more complex web projects and now we focus on marketing, since doing that our company is growing significantly and I do what I love, helping companies make more money and thrive.

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

The majority of our clients are B2B. Fohse lighting is one of our clients that I would like to highlight. They came to us with unrealistic goals. They wanted to double their conversions and revenue in one year. I kind of laughed and said, ok, we need to set realistic goals. our contact said, no we are serious, these are realistic goals. They were ready and motivated to grow. They said, let’s do this! They listened to us and for every new opportunity or creative idea we had; they were up for it. We doubled their monthly leads and increased their revenue by 2,332% in two years! It makes a huge difference when you have a client that actually listens to your recommendations and is open to new marketing tactics, and the entire team is on board. They have an amazing sales team that actually uses the tools we have implemented and has done an excellent job converting the leads we have been providing them. Other people in the industry see Fohse marketing and they ask them who does it, and they very willingly tell them ThrivePOP, in fact, I just recently had a prospect call me and they told me that Fohse told them we kick ass! I said, ok, great that is awesome to hear. 

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

That it is easy, or that it [includes only] being on social media. That is part of it, but not the whole picture.

What were you doing prior to cannabis?

We fell into cannabis. I have been doing marketing since 2000, was a marketing director at a healthcare facility and they merged with another health organization and they eliminated my job. I worked at an IT managed service company, managing the web team and doing marketing for the IT company. I started ThrivePOP in 2017. One of our clients that also serves other industries said they wanted to push their product into the cannabis industry, so that is how we started. I sent one of my employees to MJBizCon to help them with their booth, and learn. Since then, we have just been growing like crazy.

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

The biggest issue regarding marketing for cannabis is social media. You spend all this time growing social profiles and FB, Instagram, etc. can take down your profile with no notification and you can’t ever talk to someone at FB or Insta to see why or get it back. So many clients come to us trying to get their accounts back and it is very difficult.

What will get easier in cannabis digital marketing? What will get harder?

I have noticed more and more competition. Everyone thinks it is an easy thing, and it is not. Just because you are in the cannabis industry doesn’t mean you are stashing money in a safe. It is tough. In our town, there are so many dispensaries popping up and I think people don’t understand how difficult it is to run a company.

Trust me, running a company is HARD, especially in the cannabis industry.

What can companies do to ease their digital marketing challenges?

Be consistent and track your results. If you don’t have time to do it yourself, which most people don’t-outsource it to someone that knows what they are doing and are an expert.

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

Industry associations. I try to get my clients to join different cannabis associations and I don’t think they really value that. I have joined a few, and it has really set us apart.

In your view, what is the most over-rated digital marketing toolbox for cannabis companies?

I don’t really think of anything that is over-rated.

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

Be consistent and listen to the data. Track your results and be open to changing your plan based on what the data is telling you. Data doesn’t lie, and you don’t want to waste your money on something that isn’t effective.

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

Join associations to learn about cannabis, join associations, follow people that are knowledgeable, and absorb as much knowledge as possible. Don’t just tell people you understand cannabis marketing if you don’t yet.

How can someone contact you, Michele?

www.thrivepop.com

Facebook/thrivepop

Instagram/thrivepop

 

Thanks for sharing your digital marketing insights with us today, Michele.

 

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 that range. If you’re looking to dominate, your budget should be higher. Ambitious startups typically allocate between 12-17%. A typical breakdown might be 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 $100,000 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.

One of the biggest mistakes that consumer packaged goods companies make is assuming that consumers are only interested in shallow, colorful, brightly designed packages. Consumers care about who makes their products and where they come from. Setting yourself apart in the crowded CPG market is about more than making a good visual impression. Loyalty and brand recognition come from carefully curating your image and making a connection with your target audience in a meaningful and positive way.

Hiring a purpose-driven PR firm can help hone your message to consumers. This type of firm can also place your message in strategically valuable media outlets to get a foothold in a competitive marketplace. Navigating these strategic PR campaigns can be labor-intensive. An experienced PR firm can provide the professional support you need for brand growth and visibility. Investing in a PR agency with CPG experience may be the right move for you, especially in today’s economic climate and competition.

What are CPGs?

CPG, or consumer packaged goods, are products that are consumed by customers regularly and require routine replacement. These types of goods generally have a short shelf life. CPGs include food items, clothing, makeup, cosmetic products, and household goods. The market may feel dominated by big-name brands with extensive marketing teams at their disposal. However, now is the right time for emerging brands to take advantage of PR to increase their brand awareness and visibility.

CPGs and Consumers

Consumer packaged goods companies are one of the largest manufacturing employers in the U.S. The industry itself contributes nearly $2 trillion to U.S. gross domestic product and generates $1.1 trillion in labor income. What does this mean for the industry itself? It means the industry is not only profitable but also highly competitive. Brands are consistently competing for the attention and the hard-earned dollars of everyday Americans. When store shelves are saturated with products, brand recognition becomes an important factor in relation to consumer buying habits.

Consumers buy brands they recognize and trust. This relationship between the brand and the consumer does not happen overnight. It develops over time through carefully crafted messages aimed at the right audience. Once a consumer develops brand awareness, they are more inclined to continue buying the product they know the most about. Good companies will continue to foster their relationship with consumers by the following approaches:

  • Staying in touch with their needs
  • Managing expectations
  • Generating targeted messages aimed at increasing consumer loyalty

Companies can adapt and market towards their target consumer base by keeping a finger on the pulse of consumer awareness and buying habits.

How PR Can Help CPG Companies

Any economy can experience supply chain issues, rising costs, and product shortages. These issues rarely leave a positive impression on the consumer. The rise of social media has shown us that misinformation or negative sentiments can quickly sour an individual’s image of a brand or company. As misinformation spreads, so do negative consumer responses. Now more than ever, companies need to take a proactive approach to communicate with consumers. PR firms can help CPG companies achieve their communication goals by leveraging their influence with media outlets and crafting stories that positively resonate with their audience.

Public relations agencies specialize in helping their clients generate and distribute information about their business. Public relations is sometimes lumped under the marketing umbrella. While the two share similar goals, they are not the same. Public relations agencies know how to leverage free media, which does not cost a company anything to distribute, unlike paid ads or spots.

PR firms can be crucial in helping CPG companies create purpose-driven, helping to increase brand recognition. Brand recognition helps companies stand out from the crowd and sets them apart from their competition. PR firms can also assist with story placement in local news, newspapers, magazines, and national news organizations, letting customers know that you are out there in the marketplace. With strategic PR campaigns, brand awareness grows and can translate into more sales. With continued PR saturation, what was once brand recognition turns into brand loyalty. One-time customers turn into repeat customers, and sales may continue to rise.

Another benefit of using a PR firm for free media is credibility. Consumers know that when a company pays money for a commercial, billboard, or web banner, they are looking at a carefully crafted image designed to get them to spend their money on the product. PR agencies work strategically to place stories in free media. Free media adds an air of credibility to a company because the company did not directly pay to get its message to the consumer. For example, a story airing on a local news station about a company’s recent good deeds in the community can give the company both brand recognition and credibility.

A skilled public relations firm with experience in the consumer packaged goods industry should be able to help you reach your goals by:

  • Increasing visibility and credibility
  • Increasing brand recognition and brand awareness
  • Strengthening customer relationships and building brand loyalty
  • Generating positive word of mouth
  • Building community relationships
  • Reducing repetitional risk
  • Meeting consumers communication needs

Strategically crafted public relations campaigns can help a CPG company connect with its target audience in more meaningful ways. Building an emotional connection between a consumer and a company is powerful. This connection can eventually translate into more sales and more repeat business for your CPG company.

During difficult times, the first thing that companies often cut from their budgets is marketing or PR. Right now, PR and marketing are the last elements of business that should be on the chopping block. The time is ripe to get your message out to invested consumers desiring authentic and sincere communication. Take this opportunity to connect with your consumer base on a deeper, more intentional level and see how it translates into a better consumer-client relationship.

If you are interested in what a PR agency can do for your CPG business, now is the perfect time to explore your options.

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.

What is a top cannabis firm anyway? How important is it that someone else thinks a PR agency is great? What YOU need to know is if a leading cannabis firm is right for YOU. If you are leading a cannabis business or are trying to grow and develop an existing cannabis brand, one of the most important decisions you’ll need to make is choosing a leading cannabis industry PR firm that understands your business objectives. As the industry explodes and cannabis becomes more accessible in more and more states where it is legal, many cannabis businesses are searching for an agency with whom they can develop a long-term, successful relationship.

To help you make the right choice for your business, we’ve put together a list of qualities you should look for when scouting a PR firm. By following these helpful tips, you’ll be better able to find the best firm for you and your business.

Does The Firm Have Experience In Your Field?

When you are seeking out a top cannabis PR agency, you want one that combines a strong knowledge of the fundamentals with experience in your specific field. A firm that has worked in the cannabis industry is one that understands the challenges your business faces due to the patchwork of state-level laws regulating its production, marketing, and consumption, and one that knows how to appeal to your target audience. The last thing you want is a firm that doesn’t know Facebook’s policy about advertising cannabis on its platform, or has outdated assumptions about the consumers who might be excited about your product.

Does The Agency Maintain Strong Relationships?

It’s important to determine whether the cannabis PR firm knows the major players in the cannabis industry, if it has preexisting relationships with influencers and important publications, and whether it can put you in touch with the consultants and other experts who can help take your cannabis brand to the next level. Having access to a PR team’s vast network of professionals can be incredibly beneficial to your business, so it’s worth asking who they know as well as what they know.

To put it simply, you want a PR firm that is more than just a database — you want a team that has ongoing working relationships with industry insiders and the other cannabis industry personnel who can be your entrée to more opportunities down the road.

Is The Firm The Right Size For Your Business?

You should seek out a cannabis PR firm that compliments the size of your business, one that offers you all the resources you need to flourish but also the personalized attention that your company deserves. If you own a small business, you may not need the resources of a 100-person firm. But you also might require more work than a single freelancer can provide. Finding that balance is critical.

What Is The Staff Like?

Since it’s common to work with one group as you explore PR firms, and another team when you sign with an agency, you should ask questions about the makeup of the team you’ll be working with. Ask each person you’ll be working with about their professional backgrounds and experiences, inquire about their responsibilities as part of the team, and find out why they’re interested in the cannabis field. Lastly, make sure that you have the opportunity to consult with senior-level executives at the firm and confirm that they will be available to provide strategic advice when needed.

Does the Firm Offer Integrated Services?

You should seek out a PR firm that offers an array of services, including earned media (such as press coverage, social media mentions, quote tweets, shares, and reviews) and owned media, also called content development (which encompasses blogs, studies, vlogs, podcasts, and more). You should also ensure that the team has the ability not just to develop content, but to do the hard work that ensures this content is meaningful to your target audience: researching, conducting interviews, and writing in an impactful way.

Does the Firm Work in a Timely and Efficient Manner?

You should also consider whether the firm takes the initiative and puts proactive plans in motion in a timely and efficient manner, rather than waiting around for you to approach them. The last thing you want is a PR team that doesn’t understand your business or your goals, doesn’t regularly strategize to help you accomplish those goals, and makes you reach them yourself.

What is the Turnover Rate for Employees of The Firm? What About Clients?

The average rate of turnover between the agency and their clients will give you an excellent idea of how much other companies trust the agency with their business. How long do their professional relationships usually last? Even if you are only signing a limited contract, would you be able to continue the relationship under a renewed contract? You should also ask what the firm’s employee turnover looks like. Low turnover is always a good sign that the firm is a place where employees enjoy working. Happy employees are better for your business, as they will likely be more invested in your business strategy and in helping you succeed. And less turnover also means that the firm won’t be cycling people in and out of your account — people who may not be familiar with your business and its goals.

What’s The Cost?

Like any businessperson, you’re going to have to settle on a budget, and that budget will influence what services you can afford. It’s important to factor the cost of an effective PR campaign into your budget, as this could make or break your business. You should be upfront about your budget and ask other cannabis businesspeople and peers how much they pay for the services you’re seeking. Being upfront about your budget will ensure that neither your time nor the PR firm’s time is wasted.

Ask For References

You should review what other clients have to say about their experience with the firm. Do they express hostility, indifference, or enthusiasm for the firm? How other clients respond will tell you a lot about what kind of relationships the firm builds with its clients. If your peers don’t get excited about the agency, then it may not be worth your time.

Contact the PR Professionals of Avaans Media

If you are starting a cannabis business or are looking to take your existing business to the next level, contact Avaans Media today. We look forward to discussing your business objectives, introducing you to our team, and determining if we’re the right fit for your needs.