2022 promises to be another intense news year and while there is no shortage of news stories, there IS a shortage of journalists; fewer journalists means fewer stories. With the mid-terms and a potentially all-consuming COVID news cycle, cannabis (THC and CBD) are no longer securing media coverage simply for BEING a cannabis company. So it’s more important than ever that marketing and PR develop campaigns that do more and go further. That means cannabis CPG brands need to think bigger and bolder. With that in mind, here are our 3 ways cannabis PR accelerates your business goals AND media coverage.
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Cannabis Business Goal: Secure Investors and/or Prepare for IPO
“As we look forward to 2022, one of the big themes for cannabis investors should be the emergence of the brands,” said Seymour, (of) Amplify Seymour Cannabis ETF (CNBS)” on Highly Objective substack by @dai_truong #emergingindustries #emergingbrands https://t.co/xB7SOXpHDO
— Avaans PR (@AvaansPR) January 18, 2022
This may very well be a great year for cannabis companies trying to raise funds or even IPO. But now that there is very little first-mover advantage left, it’s more important than ever to invest in brands and branding. This means really leaning into your target market and expanding the lifestyle your CPG product delivers to your target consumers. For brands at this stage of growth, we’re deeply encouraging these brands to consider partnerships and campaigns with purpose-driven initiatives. In 2008, Blackrock CEO Larry Fink made major waves when he said “to prosper over time, every company must not only deliver financial performance but also show how it makes a positive contribution to society.” And in he continues to double down on this, as Blackrock highlights social contribution in its investments.
But it isn’t just institutional investors who are eyeing social contributions, it’s consumers too. The biggest generation since the baby boomers and their little brothers and sisters, the Gen Z’ers are all looking to connect with brands who illustrate their responsibility to society. And according to Zeno’s Strength of Purpose report, consumers are 4.5x more likely to recommend a brand with a strong purpose. And lest you think it’s just young people attracted to purpose, the same report says those over 74 are more likely than any other generation to purchase from brands with purpose.
Investors love consumers, and they REALLY like customer loyalty and growth, so if you’re looking to improve your standing with VC or investors, 2022 is your year to take your purpose-driven initiatives to the next level. But it doesn’t stop there, but committing to purpose and executing internally and externally, you’ll have more opportunities to receive positive press coverage. Consider this – in 2021, there were about 1.9 million (non-press release) articles about cannabis. And the top topics were regulatory-based. Next came petty crime and manufacturing. If you had talking points on any of those in 2021, your media opportunities were much better. There is a finite amount of media coverage on any topic; strategic PR helps you cross over. Now consider the 6.8 million articles about the environment last year, the top 3 subcategories were climate change, energy, and decarbonization. Sustainable investing is in the top 10 as well. Imagine if your brand were to tie purpose into one of those top environmental topics, along with those top cannabis topics. Your media opportunities would increase by ten fold! Purpose-driven initiatives are but one way cannabis PR can speed up your brand goals AND media coverage
Cannabis Business Goal: Product in More Retail Outlets
There just isn’t enough shelf space in dispensaries these days. And yet retails have a difficult time differentiating themselves, so a lot of dispensaries rely heavily on price discounts, which affects your cannabis CPG brand’s bottom line. Instead of getting into that rat race of product discounts, use PR to develop distinctive partnerships with your dispensary while at the same time helping the dispensary sell your product because of consistent PR coverage. Not only does PR open doors and differentiate your brand, but it also tells the dispensary that you’re committed to building a brand that will stay in demand. You can use PR to develop attention-getting budtender and community campaigns, too, that can accelerate your brand AND media coverage. There are so many ways PR can strengthen the brand-dispensary connection.
Not only that, but consistent PR coverage will really help to decrease the time it takes to secure a deal. Think about it-if you have room for 1 more brand and you have 10 to choose from, what’s top of mind? What will sell, of course. As it turns out, a lot of what makes a product attractive on the shelf also makes it attractive to the press. So don’t waste the branding and product development dollars invested – activate them with PR. Plus, retailers know, the only thing stronger than an independent endorsement is a referral from a friend, so make sure those budtenders see your PR coverage so they can include that information when they’re suggesting your brand, “ABC magazine just wrote about this last month – they loved it! It’s been flying off shelves!” that sounds like a great way to make your PR budget go further.
Cannabis Business Goal: Attract Top Talent
The struggle is real in 2022. There is a lot of change happening in the job market, including at the senior management level. According to the Harvard Business Review, while mid-career employees between 30-45 have the highest resignation rates, the age 45+ employees, also had higher resignation rates in 2021 than in 2020. 49% of U.S. executives reported a much higher turnover in 2021, according to the Society of Human Resource Management. The cannabis industry isn’t immune to these challenges. According to a recent mg magazine article, “The uptick in job openings has been observed at the top and bottom rungs of the industry, from hourly workers to executives, and it’s happening in every state with some form of legalization framework,” Recruiting and turn-over are expensive, regardless of the role. Cannabis PR can accelerate your recruiting goals AND media coverage
But brands can use PR to attract the highest talent. Returning to the topic above about how purpose plays a role, Deloitte reports purpose-driven brands have 40% higher workplace retention. Take that 40% reduction in turnover costs and add it to your PR budget. If your company is looking to attract top talent, but you don’t quite have the budget for the best and brightest, consider using PR to secure speaking engagements for your top-tier executives-ambitious people love opportunities that put them in the spotlight. But, you can’t promise what you don’t have – this is a long-term goal as speaking slots tend to fill up 6 or more months in advance. So if talent acquisition costs are eating into profitability, PR can help. Connect your talent recruiter and your PR agency together and let the magic work.
There are so many strategic ways to use PR to accomplish your business objectives. Working with your PR to accomplish business goals – and setting corresponding KPIs, sets the stage for the success you really want. Contact us today if you’d like to talk about your business objectives.