Make Google’s Latest Changes Your Secret Digital PR Weapon


Over 15 actionable tips for consumer and DTC brands

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What do Google, your PR, and affiliate networks have in common? They are the spine of your digital reputation. Consumer brands, especially DTC can no longer ignore the realities of how these once distinct digital tactics work together today.


Digital PR is real. And yet, so many PR professionals overlook the realities and intersection of Google and the media. Today’s PR isn’t really complete without Google considerations.

Many of the changes from Google are incredibly exciting for consumer brands. Those brands who understand the changes with more frequent earned media and better search results on owned and paid content like press releases will be rewarded with better search visibility and content stickiness.

Turn your PR into a revenue-generating machine with our actionable insights and tips that your competitors have probably overlooked.

From branded journalism to product reviews, and even press releases, Google’s changes and affiliate networks are essential considerations for any consumer brand that is trying to raise awareness online. These changes even impact your influencer campaigns.

Our easy-to-digest and insightful whitepaper is an at-a-glance resource every time you’re creating content for owned, paid, or earned media.

It doesn’t matter whether your interview is with the Wall Street Journal or a tiny vertical publication with a niche audience. You, the company representative, the thought leader, really do set the tone for the the interview. You control first impressions; you influence the tone and nature of the interview, and you set the stage for a fantastic interview or a deadly one. PR is like building a suit. There are 500 ways to screw it up. This post is part of a series on how to screw up PR. There are literally thousands of thing not to do in a media interview. So, let’s discuss 4 ways to screw up a media interview.

1. Be Unresponsive to the Interviewer’s Time

Journalists are under more pressure than ever today. The average journalist covers 4 beats, up 25% from last year, and 21% say layoffs or furloughs contribute to an increasing workload. More journalists are freelance, meaning they work for many publications and don’t get receive benefits, like paid time off, or even health insurance. From scheduling your time with a journalist to sending follow-up information like headshots, or company stats, journalists need you to do what you say you’ll do, and they need you to do it fast.

Many people think because so much content is digital, there are no deadlines. We indeed deal with PRINT deadlines less, but more than ever, there are deadlines. The pace of content creation that publishers and editors must keep up with necessitates deadlines.

So when you’re working with a journalist, it’s just good practice to be ultra helpful and responsive. Doing so might be the difference of getting in the story or not.

2. Treat the Press Like the Enemy

The press needs an angle, a story, something that people want to read. That’s what they really need. That every person in the press is out to get you, personally, is overblown. There are very specific circumstances where an investigative journalist

Now, that doesn’t mean you can drop your guard, it means you come to the table playing offense, not defense. Treat a media interview with the same level of professionalism you would treat an important meeting with an investor or a dream client, and you will probably be just fine.

A journalist is another human with a job to do. That’s all. Treat your interviewer like a human, and you will probably get the same professional courtesies back. Or you could screw up your media interview by treating them like the enemy and receive the same professional courtesies back.

3. Act Like the Journalist is Working for You

Let’s be clear: Aside from an accurate representation of your quotes and conversation, a journalist owes you nothing. They don’t owe you approval of the article; they don’t owe you a link to your website. They don’t owe you any. thing. They do not even owe you a retraction of an embarrassing statement. If you actually said it, you own it, don’t ask for a retraction or edit unless the quote is just wrong. This is not a paid placement, it’s not an ad. You do not have editorial control.

For example, during an occasion where we secured a magazine cover for the most prestigious cannabis industry magazine. The CEO went on a full-throated campaign to art direct the cover and the entire photo shoot, a photo shoot the magazine was paying for. He insisted on making the photographer come to his difficult-to-get-to home, for an outside location shoot even though outside shoots are harder on the photographer, and despite being told that studio shoots present better on magazine covers. The photo journalist was lovely and gracious and in touch with our team, but there was little we could do from a distance since the CEO declined to have a representative at the shoot.

When the publication came out, the cover disappointed the CEO. And I had to agree with him. It wasn’t the most flattering photo I’d ever seen. I’m sure there were better photos, but in a situation like this, the editor has full editorial control and I’m also sure the photojournalist had had enough with the prima donna he was throughout the entire process. So while the photojournalist was incredibly professional to our team and on-site, she felt completely disrespected and her work reflected her feelings.

When you’re working with photojournalists and journalists, be gracious. Take your cues from them. Make their jobs easier, not harder.

4. Be Unprepared

Remember the recommendation to treat your interview like you would a meeting with an investor? Would you go to an investor meeting unprepared? Of course not, so don’t screw up a media interview because you didn’t prepare.

Do your homework, because the journalist has. According to MuckRack’s State of Journalism, 77% of journalists say Twitter is their most valuable social platform, and LinkedIn is a distant second. Jump on Twitter and see what they’re talking about, and while you’re at it, take a sharp eye to your own Twitter and LinkedIn to make sure it’s your best self.

Read a few recent articles by the journalist and get a sense of their style and beats. As a bonus, you’ll also get a look at some of the other publications they write for and you may create interest in another angle for another publication.

What are your must airs? Decide ahead of time how you will answer the likely questions, and what’s most important for you to say what are your “must airs”? Also, decide in advance how you will handle the tough questions. Be purposeful, strategic, and planned.

Know your facts. You need to be able to cite the facts and the source, and you need to be confident when you do it. If you don’t have your facts straight, you will lose the confidence of the interviewer, or worse, the audience.

If you’re meeting is on Zoom, dress for the moment and make sure your lighting is on point. If you’ll be on TV, brush up on what does and doesn’t look good on TV.

A really great media interview is a skill, it takes practice. But you CAN have a successful interview if you simply give yourself the best chance by being empathetic to the journalist, respecting their job and being prepared.

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The cannabis industry is growing rapidly, and with that growth comes an increasing demand for cannabis conferences and events, like the granddaddy, MJ Biz in Las Vegas. Obtaining media coverage at a crowded conference is almost never an accident. Maximize your event budget with these 3 strategies that will get you PR at MJ Biz.

Think Like a Journalist and Plan Ahead

When you think about your cannabis marketing budget and calendar, you probably think about your needs or your customer’s needs, but for effective press coverage, add journalists and their needs. We’ve helped our clients stand out from the competitive cannabis show floors like MJ Biz with ideas that make the lives of journalists easier. When you think about what the day is like for a journalist who visits the trade show floor, you’ll get some empathy for their jobs. They’re looking for trends readers will click through to read while also looking for a distinctive point of view that will be different from every other journalist’s article. Ultimately, the journalist has the same challenge as you: standing out from the very crowded field.

Look at the trends impacting the cannabis industry and ancillary topics for ideas that will get you ahead of the competition on the expo floor. Think about how these trends are impacting the larger economy or general public and think about how you can talk about that trend in the months, weeks, and days leading up to the conference. A well-oiled cannabis industry expo PR campaign will include social media, direct media outreach, and perhaps even a press release.

Double Down on Expo Activations

From sponsorships to events, to stunts and ambassadors, the reason everyone loves a cannabis conference is there are so many ways to elevate your presence and raise awareness when there’s a captive audience.

While cannabis samples aren’t allowed on trade show floors, many cannabis companies get around this by hosting private events – at MJ Biz in Las Vegas, there are literally 10-30 private cannabis events every night. Given the saturation of these events, many companies look to stand out in other ways.

Think about guerilla marketing campaigns that leave an impression by following the event attendees around the city. This could include everything from subtle cues to flash mobs. A treasure hunt that rewards attendees and drives them to your booth is a good idea. This kind of word of mouth can intrigue cannabis journalists and give them an incentive to learn more.

Invite Cannabis Journalists

Before the MJ Biz Conference in Las Vegas, think about what scheduled activities will happen in your booth. Having a schedule of appearances, activities, or activations at your booth gives everyone an incentive to be there at a certain time, and who doesn’t love a crowd?

Then, give journalists a sneak peek. Reach out to journalists who will be covering MJ Biz and give them the schedule of events, activations, and on-trend topics your company is talking about at MJ Biz so the media knows where to find you and what’s interesting. Consider providing assets like quotes, images, and/or b-roll videos to journalists in advance. Being a resource to journalists is always a great way to make in-roads with media.

MJ Biz is one of the biggest and best-attended cannabis conferences in the U.S., but it certainly isn’t the only one. We keep an updated list of cannabis conferences available for download.

If you’d like more on-brand and tailored ideas that will maximize your cannabis expo investment, contact us directly. But don’t wait – the best campaigns come from thoughtful planning.

PR firms in major markets come with a premium investment. In today’s world, does working with a cannabis PR firm in a major metro market worth it? Yes, because major market PR firms tend to be in touch with media trends and have deeper personal relationships with journalists over the years. With more states coming online with legal cannabis, cannabis industry businesses are often expanding in multiple of states, and because the regulatory environment in cannabis prohibits cross-state commerce of cannabis, a cannabis brand might consider PR firms in several of states, which is expensive and impracticable. So why would a Los Angeles-based PR firm be an advantage at all?

 

  1. Do Media Markets Do Matter?

    In the early days of cannabis, having a presence in Denver was really important, as Colorado was the first state to legalize adult-use cannabis. As cannabis becomes increasingly normalized and cannabis brands look to mainstream consumer coverage, having a PR firm with LA and New York presence is vital. Los Angeles-based PR firms like Avaans Media have been active in cannabis marketing and PR since 2015. The media contacts in LA are often entertainment, trend, and lifestyle, so if you’re looking to appear in consumer media outlets within any of those broad categories, you’ll want a PR firm who knows what journalists and freelancers in those topics are interested in covering. LA PR agencies also have the advantage of being dialed into the San Francisco media market, which is technology, venture capital, and startup oriented.  New York-based journalists also have some lifestyle coverage, especially legacy lifestyle titles, along with financial business journalists. Media markets ESPECIALLY matter if you’re holding a product launch event with journalist invites.

  2. But What About Local Cannabis Coverage?

    Cannabis businesses in a multitude of markets should consider agencies with team members on the ground in multiple states. If you’re lobbying in local markets or you’re launching in a new market, a local presence may very well be relevant.

    But from a trend perspective, journalists tend to live in larger metro areas, meaning they’re on the cutting edge of what’s happening. You want a PR firm that is on the ground and in touch with the earliest trends, as well as those that are passe.  In the case of Avaans PR, our network of PR experts around the country, including important cannabis markets like Miami, Washington D.C., Massachusets, Chicago, and more, means we can ensure local coverage in those markets as well. A cannabis brand can always hire freelancers in every state and then manage them directly, but few cannabis brands can manage a disconnected, disjointed, and distributed team of freelancers. Working with a PR agency allows cannabis companies to expand their reach without adding layers of additional management hours.

  3. Is Cannabis Industry PR Experience Relevant?

    California leads the country in cannabis normalization. California’s medical marijuana Prop 215 passed in 1996, and in 2016 California became the largest legal cannabis market in the world. Los Angeles cannabis PR agencies like Avaans have deep experience in cannabis PR, and know the journalists who have been covering the cannabis industry for a long time. In cannabis, context is everything and knowing what journalists have covered helps cannabis brands stand out in their pitches and PR campaign.

  4. What About B2B Cannabis PR?

    While national B2B cannabis industry businesses may not have the same issue as consumer cannabis products, having a cannabis PR firm in a major market like LA is still important. That’s because B2B cannabis brands need a strategic, experienced approach to cannabis media, and experienced PR professionals with decades of experience crafting business stories and developing campaigns that stand out in the cannabis industry and business media outlets.

 

If you’re not sure what you need from a PR firm, look at the Avaans pricing approach and then get in touch with us. We’re candid and honest, and if we’re not a good fit, we can make recommendations for experienced cannabis PR agencies that would suit you better.

CPG and DTC and Consumer Product PR and News