As uncertainty rises, funding falls. At least that’s what the news would have you believe. But according to Inc. magazine, seed and angel deals are still trending upward, and early stage companies with proven product are still getting most of the deals. In fact, 64% of venture funding is early stage, and seed deals through Q2 of 2022 were on par with the entirety of 2019 (Q2 NVCA/PitchBook). That means for hyper-growth or ambitious companies and challenger brands, there is still an opportunity for you. So what should you do when VC funding is down and inflation is still driving uncertainty? I’ve been through every recession since 9/11 and I’ve been working with ambitious brands and companies since then as well. So I’ve seen what successful businesses do during recessions to position themselves for competitive advantage, survival and growth, despite the economic hurdles. Over the years I’ve noticed, startups who focus on looking ahead while being laser-focused, and tend to survive tumultuous times.

Focus Your Energies and Budget

“Everything you do, do exceptionally well, and if you aren’t exceptional at it, then get rid of it or outsource it.”

Look at everything you’re doing and cut out the things you aren’t doing well. For example, let’s say your internal biz development team is excellent, but your event marketing isn’t producing the results you’d hoped for, take that event marketing budget and focus it on one thing your biz dev team says they need to get to the next level.

Everything you do, do exceptionally well, and if you aren’t exceptional at it, then get rid of it or outsource it. Outsourcing is just more nimble. What you outsource, be exceptionally clear about your goals, so you can maximize your reduced budget. Focusing your time and budget has the additional advantage of clearing out the cobwebs and giving you new insight into operational efficiencies too. Who knows? You might decide that outsourcing certain strategies, like PR, simply works better than doing it in-house, anyway.

Startups should also focus on the long term. Think about ways you can increase efficiencies with agency partners, and where you can maximize the partners you have on board.

 

Bullish on the Future

“Deals are still happening, but they’re more happening on industries and trends which are moving ahead full steam, no matter what happens to the economy,”

What should a startup focus on when thinking about funding? No matter what happens to the economy, innovation rolls forward, and VCs know this. The money isn’t on solving today’s problems, it’s on solving tomorrow’s problems. According to Pitchbook, in Q1 of 2022, VC’s raised more money than in the entirety of 2019. So are coming down? Oh, absolutely, but VC’s know – the future is now.

Even when funding is down, deals are still happening, but they’re more happening on industries and trends which are moving ahead full steam. So do your homework on where your product fits into the biggest challenges or opportunities in the next 5, 10, 15 years. Look at all the challenges the pandemic brought to light – those challenges are still top of mind, and the companies solving those problems will have a head start. Your corporate storytelling should also lean into the future and purpose driven initiatives. These two aspects will allow you to lead against your peers.

FinTech is another area where the gloom and doom may be over-reported – through Q2, FinTech funding was still more than in 2019, but it’s definitely not as frothy as 2021. FinTech founder may wish to focus on thought leadership and tie it into purpose-driven points of view in order to tap into future trends.

Plan For Success

“Companies that survive this time focus… on problem-solving,”

Now is the time to think out loud and do your due diligence for tomorrow. Companies that survive this time focus their operations team on problem-solving. For example, if  VC funding doesn’t seem likely for you right now, turn your attention to policy initiatives at the federal and local levels. For example, the last infrastructure project had a lot of opportunities for climate-related startups. And the 2021 infrastructure package held lots of tidbits for infrastructure tech programs, that emerging industries like drones and UOV could take advantage of.

Consumer tech VC funding really has taken a sharp nose-dive. Storytelling PR campaigns may not be as attractive as they once were for consumer tech. Now is the time to look at product-based programs which increase awareness but not the budget.

You should take this opportunity to do some scenario planning as well. Now is a great time to plan for a crisis, and create plans for things like cyber breaches ,which will help you secure your future.

 

Tomorrow’s greatest companies and emerging industries aren’t going to allow this uncertainty to derail them. This is where the rubber meets the road, and strategy makes a difference.

Not too long ago, DTC brands were on a tear. The Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) industry grew at an incredible rate during the 2020 pandemic lockdown – to $933 billion up 10.4% from the previous year. And it wasn’t just the big brands who saw that growth, boutique CPG brands reported revenue growth up 18.3%, compared to 7.5% from large CPG brand manufacturers. But recent changes in digital marketing, along with supply chain issues, have made 2022 more challenging for startup DTC brands. So, given the squeeze they’re experiencing, what CPG marketing trends will give them the most bang for their buck?

 

 

CPG and DTC Brands with Purpose

This first one is a bit of a misnomer because, realistically, purpose-driven CPG brands are an inside-out job, not simply a marketing initiative. And yet, for those CPG startup brands who can find an authentic purpose, the activation opportunities are endless. This isn’t so much a CPG marketing trend as much as it is a brand proposition.

47% of consumers say they’d switched products or services after a company violated their personal values. 

Consumers are increasingly demanding sustainable and natural products in everything from beauty to wellness to food. Searches for “cruelty-free” products increased by 400% between 2012-2022. And it isn’t just consumers. 86% of employees want to know they work for organizations with an environment, social, and ethical business practices (ESG). While we typically think about large brands doing most of the heavy lifting on ESG initiatives, startup CPG brands can create a bigger splash, reduce operational expenses, and increase customer loyalty by doing their part as well.

CPG PR & Influencer Marketing

TV ads are still the first choice for legacy CPG companies, and that’s because they know becoming a household name takes repeated exposure. But ambitious startup brands without the multi-million dollar ad budget are finding excellent success with CPG PR and even seasonal sprint PR programs. From wellness products to beauty products, CPG brands know the value of trusted recommendations, like magazines.

Trust isn’t a CPG marketing trend – it’s a requirement. 

And because of the importance of the trust factor, startup CPG brands are also turning to influencer marketing. But they’re doing it most often with micro-influencers (between 1,000-10,000 followers). While micro-influencer campaigns are considerably more effort to manage, the results can be impressive because micro-influencers typically have higher conversion rates and that’s because they are more relatable and trustworthy than celebrities.  And it isn’t only CPG brands finding success with micro-influencers, consumer tech brands are doubling down on influencer campaigns too.

 

Product Personalization

Consumers are opening their pocketbooks for DTC startups that offer personalized products; 71% of consumers expect personalization. In some cases, consumers are willing to give up product effectiveness to a more tailored product. From personalized product recommendations to celebrating milestones, today’s consumer expects even CPG startups to know them as customers.

Millennials, already spending more on self-care than any other generation before (2X more than baby boomers) are driving the demand for personalized CPG products. Already, 70% of the top DTC subscription brands use product quizzes to help personalize the customer experience. Not only does this increase consumer loyalty, but it provides a pleathora of data that can be used in future retargeting and PR campaigns.

Millennials are also driving another CPG trend: CBD. While 28% of consumers already use CBD, 56% of millennials do. They’re leading the charge that fuels the 4X growth in CBD products projected between 2020-2026. From pets to skincare, CBD is still a very in-demand product.

 

One thing is for certain, CPG startups aren’t going away. The internet has supercharged the consumer’s ability to find and purchase products – and it means CPG products in every category have more competitors than ever before. Brands that invest in savvy CPG marketing and PR will have the upper hand with customer acquisition and loyalty. And that means they’ll have more longevity than ever before.

PR THAT MOVES AT YOUR SPEED


Emerging industries, like psychedelic therapies, have special PR needs. Since 2008, our team has been at the forefront of the new industries, from tech to sustainability, wellness and cannabis, and or commercial drones. No matter your objectives, deep client loyalty, investor attention, or brand awareness, psychedelic public relations is the most effective tool to build trust and awareness in the industry.

If there’s one thing we’ve learned – it’s OK to be different. We’re not the right fit for everyone, but our differences make your results exceptional. Working with a passionate executive-level PR agency team is exhilarating. If you are in an emerging industry with ambitious goals, you’ve come to the right place.

Our purpose is to make a meaningful, lasting impact on your business goals. Our extensive backgrounds give you a distinct advantage-fast.

We’re fiercely protective of your reputation, strategically creative, and tenacious in securing press coverage, nimble enough to service the needs of dynamic companies in psychedelic therapies.

Because we specialize in companies at the growth stage, we are solution-oriented and proactive.

We are a small house, a boutique firm. We work with a select number of clients as committed as we are to growth.

 We go shoulder to shoulder with our clients, we’re all-in on your success. We dig in deep and proactively add value from startup through IPO. We’re a team of digitally forward big thinkers with an eye for detail. By diving straight into your purpose to find the connective tissue your clients or customers respond to, we develop noteworthy brands.

If this sounds like the kind of PR firm partnership you’re looking for, we’d love to talk to you too.

Los Angeles

New York

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY ABOUT OUR EMERGING INDUSTRY PR RESULTS

“Exactly what we were looking for in PR representation… smart, tough, persistent, and well connected,” 

– CMO

“…excellent feel for gauging public opinion and projecting public reaction to certain campaigns. Best of all, campaigns were universally successful, providing significant and measurable growth.”

-VP of Marketing

“We have been consistently getting featured in various strong publications on a monthly basis. I would highly recommend them to anyone looking for content/media/social/PR services,”

-Founder

PSYCHEDELIC PR INSIGHTS

psychedelic public relations
Psychedelic Companies

PSYCHEDELIC THERAPIES RESOURCES

Meet Jake Wall, his passion for innovation is apparent in his latest offering, Maison Bloom, a cannabis beverage brand. Jake’s innovations are fueled by his passion for human-centered design, which are apparent in his consulting firm, Playtpus and as Chief Innovation Officer at cannabis beverage brand Maison Bloom. Jake is well-known as a cannabis industry leader and his commitment to a “people-first” attitude is a white light of positivity for anyone who has the chance to work with him.

 

First, a little background about you:

I’m the Chief Innovation Officer and leading Design Thinker at MAISON BLOOM.
French Sensibilities. California Cool. We are cannabis with a twist.
We bottle the good life… and the good life is meant to be shared.

I also serve as the Chief Innovation Officer at PLATYPUS – an uncommon mix of different. PLATYPUS is a human-centered cooperative that takes the best practices of design thinking to unlock new marketplace opportunities. This unique and dynamic team of thought leaders steers their own destiny through designing, developing, and deploying products, services, and solutions. Taking my own 25+ years of expertise across multiple industries and combining that with my cohorts, we are driven by the simple premise that life cannot be lived to its fullest without vision, lifelong learning, and facing the challenges of our modern society head-on by endeavoring to serve others in new and innovative ways.

My unconventional exploits have been met with profiles in BizBash, Inc.com, San Francisco Chronicle, WWD, Marie Claire, and Huffington Post. Through my previous companies and roles, I have helmed award-winning innovation teams that have worked alongside Lincoln Motor Company to launch their Black Label special edition, famed Napa Valley vintner and entrepreneur Jean-Charles Boisset to bring Haute Couture French Bubbles to market, and collaborated with marquee philanthropic organizations like Walt Disney Family Museum and Human Rights Campaign for groundbreaking awareness and fundraising events and experiences.

Prior to Avec Bloom and PLATYPUS, I had the luxury of working with esteemed innovators like culinary leader Chef Michael Mina and social and content thought leaders, including Richard Rosenblatt and Orkut Buyukotten. My passion for design thinking and human-centered design has allowed me to work across technology, fashion, hospitality, consumer products, and services including the developed several startups including a market-leading luxury fashion design house and retailer which was featured on “Project Runway,”  and E! Entertainment’s “Fashion Police.” I volunteer with several local and national community and arts-focused opportunities, including the Human Rights Campaign and The Walt Disney Family Museum.

At MAISON BLOOM and PLATYPUS, we replace the ordinary with extraordinary alternatives that you never knew you always wanted.

 

When did you first start working in cannabis?

January 2020.

What were you doing prior to cannabis?

I was the Chief Marketing Officer for MINA Group and worked diligently to refresh celebrity Chef Michael Mina’s global empire for a greater audience, including Millennials and Xennials.

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

NCIA – Marketing and Advertising Committee 2020/2021 + 2021/2022; Trailblazers Presents DEI Advisory Board 2022

 

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

Of all the places and spaces I have operated in, one of the biggest lessons in life came from my experience on Project Runway and being in an environment and series of challenges where one cannot say no. One must just soldier on find inspiration, overcome the challenge of making, and execute… all under the watchful eye of rotating cameras and an attentive public eye in a tiny window for each challenge. This experience of “no” not being an option really galvanized my dedication that anything is possible if you simply put your mind to it and push forward.

 

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

The work on beverage formulation and creation innovation that we do at MAISON BLOOM always brings a smile to my face because we do it with consumers at the center of all that we do. Human-Centered Design has empowered leading companies like Apple and Dyson where the consumer is at the center and they built the products around their use cases. But in cannabis… HCD is a bit more of a foreign language. We tend to build products for our own personal tastes and use cases and then hope to find a market after that.

At (cannabis beverage) MAISON BLOOM, we have worked hard in partnership with key powerhouses like our partners at Vertosa and Sonoma Hills Farm to lift as we climb together and create cannabis’s first true offering that is strain-specific, single barrel, and whole plant allowing us to treat cannabis more like a chef treats spices and herbs to create layered flavors and functional experiences.

What’s the biggest misconception cannabis companies have about cannabis branding, advertising, marketing, PR, and social media?

The industry often likes to highlight that they don’t think brands matter.

But we fail to keep in mind that the legal cannabis industry is still young and we are moving into the space where brands are more relevant when true experiential brand offerings are created and deployed.

Not since “Field of Dreams” has there been a better example of “If you build it, they will come,” than this current shift in consumer mindset and opportunity for companies to give consumers what they never knew they always wanted.

 

In your view, what are the biggest cannabis PR, branding/marketing/advertising challenges facing cannabis companies today?

Truly placing end consumers at the center of product development, branding, and related touchpoints. To supercharge great direct to consumer offerings that work symbiotically with established retail sales to increase consumer loyalty and maximum repeat purchasing so that the entire cannabis ecosystem of business partners wins versus being in a more combative/competitive ecosystem.

What will get easier in cannabis PR marketing/branding what will get harder?

It will get easier to tell authentic stories and maximize social media and digital channels when more cannabis offerings are true brand experiences because there is more to “advertise” and “promote” than just the cannabis-based products which are currently problematic in these spaces.

It will get harder to exist as a brand without greater collaboration with partners. It is important to treat all players in your ecosystem with respect, as this is a difficult industry to operate within. To race forward without trusted partners and a tight circle of mutually beneficial “lifting as we climb” in collaboration across all levels of the supply chain will only handcuff growth. Companies need to build trusted pathways with trusted partners that ensure reliable growth and acceleration for all parties. Doing so will continue to be even harder, but the payout for short to long-term growth is going to be the proverbial silver bullet.

What can companies do to alleviate their branding/marketing/PR/advertising challenges?

Move away from trying to be everywhere and instead designate some core channels and offerings that are most authentic to their brand, their offering, and their abilities and focus there. Only once you deliver a solid funnel and can clearly show your own ROI and understanding of the channel/offering will you be able to make it so that you aren’t just spending money, but you are making money.

In your view, what is the most under-rated tool in the cannabis branding/marketing/advertising/PR toolbox for cannabis companies?

A clear consumer-focused direct-to-consumer fulfillment channel executed by the company, including full suite communication support (email, text) to consumers.

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

Billboards. They are for wayfinding and beyond that one is just throwing money away. Brands try and treat billboards like they can be used for anything and the truth is, you can put anything on them but that doesn’t mean they will resonate or be effective.

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

This is cannabis. We are writing new rules as to what is possible each and every day. Push yourself to do your best work. Push the industry forward by doing your best work. Because if better exists, we always want to go with better.

What’s your advice for people who want to get into cannabis marketing/advertising/pr/branding?

As Dorothy might say… “You’re not in Kansas anymore.” This is a wacky and weird world that is often figuring itself out as it goes along. Rules and regulations can and do change just as you get used to them. Realize that in this world, you are going to need to embrace learning while doing and you will be constantly iterating towards greatness. In cannabis more than anywhere else, everything is a process and one that is evolving in real time.

 

Thank you for sharing these fantastic branding insights, innovation and leadership tips with us, Jake. How can others in the cannabis industry get in touch with you? 

Jake Wall Linkedin 

Jake Wall Instagram

Maison Bloom Instagram

Maison Bloom Website 

 

GLOBAL HYPERGROWTH STARTUP LEVERAGES TECH PR


TO CHANGE THE NARRATIVE WITH TECH CONSUMERS

THE PR CHALLENGE

A creative global AI powered content creation and niche content app seeks to create awareness around product launches and existing properties to increase consumer awareness and increase brand value to enhance investment negotiations. Our nimble team works alongside this hypergrowth technology company to create a lasting impact.

THE PR SOLUTION

We conduct a thorough brand audit to identify key messages, over-arching themes, and storylines for both a consumer PR campaign and an investor PR campaign. We align brand messages with cultural overtones line gender, and equity alongside technology themes like AI, content creation, and global access that strike a chord with journalists.

We create on-brand digital assets and make recommendations to existing assets to support the messaging and develop stakeholder engaging campaigns to launch four product launches within 8 months and pen many thought leadership pieces that appear around the globe on some of the most trusted news outlets in the world.

Our media relations strategy develops general population topics along with pitches for niche interests such as gaming, entertainment, publishing, social media, and technology.

The consumer PR campaign aligns with monthly product launches, each with its own consumer persona and niche interests. We implement the campaigns with an emphasis on technology and entertainment media relations and we implement monthly owned media which aligns with campaigns and product launches.

PRODUCT LAUNCH PR STRATEGY


We develop campaigns with owned and earned media designed to increase awareness for consumers while creating interest with journalists.

TECH MEDIA RELATIONS


Our bespoke campaigns use the cross-over strengths of the brand and its global community to leverage media opportunities. We activate with multiple in-house spokespersons and key influencers.

OMNI CHANNEL STRATEGY


We recommend and implement an owned media strategy that complements business goals. We also review branding assets including the website and social media accounts, to unify the brand, eliminate consumer confusion with unified messaging.

EXECUTIVE THOUGHT LEADERSHIP


We deeply engage with executives and technologists to create a thought leadership campaign that advances key talking points in investor-friendly outlets.

THE KUDOS


“Our experience with Avaans Media was more than we could have asked for. Not only did you blow us away with results, we learned so much from your team of experts. I know we will work together again.” 
-Brand Executive

THE CRUSHING RESULTS

68 pieces of earned media


in global news outlets, not including press releases in 8 months

5.36 Billion 


Global Audience Size

.00003


Cost per person reached 

How to get in fortune magazine
how to get featured on msn.com

Tech PR needs to be reinvented. Telling a great tech story today differs from what it used to be.

For the past 15 years, tech has been leading much of the conversation, so with a few press releases and a TED Talk, an upcoming and coming CEO could set the agenda. Zuck set the “let’s make an interconnected world” agenda. Steve Jobs set the “intuitive design” conversation. And while there is plenty more innovation headed our way – tech itself is no longer the story.

Emerging tech companies need to connect to the conversations their community is having or going to have in an enormous way. Why?

Today’s reporters need stories that capture the moment, not navel-gaze into the future. 90% of tech writers are curious about backend technology, but won’t write about it. Most outlets only have one tech reporter, that poor person receives over 500 pitches per day and an uncomfortable number of them are still using buzz words like “innovative”, “disruptive”, and the worst of them all, “unique.” These words now cause journalists to glaze over because they’re so overused and increasingly unbelievable. The question comes down to “WHY?”

 

So if Tech Itself is No Longer the Story…What Is?

Technology companies need to tell stories about how they’re connecting to the stories consumers are watching. Great tech stories often start with core values and it isn’t just consumers who want to know more about how you’re solving the world’s actual problems, it’s investors too – 88% of institutional investors are evaluating ESG (environmental, social, governance) with the same scrutiny they give operations and finance.

Let’s look at what people are searching for on Google:

How to Tell a Tech Story today

Look how emerging tech doesn’t even register compared to climate change and racism. There are far more reporters covering these emerging trends than the tech itself. Tying your tech story into the zeitgeist, that’s where tech companies become indelible.

Here at Avaans, we write a lot about purpose, what it is and why it’s important to fast-growing companies. Even though we are a boutique firm, we have guiding principles as well.

That’s because not only does a clear purpose give the company and the brand extra internal fortitude, but it allows consumers to connect with your storytelling on a deeper level.

Regardless of stage of growth, having purpose is the path to longevity and a connected customer base. It’s also a great launching pad for purpose-driven PR.

Digging deep to find these stories may take some time and candor about corporate culture – but these are the stories that stick. These are the stories that create memorable brands. You can’t start telling this story too early.

 

What Makes a Great Tech Story Today?

Every story needs to be:
Relevant
Inevitable
Believable
Simple

As you look at these components, you may think about how your technology fits into these buckets; resist that urge for a moment.

The first two are the lowest hanging fruit, the last two can take years. Take, for example, Salesforce. When they wanted to grow, they made a simple but audacious claim: the end of software. Establishing relevance and the inevitability of tomorrow’s cloud-based world were the simple parts. Notice how they made that claim about the user, the client, not themselves, and it was simple. The stories about how this changes business and the world are immeasurable. But, Caryn Marooney who worked with Salesforce during those early days says “it still took us years to establish true believability,”.

Set your expectations accordingly. Expect to get two to three of those messages across in the early stages. As you grow, as you show more credibility, and as trust between your company and the media increases, “Believeable” will come. Trust isn’t something manufactured in a boardroom, trust is earned.

Today, Salesforce continues to tell stories relevant to their customers and the media that aren’t about technology. Salesforce recently claimed that the “Salesforce economy will create 9.3 million jobs and $1.6 trillion in new business revenues.” The white paper is chock full of bite-sized data that an entire story can be built around the new economy, what this means in today’s labor shortage, the threads are endless and the study gives legs to talking points that can last a year.

 

The Case for Tech Storytelling Over Trade Shows

Let’s be clear – we’re big fans of tech tradeshows and conferences. Many a product has gotten media from its standout strategies at CES for example. But the coverage around CES, like any tradeshow, is diluted and noisy. Reporters at conferences are looking for clickable headlines: they want big dollars, ticker symbols, known brands.  At tech trade shows you need to stand out with remarkable, word-of-mouth activations, to give extra lift to your story – or you’ll probably share the story with 1 or 2 competitors. Sure, a trade show can give you a lift, and it can be an excellent place to connect with the media – but you simply can not rely on a trade show to do all the heavy lifting. We so often see companies make a trade show their launch or the key message for an inordinate amount of time. The fact is, trade shows give a temporary boost, but great tech storytelling goes on for decades. 

Here’s more good news: the more simple your key message, the longer your tech storytelling will last. Counter-intuitively, simple messages last longer and provide more room for interpretation.

 

A colleague of mine once asked “Why does everyone want to go viral (with their content), I want to go cancer with my content, I want it to last a long time and fight to stay,” Tech storytelling is the same, tapping into current media trends and the mindset of the customer. Core values, Purpose, a solid mission, and knowing your next 3 steps will ensure your tech story starts out great. 

If you’re looking for a tech PR agency that goes the distance with you to find the great tech stories of today and tomorrow, then drop us a note, we’d love to dig deep with you too.