How should companies prepare for cannabis PR in 2020 with an ever-changing media landscape? While the cannabis industry shows no sign of slowing down, the media landscape has seen some dramatic changes in the last year, and that affects even the cannabis industry.

According to Business Insider, 3,200 people in media have lost their jobs so far in 2019. Buzzfeed, Entreprenuer, CNN, and Vice are among the notable media brands who cover cannabis who have also laid off talented journalists. These layoffs are a gut punch to our journalist colleagues, but they also impact the ability for these outlets to cover longer features, which makes it a gut punch to our clients as well. Cannabis PR continues to be an important part of becoming an industry leader, but this pressure on media in general is surely felt within cannabis.

Layoffs aren’t the only challenge PR-seekers will face in the next year. PR in 2020 will be affected by the election. We’re already seeing writer and editor reassignments to cover the race. Brands will be faced with either jumping on the news cycle or defining the news cycle; the answer to that question will be unique to each brand. Breaking news will likely happen weekly in the later half of 2020, that means anything not immediately time sensitive from a truly newsworthy perspective will need a longer lead time and take longer to publish.

Longer Timelines

Journalists and editors are a resourceful bunch and undoubtably, we’ll see some great talent eye the cannabis industry as an opportunity. Numerous outlets are adding cannabis editors and writers, but those writers will be fighting for space and attention because of the news cycle, effecting PR in 2020. Also, for national outlets, the cannabis desk won’t be terribly deep, so if that writer is out sick or there is breaking industry news, there won’t likely be much depth to the cannabis desk to cover additional stories.

Where just 5 years ago, cannabis publications were themselves considered niche, we now have cannabis publications who target very specific and engaged audiences like Broccoli does for women and Double Blind is for psychedelics. Both these gorgeous publications are print forward but do not issue on a monthly basis. Expect to see more super niche publications make their way to our PR in 2020.

Breaking national news will also impact feature pieces and your breaking news. Before you announce something, take a deep look at what’s happening in the industry so you can plan accordingly. Of course, sometimes news needs to break, investor announcements for example. In this case, there are strategies to employ to ensure you’re announcement gets the attention it deserves. It may require a shift in strategy, but Primo PR can guide you through that process.

This means PR planning and collaboration takes a longer lead time, especially feature pieces. Make sure your PR takes into account these timelines and shift your strategies to accomodate these longer timelines and niche publications.

Publications are changing – so is PR.


Keeping up with the ever changing media landscape means writers and editors are changing careers or writing for multiple publications. Freelancer journalists can be an outstanding resources and great partners in cannabis PR, but keep in mind, they are looking for stories that will get them paid, thier job isn’t to be your marketing coordinator.

Don’t expect a freelancer to spend hours gathering data you should have on hand, make it easy for them to include media (photos, graphics, video) in their stories. If you’re unsure of what kind of content suits you, or what you’ll need, that’s the perfect opportunity to use the perspective of public relations, since we understand what the media is looking for when creating stories.

We’re consistently working with our clients to ensure they have the most media-friendly content available BEFORE we pitch a story. Have some empathy for freelancers who are often working to publish 5-10 pieces a week. We’re consistently working with freelancers, but we also work exceptionally hard to make their jobs easier, knowing they they are hustling for every word they write.

When you do get press, follow our effective media relations strategy to boost effectiveness for everyone. And don’t forget to tag the journalist, they’ll appreciate it.

Have some empathy for our freelance colleagues covering cannabis.

Integrate With Your PR

You can maximize PR by having your agencies collaborate on activations and integrations. Make your paid, earned, shared and owned media work together. Events, advertisements and even your website can often turn into PR opportunities, but only if PR has a seat at your planning table. Keep PR part of your strategic planning and maximize your spends. We’re cannabis PR experts- we often see opportunities that can make your investments work double time.

On a daily basis, we may be collaborating with a client’s branding agency, their media buying agency, and social influencers. Over and again, we find collaborating with agencies creates a better branding experience for our client and better press opportunities for them as well.

This goes for SEO as well. Public relations can have a huge impact on SEO from custom content to news releases, we’re always keeping an eye on trending searches so we can help publications AND our clients maximize eyeballs.

Editorial and Advertising Together

It used to be that it was verboten for editorial and advertising to collaborate. But publications today are finding new and creative ways to help boost their bottom line. Given the media landscape, it’s not surprising. Sponsored content, when well written and editorialized, can be an extremely effective tool for cannabis PR. The key to sponsored content is to think like a journalist and deliver a story rather an a marketing brochure.

Some brands are even taking a page out of MedMen’s strategy and like Ember, creating lifestyle publications for themselves. There are multiple ways to implement this strategy; some publications will, for a fee, run part of or the entire publication on your behalf. Content doesn’t have to be generated in-house, journalists and PR writers can help keep the content on par and on edge, while delivering value to both the brand and the reader. Owned publications are also an outstanding way to add extra value to your business partners while creating an effective newsroom for your brand.

Navigating These Changes

Team Primo PR is ready for these changes and anything else that comes our way. One of our key values is remaining nimble, because dynamic landscapes demand it – that’s our job. We’re already planning on doubling down with strategy and distinctive stories that will set our clients apart in the news, even with all these changes. We’re working directly with journalists on pieces that are slated for publish at the end of the year – RIGHT NOW. As you look forward to your 2020 plans, keep the dynamic nature of industry and the national news in your planning process. It’s not too early to start strategizing for 2020’s PR changes because one thing is for certain: change.

Resources Mentioned In This Post:

Business Insider: Media Lay Offs
Broccoli Magazine
Double Blind Magazine

I’ve been running a digital branding and marketing firm for over 8 years now. It’s been an incredible journey. And while that business has served me well, it was time for a brand refresh.

Deciding to re-brand wasn’t an easy decision, but I did for very strategic and focused reasons.

After operating for the last 8 years, I learned more about what kind of people I work best with and the kind of work that inspires me.
Inspiration is important in my world.
When everyone is inspired, magic happens.
I decide to choose to be inspired, so Poodle Mafia is selective about client and collaborators.
I work best with people as inspired as we are.
Inspiration. Passion. Magic.

Entrepreneurs, Change Makers, Leaders.
Poodle Mafia welcomes and invites passion.
We know that passionate people are sometimes “hard to work with.”
We’re not scared about that.
We want to partner with people who care about their business.
That’s why the areas of focus for Poodle Mafia is startups, movements and personalities.
That doesn’t mean we don’t work with businesses outside of those areas, but those are the areas we’ve consistently found the kind people we want to partner with.

But why the name?

I firmly believe that the best marketing is part science, part art. I enjoy those contradictions and I wanted a brand that reflected those contradictions.
I wanted something that had personality and reflected our drive and our willingness to go over and above.
I wanted a brand that was also fun and memorable.
So I started thinking. Tossing out ideas to other creatives. We came up with some fun and interesting ideas. But there was one phrase, which my husband actually uses which I could not get out of my head.

We refer to our two Poodles, Stella and Zoe (you can find them on Instagram under #PuppyStella and #PuppyZoe) as our “Poodle Mafia.” Once I started trying that name out on people, they couldn’t get it out of their heads either. I continued to play with other ideas, but Poodle Mafia would NOT go away.
It wouldn’t go away because it’s not only memorable and fun, but it’s a reflection of my approach to marketing. I know Poodles to be elegant, but also complex and full of contradictions and surprises. A lot of people think of Poodles as fluffy show dogs, but there is a lot more than a pretty face. What many don’t know is poodles are excellent hunting dogs, they’re also extremely loyal to the pack. In many ways, that’s what Poodle Mafia does for you: hunt for your customers and turn them into your pack. More importantly, we’re loyal and dedicated to our clients.
But there’s something else, Poodles are known as some the smartest dogs in the world.

Now that we’ve covered the “Poodle” part, why did we chose the word “Mafia?”

I naturally gravitated towards a word so polar opposite of the image of Poodle.
But there was more.
I’m a bit of a creative and a bit of a rebel. I’ve always marched to the beat of my own drum. “Mafia” reflected that.
Mafioso are known to write their own rules, to go against the grain. Entire industries have started because of the Mafia. Yet, for all their rough and tumble, there is an elegance, pride and no small amount of their own code of ethics. That’s us. We don’t follow the “rules” just because there are rules. We have a strong code of ethics, but we’re not afraid to rebel, take risks or rewrite the rules.We often say, when the pack is headed in one direction, that’s the perfect time to head in the other. That’s how you stand out. That’s how you make waves. That’s how you get the creative juices going. And that’s what we like doing.

In short, now that digital marketing has firmly left it’s infancy behind, simply HAVING a digital presence isn’t enough. It’s time to standout, break out or break in with creativity, intelligence and yes, a little rebellion. Poodle Mafia reflects that next stage of digital marketing.

So if you’re looking for an elegantly aggressive digital marketing and branding company who prides itself on elegance and rebellion, then we should talk.
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Thanks for reading,


P.S.: Over the last 8 years, Poodle Mafia’s team has been better known as Akamai Marketing.

P.P.S. All the blog posts from Akamai Marketing will remain there, and some will be published in both places, but in the future, but the primary blog spot will be here.





It’s true – YouTube celebs are a “thing” and if you think you belong in front of a YouTube audience, you could be right!

But just like theater, music and pop culture celebs, not all who do it rise to the top. It’s as tough in YouTube as it is in Hollywood. So how are you going to be get to that “celeb” level? The casual nature of YouTube celebs belies the strategy, passion, commitment and yes, a little luck it takes to standout on one of the biggest internet platforms today.

Here are seven hints I give to personalities who want to use YouTube as their launching point.

cannabis conferences and cannabis magazines

Forget the Money, For Now
Figure out what you REALLY want to do here. What you’re REALLY passionate about. If you’re saying “I’m passionate about power cords, but there’s no money in that,” you’re totally going about it the wrong way. There’s a niche for every passion. Granted the audience isn’t necessarily huge for power cord aficionados, but if that’s your true passion, why not be the king or queen of power cords? Who knows where it might take you? You might redefine an entire industry with your opinionated perspectives or hilarious rants.  Focus on being you and honing your voice and really diving into the topics you want to dive into. But please, please, please, have some fun with it.

Be You, Own You
What are your little quirks that make your friends laugh? What do people always tell you they remember about their first meeting with you? That’s you. That’s you’re “on,” most memorable,  you. That’s who you want to be in front of the camera. Those are your most natural brand signatures.


Be You, Extreme
Let’s face it, you aren’t always “on,” and that’s OK. But when you’re in front of the camera, turn that persona to 10. The most powerful personal brands take their personalities to the most extreme. Look at the Kardashians, they don’t even leave the house, not once, without looking fabulous. That’s their personal brand and everything they do publicly supports that personal brand. I’m sure there are plenty of days on the couch without make up on, hair done up, but never while the camera may be on them. So be you, but be extreme and consistent in that signature, at least while the cameras are on you.

You Don’t Need Fancy
When you’re starting out, don’t tell yourself you can’t do anything until you have a Hollywood produced introduction. Don’t tell yourself your videos need to be edited to look like a Fast & Furious flick. Just get out there and start recording. Perfectionism is the roadblock to progress. Just DO IT. You’re biggest goal at this point is to let your personality shine, let You Be You, distractions from your personality are just that, a distraction.

An Editorial Calendar: Your Best Friend
Do yourself a favor, do some planning. Spending just a couple of hours a week planning your content week and month will give you enough structure to get out there and do it. If you don’t give yourself that structure, most people won’t record because they don’t know what they want to say. There is some content that you can record months in advance and when you have that content and the time to do it, do it.  So plan ahead, give yourself a road map, but…

Leave Room for Inspiration
Because you’re you, because you’re fun, there are going to be times where you just HAVE to plop yourself in front of the camera and share your thoughts. Those moments of brilliant inspiration are awesome – go with it, let it run. And hit “publish” as soon as you can. These impromptu moments are often some of the most fun.

Take Some Acting and Improv Classes
Being in front of a camera isn’t necessarily a natural thing even for the biggest personalities. Taking improv and acting classes will allow you to extend yourself more naturally in front of the camera.

The Dave and Busters Tweet Lesson: Stand By Your Brand

This week, with the Dave and Busters “Juan” tweet yet another social media gaffe made it’s what into the collective conversation. It sparked furious cries of racism. It sparked snickers. It sparked the “holier than thou” media to earn mega points for traffic.

Imagine for a moment, the alternative tweet: “I hate tacos” said no one ever. #tacotuesday.

Imagine what THAT would have caused: crickets.

Which of those two messages was more brand consistent, more interesting, more compelling and took more courage?

Branding is like getting a tattoo: it takes guts and commitment.

Tweet: Branding is like getting a tattoo: it takes guts and commitment.

This is why brands and businesses must be crystal clear on who they are, what they stand for and who their target customer is. I’m not suggesting that every brand and business rush to the edge of every cultural controversy and insensitivity in order to create some reaction to their message. But in order to make it interesting they HAVE to know where the line is on risk taking. Brands and businesses have to accept that people who AREN’T their customers aren’t going to “get” it and they have to stand with their customers who DO.  If you insist on completely bland copy, messaging and creative, you will get some bland results.

Tweet: If you insist on completely bland copy, messaging and creative, you will get some bland results.

Tweet: Brands and businesses have to stand with their customers who DO “get it”.

I’m actually disappointed Dave and Busters didn’t fire back to the haters with another pun. Dave and Busters is a GAMING VENUE for grown-ups. It isn’t a financial company, it isn’t a children’s nonprofit, it isn’t a government agency, it isn’t a church. It’s supposed to be FUN. Taco Tuesdays are supposed to be FUN. I don’t know about you – but I could use a little fun in my tweet stream.

So here’s where we’re at with a collective lack of spine in the social, marketing and advertising world: be creative, be dynamic, create conversation and excitement, but DO NOT, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES TAKE RISKS. Does the marketing and advertising world really want to be known as the analysis paralysis industry whose signature color is beige?

Tweet: Does the marketing and advertising world really want to be known as the analysis paralysis industry whose signature color is beige?

Yes, let’s think through things. Yes, let’s consider the context. But let’s stop freaking out the minute someone with 2,000 followers takes issue with an edgy statement. Let’s understand our brands, their purpose, their customers and values and let’s stand by those values even when everyone else doesn’t get it. It’s OK. If your brand is truly defined, not everyone will.

Yes, the pain of nasty-gram tweets and email is piercing, they don’t last forever, in fact, in most cases, those very same people are off on an entirely different tangent tomorrow.  Being a wishy-washy brand isn’t good for anyone, except dish soap – and those consequences are far longer reaching.

Tweet: Being a wishy-washy brand isn’t good for anyone, except dish soap – and those consequences are far longer reaching. 
Stand tall. Take smart risks. Stand by your customers. Have some brand confidence. Stand by your brand.

This post originally appeared on, written by Tara Coomans

A little departure today from the usual marketing and branding discussion.
Because of our focus on startups, personalities and movements, I find that my role with my client is part strategy and part cheerleader.
So today, I want to share some strategies for overcoming fear.
Actually, overcoming is the wrong word, but I’ll get to that in a minute.

One of the things I encounter a lot with my clients is fear.
At some point, every entrepreneur, every creative, every personality encounters the devil inside.
The devil whispers into your ear and heart and mind, it’s like an ear worm that wiggles its way into your project and creates self doubt.

I’m not a therapist or a life coach, I’m giving this advice because I’ve helped many people through it and most honestly, from a place of “I’ve been there.”
I’ve started 3 businesses in my life, and recently, re-branded the third.
I know fear. I know fear intimately.
I’ve been living and feeding off of fear almost my entire career.
And for the most part, when I’ve harnessed my fear, it’s been my bitch.
That’s not to say I’m never afraid. Oh, no, do NOT misunderstand me.
But fear is so powerfully positive when it’s directed appropriately.
So the advice I give to others on this topic is advice I give myself.

The typical advice is to push that fear down.
Ignore it.
I don’t subscribe to that philosophy at all.
And here’s why:
YOU can use IT.
You don’t need to OVERCOME FEAR, you need to HARNESS FEAR.
Fear can be the thing that propels you through the hardest part of your project.
You can use fear like a shot in the butt.
Fear is the thing that gives you the adrenaline you NEED to stay up late,  get up early, come up with the next best idea.
In fact, I’d go so far to say if you’re not feeling a LITTLE bit of fear, you’re not fully vested.
So why NOT harness the fear and make it a positive as opposed to a negative?

Here are some tips on harnessing fear for different types of fear.


Fear of (In)Authenticity

Chances are, as you go through your product or persona, you’ll polish and change it.
Then all of a sudden one day, you’ll wake up and think “Is THIS what I really meant it to be?”
Have I polished and perfected so much that I’m no longer presenting the product as I meant it to be?
When this happens, go through your earliest notes, emails and brainstorms.
Check yourself. See if the process still seems authentic and real as a journey and evolution.
This happens A LOT in marketing and branding. Suddenly, someone is marketing your idea as something totally different than you originally envisioned.
Personalities experience this a lot too. What’s the difference between sharing everything and creating an authentic persona?
You CAN have an authentic voice without giving up your original vision. It IS possible.
Every single project is going to have a pivot point, a path of departure, a choice you made.
Take your pulse here and make sure that the path of departure still seems important and real and helpful.
AND that  the changes you made a long the way were well thought out, strategic and intentional.
If so, then use your fear to reconfirm you’re on the right track. Taking your own pulse once in awhile is a good thing. It’s what KEEPS it real.
If you find that you’ve lost your way, go back and find the point of departure and look at what you can do to reinject your original vision into the plans you have today.
Chances are you’re not as far off the path as you thought you were, but doing the exercise will put you back in touch with your original vision and allow you to reconfirm your original intent.
You’ll find that once you allow yourself to get back in touch with your original intent, then it will be clarifying to you and everyone around you.


Fear of Launch

This fear is the one that wakes you up in the middle of the night right before you’re ready to launch and says “YOU’RE NOT READY.”
First of all, let’s face it, a lot of this particular fear is about rejection. “What if I put something out there and no one bites. Or worse, they HATE it.”
Here’s the deal: put your heart and soul into something, stay committed to it and I guarantee you SOMEONE will love it.
That’s not to say that the love doesn’t take work to earn. That’s not to say that the love comes on YOUR timeline.
It is to say, let go of the idea of rejection. You can LEARN from rejection. You can shift, reinvent and accomplish based on rejection.
Rejection is NOT the worst thing that’s ever happened to you.
How can you HARNESS this to make your product launch better?
This is the stage that’s sort of like the night before a big college exam.
If you’ve done ALL the preparation you need to do, then use the fear to zero in on the 1 or 2 areas where you feel weakness, then you can use fear to focus on small, but relevant improvements.
Once you go through those 1 or 2 areas that you’re fearful about, and solve for them, you’ll feel more confident and your launch will be better.


Fear of Perfection

This fear is closely related to Fear of Launch, but it’s slightly different.
Here’s the one thing you need to know about Fear of Perfection: use it, abuse it and throw it away.
Nothing in the history of humans has ever reached perfection. Nothing.
If you let perfection dominate your launch and outlook, you’ll be forever paralyzed.
Do the best you can and if you have to touch more than three times, you’re allowing the fear of perfection dominate you.
Three times. That’s it. That’s all you get. Make ’em count.
That’s how you harness this fear.

Fear of Reinvention

This is the fear that says “it’s already been done before.”

I’m super intimate with this fear. I have several projects on the shelf suffering from this as we speak.
But here’s the deal with this fear: it’s total bullshit.
Because no one has done it the way YOU would do it.
Think about authors. If they said “I want to write a mystery novel, but someone’s already written that.” There sure wouldn’t be very much to read would there?
Every single one of us is inspired along the way by products, pieces of art, text, that us and millions of others have seen.
But YOU have a unique way of seeing it. It’s the unique vision, that unique voice that you have to offer.
Your take on the world is singular and interesting and unique.
In fact, chances are, no matter WHAT your building, creating and doing someone else is or has done it.
So sit down and think about your unique perspective. Clear your mind of everyone else’s vision, spend some time on YOUR vision, your voice.
I’ve said this before, I’ll say it again – the ONLY thing unique you have to offer is YOU.
So take a deep breath and use fear to clarify what makes you and your perspective unique.

Harness your fear and make it work for you.
Keep putting one foot in front of another.
One step at a time.
When you fell fear and anxiety creeping in, don’t look at the marathon, look at the next block.
Again, it’s not about overcoming fear, it’s about harnessing it.

I’d really love to hear how you have found ways to harness your fears and make it work for you.
Comment or send me a tweet!

How many messages do you think you see a day? Now, imagine how many messages a day your customer sees?

All these messages contribute to message fatigue. We used to say a person needed exposure to a message 7 times before they even remembered seeing it. Today, I’d personally put that number close to 12-15. Ironically, more messages contribute to increased fatigue. So what’s a marketer to do?

It’s important to prioritize your marketing and advertising so you CAN get multiple exposures. Let’s look at what a potential campaign meets the exposure threshold without fatigue.

Retargeting: retargeting prioritizes your advertisements to people who have opened emails or visited your website. You can run retargeting on Facebook advertisement as well as many online ad networks. You can change your ads up a bit by having a series of connected and similar images or looks. Retargeting should be a campaign that runs more or less consistently. Your goal here should be to reach any given customer 2X a week at least.

Email Marketing: Email marketing is the unsung hero of digital marketing. It’s a work horse. Despite this, it seems people either completely ignore email marketing or they abuse it. I encourage my clients to aim for the middle ground and email 1X per week. The key to email is to reinforce the message very clearly and quickly. You may have customers in a drip email series based on certain actions and in that case the space between each email may be a bit shorter. Your email should be brand consistent and provide a clear call to action.

Social Media (organic): Social media is a soft-sell environment, unlike other forms of digital marketing, social requires a softer touch. This doesn’t make it less effective, it makes it different.  Today’s expected organic reach is throttled to encourage advertising on most (though not all) platforms. To maximize social reach, spend the time (and money) to create some corner stone content, something that customers respond to this could be videos, a game, anything with that “you have to see this,” urge. Supplement corner stone content with regular organic content (3-5x per week) that is easier to create but meets the strategy, keeping in mind that organic content isn’t the place to invest in huge production. However, you should distribute this content on multiple platforms, but you should do so at different times, and you may adjust each piece slightly for the different audiences on each platform.

Social Media (Advertising): Choose 1-2 organic posts per week to “boost” to fans/friends of fans to increase the potential for it to show in their feed. With this, you’re taking a branding approach, you’re just increasing exposure. Your cornerstone content should serve as an “ongoing advertisement” in social. Your goal is to supercharge this content beyond your fans and give people a chance to see it at least twice before you complete the ad cycle on that. You may pause it to prevent fatigue, but don’t hesitate to return to it.

If you run this thoroughly, you have a good chance of getting your message seen 3X per week, which means within a month you should be penetrating the mind space of your target customer.