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.
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.