Tag Archive for: C-suite

5 PR measurements for Fast-Growing Companies

Here’s a question we get asked a lot, in the quick, nimble world of hyper-growth companies how do we measure PR? One of the first questions a prospective PR should ask is “how will you measure success?” PR agencies ask this in a variety of ways. As a modern boutique PR firm, the A-Team at Avaans Media always ask about future goals.  This is critical to can tie results to meaningful business objectives. We also ask this question because results drive our PR pricing, which is built around your objectives, not ours. 

We know we measure PR a little differently than most of our competitors, but we think it’s incumbent on modern PR firms to stay ahead of the PR measurement. Every year since 2010, PR professionals meet in Barcelona and set the Barcelona Principles as a framework for measuring the effectiveness of PR and communication. We based our PR measurement philosophy on these modern PR measurement principles: Barcelona Principles 3.0. These 5 PR measurements for fast-growing companies provide insight into how we work and provide a roadmap for PR success, no matter what your objectives.

  1. DETERMINE THE “WHY” BEHIND PR

    The “why” driving purpose for PR is critically important to identify. There may be a 5-year goal in mind, or a sales goal for the next year. Goals for hyper-growth brands may be dynamic and far-reaching. It’s perfectly acceptable to have long-term and short-term goals as a fast-growing company. What’s most important is that you share those goals openly and regularly with your professional PR team. As goals change, so should the PR strategies and tactics. It’s important PR efforts reflect both positionings for today and tomorrow. The “Why” is where the communication strategy is built and it’s a critical piece to PR success.

  2. PR MEASUREMENT IS ABOUT QUALITY, NOT QUANTITY

    Huge massive PR dashboards with hundreds of KPIs might look impressive, but realistically, they aren’t helping anyone, especially fast-growing companies. Your PR KPIs should reflect 3-4 metrics that reflect the goals of the company. As a CMO, this is your chance to share your own goals with the PR agency so they can support your objectives in every way possible. If you need a huge win – tell us! Let us help you. If you’re unsure, why your PR firm is measuring a specific KPI, ask. You’d like to measure something different, say so. If you highlight a particular PR measurement in investor, board, or CEO presentations, we want to know that. A modern PR agency is going to build measurements around long-term goals, as they change, share them. PR measurement should include outputs, outcomes, and potential impacts for fast-growing companies.

  3. DATA and EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE TELL THE PR MEASUREMENT STORY BEST

    Your PR measurement should include data points, but it should also include context and insight. Data without insight is practically meaningless for hyper-growth brands. PR data and the importance of that PR measurement will have different meanings against, social, cultural, and corporate contexts. Splashing numbers across a page is the simple part. Modern PR measurement requires emotional intelligence to surface real insights and actionable strategies. When there are radical changes, your PR firm should dive deeper to provide meaningful insight and assure correct changes were made proactively and the KPIs reflect the insight and analysis.

  4. PR MEASUREMENT IS HOLISTIC

    Why silo PR, one of the most important strategies for fast-growing companies? Modern PR includes SEO considerations, social media, paid media, and earned media, online and offline. Insist that your modern PR firm collaborate with other agencies and departments or at the very least that they keep one another informed of campaigns and their goals. As a CMO, it’s also critical that you share the OTHER KPIs you measure in advertising, social media, and owned media so the communication measurement incorporates the entire picture. The insights other agencies have can inform the emotional intelligence and insight to your PR measurement.

  5. TRANSPARENCY & INTEGRITY MAKE FOR SMARTER GOALS

    Everyone understands SMART objectives (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, time-bound), but modern PR agencies are adding ETHICAL and REVOLUTIONIZING to make objectives SMARTER. PR professionals have professional ethics set forth by organizations like PRSA. Journalists also have a set of professional ethics. But those ethics are only the beginning because modern PR agencies should consider digital ethics (security, disclosure) as well as social and cultural ethics, such as diversity, equity, and inclusion. PR measurement should always be contextural and advance both the brand AND society. These modern-day ethics aren’t only for purpose-driven brands, they are for all stakeholders who care about the brand. It’s more critical than ever that modern PR firms incorporate SMARTER goals and outputs that enhance brand value over short-term bursts which may actually hurt a brand’s reputation. Never has emotional intelligence been more important to PR goals and measurement.

 

We know PR measurement will continue to be as dynamic as your fast-growing business, your customers, and the culture. These 5 goals for hyper-growth brands provide guidance and help you achieve real success with PR. At Avaans Media, we’re committed to being best-in-class for providing PR measurement with genuine insights that apply to your business. Contact us today to have a meaningful discussion about PR measurements for today’s business goals.

 

 

4 Reasons Why PR Boosts Marketing Results

 

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One thing is for certain: These are only 4 reasons why PR boosts marketing results almost immediately.  Brands, business owners, and entrepreneurs often overlook PR as part of their marketing strategy. That’s a shame because one thing you’ll notice about any top-level brand in any vertical is a cohesive and integrated PR plan. Savvy CMOs whisper to one other that PR is their magic bullet, the secret sauce to their most successful marketing campaigns.  Put another way: PR is only useful if you want to be recognized as the best of the best.

Why then do emerging brands ignore PR? It’s often a case of not really understanding what PR’s role is in the marketing ecosystem. That’s understandable because it’s a more nuanced form of marketing. PR and marketing are very complimentary siblings.

So how does PR boost growing brands and their marketing initiatives?

PR CREATES TRUST and SOCIAL PROOF

With competition higher than ever, and trust in businesses lower than ever, this is perhaps one of the most important roles of PR. Whether you’re in an emerging industry or an established one, PR helps your investors, bankers, stakeholders, and customers understand you better and trust you more.

It’s because you give up some creative control in PR that the reader assigns enhanced trust. You don’t WANT your press coverage to sound like an ad, you want your press coverage to sound authentically observational.

 

Advertising conversions go up when paired with PR.
Investment easier to secure once you’ve been in a top-rated business publication.
Customers proactively advocating for you once they see you in their favorite magazine.

 

That’s because everyone understands the difference between a third-party endorsement, like press coverage, and an ad. The additional layer of trust secures new opportunities and reinforces existing ones. If you’re spending money on advertising, why not boost those marketing efforts with PR?

PR BOOSTS YOUR GOOGLE RANKING AND VISIBILITY RESULTS

A modern PR firm like Avaans Media understands that PR and Marketing work together and a critical connector is your reputation on Google. Anyone even thinking of connecting with your brand whether through purchase, investments, or partnership, will absolutely begin their research with a Google search. Here’s the good news, you are in control of your Google results!

The News Section of Google is the most credible section of a Google search and that’s where you want to be. PR does that for your brand and company.

It’s “only” that. It’s those valuable inbound links to your website. Google evaluates the credibility of your inbound links and news outlets rank towards the most important of those signals. But don’t take our word for it, Google your brand and Google your top competitors, you’ll know right away that there’s the opportunity for you to create an advantage.

When your brand is in the press, you’re telling Google you take your digital reputation seriously.

 

360 DEGREE PRESENCE WITH PR

We live in a complicated multi-channel world. It used to be said that it took 7 touch points for people to recognize your brand. In today’s multi-channel, dual-screen world, we believe it’s closer to 12 for consumer engagement and in B2B, it’s said that up to 90% of the decision is made before a client ever talks to a salesperson. Those touch points can come from any channel you choose, but what’s most important is that it’s visible to those looking for it and that they are credible sources of information for the client, customer, or potential stakeholder.

PR is stickier, more credible, and easier to find than an ad. 

In today’s digital world, if your brand has grand ambitions, you simply must allow PR to support your paid media. It’s the ultimate buying equation.

BOOST YOUR MARKETING WITH PR ACTIVATION

This one is a bit more strategic, but the perspective PR brings boosts marketing initiatives. Have you ever seen an advertisement or an event covered in the press? How amazing is it to take a piece of earned or paid media and activate with press coverage? It instantly elevates all your marketing efforts. Have ave you ever wondered why some things get press coverage and others do not? That’s the magic of an integrated PR and marketing perspective. PR can often give that strategic edge that creates a press-worthy event or advertisement. This is true in consumer and B2B marketing initiatives. Throughout the years, we’ve secured millions of dollars for marketing-driven initiatives because there was something notable or timely, or intuitive about the marketing initiative.

PR is like the midas of marketing, it adds value to everything it touches.

Alternatively, we have helped our clients avoid embarrassing pitfalls that could have generated negative press or created a social media firestorm. PR agencies maintain that 3rd party that is so important to helping CMOs cut through the noise. These 4 ways PR boost marketing results aren’t exhaustive, the opportunities are endless.

 

At Avaans Media, we take a truly holistic look at your marketing efforts and constantly identify ways for emerging and ambitious brands to maximize marketing and PR. Yes, we consistently secure press for our clients, but we’re also always looking for ways to maximize paid initiatives like SEO and advertising. Contact us today for valuable insights you can start using immediately. 

Building trust with PR is what tomorrow’s leading companies are doing today. Trust is a truly earned currency. There’s no fast tracking it and it’s easier to gain than it is to get back, so trust is a cherished and worthy asset for any company with ambitions. It’s essential for companies to build trust with key constituencies, whether those be consumers, investors, or other community stakeholders. After all, it’s virtually impossible to succeed if your audience can’t trust your company. And yet, it’s getting harder and harder for companies to win over skeptical consumers and communities.

Many factors have contributed to this volatile, and sometimes outright hostile, business environment. We’re all more engaged with the news and the world than ever before, which means we are more aware of what goes on “behind the curtain” at major companies.

Social media platforms are unethically harvesting and profiting from their users’ data. Major corporations are coming under the microscope for how they treat their employees. Income inequality has become a hot-button political issue. The environment is being irreparably damaged by companies exploiting it for a profit with little thought to how it will affect us and future generations.

Faced with innumerable examples of corporate greed and misconduct, it’s no wonder that the public’s trust in the business community has crashed. The 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer found that only 56 percent of people trust the business community to do the right thing. When nearly half of the marketplace harbors fundamental misgivings about businesses’ willingness to behave ethically, companies that want to earn consumers’ trust have their work cut out for them.

The world of business is hardly alone in coming under greater scrutiny from the public. Many people have grown increasingly distrustful of government entities, nonprofits, the news media, and other institutions. In the minds of a skeptical public, these organizations are in business for themselves, not their community or the world at large. That same 2019 report from Edelman found that only 57 percent of the public trusts NGOs to do the right thing, and the figure is even lower for the news media at 47 percent. A 2019 study from the Pew Research Center found that only 14 percent of Americans trust the government to do the right thing “most of the time.”

 

How to Use PR to Earn the Trust of Your Consumers, Investors & Stakeholders

So, what can companies do to earn the trust of an increasingly skeptical public? The study suggests the right way to do it. The lone bright spot for companies is that while much of the public doesn’t trust the business community as a whole, they tend to trust their own employers. The 2019 Edelman report found that 75 percent of people generally trust their employer to do what’s right. This data suggests that when people get a chance to know a company better, they can be convinced to give that company the benefit of the doubt.

Edelman’s research found that 58 percent of employees count on their employers to be reliable sources of information about social and political issues. Furthermore, 67 percent of employees expect their employers to join them in taking a stand on issues they care about. Employees also have high expectations of CEOs and other executives, with 71 percent believing their CEO should respond to social and political challenges. The general public agrees, with 76 percent saying that CEOs should directly address societal issues instead of waiting for governments to respond.

These data points offer a roadmap for brands looking to increase trust with their customers. Consumers are looking for businesses to drop their old ways of doing things and embrace the challenge of change. Brands that rise to meet this challenge can tap into the zeitgeist and build a better, healthier relationship with their customers.

One of the most effective tools to building trust with the public is a well-crafted public relations campaign. Why PR for trust building instead of advertising or marketing? It all comes back to the trust factor. Advertising and marketing are what you say about yourself, while PR is what other people say about you. Many people either ignore the content they see in ads or reject it out of hand because they don’t trust it. They believe that advertisers aren’t truthful or that companies exaggerate the claims in their marketing materials.

By contrast, PR is all about crafting a message for your company. There’s a risk here, as you don’t control the entire story yourself, but the potential benefits are worth the trade-offs. Because so many consumers don’t trust what they see or hear in ads, they look to third parties like news media, blogs, and other sources to verify those claims. A well-placed story in the right publication will do more for your credibility than any ad spend ever could. Furthermore, external links from reputable publications are a key factor in search engine results, meaning good PR can also make it easier for people to find your company.

 

Need Help With Your Trust Building PR Campaign?

Creating effective, striking PR campaigns for purpose-driven brands is what we do at Avaans Media, and we’d love to bring our expertise to your company. We have the media contacts, talent, and creative vision to craft the perfect PR campaign for companies of all sizes and in all manner of industries.

Our past clients have included consumer packaged goods manufacturers, nonprofits, and tech startups. We’ve even led a global campaign focused on boosting tourism for an entire country. In each case, we made sure to highlight the organizations’ values and strengths, and in each case, we achieved resounding success.

When you partner with Avaans Media, you’re getting a PR agency that knows how to showcase what makes purpose-driven brands special. We’ve been helping companies build trust since 2008. If you’re ready to see what we can do for you, visit our contact page to set up a phone call with one of our offices. You can also find our team locally in Denver, Phoenix, San Diego, Honolulu, Los Angeles, and New York.

CONTACT US TODAY

Cannabis CEOs have challenging jobs. You’re in the fast-moving cannabis business, so you’re also in the business of understanding trends and our industry. For that reason, we put together a shortlist of our favorite cannabis Twitter accounts, tailored for the time-constrained cannabis CEO and C-suite.

Twitter is an extremely useful listening tool, so we’ve curated the list intentionally for listening and we did throw in a few personal favorites as well because even cannabis CEOs need a breather now and then.  But overall, the list we’ve put together is highly curated and designed to give you what you need at the moment without overwhelming executives with chatter and nonsense. Hey, we love the nonsense too, but the point of a Twitter list is to create a curated experience and that’s what we’ve done.

We love Twitter because it’s such a great place to glean insights. We’ve already written about how we utilize Twitter for media relations. While we certainly use Twitter to engage our entire community, we do much more listening on Twitter than we do posting – and that’s intentional. With that perspective in mind, when we developed this Twitter List for cannabis CEOs, we thought about the Twitter uses who stay on topic, talk business, and keep chaos to a minimum. At it’s best, Twitter is a feed of quick snippets of insight, and we think these Twitter feeds embody that perspective.

Make things easy on yourself by subscribing to our Twitter list. In no particular order, here are our inclusions for 2020. 

 

Cannabis Journalists & News Twitter Accounts


Jeremy Berke @jberke

One of the first national business writers to cover the cannabis space from Business Insider, Jeremy’s feed is straightforward and no bull. From his Twitter profile, you can also subscribe to his weekly email newsletter which is a must-read of the week’s news.

Alan Brochstein, CFO @invest420
If industry analysis is what you crave, Alan Brochstein and his site, New Cannabis Ventures are on it. As the industry has changed, so has NCV. Today the NCV focuses mostly on cannabis’ publically traded businesses. But since so many of the industry cues and trends start there, it’s a great feed to watch. Alan’s distinct mix of business trends and insights are unbeatable. From his Twitter, you can also subscribe to his weekly newsletter, which is filled with investor insight and cannabis industry predictions. 

David George-Cosh @itsdgc
David primarily covers Canada’s legal cannabis market, which means he covers some of the world’s largest publically traded cannabis companies. Hailing from the Wall Street Journal, David gets to the heart of the matter with pertinent business issues from unionization to M&A.

AxisWire @axiswire
AxisWire is a newswire dedicated to the cannabis industry. It’s an easy to digest spot to catch up on the industry, by zeroing in on the latest press releases, from product announcements to industry events, it’s a good at-a-glance feed. 

WeedWeek @Weedweeknews
Hosted by Alex Halperin, a long-time cannabis journalist and Donny Alexander of public radio and ESPN, these two have a knack for being early adopters to industry trends, with a keen eye on what it means to consumers. Cannabis CEO and C-Suite executives will enjoy the thoughtful, no-drama approach of Halperin and Alexander while benefitting from their insightful guests. 

Cannabis Business & Thought Leader Twitter Accounts

By sparking your imagination, but these accounts are must-follows for cannabis industry CEOs for their broad perspectives on the overall health of the industry.

 

Andrew DeAngelo @Andrew_DeAngelo
Andrew might not be as well known as his brother, Steve, but these days he’s coming out from behind his operational role at the pioneering Oakland-based dispensary, Harborside, and sharing his opinions with his distinct rebellious flourish. Andrew’s thought-provoking perspective is cannabis industry-focused, with an emphasis on California and its regulatory environment. 

Emily Paxhia @empax1
As a woman in the VC world, Emily is already a notable follow, but as a cannabis VC, watching Emily’s tweets is interesting insight into the headspace of a cannabis VC. As co-founder of Poseidon Asset Management, Emily has been an active investor since 2014. Poseidon has invested in Pax, Juul and Canopy Growth. On Twitter, she’s a positive advocate for the industry, while maintaining a 360-degree view on the cannabis industry’s trends and future, including international expansion and legalization. 

Vangst @vangsttalent 
It’s always interesting to see who is hiring for what. Great CEOs can read between the lines when they see their competitors hiring – or not. Take a gander at the jobs posted and you’ll see a list of who’s growing and who isn’t. 

Cannabis Advocacy & Industry Twitter Accounts

We’ve come a long way, but we’re not finished. Both THC and CBD leaders should keep a close on the announcements from these accounts.

 

Norml @norml
From research to legislative initiatives, NORML is the OG of cannabis advocacy and consumer accessibility.  NORML’s Twitter feed is highly curated and includes information from state chapters too. A quick glance will get you immediately up to speed on today’s THC-related news. 

US Hemp Roundtable @HempRoundtable
The US Hemp Roundtable was formed to take a proactive role in hemp normalization and legislation. Many in the hemp industry credit the 2018 Farm Act to the US Hemp Roundtable. If you’re in the business of CBD or hemp, you’ve got to keep your eye on these tweets. 

National Cannabis Industry Association @NCIAorg 
As a cannabis industry representative at the federal legislative level, NCIA has a national presence and state chapters. The feed is filled with legislative updates affecting cannabis business owners as well as events, podcasts and blog posts written by the industry’s leading thought leaders.

Minority Cannabis @MinCannBusAssoc
If you’re looking for an inclusive perspective, and eh-em, you should be, then look no further than Minority Cannabis who share their perspectives and the latest diversity and inclusion news specific to the cannabis industry. As this movement continues within cannabis, this Twitter feed provides considerations and insights CEOs find helpful when developing diversity and inclusion policies and procedures. 

 

6 Free Cannabis PR  Ideas for an Industry Correction

Now is the time to maximize brand value on things that don’t cost extra.

You may look at these 6 cannabis PR ideas and wonder what they have to do with PR, but when you consider that your reputation is a holistic, dynamic entity, you can appreciate how these actions can add up to big value. You’ve seen the headlines, the cannabis industry is experiencing its first correction. Consolidations abound. Business closures are making headlines. Capital markets are all but frozen to anyone besides the big guys – and even to them sometimes.  So surviving this time is likely front and center in your mind.

Corrections are quite literally a matter of time – it’s just part of capitalism, and it’s literally just physics. But what is also usually happens is there is a recovery. When it does come back up, it will look different, no doubt about it. Look, the cannabis industry isn’t going away, the market hasn’t even come close to peaking. According to Arcview Market Research and BDS Analytics in 2020 alone, we’re projected to be a $16 BILLION dollar industry and next year, in 2021, over a $19 billion dollar industry.

Yes, absolutely, tighten up your books, reduce inventory, keep a tight eye on your cash flow and finances. All those things are 100% legitimate and important. But since we’re a cannabis PR & branding firm, we’d like to suggest ways you can still excel in this market that maximizes brand value.

Frankly, while we’re writing this in response to the 2019 cannabis correction, these are 6 cannabis PR ideas that will improve your bottom line during the good times too.

arcview cannabis industry projections 2020

Image from Business Insider’s Cultivate Newsletter. Subscription link at bottom.

What should cannabis businesses do to survive and possibly even flourish during this time?

Those who survive this phase have a great opportunity to emerge even stronger. Certain efforts, particularly in marketing and PR, will actually provide you more ROI than they would have even a year ago because when panic sets in, balls get dropped, budgets get cut.  Branding and PR are inside-out jobs. These 6 free cannabis PR ideas are here to give you ideas of places you can probably improve immediately. There is so much more to branding than a sexy logo. Look deep inside your company for opportunities to distinguish your brand-many of these things won’t cost more and could save you millions.

Use these free cannabis PR ideas to improve your brand, your reputation, and loyalty, which means your cannabis PR and marketing when things improve will be even more effective than they would have been otherwise.

Double Down On Relationships

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” -Maya Angelou

Join and Participate in Active Industry Associations

Right now, we need to commit to the industry associations that are actively working to improve and defend our industry on the local level and the national level. When you join, ask how you can more actively support the organization. By supporting the organization, you’ll not only strengthen its mission, but you’ll also be able to get to know the people better too. Double down with your time and you’ll find the returns are immeasurable. Take full advantage of the membership benefits, if there are ways to share your point of view, maximize those. As the industry consolidates, people are looking to do work with people they trust and the best way to encourage trust is to be present, take part, show your commitment to the organization, the mission, and the people who are contributing to the industry At Avaans Media, we’re big fans of the way National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) treats its members.

When It’s Time to Say Goodbye

If you have to separate from employees or partners, do it with class. Be communicative and as a fair as you can possibly be. Anything you do when severing a relationship, especially when it’s abrupt, will be especially remembered. So take a hard look at what your brand is worth and treat goodbyes with respect and dignity. If you’re letting employees go, be sensitive to timing. If you’re canceling a contract, have a real discussion with your partner about how to do it fairly. It’s easy to feel shame about these conversations, but don’t hide from them. Yes, these conversations are the worst kind to have, but during the tough times, it’s what you do more than what you say that people will remember.

Treat Your Partners & Vendors Like Gold

When was the last time your CEO attempted to make bud tenders feel special? Now is a great time. Bud tenders, like it or not, are the face of your brand to the consumer and trust me, they feel stressed about the cannabis industry’s challenges too. Why not do something no one else will do for the front line during a correction: treat them with respect. Small efforts can go a long, long way right now. I’m not talking about training, I’m talking about thinking of ways to thank bud tenders right now, genuinely show your appreciation. It could be as simple as a surprise visit to every dispensary with gift cards. Sure you can go bold and that’s fantastic too, but if you can’t be bold, that’s not an excuse to do nothing. Everyone else will do nothing, do more and get more.

While we’re at it, let’s talk vendors. Sure, go ahead, negotiate good terms – AND uphold your end of the bargain. No one will forget that you drove a hard bargain, but that’s business. But go the extra mile and hold up your end of the deal as if your life was on the line because, from a brand perspective, it is. The last thing you want right now is lackluster partners or partners who don’t really love you, what you want right now is passion, the vendors who are going the extra mile for you-but to do that, you need to treat them well too.  Any partner who will go through the craziness of a correction while looking out for you is worth their weight in gold, treat them that way. Pay on time, acknowledge their efforts and the importance of the relationship. Put a little free-but-important muscle into it and watch how that pays dividends.

Celebrate Your Most Passionate Customers

Customers are the obvious driver of revenue. Now is a great time to make being your customers more fun. Think about what’s REALLY important to your customers. What drives their motivations?  Reward cost-conscious customers with small incentives like purchase cards that can be turned in for promotional products.  If your customers are creative, how can you encourage them to spend their creative energies on their brand commitment? It could be making the inside of your packaging a game, it could be encouraging them to share your brand through social media. And by the way, track your most passionate brand advocates on social media and never forget to celebrate them and acknowledge them. No cannabis brand is too big to thank its customers right now.

 

Don’t Stop, Won’t Stop

“When they go low, we go high,” -Michelle Obama

Emphasize Your Strengths-More

You might not have had the time last year to really see where your best success stories were, but now is the time to look – and celebrate – what worked by actually increasing the heat of what’s doing well. Invest in things that are working well. Increase ROI of the things that are already returning value by committing to them at a whole new level. If your brand is great at social media, keep at it and make it better. Issue a special version of your most popular product line.  Really taking a stand and focus on something you do well will make you stand out from the pack and return more ROI as your competitors struggle to figure out how to manage the dynamics of this marketplace.

Maintain Quality

Consumers know, especially your most passionate consumers, they can tell when you’ve made substitutions and formulation changes. As tempting as it may be to cut corners on the product right now, don’t. Keep your customers happy by maintaining quality while your competitors decrease theirs. Keeping the quality up doesn’t cost extra, but decreasing quality will cost you in the short and long run.

Keep Your Chin Up and Your Numbers Up Too

Incentivize your sales, marketing and PR teams & vendors with trackable KPIs and hold them accountable. Self-serving as this sounds, if you devest cannabis PR, marketing and sales now, you’ll struggle to regain market share when the market starts its inevitable upward tick. Resist the urge to reduce these expenses because the hidden costs are ginormous and tend to extrapolate themselves in silent but deadly ways over years, not months.   I’ve seen this happen over and over again, eliminating these roles, or worse, hiring someone for cheaper, costs companies more. Instead, attend sales, marketing, and PR meetings and show that you’re in touch with the marketplace and work collectively to address issues early. Make sure you’re keeping a close eye on benchmarks and competitors so you have a real idea of how you’re faring in comparison.

In Short

Kindness, professionalism, and time don’t cost extra, but in a cannabis industry correction, they can be the difference-maker.  Now is a great time to really make your brand stronger. These free cannabis PR ideas are inside-out jobs, now is a good time to focus on the solutions that will bring you the most value during a rebound.

PS: By the way, I grabbed this image from Business Insider’s Cultivated newsletter (link). If you’re not reading it, you should. 

So you want to make your CEO the star? It’s a growing trend and there’s still room for your celebrity cannabis CEO.

The cannabis industry is ready for you, and you can take some tips from outside the cannabis industry to capitalize on the opportunity. From investment opportunities to increased brand value, to policy influence locally and nationally, and even profit increases, there are a lot of reasons why a CEO can be an important brand asset.

We’re seeing celebrity CEOs in the cannabis space, you know who they are. While it might look like those cannabis CEOs became industry household names simply because they’re so brilliant or successful, that’s simply not the case – there are many brilliant AND successful CEOs in cannabis whose names you wouldn’t be able to name. If you look around, you’ll see that cannabis CEOs and even more famous CEOs whose names you know, with very few exceptions, do these things in some combination. Because I’ve had the opportunity to work directly with some fantastic CEOs as well as politicians, I well know the big and little steps creating a celebrity takes.

So how do these CEOs become celebrities? The answer: extreme commitment to repeated exposure in multiple channels. Rome wasn’t built overnight and neither is celebrity CEO.

Close the C-Suite/Consumer Disconnect with Social Media

Edelman’s 2019 Trust Barometer said the majority of people (63%) believe CEOs should communicate with the public via social media and even more (79%) say knowing a CEO’s personal values is important to building trust, and that they trust spontaneous speakers more than well-delivered speeches. Contrast these statistics with the fact that 61% of Fortune 500 CEOs have no social media presence at all. No wonder there’s a disconnect from the C-suite to the Consumer.

These are interesting statistics for cannabis CEOs, who run businesses in an industry not yet federally recognized.

Increased Industry & Brand Trust

Yet this is EXACTLY the reason cannabis CEOs should be using social media. Even more than most industries, we must create trust with the general public. Summer 2019’s vape crisis did not help the cannabis industry’s reputation with the general public.  Social media offers cannabis brands the opportunity to speak directly and consistently. Because social media offers the opportunity to be spontaneous, here’s the ONE THING you can’t get past with social media: if you’re CEO is tweeting or engaging on LinkedIn, she absolutely must be directly involved and engaged on the platform herself, at least sometimes. And she should be using social media as a listening platform too, it will help her feel more connected and more engaged with her clients.

Balance Strategy with Authenticity

Whatever objectives you have to this strategy, there are reasonably straightforward systems that can be employed to overcome them.  Regardless of your strength as CEO, there’s a way for social media to work. Ghostwriters have a place in social media and many executives and celebrities rely on them, but the truest opportunities come when it isn’t exclusively outsourced, where there is a natural balance that remains authentic AND strategic.  Harborside’s Steve DeAngelo does this very well, he uses Instagram to showcase his boundless energy and willingness to engage with the cannabis community. By intelligently committing to a platform he’s comfortable with, he’s able to work it into his daily life. DeAngelo has also been very consistent with his key messages, he comes back to the same topics time and again and he uses social media to reinforce those messages while also adding a sense of fun and celebration to serious industry discussions.

Pick A Format That Celebrates You as CEO

With social media, there are many, many formats and opportunities. For example, you can balance authenticity with strategy with serialized content. Serialized content allows for consistency and systems to be in place while maintaining flexibility enough to jump into action when there’s a particularly timely opportunity. From podcasts to video forums to tweetchats, serialized content offers a direct opportunity for CEOs to showcase their personalities and warmth, which according to Chris Malone of The Human Brand, is an essential factor in increasing trust, “There are two basic dimensions that we judge people on: competence, which is all about how your abilities are perceived, and warmth.” If your CEO is particularly witty or opinionated, live formats offer CEOs an outstanding opportunity for enhanced brand recognition.

Go where your consumers are. What cannabis CEO is going to make waves by being the first to create engaging content on TikToc or even one of the e-sports platform? There are all kinds of digital places where your consumers roam, be there, where you can actively enjoy the people and space.

 

Open the Kimono To The Press

Simply BEING a CEO isn’t enough to develop ongoing coverage. In order to become a celebrity CEO, there’s groundwork to be done.

Prepare Yourself

Show up for the interview on time and prepared. Be clear on what you’ll say, identify a couple of key quotable statements you don’t want to miss and yes, review the journalist’s past articles to get a sense of their voice and depth. When the article is published, be sure to send a thank-you note and make sure your social media outlets share them.  Get yourself ready with a variety of professional headshots and lifestyle shots that showcase how your CEO embodies the brand.

As CEO, you should be ready to share your availability with marketing and PR. When traveling for business, strategize with your team about how you can capitalize on the time your in that city. If you’re traveling for pleasure, stay a day or two extra and give your team ample time to set appointments for you.

Invest in media training, get really good at driving the conversation where you want it to go. Learn how to handle the toughest of questions with elegance and grace. Learn what circumstances produce the best outcomes for you and make yourself available for those oppotunities. For example, some people just don’t do well in person, so pursue opportunities that are over the phone, get comfortable with industry journalists so you can develop some mutual trust. Develop in-person opportunities over time and in settings where you feel comfortable.

Don’t Buy Into Your Own Press

“Fame is other people’s perception of who you are,” said Oprah Winfrey. “In order to remain true to who you are, you have to be aware of it, but you can’t buy into it.”

Stay grounded. For CEOs starting out on the celebrity endeavor, take a step back and treat all journalist opportunities like they are the most important you’ll ever do. Remember that journalists are a tight-knit crowd and if your cannabis CEO isn’t warm or inviting and interesting, word gets out. More importantly, you never know where that journalist will land. Be kind. Be respectful. Be humble.

Lean In on Warmth & Wit

CEOs don’t have to be flashy, they DO have to be open and wise. Linton wasn’t a particularly dynamic speaker, but he always had something interesting to say and he said it with the confidence and authority that left everyone hanging on his every word. He knew his strength and he exercised it.

An excellent example of this is Bruce Linton who was famously ousted from Canopy in July 2019. Linton had been making the speaking circuit and made himself available for comment to press, for the better part of a year, and it seemed no publication or conference was too big or too small for him to share his perspective.

Linton’s availability worked in his favor as his ousting was big news, but Linton wisely got out ahead of the story and used his visibility to tell his side of the story. It’s not just that he got out ahead of it either – he handled the entire situation with class, he was forward-looking and resisted any temptation to slam his former employer.  All this worked out well for his next employer Vireo Health who got a healthy 26% stock bump after naming him CEO.

What’s interesting is a good look at this Google Trends report, which starts in 2016. You can see that Linton was already taking his position as CEO seriously even then, the groundwork was being laid. Even before his firing, you can see that the hard work is starting to pay off. The spike is obviously the news that he was let go, but most interesting is that Linton never took his foot off the gas and searches for him remained high even after his firing:

The Number One Tip for A Celebrity CEO

Planning. Don’t launch a celebrity campaign without using all your resources in marketing and PR. It’s a great idea to have a mix of trusted resources and new people who can see the forest through the trees. By now, CEO, you know who you are, lead your team of advisors by being transparent with them about your strengths and weaknesses. There’s no one who wants you to flop and starting out on the right foot will enable you all to succeed in this very exciting opportunity.