Tag Archive for: cannabis PR

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Some have said that the fastest-growing sector in cannabis is cannabis technology. While cannabis technology companies often serve very specific regulatory needs, even after the DEA rescheduled cannabis, and enter the marketplace in a tech-mature world (as opposed to those during the initial dot-com era), cannabis tech companies with hyper-growth ambitions can learn from the Silicon Zalley tech failures of the past.

Think Ahead, But Not Too Far

Many emerging industry companies have gone bust because they were simply too progressive. From the dot-com era, WebVan and Kozmo were two delivery companies with considerable capital that both went bust, only to see companies like Amazon eventually optimize the services they both introduced. Not every first mover gets first-mover advantage. There’s a lot to be said for meeting the customer or client where they’re at.

But moving people ahead is completely possible. Cannabis tech companies can think through the future of their business by planning past a regulatory world and creating brand loyalty well before any necessary pivots.

Setting an agenda to change the narrative and create demand is a long-term play, but consumers DO change behaviors and in the wake of COVID, there is still an opportunity to maximize the massive mind-shift happening. Cannabis itself is an outstanding example of changing the narrative. In fact, changing the narrative is an excellent competitive strategy and a way to differentiate yourself.

How Cannabis Tech Can Prepare for Bigger and Better Funded

As cannabis becomes a bigger part of the economy in more states, there will be more entrances into the marketplace.

Cannabis tech only has to look at what happened to the CBD space after the Farm Act passed to see a more recent cannabis example of this. From a tech perspective, a good example of this is the Pebble Smart Watch, which raised $10.3 million on Kickstarter (the most successful Kickstarter ever at the time). But of course, they struggled to compete with competitors like Apple Watch.

B2B cannabis tech companies are vulnerable to this as Silicon Valley continues to double down on cannabis tech from companies and founders with no experience in cannabis, but more funding. Dutchie is an example of this. Dutchie’s model is less cannabis and more tech as they model their services to something more akin to GrubHub. Silicon Valley likes companies that reinvent proven scale models.

Cannabis tech companies, whether they serve B2B or B2C should leverage both advertising and PR, together to secure market share AND trust simultaneously. Align your cannabis advertising and PR campaigns and messaging. Don’t isolate your advertising data from PR. Together they can be stronger. Branding dominance and brand value is the way to secure marketplace valuation; had Pebble done that, they would have stood a better chance of survival or at the very least gotten closer to the original offer of $740 million (which they got in 2015), as opposed to the sell to Fitbit for less than $40 million in 2016.

Cannabis technology companies should also be prepared to tell stories that aren’t technology-oriented. Whether those be founder stories, or purpose, there is also more to talk about, so prepare yourself and get those corporate stories in place.

And when there are lulls in cannabis tech VC funding, that’s a great time to prepare for the future and focus your energies on the most important initiatives to help you stand out when the funding cycle returns.

Watch Consumer Tech Trends

Media consumption on the biggest social media platforms may well have peaked already. 2021 was the first year Facebook reported a decline in users. So what’s happening to those consumers? They certainly haven’t left the internet, they’ve simply shifted platforms.

Consumer communication with a cannabis niche or cannabis advertising platforms can learn so many lessons from the failures of social media platforms, in particular Facebook. These platforms need to evaluable the trust equation and invest in it immediately. Whether the customer is B2B or B2C, there is a broader techlash going on.

Leveraging the trust of third-party media outlets is imperative now. And unlike plant-touching brands, cannabis tech companies have a wide-open playing field about the media outlets who will write about them. We always say that “trust is an inside out job,” and that means PR can only clean up so much if you’re abusing trust; if you’re the Theanos of cannabis tech, PR won’t be your biggest spend.

 

Cannabis tech is sure to be a competitive and thriving sector with massive ups and downs, but those who reach hyper-growth will have taken a page out of the successes and failures of past Silicon Valley darlings.  Check out our PR Case Studies and Results for more ideas about how to stand out in cannabis tech.

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.

 

It takes up to seven months to develop trust, so it’s important to stay consistent but also nimble.

  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. Having long-term and short-term goals as a fast-growing company is perfectly acceptable.

    For example, if your “why” is capital infusion by venture capital, understanding how VC’s use PR coverage is a vital component of the strategy. Alternatively, a different strategy would be in place for a company preparing for an IPO. And if a company wants to improve revenue growth, the PR strategy for that would be different as well.

    Most importantly, 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 positioning for today and tomorrow. The “Why” is where the communication strategy is built and it’s a critical piece to PR success. Once you determine your overall “why,” a top PR agency will then know what levers to pull for a quality PR campaign

 

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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 remain as dynamic as your fast-growing business, customers, and culture. These five 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 for a meaningful discussion about PR measurements for today’s business goals.

 

 

Do we need PR? Possibly. Possibly not. It all starts with your goals. These are the 5 reasons why PR is vital to growth. Straight up: PR is a true differentiator; less than 1% of companies ever receive media coverage. And reputation management couldn’t be more important than it is today. While it might be tempting for businesses to focus on sales and marketing only, and it’s technically possible to operate a business without PR, it’s virtually impossible to become an industry leader or a household name without PR. Emerging industries, which need to establish credibility to investors and consumers, and hyper-growth companies with very ambitious growth plans need PR.

For emerging industries and hypergrowth brands in particular, PR is a vital partner to business goals that have long-term effects on the success of growing companies.

5 Reasons Why Doing PR is Vital for Emerging Industries and Hyper-Growth Brand Success

We specialize in emerging industries and hyper-growth brands, be they B2B or B2C. From raising awareness with consistent media placement to aligning social media with your most important key messaging, to crisis prevention and management, having a cohesive and active PR presence is the secret ingredient to building brand equity and awareness. We’re so committed to helping you get to the next level; we base our PR pricing on your strategic objectives.

 

  1. Increase Revenue: PR has genuine and exciting implications for revenue growth. More credible than advertising, PR contributes to increased sales conversion and deal flow improvement, as well as decreasing churn and increasing customer lifetime value (CLTV). Working with your top PR firm to develop baselines and KPIs for your business goals not only allows you to see the impact on your bottom line, but also enables your PR firm to develop a strategy that is effective and long-lasting.
  2. Attract Investors: For many emerging industry companies and hyper-growth brands, attracting investment is a key goal for scale. Investors like to see that your product has legs. There is no better endorsement of your product’s potential than media placement. It might be tempting to only use PR after you’ve secured investment, but PR can increase deal flow, give you more brand equity, and improve the quality of investment.
  3. Competitive Advantages: If you’re in an industry where there are a lot of competitors, then you absolutely need public relations. PR will help you clarify your messaging and ensure you know where and when you can stand out. Further, in crowded fields, what do consumers do? They Google brands to find reviews and articles. If your brand has this critical 3rd party social proof, it’s a massive edge for your brand.
  4. Recruitment: The best candidates know their value and want to work for companies that are known entities in their industry, no matter whether the job market is tight. Great candidates are rarely interested in growing a business that hasn’t committed resources to growing the business. No one ever became an industry leader by focusing solely on cutting costs. PR shouts from the rooftops: “we’re serious about our future,” and that’s just the message to appeal to the best and brightest talent at all levels.
  5. Attract Acquisition, Investment or an IPO: Sometimes the next stage in a company’s growth is an acquisition or an IPO. For both scenarios, completely integrated PR and marketing efforts are critical. For emerging industry companies and hyper-growth brands, if you’re serious about being acquired or an IPO, AND you want the best price for your company, now is the time to double down on brand equity investment. These strategic objectives require an aligned pre-IPO PR strategy that may differ from what you’ve done in the past. But since our company has done this many times, we can help you navigate and implement the strategy flawlessly. Potential investors, like venture capital, like to see you building your brand, this is especially true if they see your company as a potential unicorn…or do they see your company as a potential unicorn because of PR? Either way, securing media coverage, having a crisis communication plan, and a solid thought leadership strategy all invoke investor confidence during all stages of growth.

Why is PR your secret weapon? These are only the most critical to business goals; hundreds of smaller PR advantages increase revenue and even save you money. At Avaans Media, we’re exceptionally proud of our A-team, a group of experienced and insightful communication experts who never stop working for our clients. Get started being the most important brand you can be. Contact us today for a discussion about your business goals.

Should your cannabis company double down on a marketing or PR campaign during 420? It’s popular for marketing firms and PR agencies to develop elaborate campaigns during this famous cannabis holiday. But is it worth it?

Maybe.

Who Are Your Cannabis Customers?

It depends on what kind of cannabis business you have and who your customers are. Today’s cannabis buyers aren’t ALL celebrating 420. Lots of people have to go to work, take care of kids, or have other responsibilities that still happen on that day – but they might view 420 promotions to stock up on their favorites, either before or after the day itself, but they might not be particularly engaged with a 420 PR campaign.

For example, if you’re a cannabis dispensary, your core customer is probably expecting discounts. But they’re also getting discounts from every other dispensary, and probably a few brands. Would you get more bang for your buck with a “prepare for 420” campaign, or maybe a “replenish your stash” campaign AFTER 420?

In 2021, the Eaze Cannabis Report identified several days that were bigger sales days than 420 – and a lot of those holidays are all but ignored by many cannabis brands, while journalists are still looking for holiday gift guide inclusions.

If you’re a 420 B2B company, you probably know better than to run any kind of promotion to your B2B cannabis customers – it’s a time of year that is particularly stressed for cannabis brands with consumer customers.

Can You Create a Splash?

What about CPG cannabis brands? A lot of cannabis brands will use 420 as an opportunity to create a word of mouth or cannabis PR campaign. But is that the time for your brand? If your idea shows an excellent understanding of your community or is truly newsworthy, then it very well may be a great time to grab that coveted coverage, but it probably comes at a diluted share of voice against your competitors.

Does Your Budget Compete?

Is a 420 PR campaign even in your budget? If you don’t have a budget that competes with your aspirational competitor, then you might very well be better off developing an omnichannel or a PR campaign at a different time of year, that gives you a great share of the attention. Think about what Amazon did with Prime Day, and consider ways you could own a day when no one else is looking.  It’s one way you can make your PR budget go further.

Or you could look at 420 to open the conversation with a whole new audience through a guerilla marketing or word-of-mouth PR stunt that creates buzz.

Activism and impact are a core part of the 420 culture. 420 might be the start of a year-long purpose-driven initiative for one of the many social and cultural causes important to your community.

There’s no right or wrong answer to whether of not a 420 PR campaign is right for your brand. It’s more a matter of whether 420 fits in with your strategy.

 

 

Purpose-driven public relations means the brand proactively builds incorporates values that impact social, cultural, and environmental issues. A true purpose-driven company makes corporate choices within its purpose framework, even when it means purpose over profits.

Truthfully, public relations aren’t purpose-driven, a brand is purpose-driven. Public relations is simply a lever a purpose-driven brand can use to improve the world around them. Building a purpose-driven brand is an inside-out job. They aren’t PR campaigns or PR ideas; they are a cultural way of thinking that’s internalized by everyone in the company.

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The Importance of Internalizing Purpose

There are lots of ways a brand can support its customers, community, and the globe meaningfully. Cause partnerships, and donation campaigns, are all relevant PR campaigns, but they aren’t purpose-driven. Purpose-driven companies take the long view on purpose and impact.

Internalization distinguishes purpose-driven brands. When everyone from the Board, to the CEO to the janitor walks the talk of purpose, then a brand has authentically implemented a purpose-driven brand. This also means when employees face choices, they incorporate the purpose into their decision-making. This can include employee hiring, employee programs, purchasing, and product decisions. It also means employees feel safe in making a purpose-informed choice because they know they’re acting within the company’s ethos; their choice is supported and even celebrated.

 

Should Purpose-Driven Initiatives Even Have a PR Component?

The deciding factor on this issue is the “why,” behind the initiative. Every day, businesses from Fortune 500 all the way to emerging industries are making decisions that have a social impact, and most of the time, these decisions don’t get the credit they deserve. But it’s not one decision, or one campaign, or one person who makes purpose – it’s people moving in unison making decisions that impact millions.

For example, let’s take eggs. When you go to the grocery, you face a lot of buying choices. Cage-free eggs, organic eggs, local eggs, inexpensive eggs. Many of these egg producers are balancing product, purpose, and price. Even though the organic or cage-free eggs are more expensive, it’s likely the margins on those eggs are considerably less than the mass-produced eggs. It’s also very likely that the producers of the cage-free or organic eggs are making other choices that cost more – maybe they buy the more expensive food, maybe they supplement their electricity with solar power. These are all purpose-driven decisions that are really important, but they won’t make news. What may make the news is the impact or the multiple steps they take for their purpose might make news. The people behind these choices may have interesting stories to tell. There will be PR opportunities, but they require real storytelling. Therefore, it’s important to have experienced purpose-driven PR agencies who can tell ethos and purpose stories.

Brands should have PR at the table when incorporating purpose-driven ethos, but PR should be part of the purpose, not the purpose of the purpose.

 

Are Purpose-Driven Brands Born or Made?

Both and neither. Some brands are founded in purpose, we can all name a few. Other brands grow into purpose. Both are as legitimate as their ability to stick to their ethos. It’s important for both types of purpose-driven brands to be authentic. Just because a brand is founded in purpose doesn’t mean it won’t lose its way. And just because a brand develops purpose doesn’t entirely absolve them from past actions. All brands should be very careful with their initiatives because consumers are getting fantastic at sniffing out disingenuous missions. These disingenuous missions create consumer distrust and may even run afoul of today’s cancel culture. A brand is better off doing nothing than taking on duplicitous or insincere purpose-driven initiatives.

 

If your company is considering a purpose-driven plan, please download our guide and call us. We can help you and your team navigate the exciting opportunities – and avoid the pitfalls – for purpose-driven brands.

For most CPG brands, it’s not a matter of IF there will be a PR crisis, it’s a matter of when, particularly if you’re in an emerging industry where the regulations are ever-changing, the research is emerging, and the deals are getting bigger. This is a perfect storm for a public relations crisis.

Most of the time CPG companies come to us because they want to share their story, appear in the press, create noteworthy and press-worthy activations and add value to their brand, all perfectly delightful reasons to hire a PR firm. It’s the fun side of PR work.


Why Plan for a PR Crisis When One Hasn’t Happened? 

According to Plos|One research, true rumors are confirmed within around 2 hours, but it takes over 14 hours for the average false rumor to be debunked. 


But the fact is, some of the most important work a PR firm can do for you is crisis planning. We recently had an entrepreneur refuse crisis planning because they “didn’t want to even think about it.” That was a major red flag for us because it’s an outright refusal to protect the brand and create a plan in which we can perform our best services in the case of a crisis; we decided the potential client wasn’t a good fit team Avaans PR and opted not to pursue the relationship. PR crisis planning is not sexy. It’s not fun. But it is important to your brand’s value and most importantly, it will help you sleep at night.

The time to manage a crisis is BEFORE it happens, you can’t expect your team to be prepared in a moment of panic. At the bare minimum, cannabis brands should put together a PR crisis plan. Exact strategies for your plan and the triggers to implement may vary, but in the world of rapid-fire news, cancel culture, and social media, having a plan is the most important step.

Step 1: IDENTIFY YOUR PR CRISIS TEAM

Depending on your brand, your cannabis PR crisis team may at the very least include:

  • Chief Executive Officer
  • Chief Marketing or Communications Officer
  • Brand Spokesperson
  • Public Relations Agency and Investor Relations Agency

Depending on the nature of the crisis

  • Law Firm
  • Human Relations
  • Product Formulation
  • Social Media Specialist
  • Customer Service

If that list seems long, that indicates how complicated a PR crisis can be. Not all  these people will be part of every single crisis. But it’s important for every one of these people to understand their role and stick to their role during a crisis. Each of these people represents different points of contact for various stakeholders. They should also have a seat at the table during the second step.

STEP 2: IDENTIFY POTENTIAL PR CRISIS COMMUNICATION SCENARIOS

Some CPG PR crisis scenarios are unique to CPG, others are not. But your key crisis team members need to be involved with the identification of crisis from the start. An important thing to remember is that a crisis can happen just because someone said it did, not because it ACTUALLY happened. We see this happen on social media frequently. For example, if someone accuses your company of fraud and makes the lawsuit public, whether you committed the alleged acts might be irrelevant; if the information is in the press, you may still need to defend yourself against it.  Another unforeseen example of this is the Tide Pod Challenge. When thousands of social media posts started popping up encouraging young people to eat Tide Pods, even though Tide has nothing to do with the challenge, Tide had to respond both in the immediate and long term, and researchers said the entire incident may have helped their brand image because their response was so swift and extensive. 

On the other hand, you should also determine what the trigger points are for responding to a crisis. Some crises’ need an immediate response from a company, some are better left communicated to a small audience and in other cases, in this fast-moving media world, it might be best not to execute a response at all. There is no “one size fits all,” for your response. The old adage of “get out in front of it,” still applies, in specific circumstances, but other situations require a more nuanced strategy.

A crisis that include consideration might be:

  • Injury to staff or public as a result of your product, processes, or location
  • A quality control issue, defect, or product recall
  • A natural diaster that effects your business, such as an earthquake, hurricane or flood
  • Legal action or public claims about an employee, client or customer
  • Emerging research or regulatory investigations that affect your product, your clients or the industry
  • Executive Leadership change

STEP 3: IDENTIFY STAKEHOLDERS AND AUDIENCES

Each CPG PR crisis may have multiple stakeholders who should be notified of a situation; in most cases, there will be multiple stakeholders. Your responses to each audience should be consistent but may vary in technicality, point of view, or details.

  • Employees
  • Customers
  • Dispensaries
  • Partners
  • Investors
  • Government Regulators
  • Industry Media
  • National Media
  • Local Media

STEP 4: DETERMINE COMMUNICATION FORMATS

Again, strategies will vary depending on the PR crisis, but you should determine in advance HOW you will communicate your message. For example, will you address to the media or will you issue a press release? Will you comment on social media or will you make a video? Is this a matter that needs to be released to investors and if so, what is the timeline? Press conferences are rare in the CPG industry, but there may be a circumstance where this would be an effective tool.

STEP 5: IDENTIFY WHERE IMPORTANT INFORMATION IS HELD

Your key crisis communication team should have access to important contact information for each other, including emergency contacts and follow-up contacts. Your PR firm should have at the ready multiple pieces of information which will be needed in the case of a crisis. Having information on hand can sometimes be the difference between undesirable media coverage and squashing the coverage altogether.

LISTEN UP: THE ONGOING STEP

In the day-to-day of running a CPG brand, it’s easy to miss the signals. Be sure someone from your PR team is keeping an eye on industry trends and evaluating how they might impact your overall reputation and any crisis plans in place.  Having your finger on the pulse of these waves can help you navigate changing consumer, political, and investor perceptions more adeptly. From social media listing to media monitoring, when it comes time to decide about response triggers, you’ll have more insight into what kind of response will be well received.

There’s no single solution to CPG PR crisis planning. Your plan will be distinctive to your company culture, values, leadership, and risks. But should a crisis hit, you’ll be grateful for the plan that gives you a path for decision making.