How important are journalist relationships to cannabis PR? That depends on your strategic objectives and how you’re incorporating cannabis pr into your cannabis marketing. Cannabis is still an emerging industry, and while it has changed dramatically since Avaans started working (as Primo PR) in cannabis in 2015, it’s still a pretty tight-knit group, that includes cannabis journalists. Your PR outcomes probably include the standard visibility KPIs but what other outcomes are you looking for? Media relations is really journalist branding and relationship building. Like all relationships, it’s important to view cannabis media relationships as a long-term process.
B2B Cannabis PR
There are very specific needs for cannabis businesses, from cannabis banking to crop management for CBD, the regulations make B2B cannabis products very specific. Journalists who cover cannabis regularly probably need little backstory on the industry and why the product purpose. On the other hand, they aren’t as wowed by cannabis industry products because they understand what is and isn’t news to the industry. Having relationships with the cannabis industry journalists will give you the opportunity to have deeper conversations and understanding about their perspectives. Now, if your business objectives include things like an acquisition or VC funding or private equity investment, then not only do you want cannabis journalist PR, but you also want coverage in national outlets. In this case, your relationships with national outlets and their writers will be very important. National writers are overwhelmed with pitches and for B2B cannabis PR pitches, there needs to be an additional layer of relevance. It’s really not enough to be a “cannabis company” anymore (if it ever was). Further, many national outlets or journalists only cover publicly traded cannabis companies or national firms, so journalist relations matters here as well.
In the cannabis CPG realm, journalist relationships are critical. This is one of the more competitive areas of journalism because, for product-driven coverage, you’re often competing with an enormous range of lifestyle products for the same space. A good cannabis PR firm will help you determine media-friendly differentiations and opportunities that support your larger business objectives. Depending on your business objectives, cannabis journalists may be a first or secondary priority for you. Some of this will also depend on your stage of growth and previous press coverage. If you’ve had a lot of press coverage, or you’re looking to differentiate yourself in a non-product forward realm, then you’ll definitely want to double down on media relationships.
No matter whether your cannabis technology is B2B or B2C, your media relationships will be especially important. That’s because it will be important to put your technology in context for both your target audience in a way that isn’t promotional. This is a critical differentiation and the time you’ve spent developing cannabis journalist relationships will really help you tell your story in a newsworthy way. See, while you may think your tech is remarkable, to a journalist what’s most important is impact or a tie-in to a larger media trend when covering cannabis tech. Even VC investments in cannabis tech don’t make the same news that traditional tech does, because the numbers aren’t as large as we see in traditional tech. Publically traded cannabis companies need relationships with both general media and investor analysts (IR).
Journalists relationships in cannabis are very important. What journalist relationships you should massage is critical to your coverage – and supporting your business objectives– the bigger reason you’re engaging with PR.