Tag Archive for: cannabis public relations

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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 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 tech company 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.

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.

If the legalization of marijuana in a growing number of states has taught us anything, there will likely be an emerging market for other products like psychedelics, as interest grows in their recreational and medicinal benefits. The stigma around using psychedelics, while still present, is starting to shift. The potentially beneficial and pharmaceutical uses for magic mushrooms and other substances are increasingly evident, and the market will likely follow.

Some estimates indicate that the market for psychedelic drugs could grow into a $6.9 billion industry by the year 2027. As psychedelics continue to gain mainstream acceptance, psychedelic companies are still in their marketing and PR infancy. Getting in on the ground floor means investing in a PR campaign today that could solidify your status as a psychedelic authority and leader in the industry in the future as it grows.

The psychedelic industry is a sophisticated enterprise that still suffers from stereotypes and misinformation. It’s much more than mushrooms, black lights, and velvet posters. A strategic PR campaign can help transform this image. It can also lend credibility to what should be considered the next big untapped drug market brimming with potential. As companies continue to grow and gain access to more capital, the opportunity for an IPO, or initial public offering, emerges. A strategic PR campaign can help push these companies into the big leagues.

Why Do Psychedelic Companies Need to Think About PR Now?

The legalization of marijuana has spurred new ways of thinking about old drugs. Psychedelics are getting a fresh look from both the public and private sectors. Researchers are uncovering promising data about the potential for these drugs to treat mental disorders such as depression, PTSD, and anxiety. With greater mainstream acceptance comes more pressure on government entities to decriminalize psychedelics and cannabis, both on state and federal levels.

The best time for psychedelic companies to capitalize on changing consumer sentiment is right now. Much of the emerging psychedelic industry is still in its infancy. When a substance is still considered illegal in much of the country, a stigma will obviously exist. The status of mushrooms and some psychedelics as Schedule 1 drugs also create major hurdles for companies when it comes to marketing. Changing the tide of both patient and political bias needs to happen now.

A strategic PR campaign can aid psychedelic companies in normalizing the conversation about psychedelics and help establish them as respected industry leaders. Changing the narrative on psychedelics doesn’t happen overnight. It takes a concerted effort to get the attention of policymakers and patients alike. PR professionals are uniquely positioned to help psychedelic companies leverage media coverage for a positive effect.

What is PR?

PR professionals specialize in helping companies get free media placement. Free media is media that does not require the company to pay for its distribution. Examples of this type of media include local news outlets, national news outlets, magazines, newspapers, and websites.

PR agencies tend to employ former journalists who have extensive contacts in the media industry. These professionals also know what it takes to pitch a story and what outlets are looking for in the source material.

What Can PR Do for Companies in the Psychedelic Industry?

The possibilities are almost limitless when it comes to what PR can do for the psychedelic industry. PR is a valuable tool in helping change the narrative about psychedelics. A PR agency can help a business craft a compelling and strategic messaged aimed at consumers or policymakers. The firm can then take that message to media sources for potential coverage. These outlets can distribute the story and help boost a company’s brand recognition within the psychedelic industry. Since this media coverage is not paid for, like commercials and ads, it also helps increase a company’s credibility.

Media coverage can also help shape future policies. It is essential to steer the conversation about psychedelics away from the negative and stigmatic image of drugs and towards more beneficial and informative coverage. Experienced PR agencies are experts at communicating. They understand crisis management and how to take potentially negative information and transform it into teaching moments. Although the conversation about marijuana and psychedelics is evolving, there is still work to be done when it comes to helping the industry shed problematic stereotypes.

It is also crucial to note that while change may seem slow to come, the needle is moving in a more accepting direction. It is easier to establish yourself as a reputable psychedelic company now and get in on the ground floor than it is to claw your way to the top of a crowded marketplace. Getting involved with a PR firm early gives you a head start when it comes to brand recognition, building credibility in the industry, and developing a loyal following and potential customer base. Your company can emerge as an industry leader just as other companies are attempting to jump on the bandwagon. Investing in PR today is investing in the future reputation of your business.

If these factors aren’t enough, consider what else a reputable PR firm can do for you:

  • Craft a brand story
  • Help establish you as a psychedelic industry leader
  • Generate visibility and brand recognition
  • Pitch stories that can help influence the public and policymakers
  • Help change the narrative surrounding psychedelic drugs
  • Target your key audience
  • Build brand loyalty
  • Build community relationships

Good public relations teams don’t sit back and wait for you to have news. They help strategize ways to make news. PR should not be passive. PR should be proactive in any market and help companies make their mark and shape the industry. A company’s needs for positive PR in the psychedelic industry are no different.

Whether you are a public or private psychedelic company, now is the time to start thinking about your image. With the help of an experienced PR team, you have the power to build your brand and mold the future of the psychedelic industry. The psychedelic business could quickly become the next big industry to experience hyper-growth. Getting started with PR early means you will have a strategic advantage over the competitors that wait to enter the market.

The unfair and highly politicized stigma that once surrounded the use of cannabis is quickly dissipating as more states embrace legalized cannabis and cannabis-related products. The earliest cannabis brands hired PR firms to reduce stigmatization. With a budding industry on the rise, more companies are jumping on the cannabis bandwagon. While this hyper-growth is great for consumers, it has created competition in the cannabis marketplace. How can cannabis companies set themselves apart to capture a chunk of the profit? No doubt, hyper-growth cannabis companies absolutely have distinct PR needs.

To keep up with industry growth, the time may be right to consider hiring a cannabis PR agency. PR isn’t just for high-profile celebrities. Public relations firms can help you market yourself, your unique products, and let the public know how you stand out from the crowd. However, before you hire a PR firm to represent your business, consider how a cannabis PR firm may benefit your company and how to choose the right firm for your needs.

What is a PR Agency?

Public relations agencies are multifaceted firms that specialize in promoting and growing other businesses through editorial coverage. Editorial coverage is sometimes known as “earned” or free” media because it isn’t a paid placement in an outlet. A PR agency generally doesn’t buy or place ads on social media or through billboards. A PR agency knows how to leverage the media for the benefit of a company. Media can include local news, national news, newspapers, magazines, and websites.

The ultimate goal of a PR agency is to promote the best interests of its client by generating favorable media coverage. When potential customers view this coverage, it builds brand recognition and trust in the company. The positive public opinion can then help translate into sales for the business.

What Does a Cannabis PR Firm Do?

A cannabis PR firm specializes in drumming up positive media coverage for growing cannabis businesses. They generally will use their resources to pitch story ideas to various media outlets. They will then follow up with these media outlets to convince them that the story will interest their viewers or readers. In the end, the media outlet gets a piece that entices its audience. The cannabis company then gets recognition. A good agency understands how to take a company message or campaign and translate that into a positive media piece.

On the flip side, a cannabis PR agency can also help a business mitigate the fallout from a less than ideal or unfortunate situation. A good firm is always strategically thinking about how to protect a client from potentially hurtful coverage. An agency can also help formulate a response that is both appropriate and has the potential to turn a situation around.

Overall, you want a cannabis PR agency to be well-versed in the following:

  • Writing and distributing press releases
  • Following up with appropriate media outlets after the release of a press statement
  • Crafting pitches
  • Product placement
  • Writing speeches
  • Crisis management
  • Copywriting
  • Blog writing
  • Market research
  • Event planning
  • Community engagement
  • Non-profit relationship management

Some of the most successful PR firms have former journalists and news people on their staff. These individuals generally have inside knowledge of the media industry and can leverage their former contacts and skills for the benefit of cannabis clients. These professionals know what stories media outlets generally select and can help convince them that coverage of your materials is beneficial to the outlets and the community.

Picking a Cannabis PR Firm

In many areas, cannabis is a relatively new business. When looking for a PR firm to manage the image and media coverage of a cannabis business, there is an important initial question. A company should ask if the agency has previous experience working with the cannabis industry. Why is this the most important question? There are limitations on the types of material and information that can be distributed about cannabis in some jurisdictions. A business will want to make sure that the PR firm they are working with understands the intricacies of working with the media and cannabis-related businesses. Knowledge of the industry helps ensure that your coverage is positive and accurate. It will also ensure that media outlets distribute coverage with the best chance of being picked up and not tossed in the press-release trash bin.

Beyond looking for an agency that understands the unique challenges of working with cannabis-related businesses, you will want to sit down and outline your marketing goals. What are you hoping to achieve? What is your budget? What are you expecting a firm to deliver? Establishing your objectives and goals early will help in selecting the best firm for your company. Once you determine these objectives, find a PR firm that aligns with your goals. Consider the following:

  • What is your budget?
  • Do they specialize in a specific industry?
  • How do they measure success?
  • What is their communication style?
  • How often will they be in contact?
  • Does their team have experience in PR and marketing?
  • How do they generate coverage?
  • Do they have experience handling crisis situations?

Hold meetings before you settle on a PR firm. In these meetings, you can ask plenty of predetermined questions pertaining to your concerns and goals. Consider these meetings an interview process. You want the best candidate for the job. Effective coverage doesn’t happen passively. It is a process that needs to be actively pursued and nurtured. The PR team you choose should be aggressive, responsive, and communicate with you throughout the PR process.

PR as an Investment

Making investments in your business is essential to growth. You know how to cultivate relationships with growers, suppliers, paraphernalia manufacturers, consumers, and sometimes even local artisans and craftsmen. Securing the help of a PR firm is another form of investment in your business. A solid relationship with a cannabis PR firm can help increase recognition, brand loyalty, and visibility in the community.

Eventually, these attributes can start translating into new customers, repeat business, and profit growth. The relationship between the cannabis industry and the media is always evolving. If you’re ready to experience growth and visibility for your business, hiring an experienced cannabis PR agency is the next step to developing your product’s brand.

As the cannabis industry grows, so does the need for conventions and conferences that focus on weed. These events provide a valuable opportunity for businesses in the cannabis industry to network and share information with one another. They are also a great place for consumers to learn about new products and strains. 

What to Expect at a Weed Convention

You will find cannabis professionals take their industry very seriously; you will find people dressed as you would any other professional industry. This isn’t just because weed consumption isn’t legal in most cannabis industry convention centers, but it’s also that cannabis is serious business. Millions of dollars of investment are flowing into cannabis and these investors expect a buttoned-up and professional organization.

Weed conventions have already become an important part of the cannabis industry. In just a few years, they have grown from small, regional events to large national conventions. The most well-known weed convention is the Cannabis Cup, which is held each year to celebrate the best in cannabis. The Cannabis Cup is a global event in multiple cities and multiple companies. 

Why Professionals Go to Cannabis Industry Tradeshows

Weed conventions offer a variety of educational sessions and panel discussions. Attendees can learn about everything from growing and harvesting cannabis to marketing and branding products. There are also often exhibits where businesses can showcase their products and services.

Cannabis has a long history of handshake deals and in-person business because it has operated in grey areas for so long because of federal regulations. Weed conventions offer an opportunity for businesses to network with each other. They provide a forum where companies can share information about the latest trends in the cannabis industry and learn from each other’s experiences. Attendees can talk to exhibitors and learn about the different cannabis products available, from strains to format, there is always something new at a weed convention. They can also learn about the various ways that cannabis can be used, such as for medical purposes or recreational enjoyment.

Conferences are also a great place for cannabis journalists and cannabis influencers to gather.

Weed conventions are an important part of the cannabis industry and offer a valuable opportunity for businesses and consumers to learn about new products and trends. They provide a forum where businesses can share information and learn from each other’s experiences, and they are a great place for consumers to learn about new products and strains. As the cannabis industry continues to grow, weed conventions will become even more important.

Weed conventions are an important part of the growing cannabis industry. 

If you’re a cannabis business looking for top-rated cannabis PR, please visit our cannabis insights page. 

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. 

Tag Archive for: cannabis public relations

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PR WITH PURPOSE


Companies face an interesting challenge. Clients and customers are demanding that companies engage in social impact. Yet, in today’s cancel culture world, navigating purpose-driven initiatives or social impact programs takes a deft and emotionally intelligent touch.

That’s where we come in: we build brand value and communities from the inside out.

We’re a modern digitally forward agency that combines emotional intelligence with strategy and data to enhance reputations and credibility. We’re a team of big thinkers with an eye for detail. We dive straight into your purpose to find the connective tissue your clients or customers respond to. We’re fiercely protective of your reputation, tenacious in securing press coverage, and nimble enough to service brands in our dynamic times.

PURPOSE DRIVEN PR WITH SOCIAL IMPACT AND HEART

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OUR SOCIAL IMPACT, B-CORP AND PURPOSE-DRIVEN PR INSIGHTS

Purpose Driven Strategies

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[3 minutes]

Some have said that the fastest growing sector in cannabis is cannabis technology. While cannabis technology companies often serve very specific regulatory needs 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 tech company 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.

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.

If the legalization of marijuana in a growing number of states has taught us anything, there will likely be an emerging market for other products like psychedelics, as interest grows in their recreational and medicinal benefits. The stigma around using psychedelics, while still present, is starting to shift. The potentially beneficial and pharmaceutical uses for magic mushrooms and other substances are increasingly evident, and the market will likely follow.

Some estimates indicate that the market for psychedelic drugs could grow into a $6.9 billion industry by the year 2027. As psychedelics continue to gain mainstream acceptance, psychedelic companies are still in their marketing and PR infancy. Getting in on the ground floor means investing in a PR campaign today that could solidify your status as a psychedelic authority and leader in the industry in the future as it grows.

The psychedelic industry is a sophisticated enterprise that still suffers from stereotypes and misinformation. It’s much more than mushrooms, black lights, and velvet posters. A strategic PR campaign can help transform this image. It can also lend credibility to what should be considered the next big untapped drug market brimming with potential. As companies continue to grow and gain access to more capital, the opportunity for an IPO, or initial public offering, emerges. A strategic PR campaign can help push these companies into the big leagues.

Why Do Psychedelic Companies Need to Think About PR Now?

The legalization of marijuana has spurred new ways of thinking about old drugs. Psychedelics are getting a fresh look from both the public and private sectors. Researchers are uncovering promising data about the potential for these drugs to treat mental disorders such as depression, PTSD, and anxiety. With greater mainstream acceptance comes more pressure on government entities to decriminalize psychedelics and cannabis, both on state and federal levels.

The best time for psychedelic companies to capitalize on changing consumer sentiment is right now. Much of the emerging psychedelic industry is still in its infancy. When a substance is still considered illegal in much of the country, a stigma will obviously exist. The status of mushrooms and some psychedelics as Schedule 1 drugs also create major hurdles for companies when it comes to marketing. Changing the tide of both patient and political bias needs to happen now.

A strategic PR campaign can aid psychedelic companies in normalizing the conversation about psychedelics and help establish them as respected industry leaders. Changing the narrative on psychedelics doesn’t happen overnight. It takes a concerted effort to get the attention of policymakers and patients alike. PR professionals are uniquely positioned to help psychedelic companies leverage media coverage for a positive effect.

What is PR?

PR professionals specialize in helping companies get free media placement. Free media is media that does not require the company to pay for its distribution. Examples of this type of media include local news outlets, national news outlets, magazines, newspapers, and websites.

PR agencies tend to employ former journalists who have extensive contacts in the media industry. These professionals also know what it takes to pitch a story and what outlets are looking for in the source material.

What Can PR Do for Companies in the Psychedelic Industry?

The possibilities are almost limitless when it comes to what PR can do for the psychedelic industry. PR is a valuable tool in helping change the narrative about psychedelics. A PR agency can help a business craft a compelling and strategic messaged aimed at consumers or policymakers. The firm can then take that message to media sources for potential coverage. These outlets can distribute the story and help boost a company’s brand recognition within the psychedelic industry. Since this media coverage is not paid for, like commercials and ads, it also helps increase a company’s credibility.

Media coverage can also help shape future policies. It is essential to steer the conversation about psychedelics away from the negative and stigmatic image of drugs and towards more beneficial and informative coverage. Experienced PR agencies are experts at communicating. They understand crisis management and how to take potentially negative information and transform it into teaching moments. Although the conversation about marijuana and psychedelics is evolving, there is still work to be done when it comes to helping the industry shed problematic stereotypes.

It is also crucial to note that while change may seem slow to come, the needle is moving in a more accepting direction. It is easier to establish yourself as a reputable psychedelic company now and get in on the ground floor than it is to claw your way to the top of a crowded marketplace. Getting involved with a PR firm early gives you a head start when it comes to brand recognition, building credibility in the industry, and developing a loyal following and potential customer base. Your company can emerge as an industry leader just as other companies are attempting to jump on the bandwagon. Investing in PR today is investing in the future reputation of your business.

If these factors aren’t enough, consider what else a reputable PR firm can do for you:

  • Craft a brand story
  • Help establish you as a psychedelic industry leader
  • Generate visibility and brand recognition
  • Pitch stories that can help influence the public and policymakers
  • Help change the narrative surrounding psychedelic drugs
  • Target your key audience
  • Build brand loyalty
  • Build community relationships

Good public relations teams don’t sit back and wait for you to have news. They help strategize ways to make news. PR should not be passive. PR should be proactive in any market and help companies make their mark and shape the industry. A company’s needs for positive PR in the psychedelic industry are no different.

Whether you are a public or private psychedelic company, now is the time to start thinking about your image. With the help of an experienced PR team, you have the power to build your brand and mold the future of the psychedelic industry. The psychedelic business could quickly become the next big industry to experience hyper-growth. Getting started with PR early means you will have a strategic advantage over the competitors that wait to enter the market.

The unfair and highly politicized stigma that once surrounded the use of cannabis is quickly dissipating as more states embrace legalized cannabis and cannabis-related products. The earliest cannabis brands hired PR firms to reduce stigmatization. With a budding industry on the rise, more companies are jumping on the cannabis bandwagon. While this hyper-growth is great for consumers, it has created competition in the cannabis marketplace. How can cannabis companies set themselves apart to capture a chunk of the profit? No doubt, hyper-growth cannabis companies absolutely have distinct PR needs.

To keep up with industry growth, the time may be right to consider hiring a cannabis PR agency. PR isn’t just for high-profile celebrities. Public relations firms can help you market yourself, your unique products, and let the public know how you stand out from the crowd. However, before you hire a PR firm to represent your business, consider how a cannabis PR firm may benefit your company and how to choose the right firm for your needs.

What is a PR Agency?

Public relations agencies are multifaceted firms that specialize in promoting and growing other businesses through editorial coverage. Editorial coverage is sometimes known as “earned” or free” media because it isn’t a paid placement in an outlet. A PR agency generally doesn’t buy or place ads on social media or through billboards. A PR agency knows how to leverage the media for the benefit of a company. Media can include local news, national news, newspapers, magazines, and websites.

The ultimate goal of a PR agency is to promote the best interests of its client by generating favorable media coverage. When potential customers view this coverage, it builds brand recognition and trust in the company. The positive public opinion can then help translate into sales for the business.

What Does a Cannabis PR Firm Do?

A cannabis PR firm specializes in drumming up positive media coverage for growing cannabis businesses. They generally will use their resources to pitch story ideas to various media outlets. They will then follow up with these media outlets to convince them that the story will interest their viewers or readers. In the end, the media outlet gets a piece that entices its audience. The cannabis company then gets recognition. A good agency understands how to take a company message or campaign and translate that into a positive media piece.

On the flip side, a cannabis PR agency can also help a business mitigate the fallout from a less than ideal or unfortunate situation. A good firm is always strategically thinking about how to protect a client from potentially hurtful coverage. An agency can also help formulate a response that is both appropriate and has the potential to turn a situation around.

Overall, you want a cannabis PR agency to be well-versed in the following:

  • Writing and distributing press releases
  • Following up with appropriate media outlets after the release of a press statement
  • Crafting pitches
  • Product placement
  • Writing speeches
  • Crisis management
  • Copywriting
  • Blog writing
  • Market research
  • Event planning
  • Community engagement
  • Non-profit relationship management

Some of the most successful PR firms have former journalists and news people on their staff. These individuals generally have inside knowledge of the media industry and can leverage their former contacts and skills for the benefit of cannabis clients. These professionals know what stories media outlets generally select and can help convince them that coverage of your materials is beneficial to the outlets and the community.

Picking a Cannabis PR Firm

In many areas, cannabis is a relatively new business. When looking for a PR firm to manage the image and media coverage of a cannabis business, there is an important initial question. A company should ask if the agency has previous experience working with the cannabis industry. Why is this the most important question? There are limitations on the types of material and information that can be distributed about cannabis in some jurisdictions. A business will want to make sure that the PR firm they are working with understands the intricacies of working with the media and cannabis-related businesses. Knowledge of the industry helps ensure that your coverage is positive and accurate. It will also ensure that media outlets distribute coverage with the best chance of being picked up and not tossed in the press-release trash bin.

Beyond looking for an agency that understands the unique challenges of working with cannabis-related businesses, you will want to sit down and outline your marketing goals. What are you hoping to achieve? What is your budget? What are you expecting a firm to deliver? Establishing your objectives and goals early will help in selecting the best firm for your company. Once you determine these objectives, find a PR firm that aligns with your goals. Consider the following:

  • What is your budget?
  • Do they specialize in a specific industry?
  • How do they measure success?
  • What is their communication style?
  • How often will they be in contact?
  • Does their team have experience in PR and marketing?
  • How do they generate coverage?
  • Do they have experience handling crisis situations?

Hold meetings before you settle on a PR firm. In these meetings, you can ask plenty of predetermined questions pertaining to your concerns and goals. Consider these meetings an interview process. You want the best candidate for the job. Effective coverage doesn’t happen passively. It is a process that needs to be actively pursued and nurtured. The PR team you choose should be aggressive, responsive, and communicate with you throughout the PR process.

PR as an Investment

Making investments in your business is essential to growth. You know how to cultivate relationships with growers, suppliers, paraphernalia manufacturers, consumers, and sometimes even local artisans and craftsmen. Securing the help of a PR firm is another form of investment in your business. A solid relationship with a cannabis PR firm can help increase recognition, brand loyalty, and visibility in the community.

Eventually, these attributes can start translating into new customers, repeat business, and profit growth. The relationship between the cannabis industry and the media is always evolving. If you’re ready to experience growth and visibility for your business, hiring an experienced cannabis PR agency is the next step to developing your product’s brand.