Tag Archive for: communications

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 because they are too overwhelming and take more time to update than they do to provide insight. With the advent of AI, gathering and interpreting your KPIs will be much easier. However, until that day happens, 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. If 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. TRACKING 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.

  5. TRANSPARENCY CONTEXTUALIZES DATA

    There are many levels today’s PR agencies can use to meet your objectives. Gone are the days when PR was singularly about earned media, although that was still a key component. There are content opportunities that may support your PR goals, but some of those opportunities may be paid. Understanding the difference between paid and earned media is important so you can track their results accordingly.

 

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 in 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.

 

 

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.

Check out some of our crisis communication information, and if you’re looking for cannabis PR crisis experts, you can start here

Why Purpose-Driven Public Relations Have an Edge 

It’s easy to see why some companies are skeptical of shifting to a “purpose-driven” business model. Doing so requires companies to take a position on important, potentially controversial issues like environmental protection, workers’ rights, racial and gender discrimination, income inequality, that have social impact.

Is Taking a Stand the New Social Media in Public Relations?

Taking a stand can generate a swift backlash from the community and consumers. For an example, look no further than the reaction from many fans of the National Football League when several players, most notably San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, knelt during the national anthem as a protest against police violence.

The NFL is one of the few monolithic institutions left in American life, and the response from its fans would seem to discourage other brands from getting involved in political and social issues. Even President Donald Trump got involved by putting pressure on team owners and league officials. And yet, the NFL’s handling of its players’ police violence protests offers an instructive example of why brands should lean into social causes instead of avoiding them.

After all, what was the ultimate outcome for Kaepernick? The NFL caved on player protests and is allowing social justice messages in the end zones this year. Kaepernick partnered with Nike on their “Dream Crazy” ad, which helped spread his message to a much wider audience. Though the ad was criticized in some quarters, most people responded positively to it. Younger audiences, one of Nike’s key demographics, responded especially well.

Making that ad was a risk for Nike, but it’s a risk that clearly paid off. By being aware of social trends — particularly among some of its core customers — and partnering with someone who had legitimate social justice credentials, Nike scored a public relations coup and rode the wave to increased sales.

Jumping into the realm of social activism is new for Nike, but other brands have engaged in social, political, and environmental causes for many years now. The clothing company Patagonia, for instance, supports many social causes, especially groups focused on the protection and preservation of public lands in the United States. They’ve also imposed a “1% for the Planet” tax on themselves, in which they spend 1 percent of their sales (not just their profits) on environmental activism while encouraging other companies to do the same.

Another brand that’s making headway in terms of changing the way business is done is King Arthur Baking Company. Unlike many larger bakeries, King Arthur is a private company that is owned by its employees and is a benefit corporation. This means that having a positive impact on the world is built into the company’s corporate structure. In an article for the New York Times, Ralph Carlton, one of King Arthur’s chief executives, said “Being accountable to our employee-owners means we have to take them into account. We don’t believe in growth for growth’s sake.” The company’s message is clearly resonating with consumers; according to the Times article, King Arthur’s sales tripled this past spring when many people went into quarantine and started baking their own bread and other goods.

Is a Purpose Driven Public Relations Strategy for Everyone?

These examples and additional research illustrate the gains to be had for brands that embrace social causes. For instance, the research firm Accenture found in 2018 that 63 percent of consumers prefer to support brands that share their values and beliefs. In that same study, Accenture also found that 62 percent of consumers want brands to take a position on social and political causes, and 65 of consumers said their buying decisions are influenced by the values, actions, and words of a company’s leaders.

As we saw with Nike, these trends are even more pronounced among younger audiences and consumers. Other researchers have found that 54 percent of teens age 16-19 boycotted or bought from a brand because of its ethics. Furthermore, 63 percent of teens say they are more likely to buy from brands that back charities or other causes they believe in.

These figures provide more evidence that consumers are eager to buy from brands they perceive as having strong morals and values. However, brand trust is a precious commodity that companies should not take for granted. About 37 percent of teens surveyed in the study mentioned above said they didn’t trust the claims brands make about the causes they support, and 69 percent of teens in the survey said brands overstate how much they support the causes they supposedly champion.

That last point is critical. It’s not enough for companies to say they want to make the world a better place, they have to back it up with their actions and policies. If you tell consumers you’re moving to a purpose-driven business philosophy, you need to give them proof.

Once again, we can look at Nike for an example of this theory in action. Regardless of other criticisms the company has faced in the past, making Kaepernick the centerpiece of a campaign took courage, as he was a pariah in many circles and hadn’t been a star player for several years. But because Kaepernick had sacrificed his career and his reputation for his beliefs, Nike benefitted from his social justice bona rides.

As more consumers push for brands to become more socially and politically engaged, companies that have already adopted a purpose-driven approach or are willing to make a good-faith effort have a tremendous advantage in the marketplace. If you can show consumers that your brand shares their values, they’ll flock to your business.

How to Celebrate a Purpose-Driven Public Relations

 

Of course, getting your message in front of consumers is easier said than done. You need a public relations firm that understands the challenges purpose-driven brands face and the benefits they can provide consumers. Fortunately, PR for purpose-driven brands is what we do at Avaans Media, and we can help show the world what makes your company special.

It’s important not to be too bold or too generic when it comes to PR for purpose-driven brands. You need to be specific about what you’re doing and how it’s generating the kind of positive change you’re striving for. We’ll create a campaign that’s tailored to your company’s specific strengths and goals, and we’ll show consumers that you’re serious about achieving those goals.

This kind of campaign is something we already have experience doing. One of our biggest successes came from helping a nonprofit create content to help parents who were non-native English speakers improve their children’s early education outcomes. We listened to what they wanted to achieve and created streamlined, easy-to-understand social media content for parents to share with each other and their children. Furthermore, we helped the nonprofit lobby the state legislature to fund early education programs for pre-kindergarten students.

Our campaign was a tremendous success, generating over 401,000 impressions over six months among our target audience, with an engagement rate of over 50 percent. The state legislature also saw the extensive community support for the program and funded more early education programs, providing an even greater benefit to the community.

Our organization has the tools and talent to bring this kind of success to your purpose-driven brand. To learn more, visit our contact page to schedule a call with one of our offices. You can also find us locally in New York, Los Angeles, Honolulu, Phoenix, Denver, and San Diego.

Why Brand Values Matter to Consumers, Now More Than Ever

The proof is in the numbers

It’s more and more competitive to capture consumer attention, that’s why brand values matter to consumers more than ever. It’s getting harder and harder for brands to create positive impressions in the minds of consumers. Negative impressions tend to linger longer in our minds, and unfortunately for brands who try to make a positive impact on the world, there are innumerable examples of companies doing the exact opposite. From wanton environmental degradation and exploiting workers to harvesting users’ personal data without permission and companies bending to the will of authoritarian regimes abroad, we’re awash in stories about bad corporate actors.

 

This is all the more frustrating for companies who are trying to set good examples of what socially and environmentally responsible entrepreneurship looks like. When you’re trying to do the right thing and your message is drowned out by a sea of reckless and irresponsible businesses, it can feel hopeless.

 

Don’t worry, consumers will take note of your brand values efforts

 

However, companies who are truly committed to building a better world can take solace in one powerful fact: Consumers are on their side. As more and more stories about corporations behaving badly surface, consumers are increasingly looking for alternatives. These more environmentally and socially conscious consumers want to know that their purchases are going toward a good cause, and they want to see companies take a stand on social, environmental, and political issues.

 

When you consider the current political and social environment, together with increasing evidence of climate change, this change in consumer preferences becomes even more obvious. People don’t want to contribute to the destruction of our planet, and they want to support companies that are working to disrupt or improve the current status quo. Why wouldn’t they choose to buy from purpose driven-brands?

 

The proof is in the numbers

 

There’s plenty of research to back up these claims. Take this 2018 study from Accenture. They surveyed nearly 30,000 consumers from around the world about their purchasing decisions and the brands they support. Accenture found that 63 percent of the consumers they surveyed preferred to support brands that reflect their values and beliefs.

 

There’s more: Accenture also found:

  • 65 percent of consumers prefer to support companies treat their employees well,
  • 62 percent of those surveyed preferred to buy from companies that try to reduce their use of plastics and want to improve the environment.
  • 62 percent of those surveyed also wanted the brands they support to take a stand on the social, cultural, environmental, and political issues that they care about.

 

Accenture is not alone in their findings. A 2018 study from the research agency Edelman found that 64 percent of consumers will either buy from or boycott a brand based solely on the brand’s stances on social or political issues, which highlights the challenge for brands. This is why a brand-friendly PR firm is so important, we can help you navigate the risks and opportunities that optimize purpose-driven communication. The survey included over 8,000 people in eight different markets worldwide, and the researchers also found that 53 percent of those surveyed believed that brands could do more to inspire social change than governments can. Regardless of whether brands really have that power, consumers increasingly believe that they do and are basing their-decision deciding accordingly.

 

These trends in buying habits are particularly pronounced among one key demographic: Teenagers. A 2018 report from MediaCom found several important statistics related to teenagers’ buying habits and the brands they support. The survey found that 54 percent of teens age 16-19 had deliberately bought or stopped buying from brands because of the brands’ ethics. The research also found that 63 percent of teens are more likely to buy from brands that support causes or charities they believe in. However, skepticism among teens concerning brands is still rampant, as 37 percent of those surveyed were doubtful of brands’ claims regarding the causes they support and 69 percent believe brands overstate their level of support for their chosen causes.

 

Taken together, these data points represent a massive swing in consumer decision-making habits. In the past, many companies stayed away from social or political causes out of fear or because they didn’t want to risk a backlash from consumers. But the data show that if brands take a stand on social issues and can demonstrate their authenticity, consumers will respond positively and adjust their buying habits.

 

We can already see how major organizations are taking this data and incorporating it into their marketing efforts. The shoe company Toms has donated one pair of shoes for every pair sold since its founding 13 years ago, making it an exemplar for other businesses to follow. Additionally, Toms has become a certified B-Corp, meaning they meet strict standards for accountability, transparency, and social and environmental impact. Finally, Toms has also pledged to spend at least one-third of its annual net profits on charitable causes, which is much more than most other corporations can say.

 

So, where does this leave your brand if you’re dedicated to making the world a better place? It’s simple really: You need to get that message out to consumers, and you need to do so in a way that’s genuine. That may be a challenge for some companies and some PR agencies, but not for Avaans PR. Helping purpose-driven brands get their message across is what we do, and we can create a campaign for you that plays to your unique strengths.

 

How Avaans PR Can Help with Brand Values

 

We’ve already helped a number of brands do exactly this. In one case, we worked with a nonprofit organization focused on helping pre-Kindergarten students from economically disadvantaged families become better students. We had to create compelling content aimed at two very different audiences: The families who needed help and state legislators considering funding more early education problems.

 

We kept the design of our content simple, using visuals wherever we could, and maintaining a supportive tone throughout. This encouraged families to share content with one another and avoided coming across as paternalistic or lecturing, which also helped to avoid alienating decision-makers at the state level. And the campaign worked: The state legislature funded the early education problems, and we generated over 401,000 impressions among our targeted audience during the length of our six-month campaign.

 

If your brand is seeking to expand its reach and you’re not sure where to begin, we want to help. You can set up a call with our team by visiting our contact page, or you can find us locally in New York, Los Angeles, San Diego, Denver, Honolulu, and Phoenix. We look forward to hearing from you.

Meet Melinda Adamec, SVP at Gabriel Marketing, an agency specializing in cannabis industry marketing strategy consulting, digital marketing and advertising, SEO, marketing automation, and content development.

First, a little background about Melinda Adamec:

 

Over 20 years of experience in advertising, marketing, and public relations. Recently joined the GMG team to lead GMG’s delivery of client services in marketing strategy. Prior to GMG, I lead OMI Industries’ cannabis market business including serving as brand manager for Cannabolish plant-based smoke odor removers. Before OMI Industries, I held various executive and leadership roles at PR/marketing firm GolinHarris and DBC PR + New Media. Some of my clients included Ace Hardware, AT&T, Blackboard, Hair Cuttery, IAC, Mars, McDonalds, Microsoft, Reuters, Rosetta Stone, U.S. Mint, and U.S. Postal Service. And I am a very proud member of the NCIA’s Marketing & Advertising Committee!

When did you first start working in cannabis?

5 years ago. My first event attended was the WomenGrow conference in Denver. I fell in love with the industry and the people and knew it was a very special opportunity to be part of this community.

Do you sit on any industry boards or associations that you’d like to mention?

NCIA Marketing Committee

What lesson did you learn BEFORE cannabis that’s been most valuable in cannabis?

Relationships are everything. Strong relationships (with co-workers, peers, and customers) can truly make your business. I have stayed connected with so many people I’ve worked for and with over the years, which has resulted in the learning of new opportunities, growing skillsets, support in new endeavors, and help in connecting with others in the industry. Cannabis just reinforced this by 100%.

Is there a particular cannabis project you’d like to highlight?

YES! The NCIA’s Best of 420 Awards, which was produced and launched during the middle of the pandemic. Not only I was so proud to be part of this team that put together a fantastic program within weeks – but so impressed with the brands that brought forth incredibly creative campaigns that highlighted their cannabis businesses using a variety of methods. And I could not be more thrilled to co-chair this subcommittee again this year. Stay tuned for more details about this exciting opportunity to shine a spotlight on some fantastic cannabis businesses!

What’s the biggest misconception cannabis companies have about marketing?

In my opinion – budget. You can do a lot with a small budget. It’s not how much you spend, but how you spend it. The first step is setting specific marketing goals that align with your business goals. Once you have those goals in place, with some creativity and using a customized approach you’d be amazed at the results that can be achieved. It’s not a one-size-fits all solution either. Understanding your market, customer, and how to drive real value takes a creative, omnichannel approach before you’ll see real results.

What were you doing prior to cannabis?

I was focused on increasing brand awareness and sales for a company that made all plant-based odor-removing solutions. 12 years ago natural products were viewed as “not as effective”, so it took a tremendous amount of work to educate consumers and B2B customers about the effectiveness of our products, the health risks of toxic products, and the lack of regulation around these. I like to say we were green before green was cool. So coming from that space into cannabis, educating and amplifying messages was the foundation for everything we did to grow the Cannabolish brand.

In your view, what is the biggest cannabis marketing challenge facing cannabis companies today?

One of the biggest challenges hands down is the restrictions on advertising and promotions. But even more importantly, the gray areas – in particular with consumer goods and social media. Until there are clear regulations and advertising guidelines in place it will continue to be a space that must be navigated carefully and with a team experienced in this space.

What will get easier in cannabis marketing? What will get harder?

In my opinion, once there are Federal regulations in place the marketing world of cannabis will become easier in terms of the navigation. However, more difficult for brands to compete – in particular smaller brands with smaller budgets. But I think that’s where you’ll see some incredibly creative teams rise to the occasion.

What can companies do to ease their digital marketing challenges?

You really need to find someone you trust to help guide you through the ins and outs of branding and marketing in cannabis. It’s not only about understanding the rules and regs, but also what is trusted and valued by consumers in this community. Authenticity and transparency is crucial to earning the trust of your customers.

In your view, what is the most under-rated tool in the digital marketing toolbox for cannabis companies?

Authentic content – social media content, blog content – it’s the best way to communicate with your customers, and share what makes your brand unique.

In your view, what is the most over-rated digital marketing toolbox for cannabis companies?

Big event sponsorships. You don’t need to spend a fortune to be seen and heard.

What’s the BEST piece of advice you give everyone you work with?Listen.

Listen to your customers – even when they are sharing information you may not want to hear. It’s the only way you learn and improve.

What’s your advice for people who want to get into cannabis digital marketing?

Connect with people who have experience in this space. It’s the quickest way to learn about the industry, get advice and understand the nuances. You can really avoid some big mistakes early on by hearing from people who have some level of expertise within the industry.

How can someone contact you, Melinda?

Gabriel Marketing

Thanks for sharing your marketing insights with us today, Melinda.

For more cannabis PR and marketing experts, check out our cannabis experts page.

Meet Laura Wilkinson Sinton, Cannabis Dispensary Exert, and Consultant for legal dispensary applicants. Founder of Caligrown.

First, a little background about Laura Wilkinson Sinton:

I live in San Diego with 4 kids and 5 grandkids. My husband is a cancer survivor that honed my cannabis chops, and I am a master composter and sea swimmer.

 

When did you first start working in cannabis?

2015. I got involved in several dispensaries’ marketing operations, as my brother and I owned an alternative rock radio station in Bend, Oregon. Apparently, no one would sell radio advertising to cannabis businesses, and we thought hey, it’s a state-legal business, of course, we can (and we were right). So, that’s how I got started, learning their business model and helping them grow the customer base and promote 4/20 events.

Do you sit on any industry boards or associations that you’d like to mention?

Yes. I am active in the NCIA and serve on the MAC (Marketing and Advertising Committee) and on the NCIA Sustainability Committee. Both are really great groups of professionals, and serving the nascent industry in this capacity has been really rewarding and great networking.

I am also active in the ArcView Women’s Inclusion Network, which has incredible benefits (access to lawyers and accountants and really smart people with experience and business intelligence). The ArcView group is geared towards helping you become successful, which is why the WIN is such a great group full of women with generous spirits. Several small cannabis organizations have cropped up locally, but it’s pretty fragmented and their missions may differ from each other. I am a board member of the local South County Economic Development Council. They promote economic development, and cannabis businesses present that very economic opportunity. It has been very influential in informing elected officials in adopting and allowing commercial cannabis. In California, it’s the individual cities that determine whether or not to allow them. And that last mile” has been really hard to push through in California, as we know.

 

What lesson did you learn BEFORE cannabis that’s been most valuable in cannabis?

In radio, in information security, and in other start-ups I have done, it’s to roll with the punches, plan for the long game, and bring your best self every day. And there are a lot of punches. Anybody who thinks cannabis is a “get rich quick” scheme is [off] the mark.

Is there a particular cannabis project you’d like to highlight?

Yes, a pending application for a micro-business in National City, CA (San Diego). Our location is actually ON a transit stop, 3 stops from the San Diego Convention Center (think Comic-Con!), has 65 parking spaces, and is actually on the Interstate 5 exit (with on AND off-ramps). San Diego area dispensaries have been relegated to industrial areas, car-dependent and tough parking because of overly restrictive land-use policy. You can’t suspend the rules of retail just for cannabis. It has to be accessible, and San Diego county is way behind the rest of California in permitting. There’s a dearth of dispensaries (50, where the economy can support over 570). So cross your fingers for us. We’ll be the first qualified social equity candidates 100% woman-owned entity (majority women of color) in San Diego.

What’s the biggest misconception cannabis companies have about cannabis marketing?

That big social media will come around (Facebook, Instagram, Google). Go elsewhere and stop spinning your wheels and raging against the machine. Not gonna happen.

What were you doing prior to cannabis?

I’ve been an entrepreneur in many places – information security start-ups, precious metals recycling, owning and operating radio stations and media of several types. I’m an entrepreneur at heart, and my husband is a cancer survivor; my mom died from Multiple Sclerosis. Cannabis has been a part of medicine in my family for a while.

In your view, what is the biggest digital marketing challenge facing cannabis companies today?

Misinformation, illicit marketers, breaking out.

What will get easier in cannabis marketing? What will get harder?

Easier? Public awareness of consumption methods. Harder? Nothing. It’s not an easy business now. Too many over-promised and disappointing results. It was oversold by public Canadian companies and private investors. Big plans, delayed delivery. Cannabis was to be legal nationwide by now in every prospectus I reviewed. Like a vacation- bring twice the money and half the clothes.

What can companies do to ease their marketing challenges?

Be patient. Results take time in marketing. Use a mix of media – digital alone will never get it done.

In your view, what is the most under-rated tool in the digital marketing toolbox for cannabis companies?

Creative. It matters more than anything to breakthrough. What do you have today that applies to your audience? Not relevant to YOU – relevant to your customer.

In your view, what is the most over-rated marketing toolbox for cannabis companies?

Digital reliance. It’s really fragmented at this point. And your share of voice matters in cannabis PR.

What’s the BEST piece of advice you give everyone you work with?

Meditate daily and enjoy the impermanence in this life. Enjoy every day.

What’s your advice for people who want to get into cannabis marketing?

Be flexible. Leave toxic bosses quickly. Embrace the women in this industry, and lift them up.

How can someone contact you, Laura?

Twitter @laurawilkinsonsinton

Instagram @laurawilkinsonsinton

Thanks for sharing your digital marketing insights with us today, Laura.