Tag Archive for: earned media

PR is still a critical component of any cannabis brand’s consumer product strategy. And you might find that PR is expensive, so you might ask yourself, “how can I get PR for my cannabis business?” There are two reasons to ask this question. The first is you want to hire a PR professional in-house, the second might be you’re trying to save money on your PR agency budget.  Either way, you’ll want to dig more deeply in order to find your place in PR and maximize your financial or time investment.

 

  1. Define Your Story

    If you’ve ever heard someone say, “that’s not news,” it’s because there isn’t enough meat on the bone for your story. Case in point, being a minority-owned cannabis business, by itself, is not a story. But if you’re the first minority-owned cannabis business to set up a scholarship fund for minority students, that could be a story – especially if it ties in with the start or end of school. And whatever your story is, give it the lift it needs with data and noticeable numbers. You’ll find that cannabis journalists respond positively to stories that have enough background and information to write a piece about. Especially when it touches on trending topics. Be the brand or company that comes to a journalist with the solution to a cultural problem and you’ll find you can get more PR for your cannabis business, regardless of whether it comes from in-house or an agency.

  2. Entertain Us

    From nostalgia to a cultural wink, pulling off a fun stunt, something that makes people look twice and laugh, almost always gets some PR attention. The attention may be from the press, or it might be as social media coverage, but getting your product in front of new people, or giving your current customers a reason to share your email with their friends, is priceless. And even if you don’t get massive reach on your stunt, you’ll have attached fun and happiness to your brand for those who saw it. This is how advertising campaigns get media coverage as well. You’ll find that Clio award-winning work very often has a wink and a smile behind it. Everyone appreciates the opportunity to have a little fun, so lean in and make your campaigns do double duty to get PR for your cannabis business.

  3. Activate with Partners

    On the surface, sponsorships are rarely PR worthy. But what sponsorships might do is give you access to an opportunity to tell your story to the right people. When our client Elixinol sponsored the press booth at events in key media cities and then activated that sponsorship with a locally popular, Super Bowl-winning, football star to talk about his experience with the product after considerable head injuries during his professional career. By itself, having a spokesperson may or may not be notable, but the sponsorship provided access to the press to make sure they knew about the athlete, the athlete’s story was compelling, and there was a local tie-in that was easy for journalists to grab onto.

  4. Incorporate Digital Savvy

    If you’re leading a plant-touching cannabis brand, you might be tempted to curtail your cannabis website’s digital presence. That’s a mistake. Today’s editors wear many hats, but it boils down to this: content that attracts eyeballs so they can earn money. The old-fashioned way for newsrooms to make money was straight-up advertising. But digital PR changed all that and today there are so many ways for an editor to juice the revenue for their outlet. Case in point, for the cannabis industry, sponsored posts are a common augmentation to a campaign. They’re relatively easy to create, and they can secure a solid inbound link for your website. Plus, eventually, cannabis brands will be able to do what other consumer product brands have been doing: use affiliate networking as a honeypot for product coverage. Use Google to get more frequent PR for your cannabis company.

Whether you’re hiring a cannabis PR agency or doing PR in-house, earning media coverage for your cannabis brand will take some work, but that work will be well worth it for years to come.

What Should You Really Be Look For In A PR Firm?

Whenever I talk to someone hiring a PR firm, I really have empathy. We know, hiring a PR firm can be daunting. With increasing frequency, we’re hearing stories from clients who have experienced “bad PR.”  We hate to hear that, because we know it’s important for our entire professional to provide exceptional services. More importantly, we know it’s important to you when making a PR investment. What should you ask before hiring a modern PR firm?

We truly believe many of these stories are due to client and agency being a mismatch, rather than a “bad PR firm.” Taking a deeper look at PR before hiring them can save you money, but time.  We can attribute much of this to the vast distinctions between how PR agencies operate and handle their clients. The intention of this piece is to provide you with questions we would be asking OUR PR firm before we hired them, and why those questions are important. Also, consider these “6 great questions you can ask us before hiring Avvans PR”

6 Questions to Ask Before Hiring Your Next PR Firm

Do You Understand Our Product?

Ask yourself how important a baseline understanding of your product or industry is to your overall communications. We’ve heard story after story of people unhappy with their PR firm because their PR firm doesn’t understand an emerging industry’s regulations or a technology. Understanding the industry isn’t just important from a regulatory and technical perspective, it’s also the ability to monitor relevant news, understand what’s relevant (and what isn’t) and move quickly. Now, that’s not to say that a beauty PR can’t handle B2B PR for the industry, but expect to educate your firm.

What tradeshows and conferences has your team attended?
Does your PR firm understand what makes your product distinct within your industry?
What publications are writing about your vertical?

Before Hiring a PR Firm, Establish Clearly Defined Ways of Measuring Success for PR

Most companies today want consistent placement, strategic oversight, and outstanding communication. But what else? In a mature, less regulated industry, a PR firm typically works with multiple other firms from branding to experiential to an ad agency.

PR is THE leading brand trust and awareness tool.

In addition to earned media, companies should be looking at additional metrics for PR such as SEO value. Website traffic, brand mentions, brand name reach, and even share of voice are all KPIs that are relevant, depending on the overall strategy. Your PR firm should be ready and able to provide those kinds of metrics to you on a monthly basis. Changes in public perception or decreased sales cycle are also metrics with which PR can support. If you’re measuring your PR firm against KPIs like this, work with your PR firm to set a baseline and a reasonable timeframe.

Is the Fee Structure Fair & Does It Make Sense?

Most PR firms work on a retainer, so make sure you have an understanding of what’s included in your retainer?

Does the firm charge for wire releases?
Is branded content included, and if so, does that extend to graphic design?
Is there a markup on expenses incurred by the PR agency and if so, what is it?
Are off-site activations included?
How are hours tracked?

There’s no single way to manage a retainer, so asking questions like this upfront will give you a deeper understanding. Be fearless about asking these questions, after all, you’re the client. You should expect a rationale that isn’t arbitrary. While you may view this as a negotiation opportunity, be wary of cutting the budget to the point where your brand isn’t on the radar daily. You want your PR firm engaged with your brand on a daily basis – make sure you’re getting that because the alternative often provides unsatisfactory results. A great PR firm will be transparent about their billing methods.  Financial terms form the foundation of your relationship with your PR firm. Get that right and find a balance that works for you and your PR firm.

Look for Good Personal Chemistry in Your PR Firm

While this one is tough to put on a spreadsheet, asking some tough questions will often reveal the quality of the chemistry. As an engaged client, you should be working with your cannabis PR experts regularly and you REALLY want that process to be enjoyable. Make sure your company culture meshes well with your cannabis PR firm’s value system.  Teams who like one another, work better together. If you’re not gelling with someone in the first call, chances are, that’s not going to change.

Compatability breeds productivity and results.

Before Hiring Your Next PR Firm, Consider: Location, Location, Location

Before you start narrowing down your PR firms, decide how important location is to you. We think having account presence in major journalism markets, like Los Angeles and New York is a priority, but if you’re the person who needs to meet face-to-face once a week, acknowledge that and find a firm close to your base of operations and hire a PR firm that’s near by.

Flexibility AND Systems

Pay close attention to the systems your PR firm uses and also take notice of their flexibility.

For starters, there should also be a clearly defined exit clause in the contract.

Who owns content?
How will the PR firm handle future press inquires when/if the engagement ends?
What is the cancelation agreement?

Your PR should have systems and processes in place, but those systems and processes should also be nimble enough to manage the PR world. For example, getting a press release right is exceptionally important, but it shouldn’t take your PR firm a week to write it. You should be able to review the first draft within hours on an emergency or breaking news circumstance. On the other hand, there should be a consistent drum beat and strategy behind media relations.  Which bring us to:

A Strategic Approach That Makes Sense

Before hiring, your  PR firm should be able to articulate an approach and strategy that makes sense to you. While credible PR firms won’t reveal details about clients, they should be able to articulate some case studies of  PR strategies and why they worked. For example, provide an experience that required a decision to respond to industry news. When, where, and how you respond to breaking industry news is determined by your brand strategy, BUT your PR should be able to articulate a strategy and when/why it worked. Your PR firm should have some strategic storylines and outlines in mind for your brand, which proves they’ve done a little research. Even if they aren’t perfectly on-brand, at least you’re starting with a strategy that is better than starting from zero. Avaans takes a slightly different approach by providing strategic research and competitive analysis before you even work with us.

 That’s a question that many business owners and CMOs are asking themselves in today’s digital age. The answer, unfortunately, is not a simple one.

Before we talk about press releases, let’s take a step back and look at some basic PR knowledge and when and where press releases do work. 

Pros and Cons of Press Releases

On the one hand, press releases can be an incredibly valuable tool for getting your story out there and reaching a wider audience. They can help you build credibility with media outlets and create a positive image for your brand.

On the other hand, press releases can be quite expensive to produce and distribute, and they may not always be effective in reaching your target audience. 

Given the state of the press in today’s media-saturated environment, press releases do this: more people see them than they did years ago when people actually opened their mailboxes to find physical press releases with paper clips on them! Today’s press releases aren’t exclusive to journalists. In fact, most PR experts agree: press releases do little to gain earned coverage. Direct pitching an inside scoop is much more effective. 

But, press releases are still an effective way for organizations to disseminate news to journalists, media outlets, and bloggers in a format that is easily digestible by search engines. This allows for wider distribution of your message, which will eventually lead to backlinks and press mentions. However, if you’re looking for tangible ROI from press releases, you might be disappointed – press releases are not the silver bullet for marketing success.        

9 Reasons Why You Should Issue a Press Release

Whether or not to issue press releases is a decision that should be made on a case-by-case basis with your PR agency. If they recommend press releases, there may be a few reasons why: 

1) Well-written press releases are an effective part of an SEO strategy and improving search engine rankings. 

2) Press releases help to establish your company or organization as an authority in your field.

3) Issuing press releases can help you to build relationships with journalists and bloggers.

4) Press releases can enhance the all-important trust factor.

5) Press releases can be a way to spread the news about your company’s products and services during slow news periods.

6) Issuing press releases is a great way to stay connected to journalists and bloggers who might write or blog about you in the future.

7) Press releases can serve as “proof” that you are actively involved in your industry if someone were to call out of the blue for this reason.

8) Well-written press releases can establish thought leadership, which may help attract new clients down the road.

9) In today’s world, press releases can be powerful social media content tools — if they’re written well, quickly go through press mentions and social sharing.

A modern PR agency can help you determine whether press releases are the right tool for your organization and, if so, how to write them in a way that will garner the most attention. For more information on press releases and other aspects of effective PR, please contact us.

It’s no secret that social media applies to today’s brands. As I write this, Instagram is the social media darling of lifestyle, travel, and consumer packaged goods (CPG) brands. Subject to change pending finicky social media trends. In the meantime, I’d like to bring a fresh perspective to another social channel you probably AREN’T using because it’s coming up more and more these days.

Media Relations on Twitter

But if you’re wishing you had more media or are working with an agency like us, to garner earned media or free press, this tip is a great relationship builder with media outlets and journalists. Mostly when we look at the taskmaster that is social media, we consider the consumer’s journey. You probably even consider where the “hot” or most relevant influencers are spending their time. I bet when you think about influencers, you think of those magical unicorns appearing in so much news these days. But guess who is often more influential, both online AND in person than these folks?

Before I answer that question, please allow me to reacquaint you with a social platform you hear about every day, but probably don’t use much yourself these days: Twitter.

Today’s Twitter is a different than only a few years ago. The average person isn’t using Twitter much these days. But who ISN’T average? ACTUAL Influencers: journalists. Media relations on Twitter is different than approaching an influencer, but the platform has numerous opportunities for engaging journalists.  

Moreover, Twitter users are above average in many ways. Further, the active Twitter user is hyper-engaged on Twitter.

According to the Pew Research Center (April 2019):

  • Twitter users are much younger than the average U.S adult.
  • Twitter users and are more likely than the average U.S. adult to have a college degree.
  • “The most prolific tweeters – those in the top 10% by number of tweets – are responsible for 80% of all tweets created by U.S. adults.” And guess what else?
  • The average Twitter user is younger than the average American, “Twitter users are nearly three times as likely to be younger than 50 (73%) as to be 50 or older (27%).”
  • And for those of you courting females: The most prolific tweeters among U.S. adults are especially likely to be women. Among the most prolific tweeters – again, those in the top 10% by number of tweets – 65% are women. Women account for 48% of less prolific users.
  • 60% of Twitter users reported that they definitely voted in 2018, compared with 55% of all U.S. adults.

WHY THIS MATTERS MOST IN MEDIA RELATIONS

When you look at the above statistics, who do you see?

I know who I see: journalists and freelance writers. Journalists are more trusted than influencers like Kim Kardashian, more connected than the average American, and open to new experiences. In short: journalists are more important than influencers.

According to News Media Alliance, Twitter is “now it is considered almost a requirement that writers and journalists have Twitter accounts and that they actively participate in conversations happening on the platform,”

Here at Avaans, we help bridge that gap between journalists and businesses and we’re here to say: if you’re interested in media coverage, you need to be on Twitter. There’s a reason PR firms call it “earned media” as opposed to “free press,” and that’s because media coverage isn’t free and relationships matter.

Look at journalists and the media as the people MAKING the news and this group of influencers is very active on Twitter as a group.

Journalists and writers are using Twitter to source stories, see if a brand is worthy of coverage and yes, talk amongst themselves. Twitter is useful in finding out about a journalist’s point of view, recent stories and personal interests all of which can be helpful when framing a conversation or suggesting a story idea.

3 WAYS TWITTER IS DIFFERENT FOR BRANDS

You can (and should) use Twitter differently than you use your other profiles, but do use Twitter for media relations. Consider it an opportunity to present your story and products to a group of highly engaged and influential community.

  • Share news, branded content and yes, content from journalists and media outlets.
  • Don’t worry too much about measuring engagement, because the average Twitter user is reading more than posting, liking or sharing, “The median user tweets just twice each month,” (Pew), but do be aware that the most engaged user is using Twitter A LOT.
  • You may wish to share news and updates more than once and you may wish to stand out with others by actually engaging.

And if that’s not enough for you, keep in mind that the Twitter user skews younger than the average U.S. resident, younger than Facebook and open to new experiences, overall, sounds like the average cannabis user.

Fundamentally, our advice about social media is to pick the channels you can do well-and do them well. In the case of Twitter, it doesn’t take much to do it well and can be an outstanding place for your brand to be seen by real influencers.

Sources:

https://www.pewinternet.org/2019/04/24/sizing-up-twitter-users/
https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/04/24/key-takeaways-from-our-new-study-of-how-americans-use-twitter/https://www.newsmediaalliance.org/how-to-twitter-for-journalists/