Tag Archive for: Tips

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.

The cannabis industry is growing rapidly, and with that growth comes an increasing demand for cannabis conferences and events, like the granddaddy, MJ Biz in Las Vegas. Obtaining media coverage at a crowded conference is almost never an accident. Maximize your event budget with these 3 strategies that will get you PR at MJ Biz.

Think Like a Journalist and Plan Ahead

When you think about your cannabis marketing budget and calendar, you probably think about your needs or your customer’s needs, but for effective press coverage, add journalists and their needs. We’ve helped our clients stand out from the competitive cannabis show floors like MJ Biz with ideas that make the lives of journalists easier. When you think about what the day is like for a journalist who visits the trade show floor, you’ll get some empathy for their jobs. They’re looking for trends readers will click through to read while also looking for a distinctive point of view that will be different from every other journalist’s article. Ultimately, the journalist has the same challenge as you: standing out from the very crowded field.

Look at the trends impacting the cannabis industry and ancillary topics for ideas that will get you ahead of the competition on the expo floor. Think about how these trends are impacting the larger economy or general public and think about how you can talk about that trend in the months, weeks, and days leading up to the conference. A well-oiled cannabis industry expo PR campaign will include social media, direct media outreach, and perhaps even a press release.

Double Down on Expo Activations

From sponsorships to events, to stunts and ambassadors, the reason everyone loves a cannabis conference is there are so many ways to elevate your presence and raise awareness when there’s a captive audience.

While cannabis samples aren’t allowed on trade show floors, many cannabis companies get around this by hosting private events – at MJ Biz in Las Vegas, there are literally 10-30 private cannabis events every night. Given the saturation of these events, many companies look to stand out in other ways.

Think about guerilla marketing campaigns that leave an impression by following the event attendees around the city. This could include everything from subtle cues to flash mobs. A treasure hunt that rewards attendees and drives them to your booth is a good idea. This kind of word of mouth can intrigue cannabis journalists and give them an incentive to learn more.

Invite Cannabis Journalists

Before the MJ Biz Conference in Las Vegas, think about what scheduled activities will happen in your booth. Having a schedule of appearances, activities, or activations at your booth gives everyone an incentive to be there at a certain time, and who doesn’t love a crowd?

Then, give journalists a sneak peek. Reach out to journalists who will be covering MJ Biz and give them the schedule of events, activations, and on-trend topics your company is talking about at MJ Biz so the media knows where to find you and what’s interesting. Consider providing assets like quotes, images, and/or b-roll videos to journalists in advance. Being a resource to journalists is always a great way to make in-roads with media.

MJ Biz is one of the biggest and best-attended cannabis conferences in the U.S., but it certainly isn’t the only one. We keep an updated list of cannabis conferences available for download.

If you’d like more on-brand and tailored ideas that will maximize your cannabis expo investment, contact us directly. But don’t wait – the best campaigns come from thoughtful planning.

Public relations is a key component to winning CPG product launches. A product launch is an important event for any company – and even more so for consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies. Successful product launches can result in increased market share, brand awareness, and sales. And while there are many different ways to execute a product launch, using public relations (PR) is often a smart strategy. Here are three great ways to use PR for a CPG product launch.

One key strategy regardless of how you launch: for consumer products, it’s exceptionally important that your PR and marketing stand out in the competitive environment for consumer attention. 

 

  1. Secure Early PR Coverage & Stay Consistent

For any new CPG, consumer trust is a prerequisite for great sales. PR leads in trust, so it’s important that consumer packaged goods companies secure early coverage to build consumer trust, awareness, and excitement for their product launch. 

Traditional tactics would include samples and a press release. A more modern PR approach is a well-developed, and SEO-optimized media sample kit and specific information a journalist needs to write a winning review of the new product. If you’re pitching digital outlets or podcasts that aren’t generated months in advance, another approach is pitching consumer reporters on-trend stories that will include your product as an example. Securing coverage in the early stages of a product launch will help to set the tone for the campaign and generate excitement among consumers and retailers.

Plan on aggressive PR focusing on earned media throughout the first year. If you’re satisfied with market share after the first year, you may consider moving to more brand awareness PR vs. earned media CPG PR

 

  1. Execute A Distinctive Social Media Strategy

Social media is a key channel for consumer packaged goods companies to reach their target audience. Think about how your target demographic uses social media, especially their interests. From there, think of content your target audience would particularly appreciate and where the content will work best. For example, you may have a video for Facebook and YouTube because the content is best suited to the ways your customers use those platforms. On the other hand, you may do something different from Instagram and TikTok. It’s truly time for CPG companies to think beyond the traditional influencer campaign. Be creative. For example, Bounty towels recently hired influencers to put Bounty in the background of their videos – this is a twist on product placements. P.S. be sure you stay out of hot water with the FCC and be sure to disclose the relationship. Always consider how your content can create newsworthy buzz to get extra mileage and earned media. Contests and giveaways can also be incorporated to generate consumer interest around the product launch.

 

  1. Leverage Paid Media

consumer packaged goods companies should consider leveraging paid media to support their product launch. Again, think creatively and be sure your campaigns align. For an extra dash of newsworthiness, consider incorporating your purpose, or another extension of your brand. Consider paid media outside of traditional print, TV, and radio, and dig deep into target markets with paid placements in locations that specifically resonate.  Paid media helps you quickly and generate awareness for your product launch, and when paired with high-trust PR tactics, paid media can be the conversion point that drives additional sales. 

 

While there are many other strategies and tactics that consumer packaged goods companies can use to support a product launch, these three strategies are a good place to start. By executing a solid consumer packaged goods PR strategy and supporting it with paid media, consumer packaged goods companies will be well equipped to win the consumer product launch battle.

Since our inception, we’ve been helping consumer packaged goods companies win the launch of their new products. In that time, we have learned many critical elements to a successful consumer packaged goods PR campaign. While there are many strategies and tactics, here are three simple things you can do for your next CPG product launch. 

Read more about our previous work here.

 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.

Cannabis PR is changing as fast as the cannabis industry is changing. Our 3 tips for cannabis brands to make news and engage journalists include incorporating larger consumer and cultural trends.

In order to secure earned media today, cannabis brands need to think competitively and creatively. In order to secure press coverage, tomorrow’s biggest cannabis brands need to think about larger cultural trends and what’s affecting society, the industry, and the media all at once. What’s more, out of chaos comes opportunity. Uncertainty makes consumers ask big personal questions – and this can be an opportune time to key into changing priorities. People questioning their priorities in light of the pandemic are a heterogeneous group, they don’t belong to any one demographic or generation.

[4 minute read]

Purpose vs. Activism in Cannabis

For consumers in a state of change, Accenture found that buying motivations have shifted. Trust & Reputation ranked over Ease and Convenience and product Origin. 66% said they now expect brands to take more responsibility in motivating them to live by their values and to make them feel more relevant in the world, according to the same Accenture report.

Cannabis has a long history with activism; it’s part of the culture. As the cannabis industry has grown, so have the causes. As a cannabis PR firm, we will never discourage our clients from activism or supporting causes.

If your customers are within the cannabis industry, you’re a B2B cannabis company, then there are some really interesting and important causes, including sobriety, equity, and racial justice to engage in to support the growth, maturity, and reputation of the cannabis industry. Some activist movements within cannabis have failed to catch fire outside the cannabis industry. While many of these initiatives are extremely worthy, few of them have caught on with the broader consumer base. And that’s OK because there are long-term advantages for the industry, but they may or may not be media-worthy.

However, if you’re looking to secure press with your brand activism, or you’re looking to engage your customer through purpose, then it’s time to think creatively about the campaigns. Look deeply at the activist causes you invest in, because consumers today expect brands to engage based on corporate values, which means the brand has to live it’s purpose, not just promote its purpose.

Cannabis consumers today are hardly a niche. Consumer cannabis brands need to think globally and be able to act consistently in order to activate on purpose. Consider these 3 tips to maximize earned media in 2022.

 

Products vs. Experience

A large post-pandemic trend continues to be consumers, particularly younger consumers, craving experiences over products. Cannabis brands should be looking at newsworthy activations that include experiences. While there are limitations for cannabis brands, this is a time to be creative in the ways you engage the press for launches and activations. Simply launching a cannabis product these days isn’t newsworthy. Attaching a celebrity is less newsworthy today than it was 2 years ago, especially as celebrities launch their own cannabis brands. In order for the press to pick up on it, there needs to be a newsworthy story.

Also, be thinking about what markets have the most journalists and editors. Creating an activation in Kansas might make local news in Kansas, but it’s unlikely to inspire NY or CA journalists. Another option is to do activations within other events, be they cannabis trade shows or cannabis-friendly consumer events or even outstanding activations around big events that get covered in the press. It’s really time to be creative.

 

Collab Outside of Cannabis

How can your brand collab with brands outside of cannabis?

There is still media appetite for interesting collabs. The recent Bic Lighters campaign with Snoop and Martha Stewart was a brilliant example of collaboration outside of cannabis. Extremely well thought out and ongoing, it’s successful because it’s cheeky, memorable, and creative. For most cannabis brands the collaboration could include an experience (like a fashion show) or they can include a purpose (environmental, for example), or they could include a special product.

The key to choosing collabs is to think way in advance and activate in a 360 way – don’t start thinking about a 420 collab in February. Major brands and outlets plan these kinds of activations way in advance, but thinking ahead will generate significant advantages.

 

2022 promises a great deal of exciting cannabis industry products and news, but in order to cut through the noise, cannabis brands need to think about what makes news, what engages journalists, and where they can make an impact on culture.