Tag Archive for: public relations

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, and so on.

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.

The cost to hire a PR firm should align with the impact you expect your PR firm to have on your business goals. If you’re hiring a PR firm to grow sales, then the expense of your PR firm should reflect the importance of that on your brand. Don’t expect to grow your sales 100% by investing an additional 5% in PR. For example, if you’re in maintenance mode and need a responsive rather than a proactive PR agency, that cost should be less than a proactive media relations and media placement campaign, which can reach billions of people.

In general, solopreneur firms, or less experienced PR firms might charge around $3,000 per month, depending on the client and the market. Larger firms, premium agencies, and boutique firms can charge upwards of $18,000 to $25,000 per month for their services. Businesses in fast-growing or emerging industries can also affect PR pricing. How do you know what’s fair and what rate to pay? Consider some of these factors when looking into whether a PR firm is right for your business.

If you are contemplating the cost of hiring a PR firm, chances are you already know the importance of establishing your business’s image. Positive PR can help increase brand recognition, loyalty, and community goodwill. However, you might be wondering, how much does it cost to hire a PR firm?

 

Why Experience Matters in PR

Understand that while experience is important, it can also be costly. Established PR firms with track records of success tend to charge more for their services. Hiring experienced PR professionals can be costly. Most often, a firm’s reputation is established through the skill and experience level of its employees.

Like in any industry, with PR, experience matters. Many top PR firms will employ former journalists and experienced PR professionals and for a good reason. Former journalists have a wealth of contacts in the media industry. These people also have contacts at non-profit organizations and with community leaders, among others.

These contacts are extremely valuable for pitching stories for their clients. Former journalists also understand what media companies are looking for when it comes to story ideas. They can craft attention-getting press releases that stand a better chance of being seen and picked up instead of being tossed in the trash heap of yesterday’s news. Former journalists also tend to know the best people to follow up with after issuing a press release or event notice.

The same skills and connections can be true for experienced PR professionals. Those with experience in the industry understand the intricacies of the business. They are masters of communication who know how to get a message across and which avenues offer their clients the best chance at positive exposure in the media. Understanding the nuances of marketing and portraying a positive image are honed skills needed for your business’s PR firm.

 

Why Pay-to-Play PR is So Dangerous

Careers in PR and journalism have a natural connection. It’s why so many former journalists tend to expand their careers into the PR realm. However, businesses need to be on the lookout for a potentially dangerous practice called pay-to-play. Pay-to-play is a phrase that refers to professionals making undisclosed or under-the-table payments to journalists or media companies in exchange for publishing a client’s story.

This behavior is generally considered unethical. Local media outlets should be viewed as a public service. A newsroom assesses the merit of stories and gauges how interested their audience will be in the information that they provide. Paying for coverage is both unethical and potentially deprives an audience of newsworthy content.

It is also dangerous because media outlets have a duty to report to their audience when a spot or story includes paid content. Paid content includes commercials and ads. A potential consumer knows that the information provided has been paid for by an advertiser when they view a commercial. Pay-for-play is essentially duping an audience into thinking that the content is unbiased. However, if a PR firm purchases airtime under the table, it misrepresents the impartiality of the content.

Setting Goals and Expectations with Your PR Firm

Do your homework ahead of time before committing to a PR agency. Sit down with your team and outline your goals and expectations. What are you hoping to gain out of your relationship with a PR firm? How much of your budget are you willing to dedicate monthly to a PR firm? You need to be honest when answering these questions and establishing your objectives. When you have your goals firmly set, schedule meetings with a variety of PR agencies.

When consulting with a PR firm, consider asking these questions to assess whether the firm will be a good fit:

  • Do they have experience in your particular industry?
  • What is their communication style?
  • How do they measure success?
  • How will they go about generating leads and coverage?
  • Do they know how to manage crisis situations?
  • How will they help you reach your goals?

Don’t be afraid to also ask questions about their fee structure. Budget is a big factor in deciding whether to hire an agency or keep your PR work in-house. A PR firm should be transparent when discussing what they charge and how their fee structure works. You may also want to ask how long it takes their team to craft a press release or set up for an event. Understanding how many hours a typical project can take may help you evaluate whether a PR agency is cost-effective for your business.

To help foster a successful relationship with a PR firm, you need to communicate your goals upfront and set your expectations early. Doing so means that you and the firm start on the same page and can track results throughout the relationship. Meeting with a company before you hire them allows you to gauge how comfortable you are with the firm and how they will manage the reputation of your business.

At the end of the day, hiring a PR firm is an investment, but only if you find an agency whose goals align with yours. When deciding if a firm’s prices coincide with your company’s budget and needs, consider your goals, specific industry challenges, and the expertise of a firm’s staff. Do not be afraid to ask tough questions because the reputation of your business may depend on how your PR agency responds. The right PR agency can be an excellent investment in your business.

Purpose-driven public relations means the brand proactively builds incorporates values that impact social, cultural, and environmental issues. A true purpose-driven company makes corporate choices within its purpose framework, even when it means purpose over profits.

Truthfully, public relations aren’t purpose-driven, a brand is purpose-driven. Public relations is simply a lever a purpose-driven brand can use to improve the world around them. Building a purpose-driven brand is an inside-out job. They aren’t PR campaigns or PR ideas; they are a cultural way of thinking that’s internalized by everyone in the company.

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The Importance of Internalizing Purpose

There are lots of ways a brand can support its customers, community, and the globe meaningfully. Cause partnerships, and donation campaigns, are all relevant PR campaigns, but they aren’t purpose-driven. Purpose-driven companies take the long view on purpose and impact.

Internalization distinguishes purpose-driven brands. When everyone from the Board, to the CEO to the janitor walks the talk of purpose, then a brand has authentically implemented a purpose-driven brand. This also means when employees face choices, they incorporate the purpose into their decision-making. This can include employee hiring, employee programs, purchasing, and product decisions. It also means employees feel safe in making a purpose-informed choice because they know they’re acting within the company’s ethos; their choice is supported and even celebrated.

 

Should Purpose-Driven Initiatives Even Have a PR Component?

The deciding factor on this issue is the “why,” behind the initiative. Every day, businesses from Fortune 500 all the way to emerging industries are making decisions that have a social impact, and most of the time, these decisions don’t get the credit they deserve. But it’s not one decision, or one campaign, or one person who makes purpose – it’s people moving in unison making decisions that impact millions.

For example, let’s take eggs. When you go to the grocery, you face a lot of buying choices. Cage-free eggs, organic eggs, local eggs, inexpensive eggs. Many of these egg producers are balancing product, purpose, and price. Even though the organic or cage-free eggs are more expensive, it’s likely the margins on those eggs are considerably less than the mass-produced eggs. It’s also very likely that the producers of the cage-free or organic eggs are making other choices that cost more – maybe they buy the more expensive food, maybe they supplement their electricity with solar power. These are all purpose-driven decisions that are really important, but they won’t make news. What may make the news is the impact or the multiple steps they take for their purpose might make news. The people behind these choices may have interesting stories to tell. There will be PR opportunities, but they require real storytelling. Therefore, it’s important to have experienced purpose-driven PR agencies who can tell ethos and purpose stories.

Brands should have PR at the table when incorporating purpose-driven ethos, but PR should be part of the purpose, not the purpose of the purpose.

 

Are Purpose-Driven Brands Born or Made?

Both and neither. Some brands are founded in purpose, we can all name a few. Other brands grow into purpose. Both are as legitimate as their ability to stick to their ethos. It’s important for both types of purpose-driven brands to be authentic. Just because a brand is founded in purpose doesn’t mean it won’t lose its way. And just because a brand develops purpose doesn’t entirely absolve them from past actions. All brands should be very careful with their initiatives because consumers are getting fantastic at sniffing out disingenuous missions. These disingenuous missions create consumer distrust and may even run afoul of today’s cancel culture. A brand is better off doing nothing than taking on duplicitous or insincere purpose-driven initiatives.

 

If your company is considering a purpose-driven plan, please download our guide and call us. We can help you and your team navigate the exciting opportunities – and avoid the pitfalls – for purpose-driven brands.

You may be at the beginning of your search, or you may have narrowed down your choices, but wherever you are in your cannabis PR firm search, you should know that the top cannabis PR firms should all have these skills. Notice these skills may differ from PR services and that’s because what separates an outstanding PR firm from the average PR firm is the ability to understand how social, cultural, and business changes will affect their clients. We’re providing you with 3 questions to ask your top cannabis PR firms to help you differentiate them from one another.

Emotional Intelligence

We’re living in dynamic times. Top cannabis PR firms can understand your company, its goals, and how media shifts will change your reputation and media outreach strategies. That’s right, outstanding PR means you have a team who has their pulse on the big picture – they know when to raise the red flag and when to take a breath and let the moment pass. Emotional intelligence also means your PR team continues to learn from itself. You’ll find emotionally intelligent teams hold themselves accountable, they are solution-oriented, and they are easy to collaborate with. Emotional intelligence isn’t necessarily a feature of maturity, but the two do often go hand in hand. Be sure you meet your team and understand who you will be working with before you sign on the bottom line. To get a sense of your PR team’s emotional intelligence, ask your top cannabis PR firm: what advice would they give you at the beginning of the COVID pandemic? 

Digitally Forward Perspective

Social media has been a sub-section of PR for a decade, and yet, many PR professionals don’t consider social media part of the PR landscape. Ask yourself why you’d want a PR agency that doesn’t concern itself with your most visible and accessible communication channel? No doubt about it – social media is an important player in your cannabis company’s reputation. You may not choose to have your PR DO your social media, but a top cannabis PR firm should absolutely provide guidance and oversight. This is also true for choosing influencers. Ask your cannabis PR firm for their perspective on cannabis influencers. It will tell you something about how they approach your media strategy. Ask your top cannabis PR firm: what’s your perspective on social media for my cannabis company? 

Cannabis PR Specialty or Specialization?

The cannabis industry, though still an emerging industry, is past its most nascent stages. Cannabis PR firms that only work in cannabis have advantages and disadvantages. The advantage is extreme specialization; the disadvantage is their perspectives might be myopic. Ask yourself which is more important for your business objectives? You want a top cannabis PR firm that can provide content and insights into the industry, but is it also important that your strategy reflects audiences that aren’t specific to the cannabis industry? For example, if you’re looking to attract an untapped market of cannabis customers, then having a cannabis PR agency that has a broad perspective on consumer PR might be helpful. If you’re a cannabis B2B company, then you may want a PR agency that’s able to cross over into national media outlets, besides cannabis-focused publications for your cannabis business stories. A top cannabis PR firm should be able to review with you how your competitors are doing in the media and recommend some strategies to position your company based on your stated cannabis business goals. Ask your top cannabis PR agency: what advice do they have for a company at your stage of growth?

Since 2015, Avaans is one of the top cannabis PR firms (previously Primo PR). We’re based in Los Angeles and we work with emerging industries like cannabis. If you’d like to ask US these questions, please reach out.

5 Pre-Announcement PR Tips for Reputation Management

 

If you’re ready for a product launch, a funding round, or an executive announcement, now is a good time to look at how other people will see your company when they do more research.

 

Brush up your social profiles pre-announcement. 

No matter what your brand or your industry you always want to present the best first impression, your social media are part of that first impression. Ask yourself whether they’d be OK with you lifting a quote from your Facebook or LinkedIn and using it in an article about your business?

If the answer is no, check the privacy settings and do some cleanup. While we’re at it, check your photos and see if there’s anything there that’s off-putting or off-brand.

If you’re not sure whether your first impression is on-brand, ask others you trust in business. Ask yourself if you’re believable and trustworthy to a stranger and to your target audience? What would you think of your business if you just stumbled upon it on Linkedin or another social profile? Please consider these tips as a starting checklist.

 

Reputation Management: Google Your Executives & Your Company

While we’re at it, when was the last time you Google’d your executives and your business? Do your search while using Chrome’s “Incognito” feature and you’ll get a view of what others see about you first. Don’t forget to do an image search too. When you raise awareness of your company Google searches by the public and the press are fair game.

If you’re not happy with what you see, you can do some reputation management blocking and tackling, which will take some time. So be sure to do this well in advance of any major announcements.

 

Public Relations: Define Your Key Messages

What are you trying to say and to whom? What truly makes you special and why should anyone care. Remember, when you’re trying to attract press, you need a STORY, something newsworthy. Unfortunately, due to the sheer number, a product launch is rarely newsworthy, that’s not to say NEVER, but usually, there has to be a story to tell along with the launch.

Make sure you’re so prepared with your key messages that no one can distract you from your message, which is wrapped nicely in the context of your business story.

And while you’re at it, make sure that the press you’re sending your story is important to the readers of the publication or outlet your pitching.

Public Relations: Consider Media Training

If you’ve never done press before, it might be more nerve-wracking than you expect. Yes, journalists are people too, but it’s not their job to make you look good, that’s your job.

The journalist’s job is to write a story people will be interested in reading.

Sure, some publications will be very friendly, but all will appreciate your extra level of professionalism.

Spending at least a day preparing by recording yourself in front of a camera with some best practices for PR will pay for itself a million times over, because inevitably, there will be a question you didn’t expect, and having the tools at your disposal to help you keep your cool will give you confidence.

 

Content: A MUST: Good Photos 

Great headshots and product pictures are not a “nice to have,” they are a requirement. Don’t even think about sending a selfie. Make sure the images are high-resolution enough for print. If you have the budget, get a video too since you’ll use it over and over for all sorts of purposes.

You can have some photos done that showcase your  business personality, but definitely get basic headshots and product pictures on white and black backdrops.

You’ll be bummed out if you get the press of a lifetime but there aren’t any product shots or pictures of you and your team because they were low-quality or low-resolution.

 

Managing your online and media reputation is critical to your business, particularly if you’re a new brand, a relatively unknown brand, or your doubling down on an initiative like fundraising or an IPO. It’s shocking how few brands keep up with their own reputation. The thing about your reputation is that when it’s hurting you, you’ll never know because you can’t measure what’s not there. So be proactive about your reputation at all times and it will pay for itself.

The 3 Most Surprising PR Insights from the Eaze Cannabis Report

[3 minute reading time]
For cannabis brands, 2020 was an eye-opener. This week Eaze released their year in review for cannabis 2020 that offers PR insights for cannabis brands. As a delivery service, Eaze can pick up on some fascinating stats from a year that was (hopefully) like none other. Unsurprisingly to those in the industry, high anxiety levels fueled cannabis consumption to new heights in 2020; order volume was up by 15% on the Eaze platform even though dispensaries are considered essential businesses in many states, including California, which is 2X the combined size of the four states (AZ, JN, MT, MD) that legalized in 2020. The question is always “will this be the same or better in 2021?” While stats from years past are always fascinating, especially if they are an anomaly, when we looked at it, we see important PR insights from the Eaze Cannabis Report.

 

#1 Vapes Held Their Own Across All Ages

Even after the 2019 vape crisis, cannabis users continued to choose vapes consistently. While edibles were the #1 category of 2020, for GenZ they remained first choice. Apparently, GenZ isn’t concerned in the slightest about the vapes and continues to trust that cannabis brands will continue to earn their trust. Vapes were second only to edibles for Millenials and GenX. These two generations are very familiar with vapes, so there’s no surprise there and plenty of vape brands squarely target these demographics.

Boomers also chose vapes, they came third behind edibles and flower. Perhaps because of the covid-lung concerns, Boomer vape purchases declined in 2020, but vapes still outperformed topicals and prerolls for Boomers, which is fascinating given their appeal to the age group. The fact that Boomers choose flower second only to edibles isn’t much of a surprise considering the nostalgia that flower holds for that generation. If you’re a flower company, that’s definitely something to tap into in your cannabis public relations, branding, and advertising. PR Insights from the Eaze Cannabis Report offer cannabis brands important opportunities for 2021 too.

 

#2 Purpose Driven Cannabis Brands See Big Gains

Within cannabis, the number #1 purpose-driven theme is social equity, which has been important since legalization started. 2020 heightened social equity awareness for all consumers and cannabis buyers especially responded. According to Eaze, 9.5% of all customers bought social equity brands. What’s surprising in the cannabis stats for cannabis brands is customers over 30 were more likely purchase from social equity brands than younger customers. Men, in particular, were more likely to buy from social equity brands than women. These two statistics are surprising because they aren’t consistent with typical purpose-driven brand buyers   which typically skew female and younger.

 

#3 420 NOT the Biggest Cannabis Holiday in 2020

Green Wednesday, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving topped the purchase charts in 2020, up from second place in 2019. What’s also interesting is the other big seller nights: last night of Hanukkah, New Year’s Eve and Christmas Eve. None of these last 4 “cannabis holidays even broke into the top 5 in 2019, so their appearance provides overlooked cannabis public relations and advertising opportunities in 2021. Be on the lookout for other lifestyle holidays your customers might pair with cannabis because 2021 will continue to be disruptive in terms of large-scale events and large gatherings which typically dominated big sales days outside of 420 in previous years. The 2020 cannabis brand insights report by Eaze lists some outstanding examples of big sales days driven by current events or lifestyle.

Overall, like others, we expect 2021 to be a very good year for cannabis sales, but since consumer habits are changing, it will be ever more important for cannabis brands to watch their own data closely so they can engage and expect their customers’ next move.

The Eaze 2020 State of Cannabis Report

 

This article originally appeared on our sister site Primo PR