Tag Archive for: what to look for in a PR firm

As you research PR agencies you may see many touting that they are “boutique.” What is a boutique agency? A boutique agency is an agency that prides itself on its smaller size, usually under 20 employees. Boutique agencies tend to offer either specializations or a more hands-on approach to client services.

Is a boutique agency right for you? Whether a boutique agency is right for you certainly depends on your needs. So, let’s explore some common questions about boutique PR agencies.

Do Boutique Agencies Offer the Same Services as Larger Agencies?

In so much as all agencies vary in services offered, yes, but boutique agencies expand and contract as a client needs. To do this, they often rely on a trusted team of subject experts and implementation specialists. There are advantages and disadvantages to this approach. The advantage is you’re not paying for services and team members you aren’t using. The disadvantage is adding to scope and implementation may take longer. Let’s say you need a 3-minute video done, and you need it finished yesterday.

Regardless of agency size, you’re dealing with the adage of “pick two: fast, excellent, or cheap.” But a super-fast turnaround may be firmly in the realm of possibility within a large agency. They may have a scriptwriter, videographer, and editing team at the ready. Meanwhile, if you ask a boutique agency to script a video, record a video, and edit one, it may take slightly longer as those team members aren’t ready right away, and to make it happen, you may pay more for the additional scope than at a larger agency, since these are “on-call” specialist team members as opposed to those employed full-time by a larger agency. So if you need an agency for services at the last minute, or with a 24-7 approach, a larger agency may be your better choice.

On the other hand, at a larger agency, you are paying for 24/7 service whether you need it or not. Another consideration of larger agencies vs. boutique pr agencies is the experience level of your team. Larger PR agencies often have less seasoned account managers running your PR strategy, and that may lead to more turn over and missing out on decades of experience from executive-level PR teams. 

Do I Get The Same Level of Service?

Of course, it depends on your definition of service. So let’s break down how agencies of different sizes handle client management. Boutique agencies have more “working managers,” which means your account managers are frequently agency executives. Their level of engagement will vary depending on factors like your PR budget, but they’re more deeply involved with your account than at a larger agency. You may even work with the CEO of the agency at a boutique agency; a highly unlikely occurrence at a large agency.

Also, typically, larger agencies assign more clients per team member than boutique agencies do. While a strategist at a large agency may carry 6-8 clients, at a boutique agency, your strategist may carry 4-5 clients at once. For example, at our agency, we’re regularly receiving service inquiries, but our current clients always come first. We make that choice because our senior strategists are involved in both biz development and client work. If personalized strategies and personal attention matter, a smaller agency may suit you better.

At a larger agency, it’s very common to work with an executive during the RFP or decision-making process, but that executive is rarely involved in the day-to-day of your account; you may see them once a month. So if working with executive-level strategists is important to you, you may appreciate the personalized attention a boutique offers. But if you are someone who only wants to hear from your agency’s account team when necessary or you’re ok with a more junior account team for the day-to-day, then you may appreciate the larger agency’s approach. But if you want more engaged and experienced strategists, who are regularly active in and with your account, then a smaller agency might be better.

Are Boutique Agencies Less Expensive?

First, some perspective. Your $20,000 budget might be a minimum at a larger agency, but quite substantial at a boutique agency. So, you should consider the value of PR for your company and working with a larger agency as part of the whole value proposition (like the additional services mentioned above). Sometimes hiring a larger agency is well worth it; “no one ever got fired for hiring Edelman.”

So, even though your budget doesn’t command the same level of respect from a larger agency, there may be a real advantage to having a named agency as your agency of record.  But if you want the red carpet rolled out for you, at that price range, then a boutique agency may be a better choice for you.

The cost of hiring a PR agency will depend on many factors, including your goals, your budget, and your agency selection. Consider some of these factors when considering 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 many does it cost to hire a PR firm?

How do you know what’s fair and what rate to pay? PR firms often have minimums, and we’ll get to that in a minute, but what factors does a PR firm consider?

What To Look For in the Early Stages

PR Agency Fees

Don’t be afraid also to ask questions about their fee structure. Cost to hire a PR agency and your 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.

There is a huge range of pricing for PR firms. Solopreneur firms, or less experienced PR firms, might charge around $4,000 monthly, depending on the client and the market. Larger firms, premium agencies, of $18,000 to $25,000 per month, and boutique firms often charge between $12,000 to $18,000 monthly for their services. There are also ways to save on agency fees, so work with your agency to discuss how you can jointly achieve more efficiency.

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.

Pay to Play: In Context

There is a difference between pay-to-play and placed content. Placed content is content whose space you directly purchased. Placed content is usually an additional fee on top of the cost to hire a PR agency It can have a credible and authentic role in your marketing and PR efforts from a content strategy perspective.  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 for publishing a client’s story.

Placed content is ethical as long as the client understands what they’re getting. Pay-to-play is unethical.

The value of journalism is its independence. The value of PR is respecting this fact while also creating opportunities and access for clients and journalists to have a mutually beneficial relationship. All media coverage, or earned media as it’s often called, is always at the whim of an editorial decision. 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 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, and sometimes even space for product or CEO thought leadership. Potential consumers know that an advertiser has paid for the information provided when they view a commercial. Pay-for-play is essentially duping an audience into thinking that the content is unbiased. If a PR firm purchases airtime under the table, it misrepresents the impartiality of the content and it is a disservice to the client.

That’s not to say there isn’t a place for sponsored content and paid placement. It’s just important to understand the differences and integrate them into your plan accordingly.

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 will you dedicate monthly to a PR firm? Do you expect your PR firm to visit your office? You need to be honest when answering these questions and establishing your objectives. When your goals are firmly set, schedule meetings with various PR agencies.

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

  • How would they approach your program?
  • What do they truly excel at – and does that fit your expectations?
  • 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?

The PR Cost Factors within Your Control

Your PR Budget Should Match Your Business Goals

The cost to hire a PR agency 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. If you’re pre-IPO, then your PR budget should reflect the importance of that milestone. If you’re looking for the average cost of hiring a PR firm, you should look at PR firms that meet average expectations.

For example, if you’re in maintenance mode and need a responsive rather than a proactive PR agency, the cost should be less than that of a proactive media relations and media placement campaign, which can reach billions of people.

While PR is an important tool for growing your business, don’t expect to increase your sales 100% by investing an additional 5% in PR. Indeed, there are ways to track revenue from PR.

 

What Industry Are You In?

Businesses in fast-growing or emerging industries like CleanTech, HealthTech, or Cannabis can also affect PR pricing. If your industry is regulated or could be regulated, a PR agency will need to take additional steps to consider your company’s future needs.

 

What is Your Timeline?

The timeline can affect the budget—if you’re asking an agency to scramble, it will cost more. Effective public relations is a long game. Unlike advertising, PR isn’t a turn-on-and-turnoff situation. It’s more like a train: It takes a bit to get moving, but once it’s moving, it gains speed quickly.

 

Why Experience Matters in PR

What are you actually buying when you hire a PR firm? Talent, judgment, and experience, these factors are the number one reason why experience matters for successful businesses are so important. Since almost 60% of PR agency fees are allocated to staff, that’s one reason why PR is so expensive – talent matters.

Why is PR so expensive research

USC Annenberg Communication Report 2023

 

Established PR firms with track records of success tend to charge more for their services. Hiring experienced PR professionals adds innumerable value; a firm’s reputation is often established through its employees’ skill and experience level.

Some agencies have very young teams, while others have more executive-level teams. Each has pros and cons. Some top PR firms employ former journalists and experienced PR professionals, while others hire very junior team members.

One advantage of a seasoned, expert-level PR team, besides experience, is their understanding of the media landscape – who is likely to write about your company and why. Maybe, more importantly, seasoned PR teams can guide you in creating more opportunities in various ways. They also understand what media companies are looking for regarding 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. Seasoned PR experts know the best people to follow up with after issuing a press release or event notice. Those with experience in the industry understand the intricacies of the business, and their experience will likely add to the cost of hiring a PR agency. 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.

 

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.

Want to know the advice I give colleagues when they ask me what they should know about hiring an agency? I tell them something they haven’t thought about: throw out all your old questions when you’re hiring any agency.  This advice surprises people, but let me explain. It’s important when you’re hiring an agency to ask questions that point to your needs, not some random checklist. What to look for in a PR firm should be specific to you. Here are the worst questions to ask your agency and what to ask instead.

How Does Your Team Learn About New Industries?”

 Instead of

Do You Have Industry Experience?”

This is the default question everyone asks. The reality is that whether an agency has worked within your industry isn’t a success indicator. The more important indicator of success is how engaged your PR team is with the world and how they approach learning something new. What you want to know is how intellectually curious your team is because that actually matters more.

Agencies with narrow niches are really valuable in highly regulated industries, like the cannabis industry, where there are hundreds of different laws to understand, many of which vary by state. But for most industries, narrow niches don’t really get you, the client, much of advantage – even in PR, which is famous for relationships, I’ll get into that more deeply in a minute. But even if working in a particular niche is important, it’s still more important that the team be naturally curious.

Why? For one, some of the best ideas come from exposure to other industries and customers. But why do you want an agency that works closely with your competitors? And why doesn’t it matter in PR? When choosing a PR agency, it’s more important that your agency can predict trends and find opportunities for your company to make or comment on news.

“Have You Worked with Companies of Our Size?”

 Instead of

“What Companies Have You Worked With?”

It’s easy to be impressed by the logos of major brands on the pages of a PR firm’s website. But ask yourself what that means to you. Working with huge international firms is its own skill because of the layers of stakeholders. But huge brands move slower, and their stakes differ from a startup, a challenger brand, a company breaking new boundaries in an emerging industry, or a hypergrowth company that is pre-IPO.

You can define “size” by employee count or revenue, or even IPO status, but the challenges of hiring an agency vary depending on the company’s size. For example, a company with a CMO, a few Marketing VPs, and dozens of marketing managers has human capital, but they also have a more complicated web of brand perspectives and departmental goals. Whereas a company of $10-$30 million in revenue has different human capital considerations and is likely to have a CEO who is, at least sometimes, engaged with the PR agency. It’s not uncommon for our agency to deal directly with CEOs, and working with CEOs is very different than working with a team of marketing managers. Companies in growth phases move faster, have higher expectations, and perhaps haven’t worked with a PR agency before, which means there will be some education along the way. If you’ve never worked with a PR agency before, you don’t want to work with an agency that doesn’t specialize in companies that are new to PR.

For one, CEOs of $10-$30 million companies are very often an integral part of the company’s brand and, in fact, the de facto spokesperson. Multinational, public companies leverage their CEOs differently to different stakeholders – investors, for example –  than smaller companies can and should. It’s also a matter of budget. A $250,000 annual budget, while typical for ambitious companies, isn’t much of a PR budget at all for household name brands. And why is that REALLY important? Because you want to be with a PR agency that sees your $250,000 budget as important rather than a small drop in the bucket.

So find an agency that works with companies of your size and agency experience. That’s actually more important to the success of your business and PR campaign.

“How Do You Contribute to Your Clients’ Business Goals?” 

Instead of
“What Do You Cost?”

This gets right to the heart of it, doesn’t it? What’s your target ROI? The question to ask your PR Agency should dig right to the heart of what you need. Does your agency know how to develop a campaign that helps you secure VC funding? Or how about during your pre-IPO phase? Maybe you want to build a premium team before a merger or acquisition. PR supports cross-functional business outcomes.

Like any awareness or marketing initiative, PR is OK in a vacuum. However, when it’s given room to breathe and really support your business, then it really takes off. So don’t silo your PR. But also, it’s like any investment: it gets amortized over time.  The good news about PR versus something like advertising is that PR lasts forever. Just like you don’t turn on PR as fast as advertising, it also doesn’t turn. Long after a PR agency is gone, your PR remains. PR is an investment you make in your business, and it’s the most valuable investment you can make.

“How Seasoned is the Team?” 

Instead of

“Who is On The Team?”

This might be one of the top questions to ask your PR agency. Seasoned, experienced PR professionals have been through the wringer. They’ve been through crisis, they’ve seen economic upheaval, they’ve handled recalls, they have been in competitive dog fights. These are the kind of team members you want on your team. It’s not uncommon for agencies to have really junior members do the bulk of the account work.

Much PR work is reading between the lines. Younger team members miss the nuance when they put together a media list; they miss the tie-ins that work because of a small detail. An experienced PR Team saves you countless hours of educating a more junior PR team on business basics, striking the right tone at the right time – and importantly, reading the room. Emotional intelligence often comes with experience, and emotional intelligence moves the needle faster and in a more sophisticated way. Plus, experienced PR team members can head off problems before they become one, saving your brand dollars on the actual bottom line and valuations.

 

Whether it’s content and SEO, or advertising or PR, there is always a shift in the universe, and agencies are adept at understanding the shifting sands. But there are more agencies than ever before. Even the best PR agencies aren’t always the easiest to find. Agencies today provide more value to businesses than ever before, but it’s more important than ever for you to find the right fit, because the stakes have never been higher.

Please join us in celebrating our inclusion in this year’s Inc. Magazine Power Partners Awards – read more about how we qualified. Here’s a hint: our clients.

Do you find yourself asking “What will I get for my money if I hire a PR agency?” You might even see offers for guaranteed media coverage. But should PR agencies guarantee media coverage? The reasons the answer is “no” might surprise you. Any PR agency that promises earned media coverage is putting their journalist contacts at risk for journalistic ethics violations. Guaranteed PR coverage is not only unethical, it can even be illegal. “Guaranteed” PR coverage rarely lives as long as earned media coverage. Finally, it doesn’t have the authority and trust that comes with credible earned media.

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Pay-to-Play Earned Media is Unethical

Sadly, we’ve seen it all, including journalists fired for violating professional journalist ethics. Violations might include not disclosing a monetary relationship or other conflict or interest. Paying a journalist under the table to write about a company or a product is the signal of an inexperienced, desperate, or unethical PR agency. These agencies don’t garner favor by journalists who value their jobs, and getting a journalist fired isn’t the way to reinforce media relationships. And when you hire a PR agency that does this, you’re attaching your brand’s reputation to unethical and even illegal behavior. No matter how cheap guaranteed PR coverage is, the cost to your reputation will far outweigh any benefits.

There is such a thing as legitimate sponsored coverage. And while sponsored coverage LOOKS like an article, it’s actually an advertisement. Secured through a media outlet’s advertising team, never directly with a journalist, sponsored coverage is a legitimate form of advertising. The FCC always requires sponsored coverage to identify itself as paid. Even Google wants to know what links are sponsored, and not tagging them correctly is an SEO risk authoritative and important media outlets won’t risk. Press releases are a great example of paid or sponsored coverage. Paid placements have a role in a campaign, and any good PR agency can make recommendations about how to use these tools in your campaign.

Guaranteed Coverage Isn’t Usually Authoritative

Fast-growing brands and hyper-growth companies need PR primarily for exposure and trust that typically comes from earned media.

Today’s readers and content consumers are incredibly savvy. After thousands of hours of advertising exposure, most consumers can sniff out the difference between advertising articles and journalistic pieces. Like all advertisements, ethically secured readers’ and viewers’ trust earned coverage because journalists maintain independence.

We’ve seen self-proclaimed PR experts use their positions as media contributors to promote their clients; these same people are banned from esteemed outlets like Entrepreneur and Forbes.  Most times, the brands paying for this coverage did not know that what the “PR expert” was doing was unethical or illegal. No one wins in this situation, certainly not the brand that thought they paid a PR firm to secure high-value coverage. This is especially painful because once discovered by the media outlet, that content is often removed from their website and, therefore the internet; this rarely happens with earned media coverage which lasts as long as the website is up.

Sponsored or Paid Coverage Doesn’t Last as Long

While earned media takes strategy, expertise, and, yes, time, ethical sponsored or paid coverage doesn’t last as long as earned coverage. Sponsored and paid coverage, while it has its place, is like any other advertisement: it typically runs for a limited amount of time, and then it disappears. One of the underappreciated perks of earned media is its longevity.

There’s nothing wrong with sponsored or paid coverage. We’ve seen some really remarkable pieces of sponsored coverage that went beyond the advertisement and well into providing true value for readers. The Washington Post, the New York Times, all do spectacular special projects like this. The starting cost is usually in the $50,000+ range. Regular ad rates for a premium location like the (printed) back page hover around $30,000 per ad, volume discounts usually apply to annual contracts. But hey, you’re getting ad placement in one of the world’s most credible news outlets at least once for that price.

 

The Case for Sponsored or Paid Coverage

Many emerging industries or pre-IPO companies want exposure and they want social proof. The weird thing about exposure is the more you get, the more exposure you’ll get. This is where sponsored coverage comes into play – and it’s essential to understand its role. What you DO with sponsored coverage and how you create the content for sponsored coverage makes all the difference. Working with a modern PR agency can help you distinguish yourself in sponsored or branded coverage and also help you make the most of it. There’s a place for this kind of media in the ecosystem today; it’s important to use it wisely.

 

Today’s modern PR firms are savvy in today’s media landscape, including traditional, paid, and digital mediums. We take our professional PR ethics very seriously, including guaranteed media coverage. Hire a PR firm you can trust and trust your PR firm.

Combine PR and Social Together for CPG Brand Success

There’s good news and bad news for any brand trying to break into the consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry. First, the good news: The value of the CPG market in the United States alone was estimated at $635 billion in 2019, so there’s a ravenous audience for these products. The bad news, though, is there are so many brands within the CPG space it can be difficult for newcomers to make their mark and reach potential customers.

Many CPG brands rely on social media to increase their reach and engage with their audience. This is an excellent strategy, but it shouldn’t be the only approach aspiring brands take if they’re looking to expand. A well-crafted public relations campaign can enhance the benefits of social media while also furthering a brand’s reach in other ways. A strategic public relations campaign can do things that social media can’t, and vice-versa, so brands should incorporate both PR and social media into their marketing.

At Avaans Media, our innovative PR and social media tools make us the ideal team to help your CPG brand extend its reach and better engage with customers. With our proven track record of success and dedication to helping purpose-driven brands find success, we can help you reach your goals and make a positive impression on consumers. We’ll craft an innovative, personalized campaign highlighting what makes you unique and put that message where it will produce the best results for your brand.

If you’re ready to see what a truly modern, virtually enabled PR agency can do for your purpose-driven brand, get in touch with us. We have team members in Los Angeles, New York, San Diego, Denver, Honolulu, Phoenix, and Washington, D.C.. You can also set up a call by filling out the form on our contact page. We look forward to hearing from you.

CPG PR vs. CPG Social Media: Why Not Both?

It’s a mistake to think of PR and social media as an “either/or” choice for how you market your CPG brand. While social media has tremendous influence, it should not cannibalize all of your marketing efforts. Social media may have a broader reach than PR, at least in the abstract, but marketing is about more than the number of people who see your content. If you don’t put that content in front of a receptive and engaged audience, all your efforts will have been for nothing.

The key reason to incorporate PR in your marketing efforts is the inherent skepticism many people have about the messages they receive on social media. A study from the Content Marketing Institute found that 70 percent of consumers prefer to get information about a company from articles rather than advertisements.

The preference for third-party articles makes sense when you consider the issue from a consumer’s viewpoint. Many consumers tend to distrust what companies say about themselves because consumers generally have no way to verify the message they’re receiving. If they get that same message from a blog, newspaper, magazine, or some other platform they already trust, they’re much more likely to believe the content of the message.

How To Use PR In Combination With Social Media To Promote Your CPG Brand

Your PR and social media campaigns shouldn’t compete with each other or be siloed. To get the best results for your company, you need to harness the strengths of PR and social media in ways that enhance both efforts. Here are a few ways CPG brands can combine PR and social media in their marketing:

  • Branding- With so many iconic brands already established in the CPG space, a clear and distinct visual identity is essential for any newcomer. You need a consistent color scheme, logo, text style, tagline, tone, and imagery across all your marketing channels. This is where PR shines, and once you’ve established your brand, you can send the materials to your social media team. This way, you know all your content has a clear, concise, well-established theme that reflects your company and your values.
  • Media relations- The cornerstone of PR is getting positive coverage of your CPG brand in various media outlets. However, social media can supplement and amplify the efforts of your PR team. If you generate enough social media buzz, media outlets will come calling to find out more. And once you’ve gotten some coverage in third-party outlets, your social media team can post those stories across your channels, creating a positive feedback loop.
  • Live events and affiliate marketing- One of the best ways to get other people interested in your product is to show someone else using it. There are two key ways to do this: Live events and affiliate marketing. If your PR team stages a live event to show off your products, your social media team can share photos and video clips from the event to reach new customers. And if your PR team can get other social media influencers to market your product, you can use social media to piggyback off the influencers’ content and their built-in trust with their audience.

Work With Avaans Media PR Firm To Help Your CPG Brand Find Its Potential

At Avaans Media, we’ve already showed how we can help CPG brands reach the next level. One of our biggest successes involved our PR firm’s ability to combine social media and public relations a hemp-based CPG wellness brand that was looking to grow its customer base ahead of its initial public offering (IPO). We offered personalized review opportunities for journalists, hosted live events, and used branded social media content to shape the client’s image in a more positive light.

By the time of the client’s IPO, we had generated more than 200 pieces of positive press coverage over three years. Our custom content also generated more than 10 billion earned media impressions, at an estimated value of more than $5 million. Best of all, the client’s share price had risen by 300 percent.

It’s always a challenge for CPG brands to find new audiences, but a quality PR firm can make a massive difference. If you’d like to see what Avaans Media can bring to your organization, let’s talk. You can set up a call by visiting our contact page or contact one of our team members across the United States. We look forward to working with you.

Cannabis businesses who are new to PR have a lot of decisions to make. Many of our clients have never hired a cannabis PR agency before and the process can seem daunting.At Avaans we work with a lot of hyper-growth or early stage companies in emerging industries, so we’re pros at guiding ambitious companies to the next stage of growth. Often our clients are CEOs or CMOs who understand why PR is important, but maybe haven’t engaged a professional PR agency before. That’s why we came up with 3 tips for cannabis companies new to PR.

Cannabis Companies New to PR: “Am I Ready for PR?”

 

If you’re new to PR and you’re asking yourself the question, you’re off to a great start.

If you’re new to PR, you might be confused about what to ask an agency. For more strategic PR partnerships, ask the agency whether they think you are ready for PR. That will tell you how prepared they are to work with a company of your PR readiness. If a firm tells you that you aren’t ready for cannabis PR, what they’re saying is “You aren’t ready for our PR services.” We believe it’s important to consider PR from the very first moment.

The next question to ask yourself is how much bandwidth you have for PR. We started our consumer product PR sprints for very early growth companies or companies without huge budgets. Our cannabis PR Sprints are an excellent way to look underneath the hood of working with a PR agency, without a long-term PR contract. The PR Sprints are also great for cannabis product launches.

A full-scale bespoke PR program is more successful when the PR agency has a key contact at the cannabis company. Bespoke programs are for consumer brands committed to strategic PR outcomes like pre-IPO or investment, or attracting top talent. Bespoke programs are for companies and brands that have a long-term vision for the company and can state their 3-year and 5-year goals. B2B PR are also bespoke PR campaigns because every B2B campaign has dependencies as distinctive as the company’s leadership, product, and ambitions.

Naturally, budget comes into play, but working with a cannabis PR firm is like hiring a contractor – you rarely want the cheapest. If you’re new to PR, you’re in the early stages of reputation and branding, and this is a critical time for new cannabis brands. In particular, a cannabis company needs to invest in trust-first positioning and can’t take risks with the brand, because there is less brand equity.

Another way to know whether you’re ready for bespoke PR? Being crystal clear on cannabis public relations goals and outcomes will make choosing a firm, and a time to start cannabis PR much easier.

How Do I Look, Hunny?

Starting a cannabis business means jumping through a lot of hoops, and sometimes branding and marketing seem like it takes a back seat to the regulatory hurdles for cannabis companies. How does your cannabis packaging look on the shelves at a dispensary? How will it look on the pages of a magazine? Are your product images professionally shot? Do you know who your customers really are? If you’re still figuring out your website or tinkering with formulations, then focus on those items first, or at least go with a shorter-term, very focused PR campaign. Starting with a freelancer could also be an option at this stage as well. But in general, bespoke PR firms are worth the investment if you’re clear on your brand, its customers, and the look/feel of your cannabis packaging and product.

What’s the Best Time of Year To Engage a Cannabis PR Agency?

Journalists and editors are planning months in advance. This means your PR pitching should start months in advance, too. This is one aspect of PR that many new-to-PR companies struggle with: the need to plan in advance. For example, PR agencies will want photos and product descriptions months before

Look beyond 420 for cannabis PR. The fall months are a dynamic time for the cannabis industry. There are cannabis industry tradeshows and conferences happening, award winners announced, and of course, Halloween, Thanksgiving, the December holidays, and New Years’ Eve all add up to massive revenue opportunities for cannabis brands. For consumer brands new to PR, the fall can be one of the most valuable times of year to get editorial coverage for consumer brands. In fact, up to 40% of coverage for consumer brands happens during this time of year, so that’s a great time to pack a PR punch. We developed our consumer brand PR Sprints to include fall cannabis PR for this reason.

For B2B cannabis PR, the equation looks a little different. If you’re looking for a feature on a product launch or an executive, planting that story takes planning on behalf of the journalist and editor who have to fit it into regularly scheduled articles. Starting B2B cannabis public relations in the fall may be right for you if you have big plans for the spring. B2B PR, like thought leadership, speaking engagements, and cannabis industry visibility have more dependencies, some of which – like when speaking engagement submissions close, aren’t in your control. If you miss the window for this year at a particular event, there are only a couple of avenues to take, and most of them include spending a considerable sum of money. Campaigns and activations around crucial industry events may take longer to plan and implement, especially cannabis industry events. In short, B2B PR often requires longer lead times.

For cannabis consumer brands new to PR, there are some advantages to starting PR in the second quarter. But not if you’re planning a big 420 splash or product launch. You really aren’t giving yourself enough time to maximize your 420 if you’re starting in Q2. At that point, the question is really should you do a 420 campaign? On the other hand, if you’re a consumer or CPG cannabis brand who tends to have a summer-based sales cycle, say cannabis beverages, then starting your PR well in advance of the summer is a great idea.

Starting a new PR campaign in January gives most brands a superb runway to plan for everything the year offers, regardless of whether it’s B2B or B2C. We love starting the year off together with new clients, but this isn’t a time of year to start new projects for everyone. If your product does particularly well in February for Valentine’s Day – then starting in January is too late.

Being a cannabis company new to PR doesn’t have to daunting. Contact us with questions about hiring an agency, and what to look for. We love working with cannabis companies in all stages of growth.