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For years now, cannabis companies and their leaders have struggled to leverage digital advertising in order to tell their story and raise brand awareness. Popular platforms like Google, Facebook and Instagram are not as cannabis-friendly as one might think. So in an age where content is king, what’s the best move for a cannabis leader working hard to tell their brand’s story, amplify awareness, build trust and establish credibility as an industry expert or go-to choice in B2B and B2C markets?
Public relations has proven to be a tremendous lever for leaders exploring ways to navigate around the rigorous digital-advertising restrictions placed on the cannabis industry. When executed with precision, good PR will put you in the driver seat, enabling you to tell your story in a way that positions you and your brand the way it was intended to be presented from the moment you created it.
As Louis Masensi and Cree Robinson, founders of touCanna, put it, “A new company’s story deserves to be told in a way that clearly speaks to the founding team’s passion, identity and vision for its customers. PR firms help to introduce new companies to the world by bringing their stories to life so that people can get to know them from the eyes of a trusted source.”
Here are five ways cannabis leaders profit from public relations.
1. Amplifying Awareness
The precursor to driving revenue is driving awareness. It doesn’t matter how meaningful your story is or how revolutionary your product or service is if nobody knows it exists.
Franny Tacy, owner of Franny’s Farmacy, explains that, “A PR professional is a critical role that leads to profitability, and certainly in a start-up like Franny’s Farmacy with such a strong appeal, promise and story.” She also advises all founders “be memorable with a strong appeal to a core audience, then put the money in PR and expect results.”
More often than not, if your story is interesting, unique and you come into the cannabis industry with good intentions, media influencers will gravitate towards you. Depending on the PR firm you’re working with, you’ll likely be paying a monthly retainer to keep them on board in order to unlock earned media placements and new partnerships you wouldn’t have thought of pursuing otherwise. Oftentimes, this makes public relations even more cost effective than traditional “pay-to-play” marketing and advertising.
2. Building Your Brand Image
It’s just as important to actively tell the story of your brand as it is to develop it in the beginning. From personal experience, salespeople (often driven by numbers and hitting quantitative targets) will yawn when the brand-building conversation comes up, but here’s the punchline: Stories sell. It’s critical for a brand that wants to develop a sustainable, long-term plan for themselves to create, nurture and tell a story that resonates with its audience. Strategic public relations will only amplify the magnitude at which your story echoes.
Now more than ever it is of the utmost importance to break free from the stigmas that surround cannabis branding,” urge Shane Hammer and Tyler Aldridge, founders of Design Kush. “Well thought-out PR that is strategically set up with measurable actions can lay the foundation to effectively shape the perception to establish a world-class cannabis brand. PR campaigns can provide both a short-term boost to engagement and a long-term elevation to SEO ranking, especially in tandem with website best practices and other digital-marketing strategies.”
3. Establishing Credibility
With hundreds of brands in the marketplace claiming to be the best option, can you blame consumers for having a tough time differentiating the great from the average from the not-so-good? As a collective, the cannabis industry has been better about educating consumers over the last eight-to-12 months, but a majority of those who are new to cannabis still have a tough time understanding things like how the end-Cannabinoid system works, and which products are right for them.
The same goes for ancillary services in the B2B vertical. In a nascent industry, how do owners and operators know who to trust when bringing on an outside partner to expand business and to grow the top line? Public relations that leads to earned media coverage in publications, podcasts, news outlets and magazines that people have already deemed credible for themselves will help cannabis leaders break out of industry white noise and establish credibility as authority figures within the space.
“Conveying the seedling purpose of the company and expressing the transitional narrative into a light that may guide the uninformed is something that a balanced PR firm can do for you,” elaborates Olanzo Jarrett, founder of DawaLife Inc. and Harmony Treats. “PR is an investment that will help keep your company relevant.”
4. Building Trust
Cannabis is still a nascent industry, which makes it tough for people to know who is coming to the table with good intentions and isn’t just here to make a quick buck. When you’re actively telling your story and doing so in a way that catches the attention of local, regional and national media in a positive manner, you’ll notice your target market starting to gravitate more towards you with less and less hesitation over time. The power of public relations in this regard is very similar to that of positive word-of-mouth.
5. Attracting More of the Right Talent
Another byproduct of strategic public relations is that you’ll begin to attract more of the right talent. If you’re reading this, chances are that you’re in a position of some sort that requires you to work among a team. For those of us who work among a team, we know how critical it is to not only have skilled and talented people alongside us, but to work alongside the right people who fit a culture that recognizes the company’s vision, and can see it through all the way in order to manifest it successfully.
So get to publicizing, and good luck.