For years now, cannabis companies and their leaders have struggled to leverage digital advertising in order to tell their story and raise 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 and a digital presence is no longer an afterthought, 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 (commonly referred to as PR) has proven to be a tremendous work-around for leaders exploring ways to navigate around the rigorous digital advertising restrictions placed on the cannabis industry.
In case you’re new to the concept of public relations, public relations can be defined as the practice of deliberately managing the release and spread of information between an individual or an organization and the public. When executed with precision, public relations 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.
"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.” –Louis Masensi and Cree Robinson, Founders of touCanna.
Here are Five Ways Cannabis Leaders Profit From Public Relations:
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. Earning your way into the guest-seat of podcasts, interviews with publications that are well-respected in your vertical, and write-ups in magazines that bring more eye-balls to your name than a digital ad on Facebook could within your budget is why the power of public relations is recognized and appreciated by leaders within the space.
“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. Our PR strategist creates brand positioning and leverages the brand appeal to gain editorials and press coverage, which is the best reach to target audiences, establishes credibility, gains new customers and costs nothing. Be memorable with a strong appeal to a core audience. Then, put the money in PR and expect results.” –Franny Tacy, Owner, Franny’s Farmacy
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 onboard in order to unlock earned media placements and new partnerships you wouldn’t have thought of pursuing otherwise. Often times, this makes public relations even more cost effective than traditional “pay-to-play” marketing and advertising.
2. Build 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, sales people (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 create a sustainable, long-term plan for themselves to create, develop, and tell a story that resonates with its audience. Strategic public relations will only amplify the magnitude at which your story echos.
3. Establish 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 8-12 months, but a majority of those who are new to cannabis still have a tough time understanding things like how the endo-cannabinoid system works, and which product(s) is 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 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.
4. Build 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 not 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 the power of word-of-mouth.
5. Attract More of the Right Talent
Another by-product 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 work with a team. For those of us who work with others, 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.
Executing on an effective public relations strategy, and honing in on how to best leverage earned media to amplify brand awareness, build trust, and establish credibility is one of the best investments you can make into your cannabis brand. Don't go at it alone and feel overwhelmed or frustrated because your media outreach is resulting in an inbox full of crickets. Contact Green Lane Communication today to learn more about getting started with the right PR partner for your cannabis brand and business.