How To Navigate the Murky Waters of Cannabis Marketing

How To Navigate the Murky Waters of Cannabis Marketing

In previous articles, we’ve looked into numerous aspects of getting into the marijuana industry, including how to convince investors to give you money, and how to brand your cannabis business and craft your story. At least for the time being, your best bets for exposure pretty much boil down to press coverage, strong alternative marketing campaigns, and robust community building through social media and physical presence. Understanding public relations Public relations or PR most often involve writing press releases, coming up with story angles, and placing those stories with media outlets. When you use a PR firm, you're not only paying for their services, you're enlisting their expertise and connections. “Make sure to find a public relations and marketing firm that has experience in navigating the terrain of a federally illegal commodity market, like cannabis is,” says Cynthia Salarizadeh, managing partner at public relations firm KCSA Communications and CEO of PR tech suite AxisWire. Reaching the media If you decide to manage your initial public relations yourself, I recommend you start by pitching the more than 150 relatively well-known cannabis-focused publications for media coverage. Here are some things you should take into account when trying to get the right kind of coverage: Understand which media outlet you should pitch each story to. Identify which reporters cover topics related to your brand and figure out the best angle to pitch them. J. J. Kaye, co-founder of design consulting firm High Pressure Zone, says, “Building out a channel on social media that clearly tells your story is as important as building a community and cultivating a sense of interest and ownership.” It’s all about posting and generating engagement, he adds, pointing out that the best communities are built organically—meaning you shouldn’t worry about not being able to pay Facebook or Instagram to promote your posts. “You can’t just have a social media-only company or a digital-only company; you need to have that physical presence to create visibility and content for your social networks,” Kaye says.

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How To Navigate the Murky Waters of Cannabis Marketing

Opinions expressed by Green Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The following excerpt is from The Staff of Entrepreneur Media, Inc. and Javier Hasse’s book Start Your Own Cannabis Business. Buy it now from Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | IndieBound

This article is part of Entrepreneur’s series on How to Start a Cannabis Business. We seek to promote financial inclusion through cannabis. In previous articles, we’ve looked into numerous aspects of getting into the marijuana industry, including how to convince investors to give you money, and how to brand your cannabis business and craft your story.

Cannabis is more popular than ever. However, marketing your brand can still be difficult due to the extensive legal limitations on advertising. At least for the time being, your best bets for exposure pretty much boil down to press coverage, strong alternative marketing campaigns, and robust community building through social media and physical presence.

Understanding public relations

Public relations or PR most often involve writing press releases, coming up with story angles, and placing those stories with media outlets. Entrepreneurs who don’t know much about PR can hire a firm to take care of these tasks for them. But be prepared to spend typically between $1,500 and $10,000 per month, depending on the firm and the services you need.

When you use a PR firm, you’re not only paying for their services, you’re enlisting their expertise and connections. Reputable firms know which media outlets and journalists cover which topics, and how to reach and pitch them effectively. This can take a lot of time—time that may be better spent managing your business.

“Make sure to find a public relations and marketing firm that has experience in navigating the terrain of a federally illegal commodity market, like cannabis is,” says Cynthia Salarizadeh, managing partner at public relations firm KCSA Communications and CEO of PR tech suite AxisWire. “This is like no other industry because you basically cannot pay for exposure. So a good PR agent needs to understand who to call at different publications (both cannabis-focused and mainstream) to reach certain audiences, and what services can help you circumvent all of these limitations.”

John Sidline, principal at PR agency The Cannabis Story Lab, says you should plan to spend between 7 and 10 percent of your gross receipts on marketing and PR.

Reaching the media

If you decide to manage your initial public relations yourself, I recommend you start by pitching the more than 150 relatively well-known cannabis-focused publications for media coverage. Sites like HERB, High Times, Leafly, Civilized, The Cannabist, or Green Market Report are more likely than mainstream…

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