In the rapidly expanding cannabis market, many companies have not yet given much thought to public relations.  For that matter, new cannabis entrepreneurs may not even know what PR is or why you might need it. So here are a few Frequently Asked Questions that run through PR 101 – What is PR, and more importantly, what is PR in the cannabis market?

Public Relations is a service that feeds editorial or "earned media" - we alert the media to news and stories happening at your company and work with them to tell your story via blogs, magazines, newspapers, TV, radio and news sites. The story is free; you pay for a publicist's time and media contacts which facilitates the storytelling process. Advertising is very different. Also referred to as "paid media," you create your own content and pay to have it appear in a magazine, newspaper, TV/radio or blog. In this way, PR is more credible than advertising because it’s a non-biased third party testimonial. Think of it as someone else (who a lot of people listen to) saying something nice about you instead of you saying something nice about yourself.
Despite what many people think, PR does not stand for press release. The press release is simply a document that provides the basic details of your story - whether that's a new product, service, company, partnership or offering - and should get them interested enough to want to learn more. The true art of PR comes from our relationship with a reporter and our understanding of what additional elements, beyond the press release, will make a great story for a specific media outlet and their audience. Reporters want unique stories - that’s what drives eyeballs, likes and shares - not the same story everyone else is writing.
This is the tricky part - nothing is guaranteed in PR. Journalists work on deadline and breaking news can always trump a story that they are working on. While we cannot guarantee specific results, we can anticipate how your story will be perceived. Based on who your target audience is, we will find the best person to tell your story in the best way possible. We've been doing this a long time - it’s not exactly scientific but our approach works.
When you hear people speaking at conferences, or quoted in articles, those are your thought leaders. They are the CEOs, founders, innovators and activists who spend a lot of time educating themselves about the industry, and formulate their own opinions and projections for the future. They are the people behind success stories as they have a lot of knowledge and experience to share. If you think you are a thought leader, then PR will help amplify your voice and raise your street cred!
The media are reporters, bloggers, TV/radio producers, podcasters - anyone who is researching and telling stories about what's happening in the industry. Depending on the individual and the focus of the outlet they work for, coverage can take the shape of a news story, an OpEd or opinion piece, a feature story about a company, trend or market segment; a video or vlog, Q&As/interviews with a thought leader, as well as documentaries and investigative stories which go more in-depth.
If you're ready to make an investment in PR, the most important requirement is finding a PR team that shares your vision and understands your needs. You want to like them as people too because you'll be spending a lot of time with this team and they will quickly start to fill up your calendar with meetings and interviews. Choose an agency that has the right combination of personality, experience, strategic thinking, media contacts and overall track record of success (meaning a good reputation working with past clients as well as journalists). You also want an agency that works within your budget - if you only have $3K/month to spend, you don't want an agency that works with large corporations with $50K/month budgets because chances are you will get lost and often placed on the back burner in favor of the larger paying client.
You could but it's a lot to manage and we can do this stuff in our sleep. While reporters really like to hear from CEOs and executives within a company, they look to a PR practitioner to schedule the interviews and provide the necessary background information so they have some knowledge before they get on the phone with you. We also get them the extra stuff that makes their story pop - for example key artwork that no one else has, customer testimonials, products for review - and it often takes several follow up emails or calls before they get around to your story idea, which is time consuming for you. Think of it this way - we keep our eyes on what's happening in your industry so you can keep an eye on what's happening in your business.
This is a tough but very important question. We believe that PR is best measured by business metrics. For instance, if PR is used to help increase sales, then sales trajectory is a better indicator of PR success than, for instance, the number of articles earned. Many articles in less read publications will look good in a clip book, but may not move the needle for your business, whereas one well-placed article can be a catalyst for success. We like to work with our clients to develop a measurement program that ties directly to the business objectives you’re hiring us to help achieve.

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