4 Cannabis PR Agency Secrets For Startups
The legal cannabis industry is filled with all manner of trials and tribulations for marketers and their agencies. Even with immense growth and potential in many traditional marketers, 57% of marketers won’t even take on clients in the space as learned via a research study done by our team. For those that do, the challenges can be mitigated, but require in-depth knowledge of nuances that can occur. We will provide a series of in-depth posts based on the below topics.
1) Work the Lexicon: Cannabis has a plethora of terms used to denote it: marijuana, weed, pot, ganja and countless others. Interestingly, differing terms are used in differing ways via search engines, for social sharing, and for the media. While Cannabis may the most common way the media in Canada refers to the plant, this is not the case for the U.S. And within the states, the south is different than the southwest. The term weed is most shared on facebook on Thursdays, while marijuana is Wednesday’s choice and people prefer varying content lengths depending on the term.
Bottom line, the top PR tip for the cannabis industry is to dive deep into Google trends, social analytics and content analytics before planning any marketing. (Stay tuned for our Cannabis Marketing White Paper on this very topic!)
2) Be wary of regulations: Across states and countries, messaging and format types, regulations vary for marketing cannabis products. While one social platform may ban an organization even for organic social posts, another may be open to all manner of advertising without limit. On the legal front, what may be legal advertising formats in one state may be illegal and open to repercussion in another. This is key to keep in mind when it comes to targeting and mass market advertising platforms. Any marketer engaging in advertising, including native/content driven formats, must be diligent in their research, targeting, copy and creative. (Stay tuned for our upcoming articles on targeting secrets!)
3) Embrace specialists, but beware of opportunists: When a new industry begins to hit scale, many agencies and service providers will dedicate specialist groups to focus on them. These should always be embraced as they can provide a higher level of expertise. The double-edged sword here is that for every legitimate and skilled service provider that establishes a new core focus, an opportunist exists capitalizing off of an increasingly “cash-grab-able” buzzword.
These opportunists will usually appear flashy, have only one core focus (in this instance cannabis) and make more noise about their industry focus than real-world examples of their capabilities. A good service provider should have years of expertise and often showcase this ability across a few primary focus areas. If your cannabis PR agency has never had a client in another industry, they may be missing out on crucial media relationships. If your cannabis marketing firm has never run ad campaigns on certain social platforms, they may be missing key data and intel. Bottom line, be wary. (Watch this space for our guide to identifying buzzword opportunists!)
4) Comparables provide context: The press deeply wants to cover the cannabis industry, but many are still traditionalists and do not understand the impact, potential, and trends of the landscape. The key to achieving positive media and press attention from not just the small group of cannabis-focused journalists, but across the mainstream consumer and business media is providing contextual comparisons. It is often not enough to present a compelling story: you have to provide examples, comparables, and data from other industries to show the larger picture. While mainstream media may understand these items in traditional industries, it is up to startups, or a cannabis marketing agency, to spoon-feed in these nascent days. (Our latest cannabis case study will be out soon!)