6 Secrets to Getting Media Coverage for Your Cannabis Brand
The media can't get enough of legal cannabis stories. Here's what they're looking for.
With interest in cannabis starting to peak in the mainstream media, there is even more opportunity for cannabis brands that live on the periphery to break through and become widely known names.
Here are six things marketers should keep top of mind as they seek unpaid ways to elevate their brand from an outsider to a nationally recognized player.
Educate about the plant and business
While the mainstream media is certainly more conversant in cannabis today than they were just a few years ago, most reporters and publications are still in learning mode, constantly seeking new voices, new opinions, and new insights as they educate themselves and their audience on the cannabis plant and industry. Cannabis brands should be playing to this in their PR strategy. When pitching yourself, think education-first. Position your brand as an educational asset that reporters can lean on in their quest to learn more about the legal cannabis business. This includes everything from industry trends to human interest stories.
Offer plenty of backup
The media just loves a good statistic or data point. It gives stories weight and makes them topical. The more information you can deliver to the press with data that backs up your opinion, the better your chances of landing mainstream coverage for your brand. It’s one thing to have an opinion, but it’s entirely another thing to have an opinion that can be backed up with concrete data. Bonus points if the stats you can deliver are proprietary and can be sourced back to your company (or product).
It's about people, not product
In many industries, PR is all about pushing product--free samples, product reviews, mailings, and demos. This rule generally doesn’t apply to cannabis. The arms race in cannabis media right now is for people, not products. The media wants to see faces, hear voices, and meet people who can stake their claim as the king of cannabis in their respective sectors. When planning your go-to-market strategy, focus on the people and the personalities that best represent your brand and more clearly tell your story. The relationships that your people will build with the mainstream media will be infinitely more valuable in the long-run than anything your product can offer in the short-run.
Need for speed
Today’s media cycle is more frenetic, unpredictable, and fast-paced than it’s ever been before. And with so many different variables impacting the cannabis landscape every day--domestic and international markets, federal and state legislation, the employment and jobs environment, the public and private economic markets, and so on--the news cycle moves at a faster pace than almost any other sector. Make this need for speed a core part of your PR strategy. Show media types that you are a reliable and responsive resource, no matter how fast their turnaround time. If you do this well enough times, you will be their go-to source for most cannabis stories. Not a bad place to be!
Think national, know local
It may seem counterintuitive, but to garner national PR interest for your brand, you need to understand what’s happening at a local level. If you look at the largest and most influential national media outlets, they’re covering local cannabis trends with as much interest as they’re covering national trends. What are Colorado dispensaries doing compared to California ones? How is the jobs environment in cannabis in Nevada versus Massachusetts? What’s the next move for New York State? If you have your sights set on becoming a national brand, you should really understand what’s happening in your own backyard. That means everything from consumer trends, retail trends, customer case studies, and economic impact data should be in your back pocket, ready to be offered up to the national press.
Content is king
As far as cannabis coverage right now, it’s a seller’s market. The media is clamoring for stories to satisfy their audience’s quest for information. In many cannabis sectors, the demand for quality content from mainstream media outlets exceeds the supply, which creates a great opportunity for cannabis brands to produce content on their own and shop it to mainstream media outlets for syndication.
Everything from bylines, thought leadership content, tastefully designed data charts and so on, are fair game right now to shop around to many mainstream media outlets. Don’t be afraid to spend some time and money creating your own content machine if you’re a cannabis brand. If the content is strong chances are you’ll be able to find a home for it.