Subscribe to Entrepreneur for $5

5 Highly-Effective PR Tips For Cannabis Companies

Do these things to get the most value for your investment.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Cannabis was already a challenging marketplace driven by regulatory requirements and gray areas on both the federal and state level. Then the pandemic hit in 2020, upending PR and marketing planning for businesses large and small. All the PR efforts that may have been effective last year or even at the beginning of this year have very likely stopped working due to everything that’s going on. With everything is in constant flux, how can cannabis businesses effectively reach their desired target audiences, let alone determine the right messaging? It’s a delicate balancing act even at the best of times, but it can be done by following a few key guidelines. Here are five tips for maximizing your PR efforts in today’s world.

Peopleimages | Getty Images

Related: Should Your Cannabis Company Hire a Publicist?

1. Create a crisis management plan

In today's world, it’s not a matter of if, but when your business will have a PR crisis, and "no comment" is no longer a viable option. With so many factors in play, your business must be prepared for anything. Poor reviews, videos, and live broadcasts of customer service problems, emergencies, or other issues can begin trending online virtually instantly. The crisis has the potential to go viral, spilling across social media platforms, and potentially reaching millions. That’s why it's important to have a crisis management plan in place. If you’re not listening closely and proactively engaging with customers, you’re at higher risk for a PR disaster. How you respond is everything, so don’t act without a defined plan and strategy in place. I’d recommend consulting with a PR professional or agency for this step. It’s well worth the investment.

2. Make relevant, relatable, and optimized content

Identifying your ideal customers’ needs, hopes and desires is a must. Ask customers for their input on topics they’d like to learn more about and their biggest worries or questions about cannabis use. What do they need to understand or know about cannabis and/or your products? What problems can be solved or what consumer needs can be met by the product? Now, brainstorm ways to create, deliver, and communicate offerings that can continue to satisfy your existing and potential customers. Develop and refine messaging as needed to optimize, optimize, optimize! The power of SEO-optimized content and PR can help drive customers to your website or social media profiles, boosting your brand’s recognition, searchability, and ultimately, sales.

3. Share content to all social channels

PR stories are ideal content as they have third-party authentic credibility, so be sure to share these widely. Sharing content to different social media channels opens up coverage, mentions, and the like to another audience who may not see it in its current form. It’s also important to note that when you’re developing social media content calendars, be sure to adapt messaging for each channel. The same message can be delivered in a variety of ways using well-designed graphics, compelling photos, exciting and fun videos, or by repurposing a post from another highly engaging platform such as TikTok or Instagram. Be sure to utilize the Stories feature on Facebook and Instagram whenever appropriate, and include a call to action and link.

Related: New Marketing Company Offers Free Brand Makeovers To Cannabis Companies In Need

4. Look for newsjacking opportunities

Newsjacking is the art of positioning yourself or your brand as an expert on a topic to provide insight or commentary into a bigger story or trend that's circulating the news cycle. Utilizing this simple PR strategy catapults you as a leader in your industry and an expert source on specific topics. To effectively newsjack a story, you have to continually monitor the news. But scrolling through endless articles across countless media outlets can be a nearly impossible task. To make it easier for yourself, set up Google Alerts to notify you of new stories on topics relevant to the cannabis industry. On top of this, you can follow hashtags on Twitter, follow news outlets or specific journalists on social media, and more. 

Tap into the wellness trend

One of the strongest and most versatile trends I’ve seen over the past few years is the move towards holistic wellness in mind, body, and spirit. With the current pandemic situation, this multifaceted topic has become even more timely. Brainstorm ways your cannabis business promotes, supports, or contributes to personal wellness, company and staff wellness, overall community and economic wellness - and then put your own spin on it! PR professionals are the best at this, so don’t be afraid to reach out for help. 

Follow these five tips, and you’ll be well-positioned for gaining market share during this crisis and even more once everything stabilizes. The ultimate takeaway is to keep a close eye on the news, leading and emerging media trends, as well as the frequent regulatory changes in the marketplace. One final caveat: the topics I've covered here are just the tip of the PR iceberg. PR pros who are in the know can garner more quality coverage than companies who choose to go it alone. Best of all, they’ll do it efficiently and effectively, using clearly defined and measurable KPIs that leave all parties including consumers, clients, journalists, and bosses satisfied. If you’re ready to get started or simply get better at what you’re doing now, call on a PR professional or agency for help. You’ll be glad you did.

Related: Free Webinar | How To Market Your Company In Uncertain Times