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You Need to Check These Three Boxes for Your PR Strategy

With in-person conventions and festivals DOA until after the pandemic, here are some smart virtual marketing tips for 2021.

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2020 was an interesting year, to say the least, and many of us are relieved to see it gone. Cannabis business leaders faced a plethora of new challenges, such as the loss of new business from in-person events, trade shows and conferences, a struggle to build community, and the inability to travel freely or shake new hands like before.

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Still, there's a lot that we can learn to set ourselves up for success in 2021, including a strategic approach to public relations. Most of us aren't betting on the return of in-person events anytime soon. We understand that taking a digital approach to staying top-of-mind, relevant, and expanding is not only the safest bet also a requirement.

Here are three boxes you need to check in your PR strategy.

Related: 5 Effective Marketing Tips For Cannabis Brands

1. Amplify brand awareness

You can have the best product and the best service, but if nobody knows, then it's not serving anyone any good. To drive awareness, focus on collaborating and cross-promoting with others who have robust networks, audiences, and followings that could benefit from what you have to say. For example, participate in more podcasts. When you join a show as a guest and share your brand narrative, showcase your expertise, and cultivate an insightful conversation with the host, listeners will remember you and your brand. You've tapped into a brand new pool of business partners and collaborators. Guest blogs, press interviews, and writing thought-leader stories for media publications are also useful. 

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2. Create quality content

Have you ever heard of thought leadership but been confused by what it actually is? Here's a little primer that my team and I use: Break down the phrase into two segments: thoughtfulness and leadership.

Thoughtfulness is when you're genuine, authentic, and thoughtful in your response to a particular subject matter. So ask yourself, Are you just siding with the masses, or are you adding an original, new, innovative idea and perspective to a conversation that's already taking place?

Leadership represents you being a pioneer and someone who is leading the conversation. By bringing a new perspective to an existing discussion with information and data to back up your thoughts and ideas, you're leading the way for a new way of thinking, planning, and taking action. Each time you communicate, make an effort to bring something new and game-changing to the conversation so that if this is someone's first time coming across you and your name, they won't forget it, and they'll want to learn more. 

Content (whether it's owned, earned, or paid media) needs to be thoughtful, relevant, and valuable to whoever is consuming it. You want them to respect you and your brand. Otherwise, it's not thought leadership. It's just mindless rambling.

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3. Focus on community building

Content wrapped in community will drive attention to your brand, build an audience, and develop your business. But with the lack of in-person events, it's up to the innovators and change-makers to figure out how to establish a sense of community virtually and at a distance. We already see this with virtual conferences implementing virtual booths and networking events using Zoom and virtual communication tools. 

I believe one of the best vehicles for creating content wrapped in community is a podcast. When you have a podcast, a lot of great things start to happen. You'll notice your network and your reach begin to expand. Why? Well, the cross-promotion that takes place when your guest shares the interview on their network results in reaching a brand new audience, which might have taken months or even years for you to get on your own. Multiply this effect by 50 if you're able to publish fifty episodes in one year. You've just expanded your network exponentially over 12 months.

On top of the network expansion, you'll start to feel more creative and innovative with each new person you talk to. This will naturally lead to greater business development and increasing your chances of boosting business.

It's exciting that 2021 is finally here, but don't forget that we need to hit the ground running in ways that embrace distant, digital connections and help us rethink and rebuild how we do business moving forward. Starting with making sure you have the right PR strategy in place is a sure-fire way to kick off the new year in the right direction.