Public relations can be an important component of your marketing and outreach efforts and should involve a clear and concise strategy.
So how do cannabis business owners, who are often prohibited from engaging in traditional public relations outreach, such as sending samples of their product to various influencers, use PR to their advantage? They get creative.
One of the best ways to get the press to notice you is through good, old-fashioned community service and outreach programs. Basically, if you care about your community, you’re not only a good person but you’re also more likely to get the attention both you and your business deserve.
Regardless of what kind of community service and outreach programs you implement, the principles of getting the word out and crafting your plan are the same as if you’re a huge corporation that is launching a new, federally legal product. In other words, you need to be strategic and you need to plan ahead.
Here are a few key principles you should consider as you go through the process of assembling your plan:
Know your audience
What kind of community service/outreach projects would connect most with your audience? It can be as simple as asking your customers what they’re passionate about. If, for example, you find that the majority of your audience are environmentalists, then consider creating a program where you give away free joints to people who help pick up trash in your community.
There is a huge tendency to get excited and anxious and want to get your story out quickly. Whether it’s the worry that your competition is going to beat you to the punch or an overwhelming need to be part of the discussion, you can destroy all your hard work and momentum if you go out to the world with an incomplete plan. Craft your story carefully and be mindful to tell it at the right time to the right people for maximum impact.
Focus on outcomes
What do you want the community to feel and/or do when they hear about you and your amazing work? Make sure your activities are part of a broader strategy and that they are aligned with the overall goal of your outreach program.
Create a story not just news
When you create a narrative about your company that sparks your audience’s emotions, you are more likely to have that story shared. Journalists are busy and jaded (I can say that — I majored in journalism in college) and it’s very easy for them to dismiss your press release as noise and clutter rather than something of substance that is worth sharing with their readers.
Look, we both know you’re awesome, but if your story only focuses on patting yourself on the back for your outreach, you’re likely to be overlooked by the press. Focus on your community and why it’s important to you to be part of the solution. Be proud, but be mindful of not bragging. Reach out to customers and influencers to help you tell your story. If your messaging is supported by an outside party, you are more likely to develop credibility with the press.
Remember, public relations is an ongoing effort. If you’re only doing community service once in a while to get press, then it may not work as well. Instead, think about building your outreach efforts into your overall marketing plan for maximum results. Plus, it feels good!
Remember, doing well by doing good is a very powerful business concept.
Alexa Divett is the founder of Alexa Divett LLC, a business coaching and consulting company helping cannabis business owners achieve success through the implementation of sound business practices and time-tested marketing techniques. She co-founded Maya Media Collective, an Oregon-based creative firm that specializes in the cannabis industry and also wrote the “Marijuana Millions” ebook series. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.