Cannabis has increasingly become a focal point of international attention. In the United States, nine states have legalized cannabis for recreational purposes, and another 30 have legalized it for medical use. For entrepreneurs hoping to advance their brands, this boom in legal cannabis presents an incredible opportunity to convert media coverage into positive brand capital- if they know how to do it.
For the majority of businesses, branding should come second to forging your identity. Once an identity is developed, creating a single, cohesive message is not hard. A strong message is crucial to accumulating social value. Just as your company needs to develop, so does your brand.
Still, a brand’s financial value is not derived from a sophisticated logo or motto. Rather, brands are valuable because business owners work hard to ensure they regularly deliver on what they promise, whether that be social responsibility, customer service, the quality of their products or how their business is run. Brand discovery takes time: you may be looking at a year or longer.
One only needs to look as far as the litany of celebrity cannabis brands to know that this is true. Despite the fact that celebrities like Whoopi Goldberg and Tommy Chong have cannabis brands, no single brand has emerged as a household name in the cannabis industry. Once again, branding takes time, especially in an industry as complex and convoluted as this.
One of the most essential components of any company or brand is visibility. In order to achieve the level of attention necessary to solidify and advance a brand, you must have a strong presence in the media. In order to accomplish this, you must include public relations as part of your core strategy.
You can have the best product, concept or brand in the world, but none of that will matter if no one knows about it. This is especially true in the cannabis industry, where strict advertising regulations limit what you can do.
The biggest mistake you can make is viewing public relations as a luxury instead of a necessity. Building a product or company is only half the battle — PR and marketing comprise the other half.
Regardless of whether your public relations campaign is done in-house or through a public relations firm, it is imperative that you work with a professional who has built the necessary relationships and can effectively and efficiently execute a campaign to compete with established cannabis brands.
Within the cannabis space, social media influencers and well-managed, strategic page campaigns can be some of the most effective avenues to reach consumers. Blogs are also helpful ways to get attention. As you reach your target audience online, media may take notice and become receptive to covering your brand.
Utilize platforms like Meltwater, AxisWire and Cision to help manage your digital communications and monitor the data from your campaigns in order to evolve your strategy as needed. These tools can help you create your media lists, distribute your news releases and influence your industry.