When you have a job to do, there is typically a set of tools you need to get the job done right. The same came be said for PR. In Cannabis PR Success Starts with Strategy, we discussed the need for a plan, schedule, and budget. We emphasized the importance of carefully selecting your PR tactics to support overall marketing and business goals, and how a PR program (the selected tactics) should maintain consistency and reinforce the bigger picture plan. But what are the tactics, or tools, available to choose from? We want to share a variety of tactics available so you can create a customized PR Toolkit to help you get the PR job done right.
A key aspect of any PR program is connecting with the media. And the best way to share company highlights and story ideas with the media is with a well-written press release. We dedicated a whole article to help you with this must-have in your PR toolkit—How to Write a Press Release.
Think of a Media Alert as an invitation. Also referred to as a Media Advisory, it informs editors about an upcoming event and invites them to attend—hoping it may be of interest for a story, photo opp, or video footage. The main components of this document are a headline, brief intro, bullet points highlighting key aspects of the event, and contact information. You may send a media alert for the grand opening of your dispensary, to announce a talk you’re giving at a cannabis conference, or to draw media to an event you’re hosting that perhaps has a strong visual component to it.
Other useful documents that share information with the media include a Media Briefing Sheet and FAQs. These can be supportive materials providing background information that you can pair with other documents and have available at media events. You may also use these if you have the opportunity for a desk-side visit with a key media contact—one-on-one time in their office or over a cup of coffee.
While you may not have a specific event to invite the media to, you may have a great case study or story idea to share. Whether via a formal letter, bulleted email, or reaching out via phone, a “pitch” is taking an opportunity to connect with one of your media sources to share a specific idea. While a press release or media alert may be distributed to your entire media contact list, many times you tailor a pitch to include a specific idea relevant to a targeted publication or outlet. Usually you go to your most desirable outlet, the first place you would like to see the story covered. You want to give them exclusive access to the idea. If it is not of interest to them, then move on to the next source on your list. Sometimes a story idea may have different angles that can be covered by different sources, such as a local business story angle as well as a national cannabis magazine angle. Even better, this pitch process may provide the opportunity to author an article.
If your dispensary or company has groundbreaking news to share, you may want to organize a media event where the press is given exclusive access to your leadership team. For a reminder of what journalists deem newsworthy, we have you covered—Want Media Attention? Be Newsworthy. Media events may include special tours, creative new product introduction events, media cocktail parties or infused dinners, exclusive interviews, and the first look at all aspects of your newsworthy story.
There are a few tools you will need to support your media efforts as well as some of the other PR Toolkit tactics: messaging, photography, and video. Think about the overall goals in your strategy. There are messages that need to be crafted to properly communicate your brand and share company information in a consistent way. This messaging needs to be reinforced across all your selected tactics. When it comes to reinforcing a message, a picture is worth a thousand words, right? And in today’s world people will add that “video is worth a million words.” Whether for your own website and social media or to share with the media, photos and video are important tools to reinforce your brand, culture, product offering, team, and much, much more. These are tools that need to be planned for and worked into your schedule and budget. A great image or video clip can make all the difference in properly conveying your marketing messages.
As we mentioned, messaging, photography, and video support more than your efforts to garner media attention. They can be used to enhance other tools such as blog posts and social media. Your website and social media channels are valuable tools that allow you to control messaging and put information out into the world. They help you connect directly with your targeted markets and customer base, build audiences, and serve as another way to draw media attention.
Speaking engagement submissions and award applications are two other ways to gain recognition and additional publicity. Taking the time to turn a pitch idea into a presentation can provide tremendous exposure. Whether positioning yourself as a keynote speaker or part of a well-rounded panel discussion at a reputable industry event or trade show, these opportunities give you subject matter and news to share via blogs and social media. If your audience is other businesses, you’ll want to focus on B2B trade shows, while if you want to reach consumers, you will want to target the myriad B2C shows, most likely in your own state. And there are always media partners covering these events. Likewise, there are numerous local and national awards programs that offer both media coverage and content for your own use. You must be in it to win it though, so make these submissions part of your PR Strategy.
And last but certainly not least is crisis communications. We all want to be in the news for positive reasons, but what if something goes wrong at your manufacturing facility or an accident is associated with the use of one of your products? Having a plan of action in case of a crisis is an important exercise to engage in. There should be a document in place or a trusted consultant to call for help. You need to determine who will be the spokesperson in these situations and develop a protocol for decision making, messaging, and media interactions.
As you can see, there are a lot of tools available to you to support your PR program. The items discussed provide a comprehensive toolkit for achieving PR success. Now you just need to think about your goals and customize your company’s PR Toolkit to get the PR job done right.
Judy Campbell is president at Campbell Consulting. She founded the agency in 1996 to provide companies with strategic communications counsel encompassing PR, digital communications, content creation, media training, and social media. Campbell Consulting is dedicated to shining a spotlight on the country’s best brands and thought leaders in cannabis, craft beer, hospitality, food and beverage, blockchain, and software. The agency was nominated for the 2019 BOB (Best of Breed) Awards.