What a Budding Cannabis Industry Means for PR Pros

November 6, 2017

If you had told me a few years ago that I’d end up working for cannabis clients, I probably would have looked at you like you had sprouted a second head. I never would have guessed there’d be a place for PR in an industry where the product is still considered taboo to many and the name of the game is to keep things discreet.

But things have changed over the past few years as states slowly start to legalize marijuana for both medical and recreational purposes. New cannabis-focused companies are popping up all over, providing everything from actual flower to edibles to even payment technologies that make banking easier for retailers. These changes have created a niche for enterprising PR folks who are willing to dig deep, learn a new industry and start telling some powerful stories. Given the relatively small playing field, we’ve enjoyed open access to cannabis CEOs and the ability to stay ahead of the technology curve.

BPR client, Paper & Leaf, is one of many retail cannabis shops open for business in Washington.

However, there comes a time where successful developing industries grab the attention of larger, richer ones – and for the cannabis space, it appears that time is now. Last week, Constellation Brands Inc. (AKA the third-largest beer distributor in the U.S.) snagged a 9.9% stake in Canadian marijuana company Canopy Growth Corp. as a part of their quest to develop drinkable cannabis products. Although this deal will only affect Canadian consumers right now, as marijuana moves toward federal legalization in the U.S., it’s safe to assume that American companies will follow suit. This is great news for consumers who are anxious to try new products, but what does it mean for those of us working in cannabis PR? Here are my predictions.

Focus on finance

Time to strap on your VC hats, my friends. As large industry players get interested in the space, you can expect VCs and corporate CEOs alike to open their wallets for cannabis companies. A good place to start is familiarizing yourself with how the VC process works, then cozy up to your favorite reporters that cover finance and acquisitions.

Faster innovation

As the industry heats up, cannabis companies will need to create more unique, innovative products in order to attract new users and investors. It will be more important than ever to read industry verticals and stay updated on the latest trends to help your clients push their business forward.

Reduced stigma

Historically, cannabis has been a fairly taboo topic, but the growing cannabis industry will continue to create a lot of noise, especially as more folks hop on the legalized marijuana train. As such, PR pros will be able to use bolder language and reach broader audiences – and maybe eventually your Aunt Sally won’t look too shocked when you tell her what you do.

Influx of jobs

For any PR pro looking for upward mobility, the growth of the cannabis biz is really great news – a thriving industry will mean more available jobs, both in agencies and in-house. Existing agencies will dedicate entire verticals of their business to the cause, and you’ll probably see new agencies pop up that focus solely on cannabis. Either way you slice it, PR folks will have the chance to carve their niche and collaborate with some really unique and exciting companies.


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