As the cannabis industry grows, a wide range of corporate communication programs are being used. Some of the companies in this industry are healthcare, substantive LPs and high-income companies which use integrated PR programs to deliver their long-term communication value. On the other side are dubious and phantom companies with industry hype people who have a lot of bluster to offer, but little in the way of operation transparency and performance claims.
The two ends of the spectrum make it hard to decipher the market, particularly for people who are new to the industry. This is why you need to take the time to consider the design and execution of your corporate communication. To help with this process, there are some high-level tips from us.
Brand Positioning for Cannabis Companies
The cannabis industry is pushing forward through the rapid increase of concentrate production capacity and flower growth. As this is the case, branding is going to become vital to the success of any business and to the unlocking of reliable margins.
It is often tempting to promote your business as the largest to investors, the media and other potential stakeholders. If this is not actually the case, you need to tone down your message. The global market is still in flux and there are a lot of companies that claim to be the largest or the best or the only company in cannabis in their niche. These claims generally ring hollow other than the small number of large public cannabis companies. Continuing with this message will weaken your company credibility and the tactic will become less effective as the industry matures.
The media and investors will train a keen eye on what they work on and will not treat a cannabis company any differently to others. When you interact with these stakeholders, you need to ensure that your messaging is considered, credible, and compelling. Your core message should always support your brand position and overall corporate narrative. You should look at having your leadership team rehearse your key messages often to ensure they deliver consistent and moving messages across all communication channels.
The Frequency Of News
Competition for investors and media attention has never been tougher, particularly in the cannabis industry as operators generally announce all developments regardless of their size. While you need to maintain some regular communication through press releases regarding key business milestones, you should avoid oversaturating the media with details of every small thing your business had done. When you do this, you could be overwhelming reporters and cause them to miss your most important news. It is recommended that you have 3 to 5 announcements of true substance per month and use other channels to share routine business updates.
Cannabis Reputation Management
When the profile of your company grows, you are likely to face some criticism from activist investors, the media and other stakeholders. It is important that you are prepared to respond when this happens. Your response should be cordial, fact-based and concise. Only provide additional background information if you have to
You need to avoid pointing out what other companies do and referencing your competition. Briefly address the criticism, explain in some positive language what your view is and then detail any actions that you will be taking a result of the criticism. Your response will be made stronger when you boost it with statistics, facts and quantitative evidence. While you will not silence all the critics at once, your measured and fact-based approach will make a difference over time.
Have A Unified Voice
With the market as it is today, any communication from your business has the potential of reaching any stakeholder. This means that it is vital that you have and maintain a good integrated PR/IR program. This will ensure that all of your marketing messages are synced with the overall company narrative. A unified message to the cannabis marketplace is vital for success.
Focus On Building your Cannabis Brand for the Long-Term
The core basis of PR is to build and maintain a beneficial relationship with stakeholders. As with all relationships, this will take time and you need to measure your success in months if not years. You need to focus on being a good communicator and a partner that is news making. You also need to avoid overreacting when you see a story that you think should have included your company.
You need to understand that reporters can get overwhelmed when they are covering a new industry for them. If you do see any poor reporting or misinformation, you should take the time to politely educate the reporter. Communicating with key media will be a goal that serves your business in the long run. As this is a two-way street, you also need to be gracious and accept when a reporter tells you no.