Public Relations, The Cannabis Industry

Navigating the ‘green mist’: Tips for marketing a cannabis business and debunking stigma to boot

Sarah Cichy /

SHUK Communications

SHUK Communications founder Sarah Cichy. Source: Supplied.

It’s high time for progressive businesses to get involved in the cannabis industry and an opportune time for PR professionals to navigate through the ‘green mist’ and act as an informational intermediary to catalyse and educate people to reconsider their preconceptions about this growth sector.

When the cannabis industry comes to mind, it’s natural to think of jobs in cultivation and distribution. But the future looks green indeed, with a wealth of potential in other cannabis-related industries, including investment, advocacy, agricultural innovation, botany, wellbeing, medicine and science plus specialist PR and media to help to share these narratives.  

The industry as a whole is nascent. As the global mindset towards cannabis alters and evolves, brands working in this dynamic, young market will have many unique obstacles to overcome.

As competition in the cannabis industry matures, companies should focus on building brand awareness through education, authenticity and accountability.

So, with this in mind, here are some key considerations for those looking to market their cannabis-related businesses.

Be an expert in world-leading compliance

To create the best possible PR outcomes for your brand, staying up-to-date with world-leading compliance is critical.

For the foreseeable future, brands who want to enter the cannabis space face fundamental hurdles, including a conflicting array of local, state and federal regulations.

Stay aware of the very latest policy and legislation and develop a communications strategy with education in mind to begin to leverage PR opportunities without risking legal pitfalls.

Industry-inclusive PR matters

The task of marketing a product that was, until very recently, seen as a potentially negative drug of addiction is enough to test the mettle of even the most experienced PR expert. It’s still very much a budding sector and, with that in mind, any cannabis-related business needs a well-orchestrated communications campaign to ensure they rise above less-than-favourable past perceptions.

At its core, effective PR is about stimulating deeper conversations and centring communication around education.

Raising general industry awareness is the first step, and those working in PR in this space must take a more holistic view. It is important to have a clear and collective commitment to change societal perceptions and find innovative solutions to problems, while at the same time keep our community safe.

Navigating thought leadership-style articles that demystify confusion about local and country-level regulations, proactively mitigating reputational risk and articulating individual client benefits with compelling clarity are all part of the PR process.

Share science and technology

The cannabis industry is extolling the virtues of science as a saviour of people’s wellbeing and better health opportunities by sharing curated information and broader research findings with clients and customers.

PR professionals have an opportunity to share over-arching industry-positive messages that help to celebrate science, embrace technology and elevate innovation.

Consumer education is more important than ever before. As a brand, manufacturer, dispensary or PR practitioner, this is your opportunity to be that trusted source.

Corporate responsibility

As well as appreciating the importance of how brands can help people, brands that showcase authentic corporate responsibility are also on the right path towards achieving powerful PR opportunities.

For this to be a sustained phenomenon, companies must demonstrate that their industry is truly responsible — both in Australia and beyond.

Safety as a priority

While legislation across the world is controversial and global expansion may concern purists,  the legalisation of cannabis and cannabis-derived products continues to gain momentum.

I believe it is a genuine public health priority, an exercise in social responsibility and goodwill gesture by cannabinoid brands and PR professionals to focus our efforts as an industry on taking healthcare to patients.

Such a stance is consistent with the tenets of responsible society, responsible commerce and responsible medicine.

If we can achieve this  while simultaneously supporting the best and brightest innovators we can achieve a new, commercial equilibrium in medicine, where the industry values its patient’s wellbeing, while taking supporting dynamic science and nurturing talent.

Competition will strengthen this sector

The burgeoning global cannabis sector has already created an exciting stimulus for innovation.

The opportunity exists to show the industry as being a vital part of the dynamic medtech sector. By encouraging people to view the industry in a new light, old stigmas will fall away, and new understandings will develop.

NOW READ: Cannabis “cowboys” could cause industry downfall or government crackdown, warns Medlab chief executive

NOW READ: How Sean Dollinger built a billion-dollar business in three years in a quest to become the ‘Amazon’ of cannabis

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Sarah Cichy

Sarah is the founder and chief executive officer at SHUK Communications, a PR agency that concentrates predominantly on the cannabis sector, and the founder and managing director at Piccolo PR.

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