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Cannabis PR

Sidestep PR Crisis Panic With Cannabis Media Training

April 10, 2023

We’ve all seen it before: A CEO makes an unforgivable PR mistake in a time of crisis, or a vice president lets the cat out of the bag before his team is ready for it. We’ve also seen the professional talking head who can spin facts so fast it makes you dizzy.

Communicating to journalists is an oft-overlooked yet critical component of public relations—you might even call it a discipline—and it’s especially important in today’s cannabis marketplace and media ecosystem. PR media training for cannabis companies is a vital need, in no small part since even ancillary businesses are often operating in a legal gray zone.

While it might initially feel like a process that can wait until time and money aren't so scarce, media training is well worth investing in. Ultimately, it's one of the best lines of defense against a serious public relations crisis that can derail your carefully planned strategies—or even your bottom line.

What Is Public Relations Media Training?

At its core, PR media training is the process of preparing company leadership, brands and their spokespeople to interact effectively with the media—and, by extension, the public.

PR firms like Grasslands offer media training services to equip those stakeholders with the necessary skills and knowledge to deliver key messages, handle difficult questions and build positive relationships with journalists and other media representatives.

Even for people used to being in the public eye, talking to the media isn’t an easy thing. As previously mentioned, then-Vice President Joe Biden, who’s been a professional politician since 1971, has without a doubt received media training. But he’s still well known for his gaffes, including in 2012 when he prematurely shared news of a major policy announcement for the Obama administration, months ahead of schedule.

The great thing about media training, though, is that it can help businesses (and White House staff) quickly clean up the mess that saying the wrong thing at the wrong time can create—or avoid making a mess to begin with.     

Grasslands PR Media Training: A Closer Look

Here are five reasons company leaders in any sector need PR media training:

  1. Control your messaging: Media training provides the tools, techniques, tips and tricks needed to communicate key messaging clearly, concisely and with confidence.
  1. Handle tough questions: During interviews, journalists may ask unexpected questions, or queries that require a technical and / or thoughtful response. Media training helps companies and their spokespeople develop the skills and poise to handle difficult questions, stay on message and never get caught off balance.
  1. Boost your confidence: Just like any skill, the more you learn and practice through training and real-life situations, the more confidence you’ll build in your abilities. This self-assurance will inevitably lead to better performance in one-on-one interviews, media announcements and other public speaking engagements.
  1. Strengthen your relationships with the media: As a journalism-minded agency, Grasslands is here to connect you with the right media outlets when you’re ready to get your message out. We do our best to do the heavy lifting for you. Media training, though, gives you an inside perspective on the world of PR, providing insights into how journalists work, their objectives and needs, and how to build positive relationships with them. Between the day-to-day support we offer and your own media training, you’ll have a powerful set of tools—creating more opportunities to secure earned media, not to mention expanding brand awareness.
  1. Crisis management: This is the one we hate to think about, but must. No matter how professional or well-prepared a company is, a crisis could arise at any time, be it a product recall, publicized legal action, or a “gotcha” viral video. Media training helps businesses prepare for these situations by providing a proper response strategy, minimizing the impact on both your reputation and brand.

Why PR Media Training Benefits Cannabis Brand Leaders 

Companies in the cannabis industry need media training even more than your average business. It all ties to longstanding federal prohibition and the shifting state legalization landscape.

With regulatory compliance as the backbone of state legalization policies, it's important for brands to ensure their messaging and marketing aligns with regulations that can vary widely from state to state. Media training by an expert in highly regulated industries, like Grasslands, can help ensure that spokespeople truly understand the various requirements and are able to communicate key messaging while remaining compliant.

There are also stigmas and stereotypes that often need to be addressed—among the public and with reporters who are skeptical and perhaps even under-educated on the cannabis beat. Media training helps cannabis companies beat back any misconceptions or myths while communicating the benefits of their products and services like a boss.

By now, most cannabis industry professionals know the importance of utilizing terms like “adult use” and “cannabis” instead of “recreational” and “marijuana.” But two major things are happening as new markets across the U.S. emerge. Were you familiar with the term “legacy market” before the early 2020s? Very few were. Did you know that “black market” is a pejorative term with racist roots? Most still have no idea. But the rapid expansion of the cannabis industry into the Northeast and South is coinciding with a bigger-than-ever racial reckoning in the sector that’s making billions of dollars by selling a product that’s landed countless individuals criminal records.

As a journalism-minded agency led by the first-ever Editor in Chief of a mainstream media cannabis vertical, Grasslands is endlessly inquisitive. And as subject-matter experts, we’re on top of this ongoing evolution. The right media training from the right firm can mean the difference between your brand standing out as a trailblazer or a company missing progress.

Be a stronger brand with brilliant quotes and unbeatable media savvy today—let’s chat!