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Cannabis PR
5 min read

On Cannabis PR: Why Building Relationships with Media is Key for Success

Published on
August 6, 2020
A team of marketers working for success.

In public relations, media relationship building is crucial to securing coverage for clients. And in cannabis PR, that sometimes means going the extra mile.

Author: Madison Ware

Relationships can be hard to establish and maintain, but it’s an essential part of business success. In the public relations world, strong relationships go a long way, and they’re at the core of every PR strategy. If you know Grasslands at all, then you know how important relationship building is for us as an agency, as well as for our clients—it goes hand-in-hand.

A big part of my job as an account coordinator is working to get clients into media outlets that align with our agency’s customized strategy and objectives for each client.

These outlets include digital, TV and print, both mainstream and B2B trade pubs. We always aim high at Grasslands, so I’m talking about national publications like Forbes, The New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post, etc., in addition to those that serve key local markets. And because journalists get hundreds of emails per day, it makes your chances of getting your client into prime outlets so much easier if you’ve established a professional relationship with them first. 

At Grasslands, We Build Strong Relationships With Journalists

In the PR world, we know that journalists are more likely to open and respond to your email if they know you personally versus someone whom they’ve never spoken to or met. One way of accomplishing this is to simply ask a journalist out for a coffee (if they’re local, of course). Happy hours are a good opportunity too. 

Here’s a little behind-the-scenes story: My first experience taking out a journalist for a professional happy hour meeting was nerve-wracking but successful. Unlike emails and calls, this was such a different way of pitching and it really got me out of my comfort zone. That said, it usually pays off in the end. Not only does this lay the groundwork to help your clients get into the news, it helps you grow professionally.

After happy hour with the journalist, I felt so much more comfortable in our interactions and now have a professional, yet personalized, relationship with an associate editor at a prominent Denver-local news outlet. This relationship has stayed strong since the happy hour and now he reaches out to me about story angles and sources, instead of the other way around. This is an excellent way of gaining consistent coverage for your clients—your journalist friend will always think of you and your clients before anyone else.

Media Relationships Build Credibility and Trust 

Talking specifically about cannabis PR, there are only so many journalists who are on the cannabis beat, locally and nationally—we’re spotlighting them in Grasslands’ Cannabis Journalists blog series, check it out here

As we all know, there are lingering stigmas about cannabis and there are still people who don’t take this industry seriously.

Something to think about: People who aren’t familiar with cannabis may feel self-conscious or still have preconceived notions from the many decades of anti-cannabis propaganda before legalization. If you establish a meaningful relationship with a journalist who isn’t on the cannabis beat, you can now be a source of education and help familiarize them with it.

Another prime example of how relationship building can create trust between you and a journalist: 

I recently pitched a story to a general email at a publication, and I got a response from someone who isn’t on the cannabis beat. Because the journalist wasn’t familiar with cannabis and told me she wasn’t comfortable going into a dispensary, I took it upon myself to offer an in-person coffee date to provide product samples and information resources. We now have someone who probably would never have tried our client’s product, familiarizing themselves with cannabis. 

This personal outreach and connection not only builds credibility and trust, but reinforces Grasslands’ reputation as an agency that goes the extra mile. 

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