CANNABIS BUSINESS EXECUTIVE | When Cannabis Business Executive offered me a recurring column to dig into the details and the drama behind the art of communicating to targeted audiences—otherwise known as public relations—I jumped at the opportunity. I knew this would be a fun and enlightening opportunity to peel back the complex layers of publicity, specifically as it pertains to the cannabis industry.
But perhaps a quick review of the profession and its history within the industry is in order.
Let’s start with this: Many business leaders don’t fully grasp the distinct nuances between public relations (or earned media) versus advertising (or paid media). With paid media, you are paying for an advertisement, and you know when and where it will run. But with earned media, you are earning that editorial placement by catching a reporter’s attention with a compelling pitch or press release.
You can’t demand or pay for earned media from a reputable news outlet, and most of the time you’re relying on a communications professional (such as myself) to pitch these stories to journalists, because we have relationships with some of these writers going back decades. But trust me, the effort is worth it: Studies show that earned media is more trustworthy and carries more weight with consumers. For example, a 2016 study found that earned media created the most positive brand impression.
Another important metric: Earned media is also ranked as the most likely to be shared.