It’s a new year and time to think about your cannabis communication and what you want to accomplish in 2019. If you loathe resolutions, think of these as business goals and let’s get started!
Create a communication plan or at least a calendar.
There’s no better time than a new year to think and plan ahead. A communication plan will help you do some creative thinking about your work, give you a map to follow and focus your efforts. A cannabis communication plan has several steps.
- Start by defining the audience—who do you want to communicate with? Try to think as precisely as possible and there might be multiple audiences throughout the year.
- Set a goal (or several) that answer the question: what do you want to accomplish? How will you know if you’re successful in your effort?
- Define your strategy, the overarching idea(s) by which you’ll accomplish the work to be done.
- (The fun part) Develop the tactics and a timeline. Tactics are individual communication activities that fit with all the components above. Tactics might include media outreach, content creation, social media, special events, videos, advertising, sponsorships, blogging, e-newsletters and printed pieces. It’s best to determine your tactics after you’ve done 1-3 above.
Amplify your messages.
Amplification is the name of the game and the more people who can hear your message, the more successful you’re likely to be.
Connecting with the media is the best thing you can do to make that happen. Unless you’re a major celebrity or public figure with social media followers in the millions, you can’t beat the mainstream media for getting your message to people.
The first step in making that happen is to establish a relationship with local reporters. The good thing is, you’re in cannabis and that’s interesting to most media people. Especially as you grow your business, are approved for a license or get ready to open. You have the opportunity to show a reporter what you’re all about.
If you have something visual—a growing operation, a new provisioning center or a fleet of trucks—invite the local media to see what you’ve got and tell them what you’re doing. You can reach out to the press most easily by emailing a reporter who has covered cannabis in the past and pitch your story to them.
And don’t be discouraged if you don’t get a bite on the first or second try—sometimes it’s timing and other times it’s a pitch that’s not quite right. Think about what makes your story interesting or important—and refine that message and incorporate it into your subject line. Reporters spend about 11 seconds reading a pitch, so make it sharp and around 150 words.
Develop your expert voice.
Part of amplification is sharing your knowledge with the media and with your own audiences, too. The media wants high-quality spokespeople who know a subject in-depth and can speak about it with confidence. Whether you are a grower, processor, an attorney or an advocate, be informed and enthusiastic about your area of cannabis expertise. Plan what you’re going to say, anticipate questions and practice your key points.
Keep up on the latest trends and activities in cannabis by tracking news and subscribing to reliable news sources and aggregation sites.
Be disciplined with content creation.
Content creation is hard work, but it’s essential. Your website’s SEO and social media depend on new, original, relevant and fresh content—which can be blogs, videos or images. Ideally, you’ll create new content once a week, but that can be a struggle without ideas, a plan or professional help.
Try to create something new every two weeks, not only will you have something to make your website more robust—but you’ll have original content to share on your social sites.
Be social on your social media sites.
It’s annoying when you read something or make a comment on a social media site and the site owner doesn’t reply or even acknowledge your voice. Don’t be that company.
If you have a social media platform, use it to build engagement and community around your business. Ask questions of your followers and respond to comments and questions.
Yes, you’ll get trolls, and it’s okay to ignore or hide them.
Explore and use a new medium.
This is a tough one—we tend to stick with what we know, like and are good at. Writers will always write; photographers will take pictures and videographers will make videos.
Spend time learning about and using a medium you’re unfamiliar with and work to be good at it. There are so many useful tools and tutorials available online that you can master (or at least fake mastery) with something new. Learning keeps our minds active and alive and helps your company connect with people who want to see things or learn in different ways.
The midnight kiss.
Strategic communication helps drive business and builds your company’s brand among other cannabis businesses and consumers. Your communication plan and tactics should be measurable and should be results-oriented, it’s easier than ever to quantify results with your website and social analytics.