It takes a special kind of team to enter into a new industry without any sort of blueprint. NisonCo PR was one of the first to take the plunge into cannabis, hemp and CBD specific PR when the cannabis industry started to take off. Since its beginning, NisonCo has situated advocacy front and center, which has made a significant difference in both their work and contribution to this ever accelerating industry overall.
NisonCo’s team of client managers recognizes the critical importance of bringing the spotlight to the positive aspects of cannabis in order to give the industry the support and momentum it needs to continue thriving. We wanted to share a few words of wisdom from the experts themselves regarding all things cannabis PR, from its unique qualities to the relationship between advocacy and business in the cannabis space.
How has working in cannabis PR influenced your understanding of cannabis as a whole?
It’s been one of the most educational experiences of my life, actually. The fact that we work with so many different sides of the industry has given me an extremely well-rounded understanding of the plant itself, the ever-evolving policies in the U.S. and abroad, and where the overall market opportunities lie.
What’s one piece of advice you’d give to someone looking to work in cannabis PR?
If you’re just getting into cannabis PR chances are you still have a lot to learn. Be humble and respect the years of groundwork that has been laid by pioneers, even before legalization was somewhat commonplace. Cannabis is a multi-billion dollar industry and comes with a great amount of opportunity but it can be easy to forget that we’re only here because of a decades-long political movement to reverse the incredibly harmful effects of the War on Drugs, and to ensure everyone has access to this versatile and therapeutic plant.
— Rich DiGregorio, Cannabis PR Account Management Director
What makes working at a cannabis PR agency different from working at another agency?
I have always said since I started in PR that I wanted to work somewhere that had a great company culture. I wanted to work somewhere where the employees were respected and listened to our ideas and our expertise. I had never found a company culture like that at any of my other PR Agencies before. I honestly think working at a cannabis PR agency very much has a very different feel than many others I have worked for. All of us at least at NisonCo are there because we are passionate about cannabis in all different aspects and areas. It is rare in a job you get to work with clients that you truly believe in and connect to on a personal level. At cannabis PR agencies I feel like my work is helping make history in the cannabis world and helping move the needle and grow the community. That is rare to find in most agencies I have come across.
How has working in cannabis PR made a difference to your PR portfolio?
It has expanded my PR portfolio tremendously. It shows how long I worked in different industries waiting for cannabis PR to take off. I think it makes my portfolio show more of my passion and tells more about what is important to me and what I want to promote. I have made a personal commitment to be an instrumental and educational voice for cannabis patients, advocates, and industry players everywhere, and that to me is what adds the personal touch to a portfolio.
— Elana Cohen, Cannabis PR Client Manager
How does managing cannabis-specific PR clients differ from other types of clients?
It can be a challenge to manage non-cannabis-specific clients since we specialize in cannabis. As a PR manager, we have to develop new relationships with industry-specific reporters in order to effectively represent non-cannabis clients. It is a challenge that strengthens our communication skills.
What’s one thing you’ve learned from working in cannabis PR?
The cannabis industry is a community that is rooted in advocacy and is working to make a difference in policy reform and social justice movements. I learned that cannabis PR is not only a job but an industry that strives to destigmatize cannabis, expand accessibility, reform dated policies, and much more.
— Raquel Heras, Cannabis PR Client Manager
Where do you see the future of cannabis PR headed as states and countries legalize cannabis? Do you think it will make a difference?
I see, for better or for worse, cannabis PR becoming more corporate as legalization inevitably unfolds on a large scale. Right now, there are a mix of firms of who grew up with the industry – passionate advocates focused on this space – and large Manhattan firms opening cannabis wings to try to catch the green wave. The recreational side of the industry in general will become more and more buttoned up as it eventually will be treated like the alcohol and tobacco industries.
What, if any, kind of advocacy work have you been able to do working in cannabis PR?
The advocacy stuff I’ve been working on has been less cannabis-oriented and more focused on drug policy in general. With the help of my boss Evan Nison, I’ve been able to move forward on adding to a bill in the NYS Assembly that would require public schools in New York to teach about the Good Samaritan Law, which legally shields individuals who call 911 if someone in their presence is overdosing on drugs.
— Lucas Wentworth, Cannabis PR Client Manager
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