PR and Pot: What can Public Relations do for the Green Rush?
Marijuana (cannabis) is now legal in a number of states – some just make it legal, others make it legal with a medical prescription, and some of the states allow counties and municipalities to make the decision. From a government perspective, legalizing pot makes some sense – the tax value alone could send a lot of people to the other side of the fence. The Tax Foundation estimates that as much as $28 billion per year nationwide could be paid in taxes. So the tax angle may be one approach for those specializing in PR for cannabis companies.
Because so much of the legalization process has been filled with marijuana activists, PR specialists walk a fine tightrope to find of workable balance in promoting the pot industry and not pushing too hard and looking more like activists than professionals. At this point, there are already plenty of activists doing what they do best.
Growing Marijuana Industry
Just a few years ago, those companies selling legal marijuana faced many obstacles, including rapid growth. But now, the industry is finding its own norm, and that includes PR agencies specializing in this very select area of trade. As they do so, new territory is being traversed, requiring testing different methods and approaches. But there are many mainstream companies interested in branding marijuana and also several larger companies who have built their entire business on the products. But like every other company, expansion of the customer base is a primary goal.
So telling the stories becomes a primary component of Pot PR. From the medical perspective, pot has proven useful for those with cancer as a pain med, epileptics use it to control possible seizures, those with glaucoma benefit from its use, and certainly many dealing with stress issues including PTSD can find some release while using pot. Telling the individual stories of how it helps offers the opportunity to broaden perspectives, even of those with hard-core attitudes against it might be softened considerably when hearing about how a child with epilepsy has an easier life now with medical cannabis. And don’t forget to mention that smoking it is not required. It can be added to foods, taken in pills, or with an inhaler.
Pot PR’s Potential to Grow Even More
Additional stories could revolve around the use of marijuana as an alternative to alcohol consumption. Considering how many stories there are about physical abuse related to alcohol, pot tends to leave people mellow rather than angry.
But all of those are becoming more well-known to the public. If the pot industry wants to get to the next step, they may need to consider additional efforts. Since marijuana still has that kind of natural and “hippie” vibe, then associating your dispensary with other things with a similar vibe could prove useful. Think peace, love, and acceptance for those coming from other areas of the counter-culture – maybe sponsor a Pride day. Do a recycling campaign one month a year where people can leave their recyclables and receive a discount on that purchase. Find a local hair salon and join forces to sponsor a locks for love event. Use the activist spirit that is inherent in the industry to fuel PR while working in another worthy cause.