Unique challenges confront the legal marijuana industry. Following decades of government agencies demonizing marijuana, practitioners in the industry must communicate the value and safety of their newly legal product to target audiences. Before diving into specific advice, the general purpose of public relations should be defined. PR is a service that seeks to tell its client’s story and thereby create a public image.The story for legal marijuana may be confusing for large segments of the market.
A portion even still considers it dangerous. Presenting the public with testimonials of medical marijuana users and their families overcomes the prior negative associations with repeated exposure.
Public sympathy can be created with stories about epileptic children being saved from excessive seizures with cannabis medicine. Features about people in chronic pain, especially veterans, further defend the benefits of medical marijuana.
The testimonials of people who consume marijuana therapeutically put a face on the issue. They dislodge the negative image of marijuana users as a threat to society long portrayed by authorities.
On the recreational side of legal marijuana successful public relations invites comparisons with legal alcohol consumption. Alcohol has long been the publically accepted form of intoxication. But very few people can refute the dangers of alcohol, a substance strongly associated with abuse and crimes of passion.
The story of marijuana as the safer recreational substance is next supported with the dearth of evidence associating recreational marijuana use with crime.
Touting the tax revenues benefit convinces some people to condone the legal marijuana industry.
The story promoted for the industry should be followed up on regularly. Then the public must learn about the lack of negative consequences since legalized marijuana. Typically, people just stop getting in trouble with authorities over marijuana. A majority of people think this consequence is good.
The goal of public relations at this point is to reassure the public that no harm has resulted. Indeed the tax revenues paid can be offered as a pleasant consequence.
Going forward, specifics about legal marijuana need to be communicated to various audiences. For example, a market segment curious about marijuana but unwilling to smoke needs to hear about alternatives like edibles and vaporizing.
To communicate appropriate stories, print and web offer good mediums for the message to springboard. Articles can be read discreetly. Strategic interviews on video and audio venues will intensify message delivery and make the subject feel mainstream.