Today, an interview with Michael Mejer, whose cannabis-focused PR firm, Green Lane Communication connects industry leaders to earned media opportunities that position them to establish credibility and successfully penetrate one of the fastest growing verticals in today’s marketplace.
Back in 2018, when Mike Mejer first noticed cannabis companies struggling to promote their brands and narratives, he decided to take flight and learn more. After flying all over the country to attend several conferences and expos in the cannabis space, he immediately noticed a common denominator amongst cannabis brands–a majority of them were struggling to communicate what made them unique and why consumers should choose them over their competition. On top of that, they didn’t have a medium for promoting what they were doing without fearing repercussions such as having websites and advertisements shut down and removed. That’s when Mejer saw an opportunity to bring his thought leadership development and PR strategies from the book publishing world over into cannabis. It was at that moment that Green Lane Communication was born.
How has the pandemic changed the problems your clients are facing, and how have you pivoted to adjust to their needs accordingly?
Since the pandemic hit, my clients have been feeling more pressure than ever before to create a digital presence that helps them amplify awareness, build trust, and establish credibility. With that said, I’ve been placing a lot of emphasis on developing thought leadership for the faces of the brands I’m working with. Let’s face it, two competing companies can go head-to-head with pay-per-click advertising. One can outbid the other and they can go back and forth, increasing their ad spend overtime, but eventually that game won’t be profitable anymore. Brands need to be investing in thought leadership to clearly communicate what makes them uniquely qualified to solve whatever problem it is they’re claiming to address and solve, and why their product(s) or service(s) are better, faster, more valuable, and more effective than what may or may not already be out there.
Once we’ve identified their thought leadership strategy, dialed in on who they are, what they do, and why they do it, then we can take that narrative to the media and press to amplify awareness and establish credibility. This is a core element of my PR strategy that I deploy for clients, and now with the world operating 95% remotely, it is no longer an afterthought for many of the people I speak with in the cannabis community. This holds true especially for folks who were great at networking in-person, but are having a tough time in this virtual-first economy.
Participating in interviews, Q&As, writing guest blogs, contributing to publications, and being a guest on podcasts is a great way to build rapport and create content that can be incorporated into a variety of sales and marketing material.
With Cannabis still not being federally legal, how do you go about earning media coverage for your clients?
This is a great question. Media relations is something that takes a lot of strategic planning, experience, and nurturing. I make it a point to communicate with editors, reporters, journalists, and other media influencers about only the topics that I believe would be relevant and useful to them and their work. I view myself as a strategic partner of theirs. If I know a particular editor who covers retail, I’m not going to try and push a story about the best practices for growing cannabis to them. I position each client as a subject matter expert and thought leader using their past experiences, newsworthy accomplishments and/or accolades, and back all of that up with relevant data to support the significance of what I’m relaying over to them.
How do you measure a PR campaign’s success?
The most common KPIs include unique visitors per month, audience demographics and psychographics, reach, and website traffic. Of course campaigns can vary based on the end goal(s) of each client and what their business is currently going through. KPIs like foot traffic, how much easier B2B deals are to close given a boost in credibility, and things like this among other KPIs are also considered when a wave of positive coverage hits the web and/or news stands.
What should cannabis companies be focused on if they want to win long-term in one of the fastest growing, most competitive markets today?
If brands aren’t reinvesting capital into developing thought leadership, they run the risk of becoming “just another brand” and turning into a commodity. What makes a brand uniquely qualified to solve any given problem often stems from its leadership. In a world where the customer has the upper hand because they can learn everything there is to know about a given topic by performing a quick Google search, leaders of companies need to step up and become the one customers go to for their information. Deploying an effective thought leadership strategy, amplifying that narrative via media and press opportunities that will help amplify brand awareness, build trust, and establish credibility, will contribute significantly to the long-term success of a brand and the business behind it.
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