The cannabis marketplace is an ever-changing one. The opportunities continually being generated in the UK space are enormous. Yet despite the numerous benefits cannabis can bring to the economy, patient care and supporting health and wellness for consumers, an image problem continues to persist.
Despite its vast growth, there is still a lot of ambiguity and misinformation. Having worked with a number of cannabis businesses in recent years, I firmly believe there are a variety of ways in which the industry can profit from PR support. A strong PR strategy can not only drive media coverage, but help to reach customers, shorten sale cycles, bolster brand reputation and drive change within political and regulatory circles.
Whether you are a thriving cannabis brand, a start-up or an established business, PR can help you stand out from the competition and become a credible voice in this competitive market.
Here are some key ways in which cannabis businesses can profit from PR:
Campaigning for progress
Each category of the cannabis sector faces its own reputational challenges. Medical cannabis is perhaps the most significant of these, yet it still goes largely misinterpreted by the general public. This, along with regulatory constraints and a lack of education in the clinical community means cannabis stigma continues to exist.
For the thousands of patients suffering with the likes of multiple sclerosis and epilepsy, still struggling to access this fully legal drug, this is a sad, pressing issue. There are several families and individuals across the UK who campaign for medical cannabis access to be improved, by leveraging their story via the press and lobbying Parliament. Some of these high-profile families have been supported through strategic communications at The PHA Group, most notably Hannah Deacon, the mother who successfully campaigned for the first NHS cannabis license for her son, as well as the parents of toddler Charlie Hughes
Both cases offer compelling proof of the role PR can play in supporting those in need of medical cannabis. Through communicating to media and generating coverage of the stories of both families, the complex issue of medical cannabis access has been propelled into the public eye, this in turn putting fresh strain on the Government to address this through much-needed change. For cannabis leaders and professionals looking to invest in PR, it is critical that your PR partner understands the key issues, culture and difficulties of the industry to create credible stories and campaigns to gain cut-through in the media.
CBD is the most recognised sector of the UK cannabis industry, having become firmly connected to the lifestyle scene in recent years with is broad range of health and wellness products. With approximately 7.3 million people in the UK using CBD products each year through a marketplace already worth an estimated £300 million, the industry is predicted to grow at a rapid rate, with experts claiming this figure will more than triple in the next half a decade.
Despite its remarkable growth, the industry has faced its own stumbling blocks. Until this year, CBD had been in a period of regulatory uncertainty and the industry faced understandable criticism when high profile cannabis investigations found over half of the most popular CBD oils did not contain the amount of CBD promised on the label. This did nothing to help the already unstable public perception of CBD in the UK, meaning firms have had to work extremely hard to rebuild their reputations and ensure their brands are considered trustworthy by consumers going forward.
With hundreds of brands claiming to be the best option, establishing credibility, and becoming a trusted voice is key. Educating your audience by positioning company experts will help to keep your audience up to speed on the most current information and allow your brand to achieve an authoritative voice within the cannabis sector.
Driving awareness drives revenue. It doesn’t matter if your story and products are revolutionary or if nobody knows they exist! PR can help build a narrative which tells the purpose of your business, along with its vision and products, whilst promoting key insights to keep your company relevant. The power of public relations in this regard is very akin to that of positive word-of-mouth.
Strategic brand building
Cannabis companies can’t promote like mainstream companies, so must always tread carefully in the marketing of their products. However, there are great opportunities within PR. Through case studies and careful product placement, PRs can work carefully with CBD companies to raise awareness of the benefits of their products and solidify their brand image, without risking trouble with the ASA. With CBD brands and manufacturers continually springing up, there are opportunities aplenty for PR firms to lend support, whether that’s from a consumer perspective, across food and drink, beauty or general wellness, or from a strategic business view.
Stories sell. It’s crucial for a brand that wants to develop a sustainable, long-term plan to build a story that resonates with its audience. Strategic PR can therefore increase brand value and coupled with a digital marketing and social media strategy, boost engagement and raise the profile of the business.
A plethora of opportunities
The legal cannabis industry is consistently increasing traction and is one to watch. In relation to medical cannabis, the industry has called for change to advance patient access and pressure has been exerted on the Government and regulatory bodies to normalise cannabis as an effective treatment for countless of health conditions. Whilst in comparison, the CBD sector is only set to develop and in recent years, there has been an ever-increasing interest and investment into hemp, a versatile product of the cannabis plant hailed as the next big thing in sustainability.
Cannabis is a commonplace yet spectacularly complex plant. It, therefore, needs a PR strategy that can highlight key angles and opportunities across an array of avenues to position brands within the space for success and growth.
Whilst there is still much to learn and navigate in cannabis, PR has an essential role to play in changing attitudes as the industry continues to expand and evolve.
Is your business looking to reach new audiences and set yourselves apart from your competitors? Get in touch today to discuss how our award-winning team of experts could help.