Opening a new business in an emerging and often controversial industry can present all kinds of challenges, but a positive write-up in a local publication can do wonders to break the stigma that your neighbors may have about the cannabis industry while bringing new customers or patients through your doors in the process.
In order for a news outlet to consider writing about you, first you’ll need to have a newsworthy story. With that in mind, attracting positive press as a dispensary or producer/processor can be done the same way that it can be done for any kind of local business: participating in local charity events, announcing noteworthy partnerships or promotions, or becoming a member of your local chamber of commerce and other community organizations. After deciding what your company can do to attract positive attention, take the following steps to increase the odds that a journalist will be interested and announce your news to the community:
1. Research local media outlets in advance
Come up with a list of local media outlets (newspaper, radio, TV, news sites or blogs) and observe the way that their reporters cover local business or lifestyle news, especially related to cannabis. Note the writing style, length of story, type of story, etc. so that you can provide a press release written in a similar style, lessening the amount work the journalist will need to do to cover your news. Chances are, if you read the local papers, you already know which ones will be most likely to show interest in your story.
2. Compile a list of reporters to contact
From each outlet, make a list of all of the journalists that would make sense to contact based on the previous stories you can find that they have covered. Look for the journalists who specialize in local business, culture, events, or whatever topics pertain best to your announcement. You can usually find a journalist’s preferred mode of contact on the contact or about pages of the outlet’s website, or at the end of an article they have written.
3. Write a press release announcing your news
After selecting your top prospective journalists, write a press release matching the tone of the outlet you wish to target. Keep your most important and timely messaging at the top of the press release, include a quote or two from someone at your company, and list your contact information at the bottom of the release. For more on the art of press release writing and to download a template, check out this Hubspot article.
4. Send a personalized email to each journalist with your press release attached
Personalizing the email you send to each journalist will show them that you have taken the time to do your homework and that you’ve contacted them for a reason. Feel free to reference past articles that they have written while mentioning that their audience would benefit from knowing your company’s news. Attach a document containing your press release, as well as some high-resolution photography related to your announcement.
5. Follow up with the journalist if needed.
In some cases the journalist will reach out to you with follow-up questions, so be prepared to speak over the phone or meet in person with the reporter. If you don’t hear from a journalist or see a story profiling your company’s news, it is okay to follow-up with the journalist a few days later. Be polite and remember that if they like you and what your company is doing, it could mean much more positive press in the future.
Overall, outreach to the local press should be a big part of your marketing efforts. Obtaining local press coverage can be time-consuming, but it is free and more trustworthy to the public than advertisements. Spend the time building up a comprehensive outlet and journalist database, crafting effective press releases, and maintaining communication with journalists, and you could see large amounts of positive press and new business.