On Cannabis PR: Why a Consistently Professional Narrative on Cannabis is Crucial

Professionalism in cannabis extends far beyond business niceties—it’s about changing the conversation in a pivotal moment of history.

Author: Lindsey Clarke

Representing a variety of industries as a PR professional is more common than not. One of my favorite parts of being a publicist is having the opportunity to be exposed to industries I know little about. I love to expand my knowledge base and understanding of the world—for me, the constant research and unlimited learning opportunities are a daily exercise in proactively making sure my clients are being positively represented at the forefront of their industries. 

Coming from a consumer-and-lifestyle PR background in Los Angeles, the chance to shift to cannabis in my home state of Colorado has been invigorating. The cannabis industry is a catalyst for change, and joining a community of entrepreneurs, scientists, regulators and advocates driven to globally reform social and business constructs is incredibly fulfilling. 

However, to be a successful publicist in such a pivotal moment in history, taking a consistently professional approach while communicating cannabis has been imperative for me.

Consciously Destigmatizing Cannabis and Removing False Perceptions in the Media 

The 2020 election showed that cannabis reform is a popular—and winning—issue from the Southwest to the Northeast and points in between. And yet, the stigmas and stereotypes of “marijuana the gateway drug” and “lazy stoners” are still being repeated in media coverage. It’s clear that the voice behind progressing cannabis reform is critically important right now. 

While representing companies and brands in the cannabis industry, flipping the script on the old, negative perceptions is crucial to combatting decades of misinformation.

Approaching mainstream media with the utmost professionalism and transparency to further serve as an educational resource on cannabis is key in freshening the narrative and gaining exposure in mainstream media platforms that may not usually speak on cannabis. 

By bringing forward conscientious, regulatory-compliant cannabis companies with years of positive experiences in the industry for writers to reference and put in context, we’re given the platform to better educate the public on misleading stereotypes and shift the focus to positive outcomes of cannabis reform. 

Working in Cannabis is Always Changing and Sometimes Risky 

Communicating about modern cannabis is more than putting a spotlight on hot new brands and novel infused products—it’s understanding how these products work in our bodies.  

As the early weeks of the 2019 vaping lung injury crisis taught us, working in the cannabis industry at any level can be a gray area at times, even with full compliance. It also showed how critical it is to let science lead the way and the stark differences between the regulated market and the illicit market when it comes to public safety.

As scientists play catchup in studying non-synthetic cannabinoids after long facing insurmountable federal barriers to research, there are new discoveries being made almost daily. 

The best way to be taken seriously when approaching the conversation is to serve as a qualified spokesperson who is always up to speed on the changes in the industry—by living and breathing the news about policy and regulatory reforms, and staying abreast on research. 

Being a Trusted Resource for Individuals with Seeking Information 

As the cannabis industry expands in new and existing markets—as will soon happen in Arizona, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey and South Dakota—interest in the potential therapeutic benefits of cannabinoids has soared. The cannabis business community and its representatives must serve as a resource for individuals who seek the health and wellness benefits but struggle to find a trustworthy resource to learn more. 

By positively representing the industry, cannabis  professionals are the guiding light for consumers who do not know where to turn. Approaching these conversations with the utmost professionalism will lead to more open-minded, educational dialogues that continue to pave the progressive path to further reform.

As a publicist serving clients in the cannabis industry, it’s never a 9-5 desk job. A takeaway I bring into my everyday world from my cannabis PR work is how I speak on cannabis to my colleagues, family and friends.

Decades of misinformation about cannabis has driven prejudice and ignorance for too long, and by serving as a resource of education to my peers, I will continue to help shed a positive, progressive light on what’s to come for the cannabis industry.

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