5 Ways Cannabis Brands Can Win With Gift Guides

5 ways cannabis brands can win with gift guides

With all the holiday news and journalists’ vacation schedules, the end of the year can be a tough time for cannabis brands to earn media coverage. But there’s one way brands can cut through the noise to make sure they get in front of readers right when holiday shopping hits a fever pitch—cannabis gift guides.

Why Gift Guides are Great for Cannabis Brands

Gift guides have become a huge resource for harried shoppers looking for everything from children’s toys to the latest tech upgrades. But they’re an especially good fit for cannabis brands for a number of reasons. Gift guides are an excellent way to get CBD or THC products into publications that don’t normally cover cannabis. For example, fashion and beauty magazines are increasingly likely to include a relaxing CBD bath bomb or infused lotion in their product roundups. 

Another reason cannabis brands can benefit from gift guides is that the format is ideal for earning trust and educating consumers. Shoppers are especially receptive to well-written, well-curated picks from reporters and editors at publications they already trust for the latest news and trends. A cannabis gift guide in a well-loved magazine feels less like an advertisement and more like word-of-mouth reviews from a familiar friend. 

That reduced barrier is particularly important for helping cannabis-curious shoppers see how a specific product might fit into their recipient’s lifestyle. Cannabis gift guides can be a great education tool for those who don’t yet know what their favorite strains are or who aren’t familiar with the latest trends and product innovations in the cannabis space. Best of all, that information can be tailored to a publication’s tried-and-true audience, helping you get in front of just the right segment of your target market.

Cannabis Gift Guides Keep Giving All Year Long

Cannabis brands stand to win with gift guides not just during the winter holidays, but throughout the year. From New Year’s to 4/20, and Father’s Day to “birthday presents for her,” gift guides always provide a reliable hook for journalists. Whether you’re touting THC-infused chocolates for Valentine’s Day or the best vape pens for outdoor enthusiasts, gift guides solve a problem for shoppers throughout the year who need a little help making a purchase.

Crafting quality gift guide content, however, is easier said than done. Phone in your content with copy-and-pasted product descriptions and muddled goals and your pitch can easily end up in some editor’s slush pile. But if you want your products to make a splash, try these five tips for cannabis brands creating great gift guides.

Five Cannabis Gift Guide Tips

  1. Dial in your demographics. Gift guides aren’t one-size fits all. Knowing exactly which audience you’re targeting will help journalists know where your product fits and how to tell your product’s story. Relate the recommended gift to the specific needs of your target customer and help explain how your product would fit in their lifestyle. From stocking stuffers for budget shoppers to luxe splurges for cannabis connoisseurs, your job is to show how your product solves the problem of picking the perfect gift. 
  1. Capitalize on good copy. Putting extra effort into the writing quality on your gift guide will do more than impress journalists–it will help save them time and effort. Tailoring your product descriptions to the audience, theme and publication you’re pitching helps the journalist see where your brand fits into the larger narrative they’re crafting. For example, product descriptions for ebb’s THC-infused dissolvable powder typically mention how useful the brand’s mixes are for workout recovery. That’s a strong message any time of year, but going the extra mile to relate those benefits back to the wellness goals many adopt after the holidays makes it crystal clear why ebb is a better fit for a holiday gift guide than other products.
  1. Partner up, give back and go exclusive. Another way to add value for the customer and help publications tell compelling brand stories is to partner with businesses or organizations in other industries to offer smartly curated gift boxes, altruistic incentives or limited edition products. For example, Veritas Fine Cannabis partnered with Icelantic again this year on a select number of Nomad 105 skis featuring a design by Denver-based artist and performance painter Morgan Mandala—a collaboration that has as much appeal for outdoor journalists as for those on the cannabis beat, and which celebrates the wide-ranging interests of Veritas’ target market.
  1. Plan and pitch early. By the time you’re hearing holiday jingles on the radio, you’re already late to the gift guide game. Your pitches need to be planned well ahead of time to get traction. Print publications, particularly the big household names, plan their editorial calendars and holiday coverage months in advance—usually around the time you’re counting down to summer vacation. Gift guides should be part of your year-round PR and marketing efforts. That’s not only to make sure your holiday pitches are received when editors are planning their end-of-year campaigns, but also to stay ahead of all the other opportunities each quarter.

  2. Activate affiliate networks. Affiliate marketing is getting bigger and bigger, and understanding the role affiliate networks play in today’s digital publishing landscape is crucial to getting more mileage out of your gift guides. Some publications prioritize products available on just one or two affiliate platforms—Heavy.com, for example, covers cannabis products regularly, but rarely shares items that aren’t available on Amazon. Doing your due diligence can increase your chances of getting plum placements in product recommendation articles.

Having good relationships with journalists at your target publications also goes a long way towards ensuring your cannabis gift guide pitches get successfully placed. That’s where agencies like Grasslands can help. We specialize in building strong media relationships that are crucial to securing coverage for clients. Want to learn how Grasslands can supercharge your earned media strategy? Let’s talk!

A Fresh POV on Working in Public Relations: Q&A With Grasslands’ Cannabis PR Intern Andre Hascall

Cannabis marketing intern in office.



“I honestly couldn’t think of a better internship for me to be in”

In June 2021, Grasslands launched our new Diversity-in-Marketing internship program. Now, at the conclusion of a 12-week run, we’re happy to report that this year’s internships were a tremendous success for both our interns and our entire team. 

This paid internship program is part of our Indigenous-owned agency’s commitment to attract, develop and retain diverse, high-potential early-career marcom talent. 

Our Founder and CEO, Ricardo Baca, started his 20-year career in journalism with an internship that offered valuable opportunities for professional development, and this is our agency’s way of paying it forward. He recognizes the challenges of forging a career path out of school and the value of having a head start in developing a professional network and learning exactly what it’s like to work at a fast-paced agency. 

Here, Grasslands Public Relations Intern Andre Hascall tells us about his experience, what he learned and how the internship helped launch him into full-time PR work at Grasslands.


Visit our Careers page to learn more about open positions at Grasslands and the Diversity-in-Marketing internship program

What’s your biggest takeaway from your internship?

The best way I can describe my time as an intern is it was mutually beneficial. I was able to contribute to the team more than I initially thought I could. All of my colleagues have been great at helping me along the way with feedback in real time, which I am very appreciative of. Overall, I picked up and honed skills that will advance me throughout my public relations career.

What was the most meaningful work you did during this internship?

It’s difficult to choose anything specific as I enjoyed working with multiple accounts. However, one moment that sticks out to me is when I secured an opportunity in Politico for one of my clients. 

What did you learn from this internship?

I learned how communication works in an agency, both internally and externally. How to properly build media lists as well as the development and distribution of pitches. In my time at Grasslands I’ve noticed my writing skills have improved and my ability to talk about the cannabis industry as a whole has grown. 

What did you contribute during this internship?

I was able to contribute in multiple ways, such as communicating with journalists to coordinate media opportunities. I added original ideas to communications strategies for some of our clients. I kept my accounts running smoothly when account leads were on short vacations. Overall, I did just about everything in account support while I interned.

Is there anything you would change about the internship?

I honestly couldn’t think of a better internship for me to be in. The company seemed like a perfect match, with my journalism degree and my interests in the cannabis industry. I learned a lot and was able to contribute every day. I wouldn’t change a thing.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I feel like five years will be here in no time, but I think I could still be working at Grasslands and if not, I expect to be working on starting my own agency. I always entertain the idea of having a sports & culture podcast as a side hustle.

How has this internship helped shape your professional goals?

I was immediately intrigued once I learned about public relations in cannabis. During this internship I learned so much about the industry and the growth trajectory it is on. I wouldn’t want to be a part of another industry after learning all that I have and the current state of cannabis in politics. I thought of being my own boss one day, and this internship has helped me find my niche in public relations.

What’s next for you after this internship?

I am accepting a full-time position as an account coordinator at Grasslands.  I love the atmosphere at the company and the city of Denver; this is the perfect place for me to kick off my public relations career.



What is the Power Behind Cannabis PR and Event Marketing?



With the right PR and cannabis event marketing strategy, you can build your network, gain exposure and make invaluable connections

Table of Contents

What Is Cannabis Public Relations and Event Marketing All About?

Cannabis Public Relations and Event Marketing are two powerful tools that can be used together to grow your media presence and connections within the cannabis industry to create an invaluable network of colleagues, collaborators and partners. 

A holistic PR strategy can generate immediate business-boosting results when the multifaceted approach includes virtual and in-person events.

How Can a Good Cannabis PR Strategy Help Your Business?

You know that old saying any press is good press? Well, that’s not entirely true, especially for emerging brands and businesses. So the main reason strategic PR is so useful to any business is the power it has to control the narrative about your brand. And this process alone is especially crucial given the current state of the cannabis industry. 

Strict cannabis advertising rules from national advertisers, Google and Facebook keep businesses from being able to market and sell products in a direct way. Meanwhile, the marketplace is saturated with competitors that may have more presence, budget and connections than other contenders within the space.

To counter these advertising limitations and fierce competitors, it’s crucial to use PR tactics to get your business into the media cycle and spotlight its main differentiators through the lens of journalists and media influencers to gain earned-media relevance. In fact, good PR is so important to growing businesses, the current value of the PR market is estimated to surpass $93 billion by 2022. That’s a lot of story pitches! 

How Does Event Marketing Fit Into PR Strategy?

Like PR, there’s an old saying that applies to the power of event marketing: It’s not about what you know, it’s about who you know. Because when it comes down to growing your business, you’ll need the right connections. A business without a network is one without support. So imagine what it would be like if you didn’t have anyone to call on for advice, guidance or even supplies when a little help could mean more leads and sales. 

Through events, you have a prime opportunity to make your brand seen, heard and remembered while also developing a business network of industry peers and partners. It all starts with hosting a must-attend event that brings together business leaders, industry insiders, media and more. 

Before the pandemic, the private event planning market had generated nearly $5 billion dollars in value according to Statista. Now, the very nature of in-person events has changed, but they’re not extinct—far from it.  

At the same time, virtual events have really taken off. From webinars and online speaking engagements to even casual happy hour hangs, the virtual space is a great way to continue making connections and spotlighting your brand, even when hosting an in-person event isn’t possible. 

How Can You Host the Ultimate Cannabis Event?

Coordinating interviews and media outreach are part of the cannabis PR game, sure, but so are must-attend events. Curated, exclusive event marketing can turn a company from nothing into something based on the fact that an event brings together influential people. You can sell your brand in real time to fellow humans.

With Event Marketing, you get to demo the wares, show your expertise and cement interest with a memorable good time. From this, you can generate useful connections and potential business leads, just from one night of having fun and chatting cannabis. 

Here are a few tips to throw the ultimate in-person cannabis event:

  • Devote part of your marketing budget toward an annual event
  • Book your venue at least one year out from the event 
  • Create a social media and content campaign around your party
  • Make your event invite-only to curate the guest list, theme and vibe
  • Compile a dedicated guest list and send personal invitations and RSVPs to each guest
  • Get extra funding for your event by finding sponsors
  • Give sponsors the opportunity to promote their own brand while supporting yours
  • Create fun, branded activations that sponsors and attendees can engage in (e.g. photo booths and interactive exhibits)
  • Create specific and informative speaking engagements to add value
  • Bring on the food and entertainment by budgeting for catering and a DJ or band 
  • Spotlight and celebrate your guests with an opening or closing toast
  • Partner with Lyft, Uber or invest in ride-share coupons to ensure safe travel
  • If you’re planning a destination event, partner with a nearby hotel to offer guests discounted lodging 
Have You Found the Right PR and Event Professionals?

At Grasslands, we have a unique perspective on cannabis PR because we are a Journalism-Minded Agency™ that grew out of our Founder and CEO Ricardo Baca’s years at The Cannabist as America’s first-ever Marijuana Editor for a major mainstream news organization (The Denver Post)

Our team of PR and Content Marketing specialists have built targeted media networks that can help you establish a solid strategy to illuminate your brand on the national level. 

We also love creating high-level networking events like The Grasslands Party. Our events bring together top minds in cannabis and we’ve been all over: Boston, New Orleans, Oakland, Toronto, Denver, Austin and Las Vegas so far. By hosting this exclusive bash and helping entrepreneurs and business leaders from across the country expand their networks and elevate countless brands, we know what it takes to run a successful event.

Let’s chat about how to incorporate PR and cannabis event marketing into your business plan and amp up your brand.