How Legal-Cannabis & Sex-Wellness brands benefit from public relations campaigns
By Melissa A Vitale
One of the first expectations I like to manage when kicking off a new client is that public relations is absolutely never measured or evaluated in sales towards a product. Sales drive business obviously, so I’m always excited to hear when media coverage we’ve secured has led to a boost in conversions and we always try to replicate those results.
Does PR lead to sales? Yes! Especially when incorporated within a strategic marketing funnel, or when an article hits a top SEO search, you will absolutely see the value in PR in sales.
However, looking to a publicist for increase in sales is like going to a dentist to have an ingrown pubic hair removed. Can they give you anatomical expertise that you yourself might not be privy to? Yeah! But when it comes to going under the knife, wouldn’t you want someone who specializes in exactly what you need?
When it comes to sales increases, I would recommend speaking to someone who specializes in understanding and building a marketing funnel, a freelance CMO, a business coach, or an advertising agency before speaking to a publicist.
Okay, so what is the value of PR if not measured in sales?
Say it with me: Brand Awareness and Relationships with key industry Media
Brand awareness is letting media and their consumer readers know that your brand exists, typically, with some degree of brand-control on the messaging. Awareness can be activated through social media, advertising and other marketing initiatives, but for Vice-category brands, those options are limited by the association with the cannabis and/or adult industries. Press is one of the most effective ways to make a high-impact with a limited budget.
Just about every PR agency I’ve come across measures their results in Ad Value, or how much money you saved if you were to go to an advertising agency alone. To give you an idea of how that correlates: I was once quoted $20,000 for a single product placement in a multi-brand roundup at a publication we work with regularly. My clients, historically, have all been placed in that same publication without advertising fees…typically, more than once.
I consider public relations Chess not Checkers. Advertising is like playing checkers: singular moves at one time, often reactionary. Chess is strategic, with the overall goal the priority over linear wins. What does that mean? Instead of looking for instant gratification, public relations is a longer-lead strategy with results, when done right, better than anything you can get from advertising, something most consumers are adverse to anyways.
Advertising can place one story in an outlet like GQ at a similar fee to six months of public relations; PR can place you not only in GQ, but outlets like Forbes, Well & Good, Men's Health, Popsugar and more, each, and every month.
This is where the value of relationships come in. A good friend and feature reporter for the New York Post called me up the other day after we closed a story featuring one of my cannabis clients. “You do it really smart, Melissa” he said.
Most publicists can be notoriously tit-for-tat with samples, interviews etc. If a journalist tries a product or interviews a founder, they expect coverage. I don’t! I hope the editor or writer tries the product or talks to my client, loves them, feels aligned with the brand’s mission, and if they work on an upcoming story that’s a fit, would consider sharing their experience with their audiences.
And if they don’t? Well, that’s the gamble of media. Not everyone is going to include every brand –that’s why we create multi-prong approaches. But usually, when a journalist loves a brand, they keep them in mind for anything relevant.
Now what sounds more valuable to you: a single ad-placement that consumers may or may not read? Or creating a lasting relationship with a pool of editors, writers and freelancers who regularly cover related topics, immediately think about you and include your brand often in their coverage? How about if they love your brand and want to cover any big announcement you have?
That’s the value of PR: becoming the go-to and must-feature for top tier media in your specific area of industry, especially for vice-category companies with limited advertising options, is beyond invaluable for a future leading brand.
For brands looking to cement their name in their industry’s history, learn more about becoming a client: https://www.melissaavitale.com/become-a-client.html
Melissa A Vitale Public Relations
A public relations agency specializing in brands and startups in artificial intelligence, sexual wellness and legal cannabis.