As a Colorado-based PR and Social Media agency, we see our fair share of cannabis branding and messaging.

And we’ve got some news to break:

A whole bunch of cannabis marketing still sucks.

A full four and a half years after the first recreational cannabis went on sale in Colorado, so much cannabis marketing still relies on the Cheech and Chong, tie dye aesthetic to sell product.

In 2018, legal cannabis will be a $14.5 billion industry, and yet we’re still relying on stoner vibes to sell it?!?

The audience for legal cannabis users has far outgrown such marketing. Today, broader consumer groups are increasingly interested in cannabis—and to reach them, cannabis brands must invest in savvy, sophisticated PR and social media campaigns.

So if you’re a cannabis brand, how can you execute smart PR and social media campaigns? A few tips below.

    • Think creatively about story angles. Yes, maybe there’s a story angle about your innovative cannabis product. But there are stories far beyond that. Is your product the perfect gift for a new cannabis user? Can your head budtender provide recipes or advice around how to cook with cannabis or use it in the proper dosages? What lifestyle angles can you hit? What business angles? Given many editors’ hesitancy to run stories about cannabis, you (or your media relations team!) need to hash out a lot of great pitches.
    • Use social to educate. Social media provides a great platform to educate consumers about your product and to position yourself as someone who knows what TF is up in cannabis. Content that provides tips for using cannabis and education about the benefits and various strains is gold, and helps you avoid that ‘stoner bro’ aesthetic. Of course, you should also post plenty of glamor shots and fun, sharable content, too.
    • Gain new followers without paying for it (‘cause you can’t). If you’re a cannabis entrepreneur, you already know that since cannabis is still federally illegal, cannabis brands aren’t allowed to pay for social media ads. Which puts said brands at a disadvantage, since Facebook doesn’t really serve up brand content unless they’re also paying for ads. What to do? Jump on the hashtag train. And find some cool partner brands to help you cross-promote.

Canna-entrepreneurs: how have you marketed your brand using PR and social media?