Don’t miss press opportunities at your next cannabis tradeshow
There are lots of reasons to exhibit at or even just attend a cannabis tradeshow. For starters, it is always just a reminder of the depth of this growing industry. From cultivators to dispensaries, suppliers and everything in between, tradeshows offer a tangible example of the ingenuity that the cannabis industry is inspiring. Beyond that, tradeshows offer the opportunity to meet with potential clients, network and make deals with likeminded companies and individuals, and all around establish a name for yourself in the space. But the costs are high and many people often walk away from a tradeshow questioning the value of returning. These people are missing the single most important aspect of a tradeshow: the press opportunity.
In public relations, especially in cannabis, we are looking for ways to make our clients timely and relevant. One of the best ways to do this is to exhibit at, speak at or even just attend a tradeshow. Anytime we have a client participating in an event, we are 10 times more like to be able to secure them coverage without any other PR stunt (e.g. new announcements, products, funding, etc.). Being chosen to speak at a conference positions you as an expert in your field and the perfect candidate for news exposure. Let’s break this all down.
Why do tradeshows make news exposure more likely?
Journalists are inherently busy and need a push to get your story told ahead of others. One tactic to do this is to tie it in with a local or timely hook. A conference utilizes both tactics. Because the conference is only taking place for a finite amount of time, journalists are more inclined to re-arrange their schedules to cover the conference before it concludes. Additionally, there is a “local” element to the pitch (a pitch is the written tool PR people use to reach out to journalists to secure coverage) when a company or person is attending a tradeshow in a specific market.
Generally, tradeshow organizers arrange for press to attend their shows, especially in less cannabis-friendly markets as the press is very eager to cover this emerging multi-billion dollar industry. That list, combined with your own PR efforts, makes the opportunity for you to secure coverage that much stronger.
How do you get in front of the press at a conference?
This is the real magic. You must make your story fit with a journalist’s angle. Short of simply asking the journalist, you can almost always assume that their angle would be the economic and societal impacts of the cannabis industry entering their market. Unless they are coming to interview with a specific speaker or celebrities, local news will want to cover how this conference effects their audience, all while using the “hot words” such as marijuana and weed (these terms are more “sexy” to their news audiences so don’t be offended when mainstream media uses them, they’ve got to sell clicks). Your goal is to get in front of these journalists and be camera-ready and able to explain how your business or product is pushing positive change for their viewers/readers. If you are speaking or exhibiting, the press team on-site should be able to give you a list of the press in attendance. For instance, CMW manages press for the Cannabis Science Conference, Emerald Conference and CBD Expos. We first look to bring press to the conference organizers and then to featured speakers and sponsors. If you want to be included in that, you must reach out and work with the conference press team (or hire a PR firm to do this – hint hint).
What impact does press coverage have?
First and foremost, having your company, brand or executive featured in a news piece is the single best credibility builder there is. We all now know the importance of “influencer marketing” (or at least we should). The media is the original influencer and public relations is the original #sponsoredcontent coordinator. When the press discusses you as an expert in your field or an innovative big player, the public generally accepts this and remembers you as such. This cannot be accomplished any other way (unless you’re Fyre Festival and spend $2m on one Instagram influencer campaign – and we all know how that played out). Earned media is credible and well respected by audiences and creates a sense of jealously in competitors. I can’t tell you how many people have said to me “I don’t understand why I need PR” right after they finished telling me how “tired they are of seeing their competitor in the news.” Gee – there is a reason they’re being covered and it’s not just happening organically – it’s literally being earned. For more on why PR is so important for cannabis companies, check out my other blog here.
So, what is my takeaway?
The one thing I want any reader of this to takeaway is that ANYTIME you are attending an event, you must think of the press opportunity. Whether it’s a small “cannagather” meeting in your local area or MJ Biz Con (the world’s largest cannabis expo) in Las Vegas, every event you attend creates a unique and timely press opportunity that takes time to prepare for and capitalize on. But with the right team and strategy it is possible:
SHAMELESS PLUG: If you want to talk more about what you could be doing with your media exposure, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org – we would love to help!
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