Legal marijuana is a fast-growing and controversial sector of new business. Dispensaries have thousands of customers who buy their products without reservation or shame. It is an emerging and bustling market that has been widely spotlighted by the mainstream American media. Traditionally, the media’s number one goal is to publish stories that sell, and for a long time that meant publicly bashing marijuana culture and the shaming of marijuana users, whether they are medicinal or recreational users.
Therefore, it’s good to remember that although the majority of Americans now favor legalization, public opinion can still quickly be turned against a particular cannabis company or entrepreneur. Our industry is new, and Americans will require time to get used to dispensaries cropping up in their neighborhoods and towns. These are some tips to remember if you ever find yourself on the uncomfortable end of public scrutiny.
Don’t pick fights with the media.
Thicken your skin. Media outlets are in business to sell papers and airtime, so they normally they don’t have a real issue with you as long as you don’t start a fight. Let them publish their dirty old rag. Keep a healthy attitude about criticism, and you will live a long and happy life. This includes fighting with other dispensary owners or suppliers, and always avoid slights with the local authorities.
It is okay not to respond.
You pick up the paper and see a filthy article about how your business is spreading death and chaos around the community, and your blood boils. You want to go out and do press interviews and make releases to get your side of the story across. Sometimes, all this does is fan the flames. Sometimes, you can keep your mouth shut and that article in the newspaper or website will go away eventually.
Listen to negative comments to gain knowledge about customer issues.
True journalism should have some basis in fact — there may be marketing opportunities in there. Sometimes the press reveals public attitudes and thought processes that could be marketing opportunities. For example, some articles may provide hints about where the majority of your customers live. Other articles could help you learn about and address negative perceptions regarding your business. Not all criticism is bad: ignore the useless rants, but read through and record the helpful data.
Bad press is an opportunity.
Some bad press can increase business. Press, good or bad, will inform people where your business is and whether or not it is successful. The best dispensaries have dependable markets and sell what their customers want — sometimes the press can bring you more customers depending on your market. Monitor your sales very carefully after a press release, you may find a nice surprise.
Be good to your customers and grow your business, and people will forget bad press.
This tip can be summed up with one word: performance. Provide good products for your customers, and your business will grow — it’s simple. Negative press only lasts a while, and your business can outgrow every PR challenge if you keep level headed and proceed without irrational responses.
Photo Credit: Petras Gagilas
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