Cannabis, hemp, and CBD are misunderstood by the general public, but not only. Mainstream media lacks knowledge of the industry and perpetuates misinformation. But PR professionals can help. In this episode, Mitchell Colbert breaks down the most common misconceptions about cannabinoids, explains how PR pros should talk about cannabis and CBD, and gives tips to journalists.
In this episode of the Social PR Secrets Podcast, host Lisa Buyer sits down with Mitchell Colbert, Executive Director of the Ethical Data Alliance (EDA), journalist, and cannabis researcher. From trusted sources to best pitches, Mitchell shares his top tips for PR professionals with clients in the cannabis, CBD, or Hemp Industry.
What Does a Career in Cannabis Look Like?
Mitchell grew up in California, very much surrounded by cannabis. He started to medicate manic depression with cannabis when he was younger and still uses it to fight stress and injuries. Fast forward to now, Mitchell is the Executive Director of the Ethical Data Alliance (EDA), a new project of Ed Rosenthal’s 501c3 non-profit, Green Aid, focused on improving data privacy and supporting the cannabis industry through the use of blockchain technology and smart contracts.
Before he ran his own lobbying firm, Full Spectrum Strategy, where he advocated in California, Colorado, and Canada for cannabis waste (specifically vape waste) to be easier to recycle. His efforts resulted in regulatory and statutory changes in Colorado which allow for legal “marijuana consumer waste” recycling for the first time since legalization. He started out in the industry working for the world-famous Harborside dispensary and for two campaigns to legalize cannabis in California. He is a prolific journalist with over a hundred articles in over a dozen outlets and is a published cannabis researcher. Needless to say, you can trust him on all things cannabis-related.
The Cannabis Basics
If you’re well-versed in cannabis terminology, skip to the next paragraph. But because so many different words are thrown around, Mitchell clarified it all for us.
🍁 Cannabis is the species name, also known as marijuana. However, Mitchell recommends using cannabis, as the word marijuana carries a lot of weight. Cannabis is high in THC and has euphoric qualities.
🍁 Hemp is a type of cannabis plant that has always grown and is found in many variations. It’s lower in THC.
🍁 CBD is a cannabinoid, one of the two most common ones, with THC. Both start from CBG but become their own cannabinoids when combined with the right synthase. CBD provides no euphoric effect.
Top PR Tips for Cannabis Clients
If you are a PR professional representing a CBD or cannabis brand, you need to recognize you are both an educator and mediator, says Mitchell. So what should you keep in mind?
#1. Educate the public and the media
The media is an intermediary to reaching the public, and they need to be educated too. They often have no clue what follow-up questions to ask or even miss the bigger picture story when reporting on the industry.
#2. Do. Your. Research.
As a PR pro, you have a responsibility to only disseminate researched-backed information. The best sources on the topic are NCBI, PubMed, and ProjectCBD.org.
#3. Include sources
When emailing the press, especially specialized outlets, always include details on sourcing. Document your claims and really show proof of what your client is all about.
#4. Add visuals to your pitches
Journalists lack good imagery to illustrate stories on cannabis, they’ll be appreciative of a free-to-use image.
#5. Be ready for the hard questions
When pitching to a specialized journalist, expect hard follow-up questions. But also make sure you’re prepared to face the general public on social media. Have sources, studies, and data on hand.
That was a lot! The industry landscape is always changing but these tips from Mitchell will always help you. One last thing from him: how exactly is the industry going to change? His guess? CBG will be the next big thing. Costs will go down, quality and diversity will go up. CBD won’t keep dominating the industry for much longer. Need more tips and insights? Listen to the episode to learn more!
“If you’re representing a CBD or cannabis brand, recognize that you are an educator and a mediator” – Mitchell Colbert
Some topics discussed in this episode include:
- Academic research
- PR pitch
Contact Mitchell Colbert
- Mitchell’s LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/mitchellrcolbert
- Mitchell’s Instagram https://www.instagram.com/mitchellrcolbert/?hl=en
- Mitchell’s Twitter https://twitter.com/MitchellColbert
- Mitchell’s MuckRack https://muckrack.com/mitchellcolbert
References and Links Mentioned
- Rolling Stones article https://www.rollingstone.com/culture-council/articles/pr-professionals-cannabis-1135732/
- NCBI https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/
- PubMed https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/
- ProjectCBD.org https://www.projectcbd.org/