High Spirits

#014 - Secrets to Earning Press & Thought Leadership in Cannabis w/ Rosie Mattio

October 19, 2023 AnnaRae Grabstein and Ben Larson Episode 14
High Spirits
#014 - Secrets to Earning Press & Thought Leadership in Cannabis w/ Rosie Mattio
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Join us on a deep dive into the world of PR and marketing in the emerging cannabis industry with our guest, Rosie Mattio. As the founder of North America's largest cannabis-focused marketing and PR agency, Mattio Communications, Rosie's insights are invaluable to anyone looking to make a mark in this competitive field. We'll talk about how to establish yourself as a thought leader, strategies for personal and company branding, and how to stay controversy-free in this growing sector.

Our conversation with Rosie was buzzing with insights on effective media pitching, leveraging data, and fostering relationships within the media for successful client coverage. We dissected, among other things, the stunning success of campaign like the MariMed Boston Tea Party stunt. But remember, it's not just about company branding; individual branding, especially for company leaders, forms a crucial part of PR strategy. Rosie helps us navigate the tricky balance between the two, providing crucial tips for executives.

One can't ignore crises and public perception management, especially within the B2B space. Rosie shares her expertise on managing such situations, emphasizing the importance of prioritizing customers, families, and employees. Our chat isn't just restricted to the cannabis industry. Rosie takes us through the expansion of Mattio Communications into new industries and talks about the significance of attending industry conferences. Amidst these challenging times, we also discuss encouraging support and positivity. Tune in for a fascinating episode packed with Rosie's extensive experience and industry insights!

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Speaker 1:

Hey everybody, welcome to High Spirit's Live. We're back again with another stimulating conversation today. As always, I'm joined by Ann Aray Grabstein, my partner in crime, my smarter half. I'm super excited about the topic that we're going to dive into today. It's all about PR, public relations, becoming a thought leader, everything that we as business leaders strive to do in the cannabis space, and how to keep ourselves out of trouble. But before we go there, as always, I'm going to check in with my partner. How are you doing, Ann Aray?

Speaker 2:

Thanks for asking, ben. I'm doing really good on the change in the seasons and just trying to work on staying balanced in the midst of a lot of madness going on in the world, staying focused on work and family and the things that can control, which I know are right here at home. How about you? How are you doing?

Speaker 1:

Madness is a good description. It's interesting when operating in the cannabis space is your rock. Doing the day-to-day in business is what's steady. Obviously, what's going on in the geopolitical realm continues to be very present and very challenging to navigate. Our own country and government, or lack thereof, at current it keeps us waiting to see what's going to happen with all the legislation that we've been hoping moves through. But yeah, the change over in the season is nice. Here in California we have this interesting fall where we start the morning out with a nice cool brisk morning and then it's 90 degrees by the afternoon, and so there's that.

Speaker 2:

I'm on a weekly pumpkin patch tour around Sonoma County with my six-year-old, so if you live in Northern California and you're at a pumpkin patch you might see me.

Speaker 1:

I think we have that queued up for the weekend for the kids, but for my work kids sorry that sounds patronizing For my work family we are doing a pumpkin night tonight in Berkeley. So yeah, I don't know if you're in shouting distance of Vertosa in Berkeley, come and visit and we'll paint or carve pumpkins. I'm not really sure what we're doing.

Speaker 2:

And so to think about our topic for today, I will say that at the beginning of the year, I put a post-it note on my computer screen that said More content in 2023. That personal goal that I just wanted to be putting myself out there into the world more and making sure that the things that I was thinking about and my ideas were being shared with a larger audience and hopes to create better flow through my network and just to help publicize my work and my business and here you are, so I'm really excited for the topic today. I think I'm going to learn something from our guest, who's a total pro. What are you looking forward to about this topic, then?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, the pro of all pros, rosie Madio is like I don't know. She's the queen of PR. I've seen it said on LinkedIn, so it's true. But yeah, I mean, some people have called me a thought leader. I do put myself out there. My team often accuses me of random acts of marketing, so it's nice to try to frame some idea of strategy behind there, and I guess that's it. It's like I don't too often step in dog shit, so that's good. You know, with how many challenging topics there are and how volatile the industry is, I think it's good to always have it in the back of your head. It's like how am I approaching this best for my personal image? How am I approaching this best for my company? And, like on a whim, things can change very quickly. So we're going to dive into all of that and I'm super excited about it.

Speaker 2:

Amazing. Well, let me queue it up. Rosie Madio is the founder of Madio Communications. It's the largest cannabis-focused marketing and PR agency in North America. Since launching Madio as a one-woman PR firm in 2004, she has redefined the conversation around the emerging industry. Madio has offices in New York, la, toronto and offers all of the different types of services related to market PR that you could imagine. For her leadership, madio has become one of the only PR firms featured in the Inc 5000 list and was named one of the most effective cannabis PR firms by Green Market Report. Rosie is a powerhouse, an industry connector, and is recognized as one of PR news top women in PR, one of the 50 most influential women by High Times and Forbes top 10 female entrepreneurs. Hell yeah, welcome, rosie Madio. Boss.

Speaker 3:

Thanks for having me, guys. I'm so excited to be here. By the way, random acts of marketing I made a T-shirt printed with that. I love it.

Speaker 1:

I love it. I will be your first customer I wear as a badge of honor. We actually have a Slack channel where Ben gets to drop his random ideas and then I'm assured it's put into a backlog that then gets assessed for prioritization. So if you can't do it yourself, find a team that can prioritize for you. Thanks for what.

Speaker 2:

Well, Rosie, let's kick this off. I mean, I think a lot of people probably know who you are. You have been in cannabis for over 10 years. There's not a lot of us out there, but all three of us have, so that's pretty amazing. But I'm curious of just a little bit about the journey like building this company, deciding to throw your hat into cannabis. Can you share a little bit?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I'll try to make a long story short. I tend to be long-winded but we'll see we do so. I'm a PR practitioner by trade, worked in large agencies in New York City, worked at Rubinstein, worked at Allison Broad so I did corporate and lifestyle PR in my early 20s. Got married in 2006 and went out of my own, had my own PR consulting firm. I specialized in specialty food and restaurants and technology and that was really. I had one or two clients worked out of my bedroom office and just was sort of like a consultant, I would say. Got married, had a couple of kids in 2013. My husband took a job out in Seattle Washington, which had just gone. Adult use cannabis and cannabis had been part of my life in college. But I was having lots of babies, I had four kids so I really wasn't consuming cannabis. It wasn't really part of my daily life. But I started going to parties. Then I started seeing women pulling vape pens out of their purses. I would drive my kids to school in the morning and see lions outside of the dispensary. So I started seeing cannabis happening and around that time one of my clients was a crowdfunding platform for books and they gave me different projects to do the launch of these books and one of the books was a cannabis cookbook and they brought me onto that project because my background in specialty food and in technology, crowdfunding and food and when I went out to pitch this story New York Times, fast Company, mashable, all these publications that generally had to maybe beg for an exclusive or begging me for an exclusive so a little light bulb went off my head. I just moved to the right place at the right time. I had this mainstream background in PR and I thought I could bring it to this nascent industry, so started out with one little project and then a light bulb went off. I could bring my mainstream approach. I started networking around Seattle tech scene. There was a cannabis tech meetup. I started going to that. I met the guys from headset. They became our first agency record client in 2014. I had a few others in 2015, 2014. Fast forward, nine years later. Nine years October. It's really nine years where the largest agency in the space you represent over 50 companies across the supply chain, a team of 45 people, offices in New York or lay in Toronto, and that's sort of the long story short.

Speaker 2:

That is amazing. You know, when I started my journey as a cannabis entrepreneur at Steepill and we started the first lab, we got some PR because we were doing something that was unique, that nobody had ever done before and we were, we were enrolling stone and in the New York Times and someone called me and said, who's doing your PR? And I have no idea, I don't even know what PR is or how to do it, and it opened my eyes that there is this whole world. And then I think a lot of businesses don't realize that there are people that can help you navigate this, this wild world of of media and make sure that you're positioned right and don't put your foot in your mouth. What do you think companies should be thinking about when they think about PR as part of of their image management, their marketing stack, their strategy? How do they engage?

Speaker 3:

Well, I would say something about PR and cannabis being, you know, almost its own B. So, you know, many companies, most companies at some point in their life cycle, use the PR for rights and it's a great marketing tactic at media relations or media. But in cannabis I always say like I'm pretty smart, pretty good at what I do, but also like PR really has its heyday within cannabis. Because of some of the restrictions that we have in terms of advertising right Like by the sneaker company, I can have a PR firm but I can also, you know, boost the post on, link on on meta or like on some of their platforms. Well, that's not really, it's still not really available to us, you know, as cannabis companies. So PR is something that most companies can use and you can use your PR to, you know, bolster your social media. So it's become almost like a table stake marketing tool for cannabis companies. So I think it's obviously because I run a PR firm, but it is a great tactic and in earned media is still very available to cannabis companies, where paid is still a slow roll.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, so I it's been. It's been great for the cannabis industry too, because it's like the media, like known media entities, create an element of trust, like when, when you're, when you're getting your name listed. I mean, I think that's what the cannabis industry or companies within the cannabis industry need most is is to build trust amongst, you know, other companies or the consumer base. We I used to work a lot with tech companies as well, and you know everyone wanted to get their their launch announcement in in tech crunch and we used to have to tell founders it's like the fact that you exist Well, you don't exist, but the fact that you exist is not newsworthy and so, like, come up with a story and I'm sure you engage a lot of founders like this, and especially in the ongoing right, it's like now you've existed for five years, like what is newsworthy. How do you kind of like keep like coming up with these ideas and and if for founders that are trying to string it together themselves? You know, like what are some of the methods that that you would recommend people do to kind of like catch the interest of, of of a publication.

Speaker 3:

I would say you're absolutely right. Like when we do a big announcement or a big partnership or big stunts or something like that, or a launch or a fundraise, like that's the easy stuff, right. Like, if we can't do that, well, you know you definitely should not be working with us, but it is all the stuff that you do in between, these big moments that really you know, that make that, I think, pr firm earns its stripes. So there's a lot of different tactics. You can use One I would say you know I mentioned the word like stunts. So can you think creatively Like, is there, let's say, you're launching a new product, is there a relevant holiday? Or is the color you know the color of the year, of Panitone? Like, can we do a stunt? You know, lean into something that has some cultural relevance? Like that's a great tool to use. I always say data is like the most important thing we can use. I used to say, you know, if I'm working for the beverage company, so let's say we launched a brand new product, so that's great. But you know, you know, like I said, every client says, well, my product is the best, right, so. But if I have a beverage instead of trying to go to a reporter and say we have the best, you know, cannabis soda, like says who, so what? Who cares, like, why should I write about this? But if we can pull together some data from, like, a headset of the world and talk about, you know, the growth of high dose beverages or low dose or this play flavor profile, if we're seeing this, you know, across different states, across different markets, ok, then I can pitch a story to a publication about you know, here's the trends, here are the companies that are doing it and here's what you need to know about it. So we find data to be, you know, a great, great tool when you're trying to pitch media, because, like, it's not a reporter's job to write about your brand new product, like that's just not interesting. So we use that a lot. Also, it's seem like I said, what's happening you know in the news cycle, right, if it's, you know, if there is something happening in a certain state or a certain festival, can we do a partnership there? So you know, we try to use, you know, every type of tactic possible to have this ongoing. You know cadence of media because, like I said, saying this is the brand new product, that's on news.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, the Mary Med stunt. When you were talking about stunts, it's the first thing that came to mind.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, that was genius, that was Trailblaze, they did that the big, the big brownie and it was awesome and it got picked up everywhere. So that stuff works. It really does.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, the the Tea Party, the Boston Tea Party thing, when that was up. That's what I was thinking of and it just it just touched on something socially that everybody could relate to and understand. Well, so you were talking about pitching stories like help us see behind, kind of behind the curtain a little bit. So maybe you are working with a company, you get to a place where you've come up with some news that is newsworthy or you think that someone will be excited about what happens next. How do you get coverage for the client?

Speaker 3:

Well, you, Fanny, also made a very good point about this. I want to talk about it too. Like, just because like you're a tech company doesn't mean like they should write about you, right. And so I would say the same thing about trying to target the right reporter. Just because a reporter covers cannabis doesn't mean they should be covering your cannabis company. If we talk to us earlier that I had a podcast for a while and so people so I guess I'm on some of these like media lists and the decisions, so people think I'm a media. You know I'm a media outlet or I'm a reporter. By the way, do your research. I'm a publicist, so that's the first thing. But I get pitches all the time that have zero relevance to what I would ever talk about on my podcast, right? So it's really finding the right reporter who covers you a similar topics, a similar interest that you're following. So I would say you don't necessarily need to hire a PR for me. You need to be following the right reporters and find out what they're writing about, because they're not going to read a story that has zero relevance to their beat. So that's like the number one thing is building on these relationships, understanding what publications and what reporters are writing about. I mean that's how you and you can also even like backtrack, like what your strategy might be based on. Like a reporter, if you know that you really want to be enrolling stone well, pitching like a new, you know beverage might not be the story, but is there an artist that you know like something or other? So you really have to be targeted and that's the only way to win. I tell my team all the time we have a rule we do not use CRM. I like a blast email can never come out of this agency. In fact, I never want to see the same pitch go to two different reporters because, first of all, they can see right through it to be extremely, extremely curated about what you're pitching and who you're pitching. That's the only way to win, like you can send a hundred emails out and it's not going to work. We have to find the right reporter and the right story and the right way to position a pitch. That's the only way to win.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, one of the things it makes me think of some advice. I got early on when I was a very young startup founder and someone told me like build relationships with news reporters or with you know people who write articles for these publications. It was a very daunting assignment when I didn't really know anyone. I'm like what? This sounds crazy, but now, being in the industry for some time, it's like you do have the opportunities to meet these people because they're people, at the end of the day, right With a job and they have things to do, and so it's like, hey, you can meet them and become friends with them, just like you can with any other person, get to know what they like to write about, what interests them, what they're currently working on, and give just give information, and I think that's something that you know. If I may say so myself, we've done a good job at Evertosis, developing a body of work that has a unique insight, and we're constantly collecting data and insights and then just periodically, like touching base with some of these folks, In fact, will Dosswhitz, yeah yes. Yeah, I was like who's he writing for now? Because I, you know he's-.

Speaker 3:

He's a maternity lead. Yeah, that's where he's been.

Speaker 1:

He's been in the industry for as long as I have and I'm like, but yeah, so anyways, he just reached out and saying that he was like kind of getting back into the mix and I'm like that's such an honor for me. It's like, oh wow, like you know someone that just wants to touch base and talk about the industry. I'll give you two things about this.

Speaker 3:

This is like this is actually. That is the key, ben, like this is really the key. And I'll tell you two ways that I think about it. Sometimes, you know, a report will be like I'm not sure I'm writing a story yet. Can I talk to this like CEO? In fact, I just want to get a little. I'm not necessarily writing a story now. And we'll go to these busy CEOs and we'll say, hey, this reporter wants to talk to you. No, guaranteed coverage, but can you make some time. And they'll be like why would I do that? I'm like you know why? Because six months from now, when we do have a story to pitch, don't you want a relationship with him? Don't you want to help her out? Right, because if we help them, eventually they might jump on that phone call with you. So like, don't be short sighted. And also, sometimes we have very good relationships to report. Or we've been doing this a long time. I worked at Will when he was at Angle. We're gonna get them at Forbes, right, you go a long way back. He'll go to me hey, I'm writing a story in XYZ. Do you have any clients who can talk about this? Sometimes I don't, right, so should I say, will, I can't help you. No, like I have a great network of publicists in this space, like we're all friends, which is, like things, very special about this, like I don't see any of my competitors as competitors, like we all work together. I'll say, hey, cynthia, do you know somebody who can be in the story? And she'd be like, yes, I do. So I helped that reporter out. Why would it be who me, just because I can't get my client in the story, not to help this reporter, right? So I think that's part of that. I also say to clients, like when we're pitching them, you know clients can come and go, like my currency is relationships with reporters, so I'm not gonna pitch you something you don't wanna hear and I'm gonna help that reporter because you might leave, but I still need that relationship with that reporter. It's like I always say the reporter is much my client, as much as much as the people who are paying me to do the work.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, amazing.

Speaker 2:

I'm curious, rosie, you know you're talking about the difference between a reporter coming to a publicist or to an agency, and then also this is an example Ben's talking about a reporter going directly to the company. For people that are earlier in their journey or don't feel like they have the budget right now to engage with PR but they don't have relationships yet. Like, I see all the time at the bottom of news stories the email addresses of reporters. Like, should people just reach out and pitch a reporter on a story because they have their email, or is that off limits? Like, what would you recommend with someone that thinks they have something to share but doesn't have representatives and doesn't have a contact?

Speaker 3:

But it is totally fair game and there's two things I would say about that. Sometimes reporters, they don't wanna talk to publicists for freaking, annoying we like, bug them we bug them right and like we're sort of a gatekeeper right? Like we might. You know they might get more, they might get better information. You know directly from the founder. They wanna hear directly from the founder Where's the sort of the middle man right? So there's absolutely no reason a company needs to hire a PR firm. Follow somebody's body of work. If you see something relevant that makes sense to your company, maybe pitch them or maybe read a story that you'd like, just send them an email and be like hey, I'm in the cannabis space, I've been reading your stuff. I really love this story, because a resonated XYZ don't follow up with an ask immediately. It looks completely transparent. That's like not the move, but really follow their bodies of work and if something makes sense, go and pitch them. And it's not only just reading the articles. Like you know, it's called reporters. They're spending a lot of time in social media too. You know they have to have reach too to get their clicks and get their numbers up. So most of them are very active on Twitter and on Instagram and on LinkedIn. Follow them there, interact with them there, comment on their stories. But I comment on their stories, share their stories Like that's how journalism it's rough right now, like they need as much engagement as possible. So be helpful, like those are things that I I'm the first person to say this I love getting my agency fees, but you absolutely do not need to hire PR firm. Craft a pitch, tell them what your value proposition is. Don't make it long and go for it A lot of times. They'll respond to you A lot of times. The clients, like I said, the reporters, like they build these relationships with them. It doesn't bother me if they go right to Ben, have that relationship awesome.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, well, as a follow up to that, what do you see as the difference between a company's engagement and coverage versus company leaders working on their own personal brand, and how that fits into the overall PR strategy a company should consider?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, especially right now, because that seems to be like this emerging trend, even with ourselves guilty right, Like it's like putting ourselves out there more and then not to just kind of keep talking, but like the frustration that I felt is like LinkedIn, like LinkedIn itself is like very much more oriented towards like the individuals and like you're trying to promote your company and it seems like there's a definitive difference in the pickup, like engagement gets. And so, yeah, sorry to pile on there.

Speaker 3:

No, it's a great question. It's actually like something we do. We like not even touch the surface, but like we do corporate profiles, right, we work with a lot of CEOs or leadership within companies to help them figure out their voice on social, because a brand, a company, it's all made out of people. People want to know who is behind the company, what is their CEO's perspective, what is their lead growers perspective? Right, there's a lot of ways to build a personal brand. That's an extension of, like, the parent brand. That helps customers, consumers, partners understand who you are, what you're about, and I think it's a great tool. Depending on like, what's your comfort level. I think the most companies or leadership can and should be engaging on social because that's where your customers are, that's where your consumers are, that's where your partners are. So building that personal brand on these networks is crucial, I think, to growing a business. I really do. And then, in terms of the question about separating, yeah, an individual and this is where things can sometimes go like a riot I would say People assume that the CEO and the company are one and the same, and sometimes they are, sometimes they're not. But a personal, somebody's personal opinion is not necessarily the opinion or the tone a company wants to take. So you really need to work very closely with both leadership and the company to make sure that you're somewhat aligned and if it's like very misaligned, we need to have a conversation because in the end, you do represent your company in some respect, even if your personal opinion is not the same as the company. So it is a very gentle balance. We talked about this a little bit ahead of time. Even what's going on with that in Israel right now a lot of CEOs certainly wanna talk about. Do I speak on behalf of my constituents or my employees too? So it is a very gentle balance. It's something that we work with our companies and CEOs to do what's comfortable for them or for the company get them on the right path.

Speaker 1:

So it's interesting because I'm curious to get your perspective on where we're at from a point in time perspective, because for a long time, let's say like 80s, 90s, there was like a decoupled of individual views, executives, like a lot of times we didn't know who the executives of businesses were. And then there was the company brand and going on into the 2000s and definitely into the last like 10 years, the company and the business leaders like both brands like really kind of almost being necessary, right, it's like it's what the consumer was looking for, like do I want to support this brand? Do I share the same beliefs? And I feel like within the last year, we've been hearing this narrative of going back to this decoupling and people stepping away, and I think it's because of how volatile it's been for certain, like we've seen what's happened to Budweiser and Target and big brands like that, and I think it's like a reticency for executives to be able to torpedo their companies that quickly. And I'm curious as to where you think we stand today and where it's going in the years ahead.

Speaker 3:

I think it's still something that we all grapple with as leaders. We talked this earlier. Even I've been pretty outspoken over the past week about my feelings on what's happening in the Middle East. Right, and some of my clients or employees might not agree with what I'm saying, right? So, and I had to think to myself like, well, what if I lose clients or my employees aren't happy with what I'm saying? Right, because there is this feeling that, as, like a public figure, see that you owe something to everybody, right, that you answered everybody. So I think that, for the way I see it, it's going to be something that CEOs or leaderships are gonna be very careful what they say, because I think it's pretty hard at this point, as everybody is so out there and so vocal, to sort of separate yourself entirely from your company. I think it's just really hard, given just the mentality of social media and this feeling that everybody deserves an answer from anybody in the social media mob, right, whether positive or negative.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it's interesting because what you're talking about with your business dynamics and not wanting to make a client upset but also standing up for something is very much in a B2B atmosphere and between leaders, between companies. And it gets me thinking of like, well, what about cannabis consumers? Do they understand enough about who the companies are that are the owners of the brands that they're purchasing at the dispensary level to have that actively affect a purchasing choice? My gut instinct is that we're not there yet. Like I heard on Marketplace NPR the other day that people are buying less Teslas because they don't like Elon Musk, I don't think that that has filtered down to cannabis purchasing behaviors yet. I do see that the community is small enough in the B2B realm that how one company behaves could affect another company wanting to do business with it. But I'm not sure that there's many companies that have enough brand equity for consumers that they could really step in it yet.

Speaker 1:

But it is interesting because we're such a B2B driven marketplace. Right, it's like the buyers at these retailers and it's still like a very brick and mortar driven economy.

Speaker 3:

So, like that relationship, it's an interesting conversation because it's a very interesting conversation and you're both making very good points, and there's two things I would say about this, and we talked about this a little bit. We were talking about what we might wanna talk about, about bad press or whatever this is, and how this actually defines what your business looks like. So, yes, your point, and I think we are all three of us especially are very active on social. So we see a lot of these conversations going on, right, and a company does something that people in the B2B don't like, right, or there's an issue within a company. Everybody seems to know about it, but it's all sort of like inside baseball, right, like in the small community within LinkedIn and Twitter and Instagram, just like infighting or like you know, or whatever it is. And you know, as we're thinking together, like what, like a strategy might be to combat some of the noise around what's going on. So then I'll ask myself and I'll ask the client like, have you lost one customer? Because, like everybody's talking about on LinkedIn right now, has anybody come into your store and said, and like I said, maybe because it's just so early innings that people don't understand, or people?

Speaker 1:

are not there yet.

Speaker 3:

But I don't think some of these companies have really lost like one or two clients, one or two customers because of like what they heard. You know one of the growers did within a company. So I don't think we're there yet. But, that being said, you know it's sort of hard to and everybody is like in the B2B like, I think, in our industries specifically, I think most people who work in the industry are somewhat consumer, so they are the customer. So like even if you've got like a thousand people who are in the B2B, that's a thousand customers across stores, so it could impact it. But I don't think like a misstep by a company at this point, unless it's like really really gruesome or bad that somebody's walking out with a buying of APEM from one of their stores. They just don't see it. I haven't seen it.

Speaker 1:

Yeah Well, there have been some pretty bad stories this past year, and if it's a customer we don't have to go in too deep. But like was it GTI in Massachusetts that had someone pass away like working in there or truly?

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

Truly, and I mean that's a. It's so crazy because the industry is, especially on LinkedIn, so quick to jump on them like they're a terrible actor, all this kind of stuff, and it's like without all the information, like people die for many different reasons, not to make light of what happened, but Direct, is this like? Yeah, but what I'm saying is it's like to be very emotional.

Speaker 2:

To go to a truly dispensary because of that news. Did that filter down to consumer behavior?

Speaker 3:

Not on a large scale as much as the people at Pitchforks would like to think it did. I don't think it did, because no one knows what's happening by closed doors. I work with a lot of these companies. Truly, it's not a client of ours, but I know how much people do take care of their customers and how upset they are. Things like this happen. So while there's definitely a lot of noise within LinkedIn or whatever it is, I don't think they lost huge market share because of that incident. I really don't.

Speaker 1:

What's the just like, knowing that they're not your client, but understanding that you probably have clients that have been through similar crises. What does that general? What does the next 24 hours look like? Are people calling you and be like Rosie, we need an emergency meeting? What's the game plan? Like, yeah, kind of run us through what an event like that would be like.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, and our job is to always be on and help respond, but there's always also, like I said, like to take a breath. Let's look at what we do within a company and can we stand behind some of the actions that we've made, like, do we have safety protocols in place? Do we have inspectors who come in to make sure that it's a healthy work environment? Are we taking care of our clients, of our employees, Like, are we communicating with our employees? A lot of like, I would say like the trolls or pitchforks on LinkedIn have no idea how empathetic and how sympathetic some of these CEOs are and how much they do care about their employees, and they just assume that it's like the big bad monster who just doesn't give one whatever about their employees. And that's not the case. I know because I advise these clients and I hear how important their employees are to them. So, and also, like I said, like, why is it anybody's responsibility to respond to? You know somebody on LinkedIn who thinks they've done something wrong? Like no, the responsibility is to their customers, their families, their employees, not the LinkedIn mob, like, and then that's my thing. So, most important thing is that we take a step back and see what protocols we have in place. You know what actually happened. Assess what happened. You know. Only we know, because it's our company or these people know what actually happened in real time, right. Everybody else is just surmising what they think happened. So we take a look at the facts we talk about. You know what do we have in place, what can we put in place, how can we improve? You know there's always room for improvement as we're building companies in this brand new industry that's never been built before. How about giving these CEOs a little bit of grace to figure out what the next step is, how they can do a better job? Cause people wanna have happy employees, they wanna have great product, they wanna have their customers happy. So you know we work with them to figure out what the right plan is, what the right messaging is, and the first thing we think about is our customers, our families, our employees, and not what all the trolls or, you know, naysayers are saying on social Like. That's my advice Tune that out and let's do the actual work to fix this problem.

Speaker 2:

So to comment. Very passionate about this.

Speaker 1:

To comment on this, by the way you don't always have to comment.

Speaker 3:

Like I said, the responsibility is to your true stakeholders, right? So sometimes you don't have to comment, like we're working behind the scenes to fix a problem or, you know, assess situation or work with a family and that's the first responsibility. And then we figure out what we need to tell the public, right, and when we need to tell them. The first place to make a statement doesn't necessarily need to be at LinkedIn. It's probably calling, you know, an infected individual, not talking to LinkedIn, right? So, like, our CEO should be doing that and not being worried about everybody on social things, about them.

Speaker 1:

So you said the word trolls and not commenting. We don't have to dive too deep into it. Is that the popular advice still Like it's like you're getting trolled, Don't respond, or like don't give them oxygen? Yeah, I mean, a lot of trolls are attention.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, they're attention seeking, right. They're using your name and your credibility to build their own self, right? Whatever it is, or if it's like you're passionate about it, you want to respond. Sure, but a lot of the times this is like the news cycle Things go fast, things move fast, right, so ignore it unless you feel like you really need to respond to it, unless it really affects you or your business. Or, a lot of times, ignore, like, what is this person? How is that impacting your business? Why do you have to answer to them? You don't. So that's a lot of the times. Also, it's like a lot of the stuff that I see is total BS. So, like, why would I, why would anybody respond to things that are just not true? You don't have to.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 3:

And listen. At some point, you know, something big happens. You might want to address your audience, and across all mediums. I'm not saying to be totally quiet. You know we draft a lot of public statements and a lot of times we put them out there. But, like I said, our responsibility is to our real stakeholders, not to like, not a LinkedIn mob.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah. And Ray, you look like you're about to say something.

Speaker 2:

I was getting a text from a listener saying how do we ask a question? But, rosie, I think that this is so useful because it's just so critically important for companies to be out there, and I'm wondering I'm just like I'm processing all the things you're saying in relation to pitching and engaging in social media. We haven't talked about press releases yet, and I think that one of the things that we just see so many cannabis companies doing all of the time is putting out press releases, and it isn't always news, sometimes it's just announcements. How useful are press releases? Why are all these companies doing this? Does it have to do with investor relations and stocks? Help our listeners understand why they should be putting out press releases, or if they should at all.

Speaker 3:

Well, it really depends on the company. So, obviously, some public companies have some things that they must disclose. It's part of the process. Can't withhold information, so some of them must put out things for compliance, have to put out press releases, and press releases are useful in many ways. They're not the way we pitch stories, I would say, but they're great FAQ. It's like who, what, where, when, what's the information we want to get out? What do we want the quote to be? What do we want consumers or investors to know about the company and an official document. So I think there's definitely a reason for it. So I necessarily think you always need to pay to put it on a news wire. No, like I said, we use it almost like as a fact sheet. So, and also, like I would say, because media is shrinking, right, like they don't have budgets, a lot of times there's a lot of bandwidth for a publication reporter, right, your story, but you do want to get it out there in a large format. So, putting out a press release and it gets that news out, you can point to that to tell the story. But we really use it as a tool. So even if, like, we've got a big announcement, we'll attach the press release to it so people can see all the information. But it's really around that crafted pitch Like what do I want to say? How is this relevant to this reporter? So that's the reason for it, but really it's just a place to get all your information in the right place in an official way, I would say, and a lot of times. Not every single product, announcement or initiative needs to be press release. It can be a well crafted pitch. You don't always need to put out a press release. You certainly don't need to spend $2,000 putting on a news wire.

Speaker 1:

You're reminding me of what felt like a clash of cultures in the earlier years. Like you had Canada with all the publicly traded companies, like pumping out press releases like at minimum once a month, and then you had what do you want to say?

Speaker 3:

We have to advise our clients. Sometimes about this too, we're like it's just too much. You lose credibility if you're putting out so much press release. It just annoys you. Another thing from this company let's have a reason to put out a press release. It's something big actually happening. You're just trying to get your name out there. That's very. People see right through that.

Speaker 2:

And then also you don't want to be also pumping.

Speaker 3:

It's like if you can't pump the stock right, there's some legality around that too, so we're very careful about it, and then we're going to have to go back to the company to get the money back going on. Yeah, back of the day for sure. Oh my gosh, not an hour watch, though, hopefully.

Speaker 2:

One thing that I'm curious about with your business and how you're navigating the industry is that we all know that the industry has been going through some changes and it's been a tough year, and has it been a tough year for Madio. And how do you continue to think about growth and are you all in on cannabis? Are you thinking about other things?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, Listen, I don't think there's any company in this industry who has been immune to what's been going on, especially as marketing companies. Usually the first thing to go we definitely lost clients. I mean, what makes these sleepin' items they cause like it's nothing to do with the work? We love you. We just don't have the budget. Our board's making us cut. This is the easiest place to do it. Luckily, a lot of them have come back, which is great, but we're not immune to it. But I'm a believer. I'm in here for the long haul. I love this industry. I love my clients. I love the people I've met. I'm all in on this. That being said, I've got a fiduciary responsibility to my investors. I have responsibility to my employees to make sure that we're a healthy company and that we're here for the duration. So, yeah, we're doing some work outside of cannabis. Right now, we're doing a little bit in the fertility space. People think that's a little strange when I say it, but if you think about it highly regulated, formally stigmatized industry, right, and now it's become part of our conversation, used to be. You know, you were in your who spoke about infertility. You really. It was like somebody, a woman in their mid-40s, having this holy eff moment. I haven't had a baby and now I have to spend, you know, hundreds of thousand dollars to have IVF. And it was a hush-hush thing and nobody talked about it. You only knew when somebody ends it, if having triplets, if something might have happened. That's not where we are right now. We're in this space where women in their 20s are choosing to, you know, delay, delay getting pregnant and to have careers, and people are talking about it more. So we want to be part of that conversation, we want to be ushering that in, so that you know we have a few clients in that space right now. It seems a little strange drugs and babies but the way I think about it like I said, formally stigmatized, highly regulated fits right into what we're doing. And you know, actually I'm really passionate about it, the team's passionate about it, but part of it is also like I can't lift my head in the stand and say, oh, everything is going to be great and you know, we can just, you know, hang on until things get better in this space. No, I'm a CEO and business leader. I want to be able to make sure I'm employing my 50, 60 people for, you know, forever more. So we're going to do what we got to do to, you know, to keep the lights on and keep doing great work.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah.

Speaker 2:

First of all, as a woman, I just want to say that I think it's really exciting to hear that you're going to be getting the word about infertility, because I just have so many friends who have been through it. We all have, and everyone feels like they're alone and nobody's talked about these stories and these crazy things that have basically have been universal for so many people. So amazing.

Speaker 3:

And there's a democratization of it now, like there's like dry bar clinics or like in a low cost providers in second cities, like there's a lot of cool things happening. So it's fun to be, like I said, on the forefront of another industry and it's mission driven, which is, you know what we're about here too. So it's been fun. It's still the slow build, yeah, but we're doing something a little different now.

Speaker 2:

And because this is a podcast where we talk about business, like as you got to the point where you were realizing that things were shifting in cannabis and you wanted to keep your company on a growth trajectory and at least maintain where you were and keep your employees happy and all the things that you said. What was your process like to decide to take on a new vertical at Madio?

Speaker 3:

So yeah, like I always say, my name is on the door, but it just because it was easier, right. So we're on the team here. So we actually spent a couple of months doing some exercises of different and different verticals that might be interesting to us, we might want to go into. We sat as a group and we did. You know, we did like some real, you know, market research, like which PR firms are covering this, what is the landscape, where's funding happening. So it was a process and this is not the only vertical we're going to be. You know, I like to do things a very process oriented. I do want things at a time. So we're doing this. We've got a few others that are coming down, you know, down the pike too, but we did this collaboratively and we've got a whole team here and we sat together and decided as a group we're going to go next and I have to be that way, like I don't have a product, we're all people right, and like the culture here is amazing. I love my people. So we've worked on it together and now that everybody's passionate about it, you know we go together, we walk together and we're doing it together.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I think it reminds me of even the early days, like when I was running Gateway. You know we would encourage founders like think of cannabis industry as your beachhead, like as an opportunity to like work with inside this walled garden. Like find your unique angle like how might your approach to cannabis be applied to other markets, like even at Vertosa? It's like you know, it's like what other you know ingredients could use like an infusion of trust and like what requires stability and accuracy, like for for a docible experience Like, and I think we can all like make a quick jump into what that next market might be like right, and so I just think it's interesting. I was also thinking, like I've been hearing recently. It's like oh, menopause is a whole new like market that people didn't previously talk about. So there you go. You know All this a period of.

Speaker 3:

We didn't talk about this when we were in high school. You know, now they talk about it in junior high school in the hallways of the boys. Things are changing so we got to get with the times and, you know, excited, like I said, to have conversation of things that people use, use and out of conversations around and that gets us excited.

Speaker 2:

One of the things that gets me really excited of where we are in the cannabis industry compared to where we were 10 years ago and 10,. You're talking about bringing people in other industries to help bolster and build cannabis, and now I'm starting to see like you're the perfect example of where people have built really amazing things in cannabis and then they get to take them out of cannabis and do other things with them, and you're the first PR example that I've heard. I've seen some really cool ways that some agricultural technology that was developed for cannabis is now being applied to other types of cultivation, and that, to me, shows a real maturation of our space.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I always talk about this with our clients. Like there's a lot of tech companies. It's like cannabis is born, like when we had a tech industry. So like there's like bleeding egg tech, bleeding edge technology, something like a virtuoso. Also like where it's being launched into the industry. When we had all these tools available to us, so now we can. It's not like an entrenched industry or something where, like they're like they always use this platform, so we use this platform. Right, we built things, so now we've things that we made of work and highly regulated, very difficult industry with very little capital. So being able to translate that to like a legacy industry is pretty cool and we're seeing it happen. I love that.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, so awesome, ben, you got any last things before we start wrapping for our last call?

Speaker 1:

No, I'm just I'm trying to think. I'm like all right, like what are the next steps? You know, we're speaking of thought leadership, right, we're building this podcast. Rosie, we're so incredibly grateful to have you on because, like, this is directly related to what we're trying to do build thought leadership right and so I guess, though, the one thing that we didn't touch on. I just want to ask really quick obviously, if you're a business leader, you want to go start a podcast that's uniquely angled on the industry. You can do that. But, speaking at conferences, do you kind of treat conferences and conference organizers similar to how you would like a columnist for a publication?

Speaker 3:

For sure. And I think conferences and they end up being end up going a lot of them see a lot of the same people and I get people get fatigued out of them. But you know, the ones that are run well, I think are also another great medium. Like I said, like we still have a very narrow window of like who covers cannabis, and actually we talked a little earlier like when, you know, there was a time, I think between 2018 and 2021, where a lot of the more mainstream publications are writing about it. We're seeing more lifestyle press come in. There are a lot of media outlets, but that's shrinking. And cannabis is not so in vogue right now in the mainstream media just because everything that's going on right, you still can't buy it in every state. There's lots of reason why they're not covering it. So, like, what are the places where you can get out there right and tell your story or actually get in front of media? So conferences are great because you're able to, you can take the content. A lot of them are videoed and you can put that on your your, your Instagram or your LinkedIn and use that, you know, to build your, to build your profile on immediate comes events. They can hear you speak. That's where you need partners. So I don't think people should go to every single event, especially in tight budgets Like, say, pay your vendors instead of going to an event. But I do think it's a great medium, a great way to get your name out there, Great way to network with people, maybe find partnerships and, just like, get that story out in a different medium. You can't just use media, you can't just use social media. Being, you know, in these conferences is a great tactic and there's some really great ones that put on they're not paid to play and they do really really. You know strong content tracks. We work very closely with these organizers to make sure and even some that are paid to play like they want to make sure they've got great content so we're able to pitch our clients. We might not have budget to speak on a conference, you know, to sponsor conference to speak on it, so I do love them as a medium and they're a great way, to you know, take up business and partnerships and close deals.

Speaker 1:

What's up? What's up in coming conference? That that you're excited about? I think this year we've been hearing I mean, there's always MJ biz stuff like that. We've been talking about MJU or MJ unpacked quite a bit. I've heard good things about any. Can Benzinga, obviously? I think Anareo was talking about that recently. What's top of mind for you?

Speaker 3:

So I love Benzinga. You know those guys are great. We've been working them a long time and I personally get a lot of value out of that conference. You know close deals. It's great for us, so that's a great one. Mj unpacked is also great. I was there last week. I think Georgia came to an awesome job curating. You know the right room. It's a different approach. You know, I spoke to one of our clients who paid the exhibit there. They said you know, it's a smaller, quieter conference, but we actually it's much more targeted. So I think they do a great job. And then also, you know the plug to one of our investors. You know Ian Dominguez who's doing Canada data con. He did it last year for the first time and it was very small conference like by design, but it was incredible content and I think it's coming back for a year or two and I just, yeah, I just signed up for next year. And I think the niche ones are great because, like, like it's not a spray and pray approach. I know what I want to be hearing about, I know who's going to be there, I'm going there for a specific reason. Just to show up to opening of every envelope, Like that's just not the move. So when I tell people into thinking about what their budgets are like, don't show up to every conference, show up to the conference that makes the most sense for your business. Not doesn't like for me to go to South by Southwest, yet it's fun for me to hang in Austin, like it's fun for me to be with my clients there and yeah, of course, maybe I can sign a one or two clients there. You know, when I travel, a lot of it's about you know business development, but like that's not where I need to spend you know five to $10,000 to travel with the team, so I don't go, even though it would be super fun to hang out at the you know hotel San Juan. So, like that's why I tell people when they're allocating their, their budgets, make sure it really is targeted and make sense for your business.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, makes sense, thanks.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, that's a perfectly expressed wrap. This is the part of the show where we give you, rosie, a chance to make your last impression. It's our last call. What's your last call?

Speaker 3:

Wow, that's a. I should prepare for this, no, but I just want to thank you guys for having me. I love talking about this and, like I said, the most important thing is you don't need to hire a firm, like us, you know. Just be targeted, do the research, you know. And also, also, in this time where you know where, like it's a crunch, and all everybody's thinking about just keeping their lights on keeping their businesses running, keep them marketing engine going, even if you can't afford your PR firm or marketing firm or social media agency anymore, make sure you're staying, you know, on top of your content, being relevant, being at the right places, because you know, I believe most of us will get out of this and you want to have that brand to continue to grow, you know, over these tough times. So thanks for having me to chat about this today. It was fun.

Speaker 1:

Absolutely. Thanks so much.

Speaker 3:

Rosie. Yeah, thank you so much, very good.

Speaker 1:

All right, we will see you soon, rosie, thank you so much, anna Rae. what an amazing discussion Rosie is. I mean, truthfully, I was feeling a little sheepish during one of our the parts of the discussion where she was talking about, you know, ceos having to make that call because their board gave them some advice. Rosie and I had that conversation at some point last year. But, yeah, I can't wait to reengage and hopefully we have some big news in the not too distant future. So we'll be talking about that soon. But what's your big takeaway? What was what really stood out to you from the conversation?

Speaker 2:

I think, just to be thoughtful and strategic. I really loved hearing about how Maddio it was exploring new spaces and also responding in crises, but not always having to respond or focus on the things that matter, and putting the social media static to sleep. That is actually where the customers are, so I think that's such an important thing to remember.

Speaker 1:

That is a good one. Like I can get so sucked into what's happening on LinkedIn and naturally we're a B2B company so that probably matters but, like if I were a consumer company, you could still be exposed to all that noise, but maybe it doesn't even impact like what's happening for your business. So, yeah, very interesting, what do you think? Folks? Good conversation. You know the drill. Ask your questions, drop into our comments, like, subscribe to all those things. We're really excited that the podcast is starting to pick up its subscribers. We're going to post this immediately to be syndicated across all your favorite streams. So hit that, subscribe, share it with your networks. We're here. Tell us who you'd like to have on. These conversations are for you, and so, yeah, as we read this out, you know I just want to also acknowledge there is still a lot going on in the world. It means a lot to us that you take the time to listen to these conversations, what we have to say. But, yeah, take some advice from the episode. Have an opinion, get out there, say something you know, let people know that you support them. I've done so on LinkedIn. I'll do so right now. You know I stand by our employees and our friends in the industry around the world that are being impacted by this, and we just hope that we can get peace soon. So until then, I encourage you to stay curious, stay informed and keep your spirits high. And until next time. That's the show.

Welcome to the show!
Effective Media Pitching Through Data and Relationships
Personal Branding in PR Strategy
Managing Crisis Communication and Public Perception
Expanding Into Fertility and Other Industries
Conferences Build Thought Leadership
Encouraging Support and Positivity