To Be Blunt

037 Securing Publicity and PR for your Cannabis Brand with Alice Moon

February 15, 2021 Shayda Torabi Season 2 Episode 37
To Be Blunt
037 Securing Publicity and PR for your Cannabis Brand with Alice Moon
Show Notes Transcript

Alice Moon is a cannabis media maven and founder of the Alice Moon PR & Creative Agency. She focuses on PR, Social Media, and Marketing for both cannabis and non-cannabis brands. Every brand or organization wants its name to be known. They want their stories heard. And so, in this episode, we’ll be tackling one of the most important parts of being a brand, especially in the cannabis industry, and that is PR and Marketing.


[00:01 – 03:54] Opening Segment / Introduction of Topic and Guest

[03:55 – 11:18] Alice’s Story / Marketing Cannabis Through Social Media

[11:19 – 22:58] What is Public Relations? / How to Improve Your PR

[22:59 – 35:12] The Bad Side of too Much Press / Crisis Management

[35:13 – 44:09] Out of Industry Media vs. In Industry Media / How Much Time Do You Put in Social Media Marketing?

[44:10 – 48:42] Business Cards / Are Press or Media Kits Important?

[48:43 – 51:31] Final Thoughts and Call to Action

Alice Moon is an entrepreneur with 8 years of experience working in the cannabis industry. She is the Founder of Alice Moon PR, a public relations and communications agency that represents both ancillary and plant-touching brands in the cannabis industry. Her main focus is on Splitbud, a recently launched tech company that is helping consumers access cannabis at affordable prices.

Additionally, she is Director of Communications for Blunt Talks, an educational event series that is commonly referred to as "Ted Talks for Cannabis". She is most notably known for founding her own cannabis tech startup, which was nominated Best Tech 2017 by Dope Magazine Awards. Moon's web app featured The World's Largest Edible Directory, which was created to help consumers find the right edible for them based on dietary needs and location.

After writing edible reviews for years, Moon was diagnosed with Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome in 2018, which forced her to cease cannabis use completely. Her passion for cannabis and desire to find a cure for CHS has made her an outspoken advocate for the syndrome. Her work in the cannabis industry has landed her features in LA Weekly, High Times, Merry Jane, Business Insider, Weedmaps, Leafly, Benzinga, RX Leaf, and Civilized, with appearances on CNN, Vice's "Blunt Talks" and Viceland’s "Bong Appetit".

Shayda Torabi has been called one of the most influential Women in WordPress and now she’s one of the women leading the cannabis reformation conversation building one of Texas’ premier CBD brands. She's currently the CEO and Co-Founder of RESTART CBD, a female-run education first CBD wellness brand. And has formerly held marketing positions at WP Engine and WebDevStudios. Shayda is the host of a podcast for cannabis marketers called To Be Blunt, where she interviews top cannabis brands on their most successful marketing initiatives. When Shayda's not building her cannabiz in Texas, you can find her on the road exploring the best hikes and spots for vegan ice cream. Follow Shayda at @theshaydatorabi

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Alice Moon  0:00  
First off, you need a good press release. And we need to make sure that your press release really tells your story explains your why your how, and really gets your story across. And then you'll have to reach out to writers. And I think the best place to find writers is Twitter. And that's where all the writers, the journalists, editors, that's where they're hanging out. They're having conversations, they're posting their articles. So you can search and find cannabis writers that way and find their emails and then pitch them in a way that's appropriate to them. And make sure you're pitching to people that are like you know, the right writers for you. You don't want to go and pitch somebody who writes national media coverage and you're a small brand that doesn't serve national market. So you want to make sure you're going to the niche for you.

Announcer  0:49  
You're listening to To Be Blunt, the podcasts for cannabis marketers. Where your host Shayda Torabi and her guests are trailblazing the path to marketing educating and professionalizing cannabis light one up and listen up. Here's your host Shayda Torabi. Hello and welcome back to another new episode of The To be blunt podcast. You are listening to the host My name is Shayda Torabi and I'm really excited to be sharing another new episode with y'all today. I'm gonna kick today's episode off though with a little gratitude. I was recently announced as the best hemp educator and best hemp influencer by the Texas hemp awards. And y'all just really truly honestly, it's a dream. It's a dream to get to wake up and to put on this podcast and to run restart CBD and just get to live my true authentic self, which is just a gal from Austin, Texas, who fucking loves marketing and communications and community and educating others and loves cannabis and as a cannabis consumer herself. And so all my dreams are coming true one day at a time. And it's really thanks to a really an incredible community made up of y'all. So thanks for listening to this show. Thanks for voting for me. And like let's fucking get it 2021 is just beginning. It's really exciting. So with that said, today's episode is going to be a fun one. I don't know if you knew this about me, but I majored in marketing and communications. And I have a minor in public relations. So PR and press. And it's something that I personally spend a lot of time doing on behalf of my business restart CBD, and yet is something that is still super fascinating for others, because it doesn't come naturally to everyone, right, you know, securing press communicating, telling your story, I think those are things that I try to convey through this podcast as ways that you could start to, you know, attack that as your own brand, whether you're a personal brand, or it's for your business. But I think press and PR is something that everybody wants. Everybody wants to have your, you know, your business known, you want people to tell your story. And so, today's guest is Alice moon, she is a cannabis publicist, and she's got a wealth of knowledge and a compassionate heart for wanting to help others. And she's honestly been someone that I've been following a lot of her own journey just through social media channels. I've been kind of observing her for a while now, and really happy to be able to get her on the show so she can share her expertise and knowledge. But that's what we dive into today. Cannabis publicity and press and kind of what it looks like and how to go after it. So I'm just gonna let Alice kick things off. So let's welcome her to the show. 

Alice Moon  3:54  
I'm Alice Moon, and I've worked in the cannabis industry for nine years doing a variety of things. I currently focus on social media marketing and PR. My career in cannabis started in 2011 in Los Angeles, and I started as a trimmer than a budtender. And then I started making bracelets you could smoke out of called secret smoker bracelet. And I use social media as a means to market it, you know, I would go and search hashtag Coachella and like people's photos and then everyone who's going to Coachella would go and buy my bracelets. And so that was a means of me using social media way back in the day. So I've been entwined with social media for quite some time. And after doing my secret smoker bracelets, I launched a tech company that was called swallow and it was like the Yelp of edibles that help people find the right edible for them based on their dietary needs and location. And my company garnered a lot of organic press. And we were featured by High Times twice and a few other publications. And ultimately tech was not my background and I couldn't get the company off the ground the way I wanted it to. So I decided to go into PR since I made all these connections in the publicist world. So I pivoted from doing tech to PR, and that's kind of what led me to where I'm at today. You said some really key things that I want to kind of break down for the listeners. Social media, social media, in the day and age that you're describing is much different in my opinion than the social media of today. So just using you said hashtags to kind of go track, you know, some of these posts, photos, geography, you know, areas, things like Coachella, I think there's still some, you know, wisdom in that kind of approach. But I'd love for you to maybe break it down for us how you've seen social media evolve over the years, especially with the lens of cannabis, because obviously cannabis is a little tricky to be on social media. So how have you seen it evolve? Yeah, so I actually had my account deleted in 2016. I had 14,000 followers, and I was deleted for posting too much cannabis content. So the landscape has definitely changed. Instagram is more welcoming to cannabis content, but they're still harsh on cannabis content. I think it's also gotten a lot more complex with using Instagram, back in the day, you know, like I said, I would just go and like photos under certain hashtags. And then I could get sales. It's not that easy anymore. Instagram makes things a lot harder. People aren't paying as much attention to their notifications. And it's just a lot more of a complex landscape than it used to be. So it's a lot harder to navigate, but it's still very crucial for businesses to use to grow their company. 

Shayda Torabi  6:24  
Do you find that social media is still a good place for sales to happen? Or is it more kind of an extension of the brand's voice? community building education? Like what are you seeing brands, I guess from a cannabis perspective, presently, today, finding success with social media. I think a lot of community building and education is where the cannabis community is headed. And that's the brands that are thriving are doing a lot of education and lifestyle photos. And I do have a hemp client that they get a lot of sales through their Instagram. So they connect with retailers just through their Instagram and get a lot of sales in the DM. So I think for CBD and hemp brands, it's easy to get sales with Instagram. But for cannabis dispensaries, it's not as easy to do it that way. Because consumers have to go to the dispensary to you know, make a purchase and deals aren't really happening and that kind of flow on Instagram. I think that's a really fair differentiation to point out. And it's good for the listeners, because I do have a lot of I mean, I'm in Texas, so Texas, we do not have legal weed, which is obviously personally a problem but also something that like as a business, we just, I do think navigating weed brands is much more difficult because you cannot sell direct to consumer versus in the hemp industry, we are able to sell direct to consumer not that we can, I always kind of it's funny, your sentiment around social media is much more polite and positive than my sentiment around social media. I haven't personally been kicked off per se yet. But I've definitely gotten the alerts like you need to stop posting, you know, photos of us smoking things on the internet. And I'm like, What is it you know, how do you know what it is, and then something legal. But I do think that there's just so many nuances to it. And so it's like a love hate relationship that I have with it of, I want to be able to create content, but I also need to like navigate what it is that I'm selling. And so just kind of again, for listeners, the advice and these conversations that we're having on the podcast, take it as like, you know, a good starting place. But obviously, depending on the side of the industry you're in, whether you are a physical product or a platform or software, if you're in you know full on legal market versus hemp, I do think that there's different nuances to that. So kind of a follow up question to you would be, what do you observe, kind of in the landscape of everything that's kind of going on in the cannabis space? Who's really leveraging social media? Well, and what are you seeing is succeeding for those brands, I think pop on Barclay, they're doing a really good job on their Instagram account. And they do a lot of education and wellness and lifestyle content. And then another brand that I think is doing well on their Instagram is Candace it can Destin is a premium flower brand out in California and they just have all lifestyle photos. They don't focus on education too much. But I think their content is really good and kind of veers away from this donor stigma. And so I think that is unique to have like more of a lifestyle approach to it. Yeah, one of the previous episodes that I did on the topic was something similar of, I think when the industry first opened up and especially like leveraging I think the subject of this interview, obviously right is like social media and PR So to me, that translates into storytelling, like how do you tell your story? And I think that storytelling is different. There's people who like drama, there's people who like horror, there's people who like want a happy ending, some people want the sadness. So that to me translating into a cannabis conversation is like, I think cannabis got pegged in this like stoner culture, obviously for like, way too long. And now that it's hit mainstream, we are trying to diversify it. I think you're seeing a lot of brands that are

geared towards females, you're seeing a lot of brands that are geared towards like 55. Plus, I just think the, you know, who the Hollywood has created the cannabis consumer to be is not who the cannabis consumer is, which is really exciting because I think as an industry, it's pretty fun to see all these different types of people engaging and wanting to consume cannabis, it's no longer like I said, just for kind of like the teenagers to be like rowdy with it's like, I literally have like husbands and wives who come in, and they're like their 60s 70s. And they're like, I've heard CBD can help with my arthritis pain. And I'm like, I'm glad you heard that it potentially can, like, let's have a conversation about it. And so I just think when you have such a wide

customer set, now translating that into content, it really is an opportunity for brands to get away from I think the traditional pop culture and get into more of the lifestyle content. So I hope people again, who are listening can kind of start to weave. Because for me, it's always about what is unique to you, like, what's your why. And I think that is something that you probably have a lot of experience with just like doing the publicity side of things where you are pitching people's brand, you're pitching their stories, and it's no longer just like, weed is legal, I'm selling this or now hemp is legal, I can sell this product, it's like why your product? So kind of transitioning maybe a little bit into like the PR side, let's get a little rudimentary, what is public relations? What is PR? Well, you kind of just now that it's storytelling, it is telling a brand story and getting it to the media in a way that is gonna, you know, land coverage, basically. So I guess to deviate on that What does coverage look like? coverage could be you know, anything from podcasts, to local publications to national media coverage. So you said something earlier, too, that I want to kind of circle back around in regards to this conversation. You mentioned organic content. And so I was kind of to the listeners letting Alice know that I do have a background in PR I actually majored in PR and communications and I handle all the publicity for my brand restart CBD as well as being a personal brand myself. And so I spend a lot of my personal time on podcasts, pitching myself networking, building relationships, and you mentioned organic placement. And so I do think that that's something to highlight with listeners, because I think that there's always two sides, right? There's people who are looking for editorial content that is earned and organic. And then there's people who are looking for advertisements. And sometimes the two can be very confusing to someone who perhaps does not have a PR background like us. And so, kind of walk us through that. What are your What are your insights into that if a brand is listening, and they're like, I would like PR but like to me, I don't like to necessarily spend on PR I prefer to go earn it organically. is one better than the other? And where do you see those different tiers? perhaps maybe different brands? lifecycles. Well, I think earned media is a little bit more respected than advertorial. Because advertorial You know, it does say that is a sponsored post. And so I think people do look at that a little bit differently, when you know, you're reading an article that is sponsored and paid for it. I think that it's better well receive when it's earned media, when a brand, you know, is doing something noteworthy that the media wants to cover them. And so I go the earned media route, I recommend that for my clients is trying to pitch them and get them media coverage that way, instead of paying for advertisements just because it just feels better. Yeah, I resonate with that too. Definitely, every time I read like an article or see like an ad, like statement on something, I'm like, Oh, this person didn't actually earn this spot, they paid to be in this spot. And so I think on one hand, there's obviously visibility. as a marketer, I talk a lot about, it's really hard to track, it's really hard to track an attribute where someone really resonated with your brand. And so I do think that there are certain activities, maybe it's on a paid level that can give you better visibility. Maybe it's a national publication where there's an ad spot, or maybe it's a podcast on a national publication that to get in front of those people in that audience you have to pay to play. So I guess it's not to me, it's not necessarily a negative thing. It's just more of how do you want to grow your brand and what is best for your brand. So I know that you've personally gotten yourself in some major publications. I know you've had your clients get featured in major publications. It's funny, I just was on your LinkedIn yesterday, I saw you promote the women and weed magazine. You had a client get featured in there. I see so many magazines and things that sometimes I'm like, oh, there's a new this magazine. There's new that magazine, but then I was at Whole Foods and I saw the magazine on a shelf and I was like, Wait, where did this come from? And the whole foods girl was like, I don't know. We just got them and there were two new cannabis magazines sitting in Whole Foods. So just kind of using that kind of music.

ample as like a jumping off point when you are pitching clients, I mean, if I'm a brand and I want to get in a magazine, what does that look like? Do I always have to go through a publicist like yourself? Can I just go pitch myself to these magazines? I mean, what's the nuance to that? Yeah. So first, I want to let brands know that like getting a new magazine takes a long time. And it's not just like, I want to be in a magazine next month, I'll be in print, it's usually like three to six months out before it happens. So I just want to like, say that so brands know what to expect, because like the women in the magazine that was pitched in August, and so you know, that just hit the shelves this month of February. So that, you know, was a long time coming. But I don't think you necessarily need a publicist. I think a publicist is really good if you're not good at doing what a publicist does. But some people do have writing strengths. So first off, you need a good press release. And we need to make sure that your press release really tells your story explains your why your how it really gets your story across. And then you'll have to reach out to writers. And I think the best place to find writers is Twitter. And that's where all the writers, the journalists, editors, that's where they're hanging out. They're having conversations, they're posting their articles. So you can search and find cannabis writers that way and find their emails and then pitch them in a way that's appropriate to them. And make sure you're pitching to people that are like, you know, the right writers for you. You don't want to go and pitch somebody who writes national media coverage, and you're a small brand that doesn't serve national market. So you want to make sure you're going to the niche for you. Yeah, I think you helped connect some dots for people have, like my brain instantly jumps to like I've done everything you just said, I literally will go through magazines and see who's writing who's like a similar brand to me, or like certain products or brands that are getting coverage, figure out who's writing it, go figure out their contact information, craft a press release, go pitch myself submit it to them. I think the sticky part that I hope is conveyed to listeners is the effort that it takes. So whether it's like a traditional media piece like a magazine, where there is a longer lead time to have to go pitch that opportunity. Or it's just like persistence, like I can't even begin to express the amount of times I've pitched myself to the same publication different writers sometimes it next and nothing sometimes, you know, you send the first email. So in response, it just seems a little bit like a crapshoot. But I guess I'm saying all this to kind of paint a picture for the listeners, because obviously everybody wants publicity. Everybody wants someone to write about them. Everybody wants that really cool magazine opportunity where it's like, look at me, Mom, I'm in this, you know, magazine and point to it and you know, promoted on social media or whatever, extend that content. But I just don't think people really fully know how to go achieve it. And so maybe let's kind of you know, play a scenario. I'm a new brand. I want to be featured in things I'm coming to you like, what's kind of your playbook? Do you think magazine content is better? Is it getting on podcasts? Is it really depend on the brands like to me again, PR is so broad? How do people start to navigate it like personally, because I do my own PR, I fall into what my personal skill sets are. I like public speaking. So I public speak. That's my main avenue. And so I do that currency of networking, networking leads me to media opportunities leads me to speaking opportunities podcast, but like, let's say I wasn't me, I'm like, hey, Alice, I have this CBD brand. We are national, I ship nationwide. I want I want more customers, I want more visibility, what is the best media kind of right now from your observation that's getting people a lot of business or success. So first, before a company even like goes to the media route, I think it's important to make sure your website and your social media is all up to par. I think that that part is sometimes overlooked, where people go and get press coverage, and then their website may have a lot of errors, or their social media just isn't updated. And so then you get coverage, and people are looking at stuff that they don't want to be looking at. So I think getting your ducks in a row is important. And then when it comes to, okay, so if you're a brand and you're looking to get some coverage and craft your story, you know, explain why the media should be writing about you what makes you different as a CBD brand than other 1000 other CBD brands that are out there. You know, I think an important story of the why why are you doing it? What's the reasoning behind it a lot of companies that come into CBD do have a really important why of like, you know, maybe they have a son who was sick with epilepsy or something like that. And they use CBD and helped cure his epilepsy. So I think crafting a story that is important that like tells your why. And then finding who the writers are that are covering CBD and national market and pitch them, send them an email with your press release. And it's got to be crafted to that writer, you don't want to just copy and paste the same thing to each writer. You want to make sure you're actually reading that writers content and make sure that they're aligned for you so that way you're not wasting their time. I love that you started the answer with directing people to the channels that they own because I think that's a huge missed opportunity.

Like you said, it's so funny I have personally Yeah, just seen so many peers and just being in the industry, you see brands who they're really excited. They're really eager. They obviously want more customers, but it's like, Whoa, bro, did you check your website out? Do you check your social media, I've been given products by people who want me to carry their products in my store, and they have like, their social media, you know, tags on their label, and then you click try to type that like, into social media, and then their page doesn't exist, or there's like no content on it. And I'm like, why would? Why do you? Why do you even put your Instagram handle on your label? If there's nothing there for me to see? Like it? Just?

You know, I think that our brains were a little different than other people. So sometimes I freak out on it. But I think that's again, kind of the premise of this podcast is like, how do we kind of help people navigate some of these things that maybe are a little bit more easy for others to understand, or maybe things that other industries have already kind of observed. And so to me, like you said, a website is not something that, like social media is challenging for the cannabis industry, I do think being on Instagram and advertising on Instagram is, is delicate, I don't think it's difficult. I think it's delicate. And I think that depending on what you're selling, and depending again, on what your product is, and what your threshold for disturbances, you can get away, maybe with a lot of things, or you might get your account shut down. But I think going back to, you know, what are you trying to ultimately accomplish, and then like reflecting on your brand, and what is in your control, like, I don't control Instagram, I don't control Facebook, I don't control Forbes or vice or anybody else. I control my website, I control you know what I can say on there. And so that was a really good nugget that I just wanted to further emphasize. Because I do think that when it comes to like telling your story, understanding that component is really key. Now on storytelling, do you have any tips or ideas for how brands can kind of because like, I watched the TED talk by Simon Sinek on, you know, your why I totally bought into understanding like your differentiators as a brand. But, you know, I do see a lot of people getting into the industry. And it's getting to the point where it's saturated, it's very saturated. There's all that stuff that's different or disruptive. And so from your expertise in the things that you're seeing are getting press, you know, Are there new trends, Are there new new ways that people can start to pick apart their why to actually be differentiated? Well, an important part is having like a nonprofit aspect to your company. I think that like having something about giving back is important not doing it to get press coverage. But doing it as part of your business model, I think is important. And then, you know, focusing on different cannabinoids right now is definitely very trendy, and the media is loving the you know, CBN CBG. And it's getting talked about a lot thcv you know, you don't have to just be a CBD company. You don't have to just be a cannabis brand. You could be a cannabis brand that uses Delta eight, you know. So I think focusing on other cannabinoids is a good way to go right now. I appreciate that you brought that up too. Because I do think that there is such I just saw some headline, it was like why Delta eight is the new cannabinoid of 2021. And I was like, Oh, shit, it's true. It's like, it really came out of nowhere. And now I just see that cannabinoid everywhere as the other ones you mentioned, like CBN CBG. I'm seeing a lot of, especially in Texas, surprisingly, we just opened up our growing market for him last year. And I observed a lot of the farmers as a as a way to differentiate themselves were going after growing CBG in particular, I think because it was better for like growing in Texas, and he had better control because they weren't as worried about the THC percentages getting hot. But it's interesting sometimes how, you know, I think there's the marketing side of like, What can a brand decide from a business perspective to go incorporate and then there's like, what is the actual industry that they're like existing in and the parameters that they have to play with? It's like in Texas, we can't do certain things, we are limited. And so it's kind of like a double edged sword, which made me just kind of think of this, which I will totally fall on the sword a little bit.

We are one of the leading brands in Texas, and people often look to my brand as like a what's going on. And so as someone who loves to get media, I love telling my story. I love promoting it. But I think the flip side to media is it then puts a target on your back. Is there any

feedback are kind of like, I don't know, stories that you come from, or any like tips that you have to share around like kind of like the flip side of media and it hasn't necessarily happened to me. I just observe it as like using Delta eight as an example. I mean, I have a cannabis lawyer and she was like, Yeah, I mean, we're all kind of learning about Delta eight at the same time. So have fun creating content about it. And it's like you want to be first to market with creating that content. You want to be the one to tell the story you want to go after and get that coverage. But then again, the flip

is like, Oh, well she's posting this or she said that I think it's just it's, it's a delicate dance when you are trying to navigate the industry, because there's just so much. It's like a gray area, it's not wrong, it just is gray. And so I don't know if you've anything to kind of like, share on that idea. Well, one of my clients is coming out with his line of delta eight products. And so that's been a slippery slope for those last few months while we're working on their campaign because things kept changing. And so we, you know, one day thought, okay, it might be illegal tomorrow. So this whole campaign is just gonna go two ways. But now it's like, okay, it's legal. So we're definitely a little nervous. We're going to be launching that campaign in the next few weeks. And it's a slippery slope because it is a gray area like you said, and so you know, not a lot of people have put out press releases about Delta eight yet there's been a lot of press about it, but not a lot of companies have come out and owned it and said like we're doing Delta eight and here's why. So we are going to be one of the first actually do that. And so it is a little nerve wracking because the legalities behind it but you know, the company is standing strong their stance that it is legal, thanks to the farm bill and the recent clarification, so we're gonna roll with it and see how it goes. But yeah, the negative sides of things I once worked for a cannabis crypto company. And that got really messy. When I was doing their PR they got fined by the SEC for raising their crypto not registering it with the SEC as an investment and so they got made an example of because of all the you know, they got a lot of press coverage with the rays that they did, they raised $12 million and that too much hype got them into trouble. And so ultimately they had to settle with the SEC and they became an example of so much press you know, if it's a slippery slope, it can get a little dangerous.

quick break to say thank you to restart CBD for sponsoring this podcast, restart. CBD is a brand my sisters and I founded in our hometown in Austin, Texas. We operate a retail location as well as an e commerce store and you can browse our wide range of CBD products at restart CBD calm. Again, thank you to restart for allowing me the time and resources to put on to be blunt. I hope you'll check them out for your CBD needs. Let's go back to the episode.

Yeah, it's funny, I used to like, I mean, I literally majored in PR and I remember like being in class and the teachers, like all press is good press. And you know, I remember thinking like, Oh, yeah, like, even negative press attention for your company, right to some extent. And you hopefully have a good PR team who's mitigating that, that negative side. But I think in cannabis, because it's just so gray. It's like, sometimes I feel stunted. I'm like, I would love to talk about this, I would love to be, you know, a voice on it. But I also don't know where lines get drawn. And so I just think when you're getting into press and media and publicity, it's like, you better know your shit. And so I think that's something that I'm hoping listeners also take away from this episode. But really the podcast in general, like, I will never, ever pretend that I know everything. But I do educate myself pretty extensively. Part of that are these conversations with experts like yourself, just to better arm myself. And I just find that not everybody in the industry cares about that. And they want to like come out and be like with Delta eight, I just find so many people are now selling delta A because it's like the cool thing and people want to profit off of it. And I'm like, that's great. I'm all for, you know, making money off things, consumers want it, you can sell it to them. Quality is a whole other level of that. But we just we exist in such a time where the market is moving just as fast as the consumers are moving. And so I just don't feel like we have enough kind of leeway in there sometimes that I find that there are some bad players who are abusing the opportunity. And so it's just kind of like, how do you navigate through that? Right? Yeah, and one thing that I think is important for brands to also do before they put out a press release is think about all the things that could go wrong. And think about if they have any skeletons in their closet, anything that can be dug up about the founders of the company, and the company as a whole. You know, I had one writer who tried to pick apart one of my clients who like was like accusing them of things that was actually all false. And they were like, you know, this woman founder, she's not really the woman founder. She's just like, the token woman of the company. And we're like, No, actually, she is the woman founder. But you know, we were already we already had to talk about Okay, do you have any skeletons in your closet? Is there anything that any brand come after you for? Nope. Okay, so then, if any brand tries to come out as we're prepared for whatever they have to say, because we know that we stand in our truth. And so I think if you have any skeletons in your closet, like some people do, and that's okay, be prepared for it to come out and know how to handle it, you know, have a crisis management plan in place. So that way you can be prepared when that happens. Let's talk maybe a little about crisis management. What does that mean to you? Oh, man

Alice Moon  30:00  
crisis management. So with the cannabis crypto company, I had to do a lot of crisis management. And that means kind of like putting out a fire and trying to maintain a good public presence when shit hits the fan, and it can be very difficult to do when you have lawyers involved to make you shut up. And so that was something very tricky. I went through with the company I was with, because our lawyers were like, you can't you can't do any interviews, you can't do anything. And we're like, Well, okay, there's like, 10 articles a day coming out that are negative, how do we handle that? And they're like, you just got to shut up or you know, and so I ended up having to like, with writers I had relationships with, I was like, hey, look, can you do an interview and not talk about the stuff that's going on right now? And they're like, Okay, so then I, you know, I got my boss, a six page spread in a magazine, and we got some great coverage. And there's some things like that. But you have to have like, strong relationships with writers to like, have them not cover stuff like that. But I think a crisis management plan is like really preparing for the worst. And knowing how are you going to handle it? What are you going to do, who's in charge of communicating, that's very important of who's going to be the spokesperson, if shit hits the fan, who's going to be the one talking, because sometimes when shit hits, the fan, people aren't prepared. And they might say the wrong things. And then that just makes things even worse. So you just want to have your company be prepared for public speaking, if need be. Very, very good points. Again, I think this industry wants to exist in such a happy go lucky place. Again, you got a lot of exciting brands launching, they're like, Oh, I want press coverage. I want to be here and there. And it's like, Okay, that's good. But like you said, Let's make sure you have all your ducks in a row. So it really is like, do you have a great website? Do you have you know, the right story going do you have someone who is a good public spokesperson for your brand, I think, you know, it's just an interesting thought, too. For us. I, I professionally came from corporate tech marketing, and branding and public speaking. And then my degree is also in PR and communications, and I happened to be the CEO of my company. So I by default, step into that role. And it works for me, because I like you kind of observed, it's like you either can do it yourself, or you have to hire someone to help you manage it or kind of like, designate somebody else. And so I think that's something to kind of highlight with people listening. You might not be the me where you're the CEO, and the one who's public speaking or public facing, it might be someone else on your team, but figuring out that mix of who those people are going to be, to ultimately help you craft your story like, like, I just feel like there's so many people who obviously want to tell their story or want to be able to be public facing, but they maybe don't have the confidence or they don't have the communication skills. And so kind of what is your observation? In that regard? Do you find that most founders and CEOs are the ones who are getting the press? Or is it? Is it maybe other team members? Is there a best case scenario? Is there kind of an industry standard that you've observed? Um, yeah, so usually, it's the founders and CEO that the media wants to talk to you. I did have a client, they were a cannabis tech startup, and they were based in Canada, but operating in California. And because of the regulations, if the Canadian government found out that they were in cannabis, they would no longer be allowed to cross the border into the US from the US to Canada. So no one in their company could actually put their name to the company. And so we know, we went to go start to do their press release, and their press launch. And I was like, wait, so no one in your company can speak on your behalf. So what are we going to do? Okay, so I became their Director of Communications, I became the face of their company, I was the one who's doing all the interviews, and I just had to be straight up with the media and said, Look, you know, the reason why they can't talk to you is because they could get banned from the border. And so we can't include that in the article. And that is just where it's at. And so I will be speaking on their behalf completely. And so, you know, the media was totally fine with it, because the people were in cannabis media understand that that's a very severe situation that you could get prevented from being able to cross the border, if it's found out that you work in cannabis. So I became the director of communications. But I think, you know, founders and CEO is really who the media wants to talk to. And media training is totally a thing. You know, I've trained my clients on how to speak to the media, I've done mock interviews, I've sat with them for hours and just played pretend that I was a journalist and gave them some hard hitting questions and just like, prep them for an interview. And so now my clients can go and I can I know that they are safe to speak on their own, and they're comfortable doing it. So I think, you know, media training is totally something that a CEO or founder can totally do. I'm glad you brought that up, too. I literally want everybody to just like go contact you and get media trained, because I think it's just such a good skill for people to have. It just prepares them to have conversations. It's, it's just something that again, I think is lacking in this industry. I've just seen a lot of I see the professionalism coming from the larger brands, but because the industry is made up of a lot of smaller brands that exist kind of in the shadows of these larger brands. They're fighting for that publicity and that coverage, and again, you're finding a lot of people are not really prepared to have those conversations, and sometimes

Shayda Torabi  35:00  
I'm just observing the quality or the credibility of the conversation is a little bit diluted because it's not properly educated by the person who's communicating. So, media training everybody should do and it's really good can learn how to talk in front of the medium press. Another question I have for you is around, I guess the types of publications or the types of

categories that media can fall into. So I'll kind of precede it with my two cents would be it's awesome to get featured in cannabis related publications, if you are cannabis related media, if you are maybe doing b2b stuff, or you want more credibility in your industry, but obviously, industry people are not necessarily my customers. If I'm selling a CBD product, I want to sell to pet owners I want to sell to you know, Millennials?

Alice Moon  35:53  
What is like what is your your opinion on out of industry publications or media coverage versus in industry, media or publication coverage? So for all the clients I've worked with, who's all gone for the cannabis publications, because their target consumer is the cannabis consumer. And so I focus mainly on cannabis publications. But for you know, like a CBD brand, you definitely want to try to get into bigger publications, just a cannabis publication, something more mainstream or well, widespread read like Elle or Vogue or glamour or something like that variety. So I think those are like totally possibilities for a CBD brand as well, you know, the luxury lifestyle. So if I want to get into L what what would you say to do is it find who the writer is? Go to Twitter, send them a pitch email.

Shayda Torabi  36:42  
Yeah, you know, before you even send them a pitch email, I would like start to like their stuff and retweet it in a casual way, not in a way that's bombarding them, but in a way that's showing support for them over time. And kind of, then they will start to see your name. And when they get an email from you, they're not going to be like, Who the heck is this person, they're gonna be like, Oh, I remember this person from Twitter. So I think kind of starting to build a relationship before you pitch is a good way to go. And Twitter is where In your opinion, most of the media is hanging out. Totally at Twitter is where they're at, for sure. I'm totally not on Twitter right now. I used to be on Twitter. But for me, I hang out in LinkedIn, which is where I see you a lot. And then Instagram, just running our brand stuff. And then now I've gotten a little bit in the clubhouse, which I know you're on clubhouse to. But Twitter, again, I was kinda like aware that Twitter is mainly where like media hangs out just from previous roles I've had, that's definitely kind of a playbook I've run is just doing stuff on Twitter to engage with these writers. But again, it's like, I hope people who are listening can hear how simple the things that you're saying are, but how process oriented it is. It's like a long game. It's not like, Oh, I'm just going to email this person and expect them to just like want to engage with me. But I will connect the dots and make an observation about you. And I have a follow up question. You are very active on social media. And I know that part of that activity is engaging with writers engaging with publicity engaging with your network, commenting, following up, I think on the article that you were posting in women and weed for your client. It was that rosae company, that's cannabis rosae company, I responded and then you followed up and I was looking at all the comments you don't. If people engage with you, you don't just let it hang you go and you follow up with everybody. And, and so with my hat on, I was like, Okay, I do social media. Okay, I do PR for us. I'm also, again, a boss. And so I'm like, damn it, I don't have time to like, do all these things. I know you're a boss, but you obviously do PR for your clients. So it's part of like what your day to day is? How much time are you spending on social media? How much time should people be spending on social media engaging with these articles engaging with these authors, these writers commenting? I know it's important, but I want from your perspective to kind of connect the dots of like, How much time do you invest in? does it pay off? Well, I'm definitely addicted to social media. So I think that I spend too much time on it like for sure I definitely have a problem. I've been told before put your phone down. So I spend like seven hours a day on social media. But you know, I'm doing it for my job. I'm connecting with people. And I also am a social media strategist at an agency. So I'm spending a lot of time on other people's accounts too. So it's not just my own accounts, but I think one or two hours a day. And if you can do that, and you can even outsource someone to do it for you manage your LinkedIn, your Twitter, Facebook, your Instagram, you can outsource and find virtual assistant who can help you with that and engage for you. If you don't have the time to do it. But at least like an hour a day. I think it's important to just be on LinkedIn. Be on Twitter beyond clubhouse like I'm addicted to clubhouse. clubhouse is just been really great. You know, I've got two potential new social media client leads just from being active on clubhouse and the agency that I do social media for they found me online.

LinkedIn because of a LinkedIn post I made where I was like, hey, I want to connect with more marketers in the industry. And they saw, you know, the post got like 200 comments. And they were like, Who's this Alice moon chick, and reached out to me and we had a meeting. And now I'm their social media strategist. So I think LinkedIn is super important for connecting with the industry. And Twitter is great for writers, Instagrams, great for consumers. And I think clubhouse is great for just the industry as a whole. And so I have to be on all those platforms, I have to spend one to two hours a day at minimum engaging and creating content and following up, it honestly, excites me slash overwhelms me sometimes. Because I do know that like those little magic moments, like happened in there, like, I've got so many amazing podcast guests like yourself, just from starting relationships, like we met on LinkedIn, that was our connection. We were both engaging, using hashtags and seeing people commenting and I see your name pop up on pretty much like everything going on.

Alice Moon  40:58  
How, how has it always been that, like you're saying 200 comments on this post? Like, has that always been that high for you? Or have you seen a trend recently? Like, is this like something that you've always been investing time within the cannabis industry? Or was it just something that recently kind of exploded, so when my Instagram account got deleted in 2016, and I lost my 14,000 followers, I kind of was like, you know, screw you Instagram, what I'm going to do is I'm going to build my community. And by doing that, I'm going to go to every single event I possibly can go to. So in 2017, I went to over 200 events. And so I built my community. So all these people that I'm connecting with online, like I know, a lot of them, I've met a lot of them, because I would go to events, like all the time and just meet people. And then, you know, another thing I do is I help people a lot. And by helping people that makes people want to help me that makes people want to talk about me to other people. And so that helps grow my network as well by making connections for people and helping them whatever way I can. And so that's how I've grown my network to be where it's at now. You know, LinkedIn is something I just started utilizing in the last year, to be honest, prior to that, I was just all about Instagram. And then you know, when I got deleted from Instagram, it just really was like, so upsetting to lose such a large following to the point where I was like, I will build up other people's accounts. But like, I don't try to I don't do any work on my own Instagram account to build my following like I do on other people's accounts, I don't do engagement. I'm just like, using it. You know, the way I just like scrolling, you know, okay, I'll like my friends photos on Instagram, whatever. But, you know, I've built 11 k followers on there just from being organic, doing what I'm doing on the other social media platforms. And I just gained 500 followers on Instagram by being active on clubhouse. And that was felt really great to get that many followers in just a few weeks. And with clubhouse, what I do is I'll just put it on while I'm working and just have it playing in the background. And then if something is interesting to me, then I just speak up. So I just have it as like a little podcast playing in the background. And then I participate when I see fit. So that's how I like able to be so active on that app. And a great thing about clubhouse is you can be on it and and be on other apps too. So I can be on clubhouse and be doing social media work for another client while I'm on Instagram. So it's like a double whammy right there.

Shayda Torabi  43:13  
Such great information I think I resonate with obviously, with COVID. It's been difficult to go to in person events. But it's really cool to hear your network is very authentic in the sense of like, you've literally been like showing up and that's such a theme for me and this show in my life. It really is. It's just like just show up, engage, ask questions, be curious, like not everybody's gonna be friendly or want to connect with you or give you an opportunity or you know, give you press but building those relationships. By like, physically putting the work in, you're physically showing up to something you're physically going on to these platforms and engaging and so I think it's really cool. It's a testament obviously, to your hard work. And so that's obviously what I want people to hear from, it's not like, I snap my fingers and I got in, you know, vise, it's no I, I've been, you know, stalking or following this person on Twitter, I ran into them at an event I then sent them you know, 10 emails, they finally responded to one of them and you know, just like it's a long play. I have two more questions for you before I let you go. One, just because I'm curious, cuz you seem like a gal who networks a lot. Are you a fan of business cards? Physical business cards? Yeah. Well, I mean, I really like my business cards. I have ones that are really thick and they're like pink on the sides. And so they're kind of on brand for me because I always like wear pink lipsticks and pink sneakers at events. So I've kind of branded myself as like the girl with the pink lips. And so my business cards are pink. And so it really helps people remember who I am and they're sick. So like, I think that guess I like giving them out. And as far as when I receive business cards, do I follow up with people very minimally, very minimally. Like it's like I follow up with like,

Five out of 100 people. Wow. Why is that? Do you think because I'm the opposite. I both love to carry business cards, I tell everybody, when I market and talk, you better have paper, business cards, paper is king still. And I mean, I grew up in trade shows. So I kept one pocket for the people who I was going to do business with. And one pocket for people who I was just being polite and accepted their business cards. But if you made it in my pocket, I was gonna follow up with you. And I think just because I was meeting so many people, and it just became so overwhelming that like, I would just write notes on a few, a few different cards. It's like, Okay, this person, I had a meaningful connection with like, I want to follow up about XYZ, I think, you know, it's just hard to follow up with that many people. And if you know the conversation was meaningful to them, they could follow up with me and they have my card. That's right. That's why you, everybody, listen, you have your own cards, I love that you kind of created your own personal brand around into something that's next net nice added accentuation to again, so you're going to have business cards might as well make it something memorable. When someone has a stack that they're pulling out of their pocket. It's like, oh, here's the pink one from Alice. Like, that's probably one that I might want to actually respond to. So thanks for that. My last question is a press kit

are the important media kit. Maybe that's another version of a term for it. It's something that I personally leverage. I asked it on LinkedIn, I kind of had like a little post about it a couple of weeks ago, and I got some engaged in where people were like, I don't know what a press kit is, or why I would need one. And so I'm just curious for your clients, do you develop them? Do you recommend people to have them? And so let's start with what is a press kit? Yeah, so press kit is basically all your assets about your company. It's got founder BIOS and their headshots, and then product images, too. So yeah, it's kind of like a little about you packaged up all nicely for the media to easily access. So I think a press kit is super important for brands to have, when you're pitching to the media, you know, you want to have everything easy for them, you want them to be able to download pictures of your products super easy, you don't want them to have to ask you for it. So with one of my clients, what they did is they put their press kit online and on their website, it's only accessible by the media. And it's got all different images that the press can choose from, it's got founder bio, on their headshots, about them, etc. And it's just very clean, easy. It's like, Alright, media. So if you're interested, here's the link to find it. And then they can just choose whatever images they want, you know, they don't have to go and download a huge file that might slow down their computer or something like that. We just make it very clean and easy. Yeah, I think that, uh, that was my observation. It's like, not that they're so busy that they can't pull that information if they're writing a story, but it's like, okay, let's say there's, I'll be generous, let's say there's five brands are trying to tell a story on and they're only gonna pick one, the brand that makes it the easiest for them to get the information that they need about who they are, what their products are, what their visualization is, what their brand looks like, they're probably going to go with that brand because they're packaging it up together. And so again, I feel like our conversation for listeners is not some like Aha, big like, you know, it's like a mountain, you got to go search for all these different things. It's like a lot of really low hanging fruit that just needs to be like collected and put together, like literally in a folder. And so that's what I was saying, in my post, I was like, it's literally your headshot in your bio, and some photos in a folder. And this person was like, I don't have that I was like, you should maybe if you're a founder and you want press, it's just a good thing to have. So I'm appreciative that you were extra echoing on that sentiment.

Alice Moon  48:43  
Is there anything that we didn't talk about that you want to leave the listeners with? Or also perhaps ways that they can find you and connect with you and what you're up to? Um, yeah, people can find me My website is Alice moved out to LA and then on social media and the Alice moon th e, Alice moon, and that's my handle across all platforms. And I'm definitely very active on clubhouse these days. So if you want to have a conversation with me, clubhouse is a great way to go. And I believe in collaboration over competition. So if you need help with something hit me up. You know, I don't like when people like let me pick your brain, get all your knowledge for free. But if people are like, hey, I've got a question. Maybe you can help me. I'm like, Yes, let me just help you out. So I think if you need any help with anything, just like Be careful with your ask but be genuine with it. And I'm done to help.

Announcer  49:29  
Thank you, Alice for sharing your expertise. I think, man, don't we all want our stories to be told? I mean, fuck yeah, that's the whole point marketing marketing. You want people to know about your business and brand. And so I totally acknowledge not everybody is, you know, probably as comfortable in front of a camera or microphone as I might be. But with that said, I think we all can improve how we present ourselves, how we present our business and how we tell our stories. So I hope this episode was super valuable for you in that

regard, I definitely always aim for these episodes to be, you know, informative and inspirational and give you things that you can walk away with and apply directly to your business or brand. And so if this episode resonated with you at all, I hope that you will take some time to subscribe to the show, maybe check out some of our previous episodes. And you can always leave us a review on iTunes is the best place I would appreciate it so much it will help put this episode in front of somebody who can help impact their business and that's what it's all about. You know, I'm totally pro community over competition. I think that there's so much for us in this industry to learn from each other. So let's keep sharing share your opinions. Share your thoughts, share your feedback with me, I really do appreciate it. So thanks for listening again. I am out until next week with another new episode for you every Monday. Don't forget it. This is to be blunt. I'm your host Shayda Torabi signing out Bye.

Love this episode of To be blunt. Be sure to visit for more ways to connect new episodes come out on Mondays. And for more behind the scenes follow along on Instagram at the Shayda Torabi

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