“Everybody has sort of a different perspective on what's going on in the industry and where the industry's going from here. So we want to get as many different voices in the magazine and on the website as we can.” - Kathee Brewer
Welcome back to the To Be Blunt podcast! In this episode, Shayda Torabi welcomes Kathee Brewer, award-winning journalist, and author, to discuss how large of a role media plays in cannabis going mainstream, what it’s like to be a publisher in the cannabis space, and being able to personally navigate all kinds of press.
[00:01 – 11:23] How Kathee Brewer Started in Cannabis
[11:24 – 17:52] Background on mg Retailer and the Diverse Channels They Cover
[17:53 – 28:24] How A Story Goes From an Email Pitch to Published
[28:25 – 35:52] The Differences Between Digital and Print Media
[35:53 – 47:06] Is All Press Really Good Press? Navigating Negative Media Attention and the Differences Between Criticism and Conversation
[47:07 – 57:58] Where Is The Cannabis Industry Headed?
[57:59 – 1:01:26] Food For Thought: What Is Your Unique Perspective?
Kathee Brewer is the editorial director for Incunabulum Inc., a business-to-business media company serving cannabis professionals with award-winning publications including mg Magazine and CBD Today. An Air Force veteran and award-winning editor, columnist, and author, she shares her home in Austin, Texas, with two tiny but fearsome rescue dogs.
Connect with Kathee
Visit https://mgretailer.com/ and follow mg Retailer on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn @mgretailer
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
“One of the directions we see cannabis going is becoming a mainstream consumer packaged goods company just like cereal or any other category that you can think of. Cannabis is heading in that direction. And it probably won't be that long before it's completely accepted by society as that kind of thing.” - Kathee Brewer
“It would be a very dull world if everybody agreed about everything.” - Kathee Brewer
“Cannabis is obviously a threat to be reckoned with. But when you look at the landscape for navigating the industry; trade publications, media publications, resources, technology, it's all still very new.” - Shayda Torabi
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Kathee Brewer 0:00
You know, we have an interest in speaking to the business community, cannabis seemed to need that kind of voice at the time in 2015, because there really wasn't a publication that was talking to C suite execs about the things they wanted and needed to know. There weren't a whole lot of C suite exact specs, and either because the industry was just, you know, it was just really starting to explode. There were a lot of legacy operators, small companies, you know, independent dispensaries that were one of a kind. So we had a different audience back then than we do now. The industry, of course, has morphed tremendously in the past six years. So we're now talking to executives of big companies that are publicly traded, instead of Well, I mean, we're still talking to the independent guys, of course, because those are very important part of the market. But we're seeing so many large corporations either enter the industry, or have grown from the original operators.
You're listening to To be blunt, the podcast for cannabis marketers. Were 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.
Shayda Torabi 1:34
Hello, everybody. And welcome back to another episode of The To be blunt podcast. I'm your host Shayda Torabi, I'm a cannabis marketer, business owner and just passionate brand builder. And these conversations are meant to be blunt, and provide a peek behind the veil curtain of what it's like to navigate the cannabis industry from a marketing and business perspective. Now, today's guest is Kathy Brewer, she is the editor of m g retailer, which is a leading cannabis publishing brand, aka she is the editor of a cannabis magazine. This magazine is business oriented, and covers a range of topics from a business perspective. Now, obviously that is the whole like foundation for this podcast. I think that these conversations are super relevant and necessary. Because whether you like it or not cannabis is going mainstream. And you're seeing the influence in the industry from lots of money being poured in from outside industries, pharmaceuticals, tobacco, the alcohol industry, I mean, even just CPG consumer packaged goods industry products in general, I think, you know, cannabis is obviously very culturally driven. But now it is very business driven. And so I think the introduction of different publications that speak to this narrative are really critical. On the other side of that, I think that just navigating the media in general and being able to like obviously, as a brand, I definitely spent a lot of my personal time trying to secure media and press for my company research CBD. And there is nothing quite like getting your brand written about getting a media mention whether it is a full page spread, whether it is just you know, a quote that you're able to provide in a story that is relevant and topical to your brand or business. Obviously, those are different things that you as a business owner, as a brand, want to be able to understand and be familiar with and know how to kind of navigate. And so in this conversation, Kathy very transparently helps peel back that curtain of what it's like to be a publisher in general, what it's like to be a publisher in the cannabis space. And we also touch a little bit on and this is kind of a personal, you know, note for me too. I think there's a saying especially, you know, when I was in school, they say all press is good press and I definitely do believe that I believe that, you know, you can always use negative press to spin it's always kind of brand awareness. Obviously there is really bad press and you have to you know, have a publicist or handle PR to help you navigate that. However, being able to personally navigate press, when you put yourself out there when you put yourself into positions to be written about to have your story told, you have to be prepared for people to come at you to question to have negative thoughts, negative comments. And so that was a little bit too of what I had kind of you know, posed to Kathy, especially being in media and publishing for as long as she has been just like how do you navigate negative press and negative comments and negative feedback as you continue to push your brand and business further and further into the media spotlight. So I hope that that you know excites you a little bit it prepares you to stay tuned to this episode. Like I said Cathy has a wealth of knowledge coming from the public. world, and especially now that she is the editor of MG retailer, being able to apply that experience into the cannabis industry obviously is critical for us. So stay tuned till the end. Lots of great information in this episode. And let's welcome Kathy to the show.
Kathee Brewer 5:16
I'm Kathy Brewer, the editorial director at ink media, which is the parent company of MG magazine and CBD today. And God, how did I get into cannabis? I've worked with the CEO of the company, Deron Roberts for about 20 years in various positions and companies. I started my career as a mainstream journalist at daily newspapers, and was doing some investigative work. And just, you know, General news type stuff went from there to being the managing editor of a group of daily newspapers in the Dallas area, and have just kind of moved around through various different positions over the I'm not going to tell you how many years I've been in the news business. But I've really enjoyed my career. It's been really wonderful. It's something that it's never fails to be exciting and sometimes chaotic. Essentially, Darrin called me up one day, I was working for another publication, and he called me up and said, Hey, want to come work together again. And I fought him for about a year and finally said, Yeah, let's do it. But when I got into the industry, I essentially had no knowledge of cannabis being a Texan. We just don't engage with information about cannabis. We didn't at that time, that was in 2015. So I had no knowledge of it. I hadn't really had any contact with it. I hadn't been following cannabis news. I knew, of course, that California had gone legal about 25 years ago now. And there were other states that were joining it Colorado, Oregon, Washington State, but I didn't really know the depth of the industry. I didn't know anything about laws and regulations. So it was all kind of fascinating, to embed myself and all that stuff and learn as I went along. I'm still learning. I hope we're all still learning in this industry, because there's so much to learn. And it's fast paced. It's fascinating. It remains fascinating. After six years in this industry, it still remains fascinating to me. And I really enjoy it. I enjoy the people, I enjoy the topics. It's just fun.
Shayda Torabi 7:25
I appreciate that introduction, because you said something that I always try to speak from on this podcast. And it's that there's always more to learn. And I think especially in the cannabis industry, we're in an interesting kind of position, because cannabis is not so new that people are unfamiliar with it. But the industry itself is very new. And so you have this kind of tension that's created where legalization is shifting. Different states are now flipping and so you're seeing it become more normalized and professionalized. And so kind of jumping off of that point, knowing that you're constantly having to educate yourself, especially a publication that was started in what 2015 is when MJ retailer and CBD USA CBD. Right. The
Kathee Brewer 8:17
magazine, the print magazines name is actually mg magazine, the Wednesday magazine. Yeah, the website is mg retailer calm. And CBD today is the publication that covers that side of the cannabis universe. It is aimed more toward mainstream because that's where CBD is sold. CBD is a very mainstream product. Now. You find it in all kinds of spas, of course health food stores, there are independent stores that sell nothing but CBD products and hemp products, convenience stores, you know, it's just everywhere. So that publications a little different than mg, which covers the professional legal cannabis industry nationwide. And we have readers and all kinds of other countries as well, because there's been what's going on in the US,
Shayda Torabi 9:05
but we're both publications kind of started at the same time, or was there one that came before the other kind of what was, I guess, help us walk through how these specific brands were set up? Was it Hey, cannabis is transitioning at a national level we need to have a voice in this conversation. Or was it that they were already kind of voices maybe the publication's already exists and you were brought in to kind of help grow them like helped me kind of get an understanding of the layout of these particular publications.
Kathee Brewer 9:37
mg actually started in August. The first issue I believe was August 2015. And I came on board in November 2015. And that was we had a kind of a different tone back then I'm not saying I came in and revolutionized the publication because I certainly didn't. The magazine was originally founded because the industry was going so rapidly Those of us who formed the core staff at mg have been in business to business publications, for a combined total of like 40 years, 50 years, something like that. So, you know, we have an interest in speaking to the business community, cannabis seem to need that kind of voice at the time in 2015, because it really wasn't a publication that was talking to C suite execs about the things they wanted and needed to know, there weren't a whole lot of C suite execs back then either, because the industry was just, you know, it was just really starting to explode. And there were a lot of legacy operators, small companies, you know, independent dispensaries that were one of a kind. So we had a different audience back then than we do. Now, the industry, of course, has morphed tremendously in the past six years. So we're now talking to executives of big companies that are publicly traded, instead of Well, I mean, we're still talking to the independent guys, of course, because those are very important part of the market. But we're seeing so many large corporations either enter the industry, or have grown from the original operators. And it's a different sort of voice. And of course, that's happening.
Shayda Torabi 11:24
So kind of going off of that understanding, and like the way that you're explaining it, it's definitely resonating because I still find even right now, the industry is obviously still maturing, we have not reached maturation by any means. But we're just knowing that six years ago, it was a much different space, and how rapidly things have expanded. I also kind of positioned my podcast as something very similar. I saw, you know, you were quoted saying that MJ retailers, you know, for the cannabis professional. And so I resonate with that, because I do believe that whether we want to acknowledge it or not, I think there's still always going to be tension between kind of professionalizing cannabis and the cannabis culture. But I do think that it needs to have a space in the conversation, right? Because you highlighted it, there are people now who are running multi, not just million multi billion dollar businesses in history. It's wild, even some of these stats on how many jobs are being created in this industry, surpassing other major, you know, roles and careers, and it's like hot damn, cannabis is obviously a threat to be reckoned with. But when you look at kind of the landscape for navigating that industry, trade publications, media, publications, resources, technology, it's all still very new. And so I love that this is kind of like the foundation for the publication, because it's a conversation that I think needs to be happening, whether or not people kind of you know, grok it or understand it, or maybe appreciate it. It's like, yes, we like weed, and we like getting high, but it's a business, we're running a business, and we need to figure out how to navigate the business side of it. And so I don't know if you can kind of go into some of the different, I guess, I don't wanna say features, but kind of categories that MJ covers just the breadth of it. I was looking from the very beautiful June edition. I love the digitization of it. I haven't ever seen the digital version of it. And so I was just kind of poking through. And it was very, everything was like, you know, the photos were engaging and kind of moving, there was really nice graphics that were being, you know, shifted on the screen. So I think it's really cool. I want to touch on that too. But, you know, you're covering topics like retailing, legislation, compliance, high finance, security, I think security is an interesting topic that I don't really see a lot of people covering I think compliance is another one that you hear about compliance a lot, but you don't really understand all the different what it is. So can you kind of help walk us through some of those different areas of the publication covers and kind of what you've observed through having those different channels to speak from
Kathee Brewer 14:16
if it pertains to running a cannabis business we cover our mission is to inform and educate professionals. So we cover a broad range of topics like you mentioned, security, compliance, legislation and politics. We every month, have an executive, usually CEO, address readers, while he doesn't really address them, we do a profile on him and he gets a chance to talk about where he sees the industry going what his company is preparing for, which I think probably is helpful to readers because they can see what somebody else is doing to get ready for the next phase of the end. industry, this industry has grown at a phenomenal rate faster than any other that I can think of. Because it is something that is so dear to so many people. People are tired of the war on drugs, we ran a brief about the war on drugs and public perception of it. And by and large, people think it was a miserable failure. I forgotten what percentage of the people surveyed said that, but it was a significant percentage, I think it was in the 60s. And they said, No, it's actually increased crime. It has done nothing to prevent people from using drugs. So just every aspect that the government wanted to address with this, quote, war on drugs, that hasn't happened. So that's a biggie, that's one of the things we try to address as often as we can, is in justices, we look at the criminal aspects, we look at, of course, social equity, and other issues that arise like that, that are sort of community. They affect the whole community, not just businesses, they affect consumers and businesses. Now, our focus is on businesses, and we approach everything from a business perspective. But a lot of the topics we address also affect consumers.
Shayda Torabi 16:25
Yeah, I think that there's obviously a lot of aspects of these different topics that it's interesting, you kind of highlighted, you know, a CEO profile I find so much. And again, part of this podcast for me is to try to bring some truth and transparency to the conversation, because I think that for some reason, cannabis and cannabis entrepreneurs, I don't know if it's because we're scared or we don't know what's going to happen. I mean, I personally sometimes feel that way. I'm like, I can't even predict what's going to happen in three years, let alone three months, especially in a state like Texas, it's just as hard to know where the legislation might actually go. But we struggle with I think transparency and sharing our journeys and kind of having someone that we can look towards for guidance or advice. And so I think there's a lot of anecdotal stories, right, even on like the research side of cannabis like oh, anecdotally, it helps with my sleep or my anxiety, but then actually transitioning it into the business professional side where you're trying to navigate, know, legitimately, how do I understand what compliance is? Or how do I go to market in such a saturated CBD market? Those are legit questions that I think more people who are trying to get into cannabis should be navigating that they just unfortunately, I don't think are even aware of sometimes worry for the questions to be asked. So it's great when you have a publication that's kind of helping guide you into, hey, if you want to be professional in this industry, this is kind of where you should go learn to look into and be kind of guided by a follow up to that a little bit is, you know, kind of maybe a two fold question topics. How do you source stories? How do you work with writers or writers on staff? Are you looking to the community to help kind of tell some of these stories? Or do you look for people to help pitch stories for the publications? Or is it a little bit of kind of like all of it, but what's kind of like your mix for storytelling.
Kathee Brewer 18:33
We have really a varied approach to things. We accept a lot of pitches, we use a lot of freelancers, there are people within the community and outside the cannabis community, that freelance for us, of course, you know, the staff has its own ideas about what we should cover. We talked to a lot of people in the industry all the time and ask them you know, what is it you'd like to see more of because we want to address the issues they're interested in? Otherwise, we're just talking to ourselves, and what sense does that make I'm always open to hearing from people from by email, preferably not by phone, because I'm on the phone so much, people a lot of times get my voicemail, because I'm on the phone all the time. But I love hearing from people about, you know, what they want to know where they've got something that they want to get out to the public some kind of new thought or, you know, new process or some kind of question or, you know, whatever. So there's a lot of different ways. We approach the kinds of material that we present. We try to get ahead of trends, which is something that's really difficult to do with this industry because everything's moving so quickly. But that's the kind of information we believe readers can really dig into. They can use that.
Shayda Torabi 19:57
What would you say is a kind Standard day for you day in the life of your editor for both the publications, right, so you have to kind of worlds that you straddle, so not that they're drastically different. But CBD has much different regulations compared to full on marijuana. And so, you know, are you you're on the phone a lot, you know, just kind of, like help us understand, I think I probably am a little bit more clued into the kind of fast paced nature of journalism, just because I kind of come from that a little bit. But again, I think from a listener perspective, I think it's always fascinating to kind of pick out a little bit, you know, to kind of give us some context, you know, I'm sure everybody who's listening, we read these stories, whether we are reading it daily or not, you know, you come across social media, someone reshared the story or you're intentionally, you know, going to the same.com every day, or maybe you like to read the physical newspaper, like we're constantly consuming content. In fact, we're consuming more content today than we've ever had in the history of, you know, being alive. But what goes into putting something in front of the reader to read, you know, kind of, you could do a snapshot of a day in the life like, what what goes into that kind of, you know, scenario for you,
Kathee Brewer 21:17
my I don't really have a typical day, every day is different, some are just absolute chaos. And then summer, you know, I have time to think between breaths, everybody, of course, first thing they do every day is check their email. And I spend a lot of time actually looking at my email, because I get so much of it, I get more than 100 emails a day. So when people don't hear from me right away, that's why because I have to wade through all this stuff. With You know, when we get new product announcements, we get new partnership announcements, we get new dispense reopening announcements, all kinds of stuff, pitches for stories, pitches for executive profiles, I talked to a whole lot of PR agents, who actually people think they might annoy the media, they are actually a big help to us, because they let us know what's going on with their clients. And we can't always use that information. But sometimes we'll find a new source for a story that we haven't spoken to before. That's important for us, because we don't want to get in a rut, where we're constantly quoting the same people. Everybody has sort of a different perspective on what's going on in the industry and where the industry is going from here. So we want to talk to as many different we want to get as many different voices in the magazine and on the website as we can.
Shayda Torabi 22:41
That's really helpful, though, because I do think there is sometimes you know, specifically on the PR side of kind of a follow up question that just my brain is kind of jumping to do you think it's better for people to pitch with a publicist through PR? Or do you entertain people who are self pitching
Kathee Brewer 23:00
to you as well? Oh, I definitely believe in people self pitching. We have written a number of articles, in fact, about how to do that we have written them and some publicists have given insider tips for if you want to do this yourself, here's what you need to consider. People know their business better than anybody else. Individual entrepreneurs know their business better than a publicist ever could. I'm not dissing publicists, because I like them. I like working with them. The people who can't afford a publicist or simply don't want to go that route, it's definitely possible to get your message out, you have to be a little careful about how you approach it. You don't want to just contact an editor and say, hey, we've got the best company in the world, we make, you know, clean products, we sell to everybody and blah, blah, blah. nobody really cares, you know, because everybody says that. Another pitch that's not working right now is a personal story. Because everybody has heard personal stories. Everybody in the industry has one about their relationship with cannabis, why they started using cannabis, what cannabis has done for them, etc. That is not so much a big tension generator right now, unless you've used it to cure zombie ism, and then we want to know that. But otherwise, you know, personal stories are kind of not the best approach.
Shayda Torabi 24:25
Yeah, I'm glad you highlighted that too. Because I was reading some of the articles on your website. You're right, you do have a lot of kind of, I don't wanna say like self help, but very empowering. Like, it's not as I always say to there's not one path to the top. And I think for people who are looking at media, I very much respect all the different streams of media and realize as a brand who's trying to kind of there's like twofold, right? I'm trying to educate myself as a business professional in the cannabis space, but I'm also trying to tell my brand's story through these different mediums. And so it's a little bit of you know, you're trying to absorb Hey, what is gonna help me run my business better? But also, how can I maybe get my voice heard as being, you know, a quote or an article or a feature story. And so I think helping kind of navigate through that is really interesting, just because, again, I think a lot of my listeners are not maybe like us where they have a media background. They're like, Whoa, this is so foreign, like, how do you go from here to there. And so that article that you're referencing to you kind of said something that I wanted to call on it said, you know, readers are more likely to you have to think of when your story is being told, from a publication perspective. It's not so your story is being told it's someone's gonna read that story. And so it's almost like in it for them. So as readers are more likely to engage with material that clearly answers the question, what's in it for me, I know what your company offers, pitch it, and you'll likely see your story in print. So I love that little kind of reframe, because I do think I'm not going to lie. You know, I'm someone who has a quote unquote, story, you know, I was in a car accident, and we're a sister owned women owned store. And so we kind of like lean on that. But again, that was kind of our story. Three years ago, when we launched the business. Now we're three years and everybody's got that story. So what's right stand out as the industry continues to evolve. So a follow up question I have on that kind of front is, okay, so let's say you get a pitch to your email. And it's great. And maybe it's on, you know, some trending topic that's very timely. You obviously have a print publication aspect of MJ, right? You have the digital side of MJ as well as the CBD today. How fast once you get a pitch, and kind of maybe feel free to like extrapolate this, like, what's the timeline for maybe in general, like you get a pitch, you have a really good story, it needs to be told, it's going to kick off into the process, like, how does it go from your inbox to the website,
Kathee Brewer 26:58
okay? when we're dealing with a website, that's pretty quick. If somebody pitches me, we liked the story, we want to do something with it, we can start working on that right away, get a writer in touch with them, get the story up on the website within several days. So the websites pretty quick, the print magazine is a different story. Print still takes forever, even though what used to be plates, the thing that actually goes on the press, everything is digital, now, we do proofs digitally, we send them digital files to process. Everything is digital. So that is cut some time out. But it still takes weeks to put together a magazine and get it to the printer and get it off the press and get it shipped. So our deadlines for copy to be in our hands for an issue are six weeks prior to cover date. So if right now, for example, we're finishing up the August issue. So I'd have to think because I always have to look at my deadline schedule, because I can't keep all it in my head.
Shayda Torabi 28:03
Well, you're always living like a couple weeks in advance. And so very challenging, I can imagine to kind of stay on top of
Kathee Brewer 28:11
the actual date. And I have the split personality because I'm professionally I'm living six weeks in the future. And personally, I'm trying to live in the moment. So you know, it gets a little crazy sometimes.
Shayda Torabi 28:25
Well, on the print publication side, you know, was that always a component of MJ? Was it always print or did print come before or after? And kind of what is some of the I guess ethos for print slash? Where is it distributed? Like I personally love holding like a paper book or a paper magazine like that is my preference. But obviously with everything being digitized, yeah, you have a digital component of the magazine. You know what and why for print.
Kathee Brewer 29:01
Because a lot of people are just like you they like to hold something in their hands. Even though print is may not be as popular as it once was. It still has a great deal of cachet. People want to see themselves in print, they want to see others in print. mg in particular is known for beautiful photography. And you just can't do that online. It's just not the same. When you see a glossy page with this high rez photograph of whatever a beautiful bud or a really spectacular dispensary, or an executive who we've interviewed and have done a profile on you see him, him or her in their natural environment just being themselves. Those things they don't translate as well to the web. Then we do a digital edition of MJ that is basically a clone of the print edition but it has all kinds of neat stuff going on on the page with images that move and we incorporate video a lot of the time the So there are some benefits to the digital platform, but I don't think it's ever going away.
Shayda Torabi 30:12
Hello, just want to take a quick moment to thank my sponsor and full disclosure, my company restart CBD, restart CBD is a brand that I built with my sister. So we are family owned and a women owned, we do operate a brick and mortar in Austin. So if you ever find yourself in Central Texas, we'd love for you to come say hi. But we also ship nationwide and we carry a wide range of CBD products. We really care about this plant, we really care about educating our customers, this show would not be possible without their support. So please go check us out at restart CBD calm and use code to be blunt for $5 off your next purchase. Thanks. And let's go back to the show. Yeah, I relate to that just kind of especially being someone who loves media, both creating it as well as you know, being in it. And so as someone who seeks after media coverage, yes, there is nothing like having your picture or your quote or your name show up in a magazine. My mom loves to still take all the print publications I get featured in and she frames them and we have them up at her house. And so it is kind of like you said this cache, it's like a very tangible thing that you can kind of reflect on. And so I was just curious, because obviously cannabis is so I don't know, just like interesting when you reflect on it, like cannabis is obviously so trending right now just like a very hot topic, because it's going so mainstream. But it's also such a like old school product, if you can call like you know, butter product, it's just it's a thing that's just it's like, no matter who you are in the world, you understand like the good smoking of a joint, you know, you don't need to zazzy it up, it just kind of is cool, effortlessly, you know the way it is. And so I kind of relate the application of I think print to that same kind of experience where it's always going to be there, it's always going to be appreciated. But it's nice to see that your team has observed the opportunity and benefit of obviously being digital and being able to kind of like parse out stories based on what is both topical and trending versus what might be you know, more substantial and meaty. And like a feature kind of piece that you want to put in print and kind of have that profile focus on.
Kathee Brewer 32:45
Right, the you know, everything looks really good in print, you just don't get the same sort of experience online. Now, online is extremely important, especially things like social media, because that's how companies get the word out about who they are, their story, what they do, and how they can benefit. They and their products can benefit. Whoever their market is like our market is businesses. Most manufacturers markets are consumers. It's important to have the digital presence to reach whoever you're trying to reach, because that's the way people consume the majority of their information these days. So yeah,
Shayda Torabi 33:27
you bring up social media, do you have a social media play as far as further distributing the content that you're creating? I know mg is on Instagram. I know, CBD today is also on Instagram, but it seems like mg has a larger following. So I don't know if that's just because obviously marijuana is more topical. Or there's been more, you know, emphasis on that side of the business, but just kind of help us kind of understand, I guess some of the other marketing levers that your brands take advantage of. to extend the content into more
Kathee Brewer 34:06
viewership and readership we are on most of them. We have some presence on a lot of different social media channels. Our big ones are probably Instagram and Facebook. Instagram gives us a nice visual platform to display the beautiful photography, the interesting covers. publishing a magazine is a very visual process magazines are very visual. So Instagram is kind of a good platform for that. We also use Facebook quite a bit to give people a taste of the articles that are inside. We post the articles from the magazine on the website as well in the same month. They're published in the book. So we'll you know, throw up a link to an article on Facebook with an excerpt from the article to get people's attention. And of course give them something to share with their followers. So those two are big we deal with Twitter. Twitter's not quite as big a platform for us, because it's not a visual medium. We do engage with readers there, though readers can always tweet at us and say, here's an idea for you or y'all are crazy. We hated this article, whatever it is, they want to say, That's important, too. I think we love to hear positive feedback, we love to hear from people who really enjoyed something we published. I personally think it's important for us also to hear the negative comments, because that gives us a clue about things maybe not to address in the future and not to spend so much time on. I love to hear people's opinions. I think opinions are very important. Of course, everybody has one, so we can't address all of them. But it gives us a clue to what readers are thinking.
Shayda Torabi 35:53
I'm glad you brought up the negative opinion or negative comments, because I do think there's a saying, right, you know, all press is good press. And so I think everybody, you know, kind of glamorizes media in that regard, sometimes, but I'm sure you have many stories, whether it's a opinion from a reader, or maybe even the story itself didn't, you know, turn out the way that you were hoping it would turn out, but maybe give us some, I guess advice for how you handle and navigate that because I do think there are a lot of people out there who are obviously seeking media attention, and they want to tell their story. And it's really challenging. I think when you push yourself further into the spotlight, it's like the more media you accrue, also, the more people are going to potentially criticize you, whether you are the writer, the publication or the person the story is about. So I'm just curious, in all your years of navigating that, you know, any advice that you can share for people, especially myself, I mean, I'm not gonna lie, I don't handle negative, nobody, not very well, I wish I did. It hurts like a gut punch. And it certainly should always be, of course a learning experience. But it's something that I'm learning very much firsthand, the more that I get, you know, my name listed and certain things. It's like, oh, and now people want to make fun of me or poke fun at this or call out a comment that I said that doesn't align with their opinion. And you start to realize, hmm, some trolls and haters out there,
Kathee Brewer 37:29
lots of them, actually, it's always a risk to put yourself out there. And what you're talking about with the trolls and haters, the best thing to do there is just pretend they don't exist. don't engage with them. If they're being nasty, just, you know, don't engage, because you're not going to win. Just forget they're they're respectful criticism, people who can actually discuss something with you, without name calling, and you know, saying you're full of BS. If you're respectful, and you actually want to discuss something with somebody because you disagree with them, or because you found whatever it was they present it to be unpalatable, at least for you. approach them about it, talk to them about it, especially the media, we get all kinds, we don't get a lot of criticism. And I wish people felt freer to contact me and say, Hey, did you think about this, or I don't really like what you published here. And here's why. I've had a couple of people just get livid about something we wrote. And they email me or call me and just started into this diatribe and personal attack sort of thing. That's not going to get you very far. It won't get you very far in life, and it certainly won't get you very far in business. So you know, respectful conversation, when two parties disagree, I think is wonderful. That's the only way we really expand our horizon is it would be a very dull world if everybody agreed about everything. I agree with that point. I
Shayda Torabi 39:03
respect that point do you find people are and this is maybe transitioning into more, you know, creating or curating feedback, like I'll kind of put it out there for the podcast listeners, you know, I always ask them for feedback on like, tell me what you like and don't like about the show. And sometimes I hear crickets, I mean, I'm not gonna discredit I do get you know, nice, love what you're doing appreciate the show. But, you know, to try to create some sort of environment where it's like healthy to, you know, I want to make sure that people are appreciating I'm sure you want to write articles, you have a publication that people are learning from, you don't want to write content that nobody's paying attention to them. Why the hell even do it in the first place, but I find that especially existing now, with social media, especially with digital, you might find people who are comfortable they might go to like the comments and they'll leave comments kind of, and this is a little bit reflecting on my story and more kind of pushing into like the publication Inside, do you find people are anonymously leaving comments? Or it is more of like a troll scenario? Or do you find it's like legitimate people who are taking the time to email you like when you're getting feedback? Maybe it's good or bad? Do you find that it's more in the comment section where it can kind of be, you know, I always think of Rene Browns book in her analogy, where she's like living in the arena. And she's like, it's all these people who aren't in the arena. And they're poking and prodding at you, but they're not in the arena, or is it someone who's, you know, maybe joining you in the arena saying, hey, let's have a conversation. I want to give you some feedback, I want to put a face to the name. Like, I always love that when someone comes up to me at a conference, they're like, Hey, Shayda, I listened to your podcast, like I'm a human being, I'm like, Oh, my God, this is great. You're not just an icon? Yeah, you're, you're just like, you know, we got profile on social media. And I just think with digitization, we have become almost anonymous. And we have the freedom to, I guess, sometimes share almost too freely in a way that doesn't actually allow for the human ness to come through. Is that no,
Kathee Brewer 41:06
it does. And I think that's important. I think whether you're, you know, talking to someone on the phone, email is very impersonal. And it's very easy to misunderstand what somebody is saying in email. So I think, you know, any kind of real personal interaction, it benefits everyone, I love that aspect of trade shows, because you actually do get to put a face to a name, and a voice, whether that voice is in print, or, you know, phone or whatever. That's one of the things about zoom chats, it seems a lot more personal and real than talking to somebody on the phone, I don't often use my camera, because, you know, there's no telling what I look like on any given day. And I hate to convince people that I'm some kind of monster or whatever. But, but I think that's important, I think you make a good point, you know, getting to see someone for the human being they are is important in any context. We've had a period where a lot of conversation was going on online, and it was trolling and it was anonymous, and it was people feeling free to just be absolutely vicious, because they weren't face to face with the target of their animosity, that's not healthy. That's not healthy for anyone in any situation, social media tends to become an echo chamber. And I think that's one of the worst aspects of social media, because you get echo chambers that are very, very positive, like many of the cannabis groups and cannabis discussions that happen online are very, very positive. But then you get political discussions and things like that are not so positive and tend to gin up negative behaviors. So you know, you've got both things going on, and we get both kinds of comments, we get some comments that are just absolutely not helpful. But we also get a lot of comments that are helpful, either positive or negative. We don't get a lot of negative comments. That's what I was saying earlier, I really, I really would like to hear from more people when they disagree. And they don't need to be afraid of me, I think they're afraid to contact us and say, Hey, I disagree with this, because I
Shayda Torabi 43:14
think it's a interesting conversation to have the right I mean, social media has both empowered and handicapped nicely. It's almost like I could imagine, you know, obviously, prior to our conversation, to be honest, it's like, I don't even know if I would feel comfortable. It's like, you just you assume someone is much bigger, perhaps than they are. Maybe that's why some people feel they can attack because they think, Oh, this person seems so invincible. It's a publication or it's a writer who's hiding behind, you know, text instead of a face and, and they think, well, I can say what I want to say, or kind of adversely, maybe, why would I even reach out and contribute a comment? Like, I get messages sometimes I'm very grateful for all the conversations and opportunities that I've had. And so I try to be very respectful for communication. I do believe you know, we are human beings at the end of the day, and if someone's taking the time to read an article I wrote or listened to an episode that I produced, or you know, whatever the case may be, like, if they're going to reach out to me, I'm going to respond and sometimes I get these messages, or people will, you know, ask me a question and I'll engage back and they're shocked they're like, Oh, my gosh, you responded I You're so you must be so busy. You responded and I'm like, Yeah, like I really appreciate you taking the time to create some sort of connection and I can't say that it's obviously the same for everyone out there every publication I mean, certainly some of these are major media conglomerations, and it is you know, who's who Yeah, the chain to get to the editor in chief, but from obviously having a conversation with you. You're like I checked my email every day. Using like a very relatable woman. You're like trying to navigate this industry. Also like you're responsible for being a voice of our industry by helping create conversations and touch points for us to consume things that can help make us be more thoughtful. And yeah, unfortunately, sometimes those thoughts maybe create some negative sentiment. I know sometimes the things that I say on the podcasts are not always the most well received, just because we're humans. And we have opinions and we have beliefs. But I do think that when you start to humanize it, and you can kind of create some sort of connection to the person that you are either absorbing or consuming the content from or contributing to it just kind of I think will help us all be a stronger industry. But not everybody shares that sentiment.
Kathee Brewer 45:41
Well, yeah, I think people in some cases are afraid to express an opinion because they don't want it haunting them. If it's not a popular opinion, they really don't want it getting out into the wild and influencing the way people view them or their company. So that's a legitimate concern. One of the things about, go back to the media here again, instead of the general population, one of the things about that is if you have an opinion to express and you don't want your name attached to it, tell us we are very good about that going off the record with things just so that you can express what you need to express. And we can look into it or we can address it. We do address everything we hear whether it's positive or negative. If somebody takes the time to get in touch with us and start a conversation with us about something. We address it. You know, as like I said, as long as it's respectful and polite and a conversation, not a diatribe.
Shayda Torabi 46:40
Yeah, no, I definitely want to create a hard line in the sand. I do think I mean, you said it when we kind of kicked off this part of the conversation. I don't think that you should be engaging with people who are just there to suck or detract because they are frustrated or angry or want to take it out on you for something that they you know, disagree with. But yes, if someone wants to have a conversation constructive, those are always obviously Welcome. I'm curious, how big is the team? The core staff? Who's operating the publications? Is there some overlap? Like you obviously overlap both? Do you have other team members who overlap both? Or is it kind of like this is the CBD hemp side? And this is the marijuana cannabis side or? And like, Is there one person who's like receiving all the this? You know, the inquiries? The question that info ads, like I want to write to mg today, I have a question about this or have a thought about this article, like his inbox to those feedback notes go to
Kathee Brewer 47:39
it depends on what the feedback notes are about. If they are about advertising, they go one place, if they're about editorial, they go one place, if they're about art, or the creative side of the magazine, in the website, they go to another place. And they get parceled out, you know, depending on who's getting them, sometimes they end up in the wrong inbox. And they have to be, you know, shuffled along. But our core team is not all that big. And like I said earlier, the real core of the heart of the business event together for 20 or more years, we've worked together in different places at different times. But we've known each other for more than 20 years. And we're all good friends, colleagues, we work together very well. So it works for us.
Shayda Torabi 48:23
I'm going to kind of ask maybe interesting question, just because I think it's come up in other aspects. And so I'm just kind of curious what your thoughts are about it. There's a lot of obviously people who are excited about cannabis, and they have come from other industries and they're like, transferring it over into the cannabis industry. You know, maybe you were a CMO of a technology company, or you were, you know, maybe somebody who was a marketer in a b2c experience. They take the foundation of like, I'm a marketer, I'm a technologist and then they try to apply it into cannabis. You kind of highlighted it You didn't come from cannabis, but you're journalists like you know how to tell stories. I think this instance is almost like one of the only where I don't think you have to come from cannabis now able to highlight and tell those stories. But I do observe the cannabis industry is obviously it's hard to take other industries and apply that expertise to cannabis
Kathee Brewer 49:27
is sometimes it is but it's becoming less and less that way. One of the directions we see cannabis going is becoming a mainstream consumer packaged goods company just like cereal or any other you know, category that you can think of cannabis is heading in that direction. And it probably won't be that long before it's completely accepted by society as that kind of thing. You'll go to the store you'll buy cannabis you buy milk you buy you know, whatever else it is look
Shayda Torabi 49:57
forward to that day in Texas.
Kathee Brewer 49:58
Come on, please. Yeah. No, let's, let's help it soon. So yeah, it's not so much anymore, that you have to have direct knowledge of cannabis to be working in the cannabis industry. We're seeing a lot of companies, hiring executives from consumer packaged goods from the finance sector, from banking from all kinds of other economic sectors to come in and run their cannabis companies. Because those people have significant experience in the areas they see their business going. Like used to be that everybody who was hired and cannabis had some background in cannabis. That's not the case anymore. And it's becoming less and less the case.
Shayda Torabi 50:45
Yeah, I appreciate that observation. Because I do see obviously already those kind of, I guess, foundations being established. Obviously, the magazine, the publications, they speak to that professional side of the industry you are seeing now, I mean, you can't cross state lines with THC products. But you are seeing big enough brands with deep pockets who are billion multi billion dollar companies, where they're now establishing themselves in California and Colorado and Florida. And so you're seeing this brand awareness, I'm glad you highlighted serial also because I, again, it kind of goes back to the culture versus the professionalization, the normalizing of cannabis, some people are like, No, I just I wanted to still be this kind of grassroots thing. I don't want these big corporations, these big tech people to get involved in it. But then at the same time, it's almost like you need those people to get involved, to help it grow. Because we just we don't have the infrastructure, we don't have that understanding. It's like when you look at how these CPG brands are built, they're very organized, they're very formulated, they're very operational. And so you're now seeing and I've had some experience getting to go towards some of these, you know, even just using like, greenhouses growing cannabis, it's not like you're growing in your backyard in a pot anymore. You know, we're growing out in the wilds of you know, Humboldt County, California, you have legitimate operations that are like, multimillion dollar facilities, high end lighting, you know, they've got little dolly systems that maneuver the plants around, it's like, oh, shit, we're like a legit business over here. Now. So big AG, what you're saying makes sense. Exactly. It's a commodity, but it's becoming more of a established industry and focal point for everybody have kind of any ancillary industry to kind of take note and pay attention to how they can apply that expertise into cannabis for sure.
Kathee Brewer 52:50
That's the point right there. There's a lot of outside expertise coming in. These people have made a name in the mainstream industry that they're coming from, for being experts at what they do. And they're bringing that expertise into cannabis because it directly translates cannabis is going to become a mainstream industry. That's one of the things that I'm always talking with people about is federal legalization, because it's coming and we're probably won't see it during Biden's administration. And although there's a possibility there, but it is coming and it's coming relatively soon in the grand scheme of things. It may not be the big boon. A lot of the industry expects it to be the major corporations that are the in the like you said they're becoming multi state, in some cases, multi country, multi national interests, they're going to have a good time. I mean, they're fine. They're already set up for distribution. They're set up for transportation. They have probably a network of their own dispensaries, even. So they're ready to go when federal legalization happens. And they've done that intentionally. Other companies that are state specific right now may have a harder time surviving federal legalization. Yes, there will be some benefits to AD he will go away. Interstate Commerce will be allowed. So nothing will be criminal as far as cannabis itself. Now everything that's against the law in any other industry will be against the law on cannabis. But you're also going to have things like FDA getting involved. The DEA will still be involved, but not to the extent it's involved now, but the FDA is probably going to come in and say okay, we got to regulate all this. You're going to have to meet certain requirements, certain quality levels, certain safety protocols, that's going to be a big adjustment for the industry. Right now. That's all regulated at the state level. And it can be very, very different between the states.
Shayda Torabi 54:58
I'm really glad you brought up legalization. Sounds to you. You summed it up, you summed it up. So to do it, I think, yeah, I mean, just, I can't even imagine, obviously the conversations that the magnitude that you're having and the stories that you were featuring, and just, you start to realize, I think, like it's coming, whether we kind of embrace it or not, but at the same time, it is a little bit, you know, of a doomsday depending on what aspect of the industry you're in to just be forewarned and be prepared. I share this very often, you know, when I was just a consumer, it was like, Yeah, well, we need to be legal. I just want to be able to smoke my pod and be left alone. And now that I'm in the industry side, it's a much different it really conversation. And it's not to be negative. It's just to be very realistic about paying attention at a federal level paying attention at a state level. I mean, I think people don't like when I project this, but Texas, I don't think we'll be legal minimum, I guess, six years, maybe eight years, just based on our legislative process. I believe we have to have medical before we have recreation, even if it goes federal Texas is still going to be like, well, we're Texas, and we're gonna do it on our terms. And so it's just like, I have customers, though, who were like, Oh, you know, Oklahoma, New Mexico. And I'm like, yeah, that doesn't matter. But I pride also knowing what is happening in those other states to get some sort of information on like, hey, Florida's limited licensure, you know, Oh, interesting. New Mexico legalized pretty quick. I think their program they, I think they legalize as of yesterday, or today, and then like, it's legal for you to possess, but retail sales won't happen till 2022. But that's relatively fast compared to New York, New York just legalized, but they're not implementing till 2024. So again, legalization has such a different meaning when you actually look at how is the state legalized? Right, and how is the country legalizing and what are those laws going to be to follow along so glad you brought that
Kathee Brewer 57:04
something to to keep an eye on is taxation at the federal level, they may begin taxing actually, before they legalize, one of the proposals before Congress is to legalize and Institute this enormous tax like a 25% tax on sales, the federal tax schedule, when legalization finally happens, could be really interesting. It probably will have a big effect on the industry. And then you've got state tax, which I don't see going away. Plus, you've got licensing fees, you're probably gonna have a federal licensing fee, as well as state licensing fees on things like cannabis. Look at the way the pharma industry is handled, and alcohol. Those two are real good examples of how we're likely to see cannabis approached because it fits in the same category.
Shayda Torabi 57:59
Okay, food for thought. I always love leaving you guys with something to think about a little bit of homework. But again, these episodes are meant to stoke your curiosity to encourage you to dig deeper and something that Kathy said that I think is super relevant, and it totally relates to my world, especially as well. We are a CBD brand we launched in 2018. The market was very new from a CBD and hemp perspective then, that when we went to market, we really relied on my personal connection to cannabis, my accident was really an impetus for my family getting involved in CBD in particular. And so that was really what we you know, went to market with in terms of a story. Now, I'm not saying that personal, you know, relationships to cannabis healing, whether it's you, your family member, recovering from an injury and accident, etc, is not important. I'm just saying as the market continues to mature as it becomes more and more saturated as you are navigating these small brands hitting the market as well as these large, multi million billion dollar brands playing in this industry. You have to come up with something beyond just you know, cannabis changed my life, cannabis makes me feel good. Whether that is some proprietary technology, whether that's you know, who your target customers, what is that brand that you are building? And who are you actually speaking to? I think that that was at least the takeaway that I had from when Kathy shared that especially from her position where she's being pitched all the time to you know, tell a story and when she's getting pitched the same story over and over again, makes it really hard for her to want to tell that story because it's a story that's been told before. And so again, just if I could give you some food for thought, just to noodle on to think about what is my unique perspective, what is my unique point of view, what is my unique brand journey? Who is my customer? What am I delivering and how By going to market, there is some, you know, newness in there really if you start pressing into it. And so that's where I encourage you to steep yourself. Just kind of visit it. Think about it, especially for those of you who are coming up with new brands and you're trying to figure out what is that place in the market for you. There's definitely lots of opportunity again, in the vein of wanting to get your brand mentioned and press about your brand, you have to come up with a new angle you have to do something different. So that's the food for thought and I really appreciate you tuning into this episode. As always, these episodes are a labor of love by myself. And I really appreciate the opportunity to get to bend your ear and talk about some of my favorite topics on the podcast. So I will be back next Monday with a brand new episode if you are new here. Thank you please go check out older episodes they're evergreen lots of really great content and if you are a repeat listener thanks for your listenership. It really matters to me and I will see y'all next Monday with a brand new episode five I
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Transcribed by https://otter.ai