United States citizens want marijuana to be legal nationwide. Over 60 percent support legalization, a number that, since 2000, has almost doubled. Currently, nine states and Washington D.C. permit the use of it recreationally, and 30 states have implemented comprehensive programs for marijuana. You would think with such access and support that marijuana marketing would be extremely easy.
However, because of constantly changing state regulations and it being illegal at the federal level, promoting a cannabis business can be more than a little frustrating. Thanks to the federal government’s outdated drug policies, it is impossible to advertise pot companies in any traditional way. Thus far, social media and its various platforms have been the main platform for the industry to get the word out.
Even social media has its risks, though: Channels that have anything to do with marijuana are fast disappearing from YouTube. Facebook is shutting down the profiles of even ancillary pot companies. Businesses in the cannabis industry have had all sorts of difficulties with common marketing services, including popular ones, such as Eventbrite and Mailchimp.
Even authentic advocacy efforts, such as an advert from a lawmaker advocating for the implementation of a marijuana bill, are learning quickly about Facebook’s policy against “promoting the use of illegal drugs.” Thankfully, Facebook did eventually apologize for removing the lawmaker’s post. These types of challenges are making marijuana companies very lucrative prospects for PR businesses.
This is what motivated the likes of Evan Nison and Cynthia Salarizadeh, longtime marijuana PR experts, along with a group of media veterans in the cannabis industry, to launch AxisWire. Nison is the CEO and founder of NisonCo, a PR firm heavily involved with the pot industry. Salarizadeh founded Salar Media Group, a cannabis communications company acquired recently by KCSA, another communications firm.
“Many of the largest PR firms in the world would not touch the industry out of fear that their clients from other industries would leave them,” Salarizadeh explained in an email. Around five years ago, when she first joined the cannabis space, she found the majority of newswires reluctant to permit content related to cannabis, with many forbidding it outright.
In Salarizadeh’s email, she also said, “It was the strangest and most difficult obstacle to overcome while trying to get exposure for my clients and to help reverse the damage done by the infamous Reefer Madness campaign.” AxisWire offers a comprehensive solution for cannabis firms struggling with these marketing challenges, which many small pot businesses are finding a constant headache.
It includes press release writing services, a newswire distribution service, media strategy consulting services, and what it calls the STAR Source Locator, which resembles a type of HARO, or Help A Reporter Out, for marijuana companies specifically. Additionally, besides these branding and marketing services, AxisWire is collaborating with CannaRegs to help pot companies even more with legal compliance.
Fellow co-founder of AxisWire, Jared Mirsky, who is also the CEO of Wick & Mortar, a cannabis-focused agency, described the regulations for marijuana marketing in Washington as “confusing, contradicting and convoluted.” He explained that when regulators initially announced the difficult-to-understand laws, “the way they were worded made it almost impossible to decipher what they meant.”
Not only were companies finding it extremely difficult to interpret those rules, state agencies were also subjecting them to continuous changes while they refined their marijuana programs. AxisWire now gives marijuana companies the option, at an additional fee, of course, to have their press releases and marketing materials reviewed by CannaRegs to ensure full compliance with local laws and regulations.