Archive for the ‘Marketing’ Category

AlbertMy clients CNN debut: click on the video below!

CNN: Washington Alternative Medicine

For the last two years, I’ve been working with Washington Alternative Medicine (aka WAM) as their PR strategist. WAM is a company that focuses on scientific research, testing and experimenting with the safest extracting methods that produce the purest medicinal cannabis extract on the market for its patients. They have a laboratory in Seattle that houses a Supercritical and Subcritical commercial grade extract machine that extracts oil from cannabis.

It was a difficult time, as I had just started my residence in training at Seattle University as a strategic communications major when WAM approached me to help them with PR work. After some thought, I decided to move forward and help them. It was a scary prospect, as the client was relying on me to help him and his company move forward in a precarious industry; and let’s face it, this was before the state of Washington legalized the industry. Not only was I new to my field of work, but I knew nothing about the product only that it got you high. I changed this attitude by delving into the scientific aspect of cannabis and I changed my perspective: I had to if I was going to help my client. I had to see the industry in a new light so that I didn’t fail my client. This was a scary road, but I was motivated by the value in the experience that I would gain from following through with my commitment.  I applied the skills that I was learning at Seattle University into my real-life work situation.

WAM needed help with internal and external communications, conflict resolution within the company, issues and crisis management, strategic scientific marketing plans that included social media and media relations. In order to serve my client, I also spent the last two years researching every aspect of cannabis from a scientific, legal to a political point of view. I also examined the current advertising in the industry: none of the current cannabis advertising was acceptable in accordance with the laws then and I502 today which have huge implications for the industry.

It was a difficult road for us all at WAM; from restructuring the company’s brand to dealing with dishonest people, the industry seemed to suck the life out of me at times. There was always a serious crisis or issue that I needed to solve, and I was afraid that I would make a mistake. And in this business you can’t really afford a lot of mistakes, given the legalities involved in the industry. I’m not going to lie: there were many times when I wanted to quit, but it’s like my hero and mentor Albert Einstein says: “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new”, and the cannabis industry and my field of work were both new to me. So, with Albert in my pocket, I took the challenge and I learned how to take control of the situation and took care of business.  AND our hard work paid off: my client was featured in a CNN video as an entrepreneur paving a new path in an old industry. He’s also going to be a featured news story on CNN.

I’m graduating from Seattle University in June 2013, and in the last two years at WAM and Seattle University I learned that it’s all about how you look at things, and that all businesses have their problems. I continue to learn new things every day and that is very exciting! I realize with great days there will be bad days but overall I love what I do! I’m grateful for the opportunity that I’ve had working with WAM; it gave me real life hard core experience in dealing with every aspect of being a PR Strategist.


one_fund_2One of my strongest assets is that I can look at a negative situation and with work turn it into a positive one, which is why I enjoyed reading the article about the successful fundraiser ad campaign Hill Holiday ran for the city of Boston in just a few hours. “One Fund Boston” is the name of the campaign fundraiser for the victims of the domestic terrorist attack. The following day after the terrorist attack; its 10:00 a.m. and Mr. Gallagher, executive VP of John Hancock is on the phone with Mike Sheehan and Karen Kaplan, CEO and president of Boston ad agency Hill Holiday. The ad agency was to create a fundraiser campaign ad for the victims before 5:00 p.m. that evening so that the major could announce it during a press conference.

Immediately, Mr. Sheehan came up with “One Fund” as way to centralize the fund-raising. The ad agency then created the logo; by 11:00 a.m. the logo was approved by the mayor’s office and advisor Jack Connors. The agency then created a website with PayPal to accept donations and the legal team, Goodwin Proctor volunteered to register the find and handle the legal paperwork. As promised, the agency delivered the ad package by 5:00 p.m. and the major announced it during the press conference. This is a perfect example on how an ad agency dealt with a crisis communication ad campaign and how they helped bring in 20 million dollars in donations for the victims of the domestic terrorist attack.

Cannabis Marketing

Posted: April 21, 2013 in Cannabis, Entertainment, Marketing

dope picOn April 20, 2013, I decided to attend the Dope Magazine event in Seattle to observe and study the different marketing tactics the organization uses to promote their events. 4/20 is considered a cannabis holiday for those in the business. This year Dope partnered up with 7 Point Studios for its “Studio 4/20” event. This is the second annual event Dope Magazine has held in the city of Seattle but the first annual event since the end of prohibition.

Some highlights highlighted in the advertising was an evening filled with live shows, Dab bars, flower rooms with several vendors vending to patients, live glass blowing by world renowned artists, the Vape lounge which was interesting, a latex fashion show, great music, glass vendors with interesting designs, food trucks and beer gardens and a one- stop shop for any cannabis topicals you can find for your medicinal needs, and product competitions from the highest THC (Tetrahydrocannabidiol-psychoactive compound found in cannabis) to the the highest CBD (Cannabidiol-the non-psychoactive compound found in cannabis).

The line to get into the Dope event wrapped around the building and security was pretty tight. Walking up to the door, the lighting was bright and security checks were being performed on everyone and their bags. Walking through the front door, you were asked for your identification, and a fee of $30 was charged. After the check-in process was completed, you were free to walk through the doors. However, entry does not mean you were free to medicate in the designated areas for medicating. If you were interested in entering any of the medicated areas, then you were required to have Dope representatives confirm your medical recommendation was legitimate, as there are often many fraudulent papers milling aroung; and an additional fee of $10.00 was added to the $30.00. Once you were confirmed, then you were free to walk through the doors and enjoy the entertainment.

As I walked in, the vibeology was amazing. The venue was dressed with beautiful artwork on the walls that looked as if it took longer than a day to paint. The lighting and artwork, the live rope entertainment as you walked into the venue gave you a feeling that you were in a different world where you were free to mill around the performers up above. People milled around the area with media, in private rooms, oil dab rooms and Vape rooms socializing and having fun.

There was no violence, drunk and disorderly people; everyone was there to relax and enjoy themselves in the company of fun entertainment and friends. Overall, it was a very enjoyable, relaxing and entertaining evening. According to reports, Colorado was not as fortunate as Seattle; there was a shootout that left approximately 2 people injuired and many frightened citizens running for safety. This is a sad and unfortunate event, and it should be noted that it is not a reflection of all people who attend these functions. The behavior of those that commit horrific crimes such as the one that occurred in Colorado, should not reflect the majority of those who were attending the celebration. My thoughts and prayers are with those that were injured.

I thought that Dope Magazine and 7 Point Studios’ entertainment was great and Dope’s marketing ads are really rich in color and design, as well as their layout. Dope Magazine is fairly new to the state of Washington so it will be interesting to see how they target their marketing to the local audience, if they decide to; as their ads seem to have a sense of a one size fits all cities feel to them and I didn’t see a whole lot of marketing done for the event, this might be due to the legal issues and controversies surrounding cannabis. I heard about the event through word of mouth, not through their online marketing. It will be interesting to see if they do additional marketing to attract more people to the events. The state of Washington residents follow the lead of Hempfest and so it will be interesting to see what the demographic group is for both Dope Magazine and Hempfest events. The demographic group at last night’s even was a mixture of socio-economic and age demographic individuals. Unfortunately, I didn’t make the hempfest festival to check out their following but I do know that I saw many educated and well to-do individuals who attended the Dope Magazine event. I know that the yearly Hempfest event that takes place in Seattle during the summer is a huge outdoor event that brings people from all over the world, and it also brings in a good amount of economic revenue for the city of Seattle. There is also good amount of marketing that goes into putting up this event so we should stay tuned and compare the event marketing strategies and tactics they use to promote the Hempfest annual event. We shall stay tuned for the next cannabis event in Seattle.


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All of the sudden, I get the whiff of cedar wood and in an instant I’m an 8 year old child traveling with family through Lubbock, Texas in a small school bus. To me, the smell of cedar wood is Lubbock, Texas, and with the stimuli I can recall the place, specific moments and family experiences we had traveling through many small towns. I reminisce about an innocent time filled with hopes of what the future was going to bring into my life. It is this familiar smell, image or feeling that marketers use to influence the way people buy into the message, product and service. The unconcious brand marketing tactic is based on the idea that a markerter can tap into your subconscious and pull out a reality that provides a sense of acceptance, reassurance and security. It is a way that marketers reach out and compel the consumer to buy the product, take the trip or enroll in the overly priced college institute.

Colleges around the country are using innovative marketing tactics, such as the afforementioned, to beat out their competitors in student enrollment. Aside from the scratch and sniff air freshener, I’ve never heard of a college utilizing specific campus scents such as lawn grass as a marketing tactic to get you to enroll in their school, as Agnes Scott College. It’s not a new tactic, but it is an innovative way to use the tactic. According to James Poniewozik’s article in Time magazine, the scratch and sniff tactic was introduced in 2000 as Smell-o-Vision, a television set that emanated specific scents from the television tube to help sell products to the audience. During that time, audiences tested Smell-o-Vision and the test showed the audience was less than thrilled. The Smell-o-Vision product failed in the test market and so they nixed out the idea in favor of 3D television, which has been less than favorable in the market as well.

Today, it’s been 13 years since the Smell-o- Vision test and as predicted in 2000, it remained a thing of the past up until recently. Old ideas do not die easily, they just get recycled with improvements. Smell-o-Vision has made a comeback in conversation circles among engineers. The plan is to build the Smell-o-Vision applications better than their predecessors. Although the concept has not died with engineers, I don’t believe the Smell-o-Vision will make the final cut. Yes, out of curiosity, Smell-o-Vision could become a popular fad but people will, once again, learn that not all smells are good; thereby, shouldn’t be replicated.

If you’re interested in judging for yourself whether or not Smell-o-Vision’s will eventually be a hit, visit the links below and give me your input:


The three P’s in Marketing

Posted: April 7, 2013 in Marketing

The competition is fierce within the small business community. I’ve spent a bit of time helping small businesses promote their products, and product packaging and placement seem to be everything. Contemplating this theory took me on a road to do a focus group and further research. It’s true; horrible products with great packaging are profitable. I even had a business owner comment, “…his product may not be the best but people love the packaging…” It’s important that when a company is developing their brand, they put heavy consideration into what is going to set them apart from their competitors, and packaging seems to be the determining factor whether or not product sales are a success or a failure.

According to Kristie Lorette, Demand Media, article, “Importance of Product Packaging in Marketing”; it is vital for companies to consider function, attraction, promotion, purchase decision and differentiation in the branding of their product. Function means product protection from getting damaged; promotion talks about the product and provides directions on how to use it; attraction draws people to the product; purchase and decision discuss ingredients in the product that help the consumer decide whether or not to purchase the product and differentiation is the one thing that sets companies apart.

Albert Einstein once said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” When people examine whether or not a product will work for them, they’re making an unconscious decision based on what appeals to their senses, the part of a person’s brain that speaks in feelings, not words (Van Praet, 2012). They’re really looking to connect with the company’s brand, and packaging is what helps people identify with the company.

If a company decides to build their brand around poor packaging, it could be difficult for them to upgrade it; changing the packaging could alter the company’s brand and that could prove to be a bad move if you’re a small business. Not only could changing the package be a bad decision for a company’s brand but it could also prove to be costly. It is important to remember that what works for today may not work tomorrow so your packaging has to be dynamic, constantly and evolving. As time moves on your competitors may or may not develop a better product, but if they’re developing a better package your company could lose profits. You may find it cost prohibitive to change your packaging but it could mean the difference between being on top, middle or bottom of your game.

At the end of the day, a company should always consider the packaging of their product as a piece of clothing that will reflect who you are as a company.