New Regulations May Help Tame the Wild West CBD Industry
Updated: Oct 6, 2020
The days of taming the Wild West may be well behind us, but we can draw parallels between then and what's happening now with CBD. We are now two years removed from the passage of the Farm Bill into law but there are still a number of ways CBD businesses are getting themselves into trouble with the FDA.
In addition, the general public may not have a great idea of what CBD oil is and what it does, creating a vice-like stigma for their brand.
In this week's edition of our Move the Stairs Friday Chat, we are taking a look at CBD oil and the CBD industry through the perspective of Public Relations Strategists to help your brand stay out of trouble, build a loyal customer base and educate the public.
We have an informational one-sheet available for download at the bottom of this post that will give you an Insider Media Relations™ look into how you can follow what's happening in the CBD industry like a PR pro!
In the meantime, you can recap our entire conversation below!
Using Public Relations to Protect Your CBD Brand
The best to way to build Brand Protection™ around CBD regulations is to develop a plan that addresses the best and worst-case scenarios. If you've followed industry news lately, you know that regulations regarding CBD are very fluid. It's still the Wild West when it comes to regulations, and the one thing you can count on is change.
For instance, you probably saw this piece of news from the FDA about how they are drafting new guidelines which will make it easier for companies to streamline their way to producing generic oral CBD medication. We know that the FDA, DEA and SAMHSA are now all in the comment period for their proposed regulations on everything from marketing rules, labeling of CBD products, how CBD will be designated to legal production, and finally how CBD has different impacts on men and women, especially pregnant women.
Public Relations Tools for the CBD Industry
The first step to staying on top of everything happening in the CBD industry is to set up alerts, which will work for you by collecting relevant articles and depositing them at your fingertips.
Google Alerts is a great and free method to get the latest information quickly. The world's most powerful search engine will cast a wide net and deliver that content to your email inbox
Twitter lists will help you establish a list of journalists who cover CBD. You'll also be able to see what hashtags journalists are using as they tweet their articles about CBD. By following those hashtags your online network will expand as you will always be seeing new CBD news contributers.
Key industry news outlets like Hemp Industry Daily, Ganjapreneur, Leafwire and Marijuana Moment all have a newsletter subscription service, which feeds relevant industry news articles directly to your inbox as well.
If you have an established brand already, there's a good chance you're on the FDA's radar. This is where paid options, such as Meltwater, can be extremely useful in not only continuing to build but also protect your brand through instant alerts and competitor analysis.
The FDA is no stranger to issuing warning letters. Part of our responsibility to clients is thoroughly reviewing those letters and vetting our clients' social media to make sure their brand won't be impacted based on their social media posts. Anything that could remotely fall under the stern warnings issued by the FDA should be hidden. Because these letters are a significant piece of news in the industry press, you want to take preemptive action so that your brand isn't impacted.
M&C's Brand Protection™ Strategy
No one likes to be taken by surprise, so preparedness is key. Part of setting up clients for success is working with them to think ahead, particularly on the issues of regulations and change. We coach our clients to have messaging ready to respond online and on social media.
Do you have a white paper ready for release?
What about social media drafts? Drafting your messaging now will give you an opportunity to think about how your audiences will perceive and interpret your post.
Do you need to prepare unpublished press releases where you offer your take on regulations as soon as they become official?
Being ready with messaging calibrated for different media increases your chances of being called for an interview and building on your thought leadership position.
The best way to approach this is to look at each one of the CBD issues and take an hour to write down your reactions to what you think will happen. This will put you light years ahead of your competitors in preparation and reduce your response time.
Building Brand Protection™ Ahead of New CBD Guidelines
Be sure to actively monitor stories daily or weekly. The key to an established response is in-depth knowledge of how to ruling may impact your brand. Incentivize your team to take 15-30 minutes and check into the news cycle daily.
Use this information in educational postings on social and blogs so your customers or clients know that you are plugged in. You will be increasing your credibility and thought leadership. Building a loyal following is one of the most important steps in Brand Protection™.
Before you make any kind of response to the regulations, make sure you have a Brand Protection™ team to check you are following the newly issued FDA/DEA guidelines. One focus area is checking your previous social media and website postings, double-checking you're in compliance.
We know that the FDA has sent serious warning letters to companies making COVID-19 claims about their CBD products, as well as other medical claims about CBD effectiveness. Remember it isn’t just the claims you make that the FDA is watching, it is also what others post on your social media. If they make medical claims about your products, you need to hide those posts.
Take an hour or two with your team and prepare for the rulings to come down. You don’t need an extensive plan, but you do need to make sure everyone is on the same page, understands the company position, and knows the outreach plan for all your audiences including employees, clients, customers and media.
Assign Brand Protection™ team roles. Who's the best person to talk to the employees, who is your media spokesperson backup, does everyone have your basic messaging, do the people who work with customer service have a good understanding of the issues and your stand?
Make sure your spokesperson understands bridging and flagging techniques and has messaging at the ready to handle any questions that may come up. Using the 4 C’s (Clear, Compassionate, Consistent and Conversational) messaging can make all the difference!