Tag Archives: Business

Cannabis Banking: Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems!


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Cannabis has quickly become the new #1 cash crop in America since being legal in Colorado and Washington.  Legal states have seen billions of dollars raking in from cannabis sales.  Everything from flowers, edibles, concentrates, tinctures, capsules, and other cannabis products are selling like hot cakes each month.  These products are in high demand and the cash flow is coming in faster than ever.

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Colorado, the state where recreational use was first made legal, has seen widespread benefits in the increasing cash flow.  In an ironic twist, all of the finances from this so-called ‘drug’ is actually helping the state flourishing.  The Centennial state utilized the finances to fix roads, upgrade their educational system, better education on legal cannabis use, and even day centers for the homeless.  All of these public benefits Colorado is seeing are from selling pot.

Even with these amazing financial benefits, there is one MAJOR problem that still needs to be solved: banking.  Since cannabis is still federally-illegal, many banks refuse to conduct business with cannabis companies because of federal regulations.  These federal regulations have opted many dispensaries out of a safe financial system that would help business run smoothly.  Instead, many businesses have been forced to operate strictly on cash alone (which is REALLY bad!).

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Image result for Money Safe

These strict financial regulations pose major business problems for many companies.  One of the main problems is financial security.  Many businesses are operating on cash, meaning they have no financial services set up.  Since the finances are tracked through dollar bills, employees must work to keep track thousands of dollars in their office.  The only secure solution would be to have a huge safe in place to store all of the profits in.  Dispensaries are one of many businesses that are in danger of being robbed if necessary procedures aren’t in place (if you think a medical dispensary won’t ever get robbed, you couldn’t be any more wrong!).  No set financial services mean businesses have a HUGE risk of being robbed if their profits isn’t properly secured.

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Image result for Dispensary ATM

Onto a less serious issue, no set financial services mean there’s limited creativity with financial promotion.  Promotion, one of the four P’s of the marketing mix (price, place, promotion, and product!), is a crucial tactic of lifting your business off of the ground.  Your dispensary may be fully operating, but it’s nothing without many marketing promotion to raise awareness of your business.  Most dispensaries provide an ATM so that customers will have the cash for the product they want.  It seems to help, but doesn’t really solve the bigger problem of the financial operations.

What if someone really wants to use their debit/credit card instead?  If someone wanted to write up a check, how would it be processed?  Would gift cards ever become an option to use?

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It may seem trivial, but it’s important for serving every type of customer that comes in.  Gift cards are a great strategy for promoting the business.  If a bank won’t work with a dispensary due to legality issues, then gift cards won’t be a payment option for people.  Other than gift cards, customers could be turned off by the fact they won’t be able to write off a check or use a debit/credit card to pay for their order.

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So those were some problems I found that need to be solved if we want to push the cannabis industry any further.  A majority of dispensaries are operating on a cash-only basis, which means they are in danger of being robbed.  Not only do they face the danger of being robbed, but they are limited in their marketing creativity.  The cannabis industry has been gaining leverage since legalization has been making waves over the past few years, but there’s still work to be done to increase its full potential.

I believe it is important to solve these financial roadblocks before pushing further.  Massachusetts will have legal dispensaries opening next July, so we must get the financial operations squared away.  We have to be pushing forward, not backwards.

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The cannabis industry is here to stay, federal regulations or not.  Banking companies should work to solve the financial regulations that are hindering the businesses from growing further.

Public Relations = Party Planning Pros!


Image result for Opening Day 2017

A few weeks ago, I had an intriguing conversation with someone about how public relations work.  He was unfamiliar with the industry and was curious to see why it is becoming a growing business tactic.  We got into the idea of people gathering together for an event that provided food, drinks, guest, and other entertainment.  It was then that I brought up the opening day event for the Red Sox all around Boston.

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This was where things got interesting.  I discussed an example of Liberty Mutual having a spread of hot dogs, popcorn, Cracker Jacks, and other ball park food to celebrate the opening day of Fenway Park.  It was then that he grew confused as to why the food and drinks were necessary for the event.  After seeing his confusion, I clarified to him that the food and drinks were just an asset for the event itself.  He was still puzzled during our discussion, but he was still interested in this topic.

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During our deep discussion, I thought about the importance of holding publicity events.  Every now and then a major public event happens within the area; whether it is directly related to the company/organization or not, these businesses will hold an event to celebrate.  This is where the PR work comes in – businesses need all of the communications help they need to pull off their special event.  Whether it is a gala or a major CEO stepping down, companies work their hardest to showcase a memorable night.

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But what exactly happens at these events?  What makes them so significant that companies have to blow them up so big?  Who reaps the most benefit at the end?

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Think about the last time you attended a party with your friends.  Some of the typical things you see is a spread of food, alcohol being served, a DJ spinning some mad tracks, some people sharing a joint (if the party is 4/20-friendly!), groups of friends playing lawn games, and other entertainment happening.  All of these aspects help make it a great party, but the most important reason for why people attend parties?  To get together with other people and meet new friends!

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That right there is the big connection with all of these social gatherings – people gathering together to celebrate the special occasion.  Human beings are the most social creatures on earth.  As much as say we can’t stand people sometimes, we actually LOVE being around people all of the time (Aristotle referred to us as ‘social animals’).  We get together with people for parties, funerals, sporting events, weddings, and even small things like sharing a joint together (sharing is caring!).  People have gathered together for events since the dawn of time.

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Image result for Business Party

Moving back to the idea of publicity events, blowing it up big is vital for getting people CONNECTED with one another.  Connection is the key word when it comes to company/organization events.  When a CEO is stepping down to retire from the company, all acquaintances connect with each other about the him or her.  The high-priced liquor and caviar spread is wonderful, but the main thing is about connecting people together.

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Let’s go back to the ‘Opening Day’ event in Boston back in April.  Liberty Mutual had that ballpark food spread for a reason.  It wasn’t so much to raise awareness of their brand, but rather to connect people together about the Red Sox playing at Fenway Park (FYI, Red Sox won against the Pirates that day.  GO SOX!).  Opening day is a MAJOR event here in Boston, so Liberty Mutual really hit it out of the ballpark with their event!  Other companies threw their own parties, thus connecting with their own social groups about opening day.

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And there you have it folks — publicity events are CRITICAL for increasing connecting among each other.  Whether it is casual networking among people or businesses throwing parties for retirees, connection is the key idea at the end.  Businesses throw parties to gain closer connections to their audiences or employees.  Not only do brands reap the benefit of increased awareness, but customers also gain the benefit of closer connection with their employees as well as the overall audience.

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All of these ideas are tied with the idea of human beings being ‘social animals’.  We don’t just socialize with other human beings for the fun of it, but rather for the sense of belonging in this crazy world we live in.  As silly as some of those office parties can be, it’s a great way for connecting people together for whatever reason necessary.

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To those that are baffled on the importance of public relations, THAT is one of the essential reasons why PR is critical for any company/organization.  Public relations is what will blow up your reputation sky high!

Smokin’ Hot Surgeons Calling the Kettle Black


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Image result for Heart Surgeon

To start today’s post, I have an interesting story to share:  I was staffing for an event at the Hynes Convention Center this past weekend.  The event was catered to the American Association for Thoracic Surgery (in English, heart surgery).  My role at the event was line monitor, which was to monitor the pre-registration line to make sure things were running smoothly.

Once the line quieted down, I got to take a 15-minute break.  With my CBD vaporizer at hand, I went for a stroll outside.  What I saw outside was absolutely baffling to me.  I went out the doors to see members of the event…smoking cigarettes.

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Seriously guys…I was watching PROFESSIONAL heart surgeons smoking cigarettes outside of the Hynes Convention Center.  Some members smoked typical cigarettes while others smoked a cigar.  I couldn’t believe my eyes when I witnessed surgeons having a smoke before heading back to their class.

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Image result for Nurse Smoking Cigarette

Think about this for a minute:  these are licensed surgeons that work fixing the human heart to prevent it from stopping.  They were admitted into medical school for over TEN years studying everything they needed to know about heart surgery.  Ten years of studying, labs, homework, papers, and other school work and yet some of them smoke cigarettes during their break.  Cigarettes are the #1 cause of many heart problems in America and there are actually heart surgeons who smoke.  This observation was absolutely MIND-BLOWING to witness.  How do we have heart surgeons smoking cigarettes?  What happened?

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What happened?  AMERICA happened!  But in all seriousness, this is an interesting topic to discuss.  Employees in the medical field always caution us about smoking cigarettes every year.  Doctors and nurses ask us things like how much alcohol we drink, how much cigarettes do we smoke, do we smoke cannabis (if so, how much), and if we consume any other drugs.  Our doctors can only inform us about what’s causing the problem (there WERE doctors that advertised cigarettes on television, but that’s for another discussion!).

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In a surprising study, less than a quarter of doctors smoke cigarettes while nurses smoke twice as much.  While these numbers aren’t so high, it’s still alarming to hear of medical professionals smoking cigarettes during their break time.  The irony around this is that doctors/nurses advise us against smoking cigarettes, yet there are some that smoke during their free time.

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If we want to better understand this strange phenomenon, let’s shift gears from cigarettes to the obesity crisis.  Over two-thirds of Americans are considered overweight and about a quarter of people are obese.  Doctors and nurses always advise us to exercise on a daily basis as well as eating healthy food each week.  In a surprising twist, some of these doctors/nurses are overweight themselves (FYI, there are MORE overweight nurses than doctors!).  So not only do we have medical professionals smoking cigarettes, but now there’s some that are overweight or obese!

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Public Relations deals with the reputation of a company or businesses.  Medical professionals have a serious moral/ethics code to abide by and keeping a clean record is a serious deal.  One misstep and they could jeopardize their entire careers to the point where they lose their medical license.  Are cigarette smoking and weight issues part of the moral and ethics code that doctors/nurses abide by?  If not, then those destructive behaviors should definitely be added into the list.

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I’m not saying that every doctor needs to look like McSteamy or McDreamy from Grey’s Anatomy (although that would be a perfect world to live in!), but they should consider what kind of example they are setting for their patients.  Patients will learn through EXAMPLES set by doctors or nurses that tell them how they can lose weight or what steps to take on quitting cigarettes.  If I were an overweight/obese patient coming in for a physical check-up, I wouldn’t be motivated to lose weight if my doctor or nurse wasn’t physically healthy.  How can doctors/patients expect us to be healthy if they can’t take care of themselves?

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Image result for Police Cop doing coke

Here’s another analogy to consider:  police cops are always advising us against drunk driving or doing drugs in this country.  They come into grammar schools to teach kids the dangers of drugs (cocaine, meth, alcohol, heroin, etc) and how they destroy your life.  It would be EXTREMELY unprofessional if those cops were to snort some blow or inject heroin after the lessons.  Kids aren’t going to listen to you once they catch you with that joint or needle you were about to use.  Doctors/nurses who smoke that advise us against smoking is the same as cops doing drugs while telling people to not do coke or smoke crystal methamphetamine.

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Image result for Obese America

Image result for Obese America

One last thing to consider with this ironic tale:  what if the problem was us?  What if the overall health in America has gone so downhill that medical professionals have turned to smoking to combat the stress of treating their patients?  Could the stress of so many unhealthy patients have created a snowball effect where doctors/nurses have given up on teaching us how to stay healthy?  Have we lowered the bar so far down that doctors have to smoke a pack (or two) of cigarettes to get through the day?  Is this what American healthcare has come to?  If doctors/nurses can’t set the right example for living a healthy lifestyle, than who can?

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Image result for Healthy man

As a human being, I have very little health problems I deal with.  I eat right each week and I exercise every now and then (when I’m not at the gym, I am walking around Boston or doing some cardio exercise).  While I don’t smoke cigarettes myself, I do consume cannabis as well as vape CBD oil on a daily basis.  My doctor isn’t overweight/obese and I’m unsure if he smokes cigarettes during his free time.  I wouldn’t consider myself overweight (although I could lose some of that belly fat!), but I am well aware of many health problems going on in America.

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With that, hearing about doctors/nurses smoking cigarettes sends an eerie message to us patients.  If the rate of medical professionals consuming cigarettes or are overweight is increasing, then we really need to do a double-take on America’s healthcare system.  We don’t need to force every doctor to look like something out of General Hospital, but they should consider what kind of message they are sending to us.  An overweight doctor won’t motivate me to cut back on the pizzas and fried calamari if that’s all he eats every week.

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And as far as people’s health goes, maybe we need to stop our bitching and do the hard work necessary to live a longer life.  You and ONLY you can take the steps necessary to be healthier.  No doctor/nurse will provide you with some magic pill that will make you become just like them.  They follow the same diet/exercise routine just like everyone else.  Here are some tips if you want to look like McSteamy/McDreamy:  cut back on smoking cigarettes, exercise daily, and eat healthier every day.

PR-Nightmare Trifecta!


Ladies and gentleman…it has been QUITE a month so far for PR nightmares these days.  Three different businesses from three unique industries have created such horrid PR nightmares.  These nightmares are SO horrid that they’ll be suffering for quite a while before customers want to work with again.  We have someone being dragged off a plane, a god-awful commercial from a popular soda brand, and a political statement SO idiotic that we have made America DUMBER again.  These 3 PR nightmares have merged together to become what is known as…the PR Nightmare Trifecta!

The PR Nightmare Trifecta, consisting of three PR nightmares occurring around the same month, is what we have flying around social media these days.  One PR nightmare wasn’t enough in Trump’s America, so now we got THREE nightmares happening (ONE of the businesses is STILL suffering from a nightmare that happened almost a month ago!).  We will be revealing these three PR nightmares together in order because the shock waves they made were SO big that they couldn’t be discussed individually.  These PR nightmares of the PR Nightmare Trifecta include Pepsi’s latest ad featuring Kendall Jenner, the doctor being physically thrown off an United Airline plane, and Sean Spicer’s most preposterous statement that will make even the youngest of children face palm.  I hope you guys are ready, because the PR Nightmare Trifecta is about to begin!

Kendall Jenner’s Pepsi Ad:  Pepsi thought they were being smart by utilizing Kendall Jenner as part of their new televised ad campaign.  It shows the opulent Kendall Jenner walking past a group of protesters in order to hand a Pepsi to a police officer.  A young Muslim woman smiles with glee, taking snapshots of the police officer quenching his thirst.  The crowd cheers as the situation becomes less hostile and they are happy once again.

This may have seemed like an interesting idea for their audience, right?  WRONG!  Right after the ad aired, Pepsi was criticized for its trivial portrayal against Black Lives Matter.  Thousands of upsetting consumers flocked to social media, ranting on about how it belittled the whole Black Lives Matter movement.  Due to the controversy, Pepsi pulled the ad from TV shortly thereafter.

Pepsi may have cleaned up part of the mess by pulling their ad, but they still got some serious work to complete in order to salvaged their sinking reputation.  In the growing PC-world, that shit just doesn’t fly with people these days.

I do believe that this was in such bad taste, but the real offensive part of this commercial?  Knowing that Pepsi sunk so low on the celebrity endorsement concept that they chose Kendall Jenner out of all of the celebrities.  How did we go from seeing gracious and sophisticated Joan Crawford as the face of Pepsi (true story!) to seeing “popular” celebrity Kendall Jenner, who is part of a Hollywood dynasty that made MILLIONS out of nothing?  To this day, I have NO idea how or why this Kardashian Dynasty is still flourishing around Hollywood after being on TV 10 years ago (if someone has a concrete reason for WHY they’re so famous, PLEASE tell me!).

         United Torture Airlines:  Ah, yes… UNITED AIRLINES.  Remember last month when those two girls were forced to don a dress before boarding one of their planes (which you can read about here)?  Well now United Airlines has a bigger PR nightmare to wrestle with.

It was like something out of a ‘torture porn’ horror film:  A United Airline plane was overcrowded with too many passengers.  Airline representatives selected four random passengers to get off the plane when people refused to leave.  What do the United Airline staff decide to do?  Physically throw people off the plane, of course!

One of the four passengers David Dao (who was a DOCTOR that needed to see his patients the next day) refused to leave after being threatened of security being called.  Three officers yanked him off as he screams of terror as his head bangs on the armrest.  If that wasn’t sadistic enough, they grabbed his wrist and dragged him down the aisle on his back (while bleeding the ENTIRE time!).  Passengers watched in horror as this beaten man (who was a DOCTOR, for God sakes!) get dragged around like some weak rag doll.

In response to this PR nightmare, United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz released a formal statement apologizing for the incident.  He is now working with his team to formally address the situation at hand, even meeting with the victim that suffered through this ordeal.  To give some insight to his customers, a united spokeswoman remarked that all passengers will receive compensation that would be equal to the cost of their plane ticket.

Even though passengers will be compensated for the shocking incident, United Airlines customers (including David Dao) are looking to sue the company for what just happened.  People may be getting their compensation, but that won’t be enough to fix what is MAJORLY broken at United Airlines.  So not only are they disciplining women on what to wear on the plane, but now they are physically removing random passengers off of the plane.  United Airlines has some SERIOUS work to complete on their PR part!

Sean Spicer Said WHAT?!?:  Alright folks, the last (and most idiotic) PR nightmare is here.  After the recent attacks occurring in Syria, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer set off a horrific backlash afterwards.  In his recent statement, he claims (NOT EVEN KIDDING when I say this) that President Bashar al-Assad of Syria was guilty of acts worse than Hitler and that Hitler had not used any chemical weapons years ago.

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Oh my sweet Jesus…I need a minute right now.  Just…the amount of STUPIDITY within that state is SO strong it’s physically hurting my insides.  For the love of God, America…just…WHY?!?  WHY?!?

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Ok people… Adolf Hitler DID in fact use chemical weapons for the gas chambers at the concentration camps.  What were those gas chambers a part of over 70+ years ago?  THE HOLOCAUST.  Ah, yes… one of the most sadistic events of the mid-20th century in Nazi Germany.  It was those chemicals that were used as part of the nation-wide Nazi propaganda agenda during World War II.

And on a somewhat-related note, the US Army was studying chemicals that were related to mustard gas to develop more effective agents for war and defensive measures.  The army discovered a unique compound called nitrogen mustard, which was discovered to have other unique chemical properties.  Many other discoveries led to the beginning of CHEMOTHERAPY (the therapy we use now to treat cancer!).  So yes Sean Spicer, Adolf Hitler DID use chemical weapons for his agenda during Nazi Germany.

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There’s my scientific rant about chemicals.  I am still dumbfounded that our White House Press Secretary would be that ignorant.  If he’s the White House Press Secretary, then that should make me CEO of a Fortune 500 Company (like MakeSandcastlesNotWar!).

Either way, these businesses really need to clean up the mess they caused.  Three companies, three PR nightmares, and many problems have risen.  They pretty much made their bed and now they must lie on it.  My advice for these companies would be to wait for their BS to blow over and start anew.  Even though these PR nightmares were horrific, they CAN come back to fix things.

That concludes my discussion of the PR-Nightmare Trifecta.  Who knows what other PR nightmares will be bubbling up to the surface in the near future?  Let’s hope for a PR miracle here in America!

When Branding Goes to Pot


Afternoon everyone!  Today is a beautiful sunny day here in MA with temperatures reaching upper 70s around the Boston area.  It’s been 3 days since I attended the Mass PRSSA Chapter Meetup in Salem and I couldn’t stop thinking how much fun I had.  Another round of cheers to Salem State University’s incredible PRSSA crew for having me at the event!

 

Their theme for the event was ‘Battle of the BRands’, showcasing important brands in the business world.  A brand is any design, name, words, style, or symbol used individually or in combination that will help distinguish one product from another for the customers.  For example, Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts utilize unique symbols for brands to distinguish themselves from each other (for the record, Starbucks ain’t got nothing on Dunkin’ Donuts in Massachusetts kid!).  Speaker Nicole Keiser talked about brands and how important they are in the business world.

This idea about brands got me thinking:  what’s the type of brand that would be most used within the cannabis industry?  Would this brand identity be shared amongst other businesses?  How do various companies utilize this brand to distinguish themselves from their competition?

So what’s the most common brand that is used among the cannabis industry?  The pot leaf, of course!  This well-known leaf, consisting of 7 pointed leaves, is the universal symbol of cannabis.  People that see this image in a business know first-hand that the company is selling cannabis or is providing services within the cannabis industry.  We’ve seen this symbol firsthand as kids and now we’ve seen this brand image flourish as a statement within the business world.

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The pot leaf symbol is seen in all aspects of the cannabis industry – dispensaries, flyers, edibles, tinctures, oils, MMJ doctors, advertisements, and many other instances.  It’s the pot leaf that alerts audiences that this business will provide cannabis-related products/services.  Whether it is bongs or the flower itself, you will run into this mutual symbol every time.

In some cases, the pot leaf may not even be displayed.  Some companies utilize light green colors (colors that look like the pot leaf) on the design ideas to keep that psychedelic vibe.  This is an interesting case where the brand’s color catches the customer’s attention rather than the leaf itself.  Either way, companies must utilize the cannabis leaf in one way or another so your audiences is aware of what your business does.

As a PR pro, I definitely see the importance of using the cannabis leaf when running a business.  Businesses use brand to communicate with their audiences about what products or services they offer.  Whether it is a restaurant or clothing store, all businesses must have a great brand to showcase their type of work.  Your business will only plummet if you don’t provide a true identity.

That concludes my discussion about the pot leaf brand.  If anyone is looking into starting a cannabis-related business, I definitely recommend utilizing the pot leaf for your brand.  Whether it is displaying the leaf itself or its natural colors, branding is SO important in creating your identity.