When it comes to the nascent cannabis industry, it’s often the people holding a wide range of skills and experience who have the greatest chance to succeed.
Gia Morón is a cannabis industry multi-threat: public relations guru, cannabis advocate, voice for women in the industry, President of Women Grow, and CEO of GVM Communication. But like many before her, Gia’s unique career path has helped provide her with the unmatched knowledge she needed to make her mark in a new industry.
Gia breaks down her cannabis journey, shares some media best practices, and doles out advice to industry newcomers in this Q&A interview with a unique perspective on what makes the market tick.
How did you get into the cannabis space?
My career began in corporate having worked in financial services and television. I spent over 25 years in corporate. After being laid off in 2011, I started my own company GVM Communications on 4.20.2012, little did I know about the significance of 4/20 and cannabis.
While launching my business I started learning about the cannabis industry. I attended my first Women Grow meeting in 2015. While I went to the event with the intention of wanting to learn about becoming a cultivator or dispensary owner, it was at the first meeting that I learned I didn’t have to change my business. Someone advised me to expand my PR business and consider taking on cannabis clients. It had not dawned on me to keep working in my field.
Women Grow became a client in 2016-2017, then I joined the team while still running my business in 2017-2018, made an investment in the business, and started implementing some of the programming I worked on from my previous career. Today, I am a cannabis business advocate, President of Women Grow, CEO of GVM Communications, and advisor/consultant for special projects.
How did you first get involved with Women Grow?
I became involved with Women Grow in 2015 in New York where I reside. I read about the company and found their website and attended a meeting. In 2016, I joined the NY market and in 2017 joined the headquarters team.
Then in 2018, I made an investment in the company and became part of senior leadership. I credit Women Grow for the incredible contacts and resources I have today. I love to say Women Grow has been my gateway into the cannabis industry. There is no better network than the Women Grow community. I have met some of the smartest, most interesting people through Women Grow. I am grateful for the opportunities I have because of the company. The women are top-notch. I am happy and proud to be among them.
How does Women Grow support the industry?
Women Grow’s mission is to connect, educate, empower and inspire the next generation of cannabis leaders. The company was founded in 2014 in Denver, CO. Now based on the east coast, we continue the mission of our founders by providing education virtually or in-person on subject matters related to the business and medical aspects of the industry, from our newly launched Lunch n Learn to our monthly virtual events and summits.
We have utilized our social media channels to reach a community of women who are interested in entering this industry because they are canna-curious or had prior experience with cannabis. We also have a large population of canna-moms who are caregivers for their families or consumers themselves.
Prior to the pandemic, we hosted in-person events across the country as well as our annual Leadership Summit. This 2-day event brought women from around the world together to connect and learn about opportunities in the industry. We look forward to returning.
What are some best practices for cannabis companies seeking PR/earned media opportunities?
Be ready to tell your story, but a great story. Tell what makes your business so unique, does it address a specific need, and what was the passion behind the creation.
Brands that have tried to trick the consumer often fail. It’s important for brands to know their consumers are intelligent, they want honest brands. I would say journalists expect the same. They are pitched tones of stories, what will stand out to them is the integrity of the brand and its mission.
Be honest with the media or they will report on dishonest brands. Also, another best practice is to be ready to share numbers and facts about the business. So many brands try to hide or stay away from these points but it really helps to tell the story.
Continue to keep the media informed on the brand. Share SOME press releases, openings, and new product launches. Even if they are not reporting on it they will see the growth in the business.
What are some of the most common mistakes cannabis companies make when pitching stories?
Companies often want to overshare their story. Journalists want the important highlights. Of course, it is great to give examples of wins and challenges but they do not need to know every aspect of the challenge or business.
The media is not interested in EVERY ANNOUNCEMENT. Companies often want to put out a press release for every milestone in their business. It’s not necessary.
Pitching multiple journalists for the same story at the same publication is a big NO NO. Identify the journalist who covers your subject matter and pitch to them.
What advice do you have for newcomers entering the industry?
My advice would be to become a student. Learn and keep learning. This is an ever-changing industry and it is imperative that we are all students of this plant. Read the industry publications, learn the businesses, and get to know the language. Also, it is important to learn your state regulations about the industry.
I would also advise that people attend these networking events. Google is your best friend. I am sure there are events happening in or near your community. Invite a friend to attend with you and if they cannot, do not be afraid to go alone. Meet the people in the industry. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Do your best to try to attend a conference.
Also know that your current skill sets are likely needed and if you are uncertain where to begin, offer what you already know and see if your skills can be applied to a business. Lastly, this is not an easy industry. Be prepared to work and work hard. We are still building a brand new legal industry and it requires a lot of time and effort.
Know that the hard work will pay off. Know that through that hard work you are also learning. It’s how I have built my cannabis business knowledge. I want people to know we need them to bring their best talents to this industry. There is enough room for all of us.