Celeste Miranda, already one of the busiest people in cannabis, has a new agency. The founder and CEO of The Cannabis Marketing Lab - the oldest and largest cannabis-specific marketing agency - has banded together with two veteran public relations executives - John Sidline and Karen Blondell - to form a new cannabis-focused PR agency: The Cannabis Story Lab (www.thecannabisstorylab.com). Together, the trio possess a unique combination of cannabis industry and non-cannabis PR experience.
Over their careers they have led PR for companies that range from pre-funded startups to century old public Fortune 500 companies, and earned awards for corporate communications, product launches, global PR and social media innovation, among others.
Despite all three agency principals having extensive experience working in other industries including tech, healthcare and consumer goods, the new agency does not intend to apply the best practices learned from other industries to cannabis. Story Lab principal Karen Blondell believes the agency’s leadership has an uncommon perspective that will help them create new best practices tailored specifically for the cannabis market.
“John and I managed communications for companies and individuals through two massive industry waves: the internet and mobile,” said Blondell. “We not only watched how those markets took form, we actively worked on shaping media relations practices. What we learned is that the market dictates the practices - what you think is going to work doesn’t always work. We hear that a lot in cannabis - that certain tried and true techniques don’t work well or as expected. Of course not. The cannabis industry is a one-of-a-kind market, and those best practices are still being created. Storly Lab wants to have a hand in creating them.”
Sidline, who banded together with Miranda and Blondell after spending more than a decade leading the tech PR agency he cofounded, believes the Story Lab’s secret sauce is the mix of expertise each of the cofounders bring to the table.
“Cannabis companies are beginning to feel greater competition and the need to develop, nurture and even protect their brands, and more and more are recognizing the need for results-oriented public relations,” continued Sidline. “No one has a deeper understanding of cannabis industry marketing than Celeste. Building off her insights, Story Lab has a different approach to constructing and executing PR programs that you won’t find elsewhere in this market.”
Miranda agrees. She had already been considering that the time had come for a high-calibre PR agency in the cannabis market. She was thinking of the best way to establish a new sister agency for The Cannabis Marketing Lab when Sidline reached out. “I tell you, it was a sign,” added Miranda. “I know the companies in this market need public relations. They might not know they need it, but those who take action are going to be in the best spot. John and Karen are exceptional public relations leaders and we have formed a great team. The timing of that first conversation with John could not have been better.”