Harnessing the Magic of Brand Stories for Public Relations

By Phase 3
May 02, 2024


Public relations is a critical marketing strategy for business owners who want to elevate their brand presence in a competitive marketplace. But traditional media outlets are disappearing. People's expectations for finding and consuming news are changing. It can be challenging to know where to start.

When Georgia approved the dispensing of medical cannabis in 2022, Botanical Sciences – Georgia's first physician-owned medical cannabis provider – wanted to spread the word about this significant development to patients across the state, especially those in need of medical cannabis. The brand also wanted to establish itself as a trustworthy provider in the newly emerging medical cannabis market. To achieve this, they needed a partner who understood the intricacies of public relations.


What is Public Relations?

Public relations (PR) campaigns increase consumer awareness through earned media coverage and owned social media channels.

Earned media is generated organically (meaning your brand doesn’t pay for it) through word-of-mouth, public relations efforts, or editorial coverage. It includes mentions, shares, reviews, or recommendations from customers, journalists, or other third-party sources.


Examples of Earned Media 

  • Press coverage: Articles, interviews, or mentions in digital or traditional newspapers, magazines, online publications, or broadcast media.
  • Social media mentions: Posts, shares, or comments about a brand or product on other social media platforms (not owned) generated by customers, influencers, or other users.
  • Reviews and testimonials: Positive feedback, reviews, or testimonials from customers or influencers, whether on social media, blogs, review websites, or through word-of-mouth.
  • Influencer endorsements: Uncompensated endorsements or recommendations from digital influencers or industry experts who promote a product or brand to their followers.
  • Viral content: User-generated content that gains widespread attention and shares organically, often due to its uniqueness, entertainment value, or relevance to current events.

In today’s PR climate, earned media is just one piece of the puzzle. Earned media is key for enhancing integrity and reach. But it's also vital to understand the synergy between earned media and owned media channels.

How Does Owned Media Fit In? 

PR campaign content is often published in brand-owned social media and other digital channels. This is to reinforce the message and give context. Owned social media channels are platforms that you control and manage, such as Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube. By sharing relevant and engaging content, you can expand your reach. You can engage with followers and foster more interactive and direct relationships with consumers.

Owned media channels are important parts of a PR strategy. They engage both existing and new audiences and build market authority. This channel cross-over is critical to getting a story published and heard.


Today's PR Challenges 

As PR becomes increasingly competitive, the lines between all marketing disciplines blur. Business owners must recognize that PR is no longer siloed in just earned media and owned media channels. It can and should intersect with other marketing strategies, including social media, email, content creation, and more. By embracing this integration, you harness the collective power of these disciplines to amplify brand messages and engage with your audience. It's always best to approach all marketing campaigns (including PR) with an integrated approach to achieve the best results.

Earning media isn’t guaranteed, and winning coverage in competitive media markets can be challenging. Successful PR requires strategic public relations efforts, compelling storytelling, and delivering exceptional products or services customers are eager to share and recommend.

The Phase 3 PR team is an expert at integrating successful PR campaigns with other marketing campaigns to achieve the best results.


The Phase 3 PR Process 

When collaborating with a client, we craft the story first. We create a compelling brand story to magnify the client’s essential message and meet their overarching goals. The story may be based on an event, an award, a new product, or a collaboration. Some recent PR campaigns our team has worked on include:

  • Chateau Elan won Garden & Gun's 'Made in the South' Award for best in beverage category, which landed them a spot on The Today Show.
  • The Candler Hotel recently hosted the Michelin Award’s afterparty, which resulted in national media coverage and heavy social media traffic.
  • Ole Smoky Distilleries continues to win awards for its products and experiences, making it the most visited distillery in the world and earning it continuous local media coverage.

Targeted Campaign Outreach

Once we create the story, our team sends a press release or media alert to targeted media professionals in an email for consideration. If applicable, we'll invite the media to personally experience our client's products and services or attend an event. For larger-scale announcements and news, we use Business Wire for press release distribution.

If we don't have relevant media relationships, our team researches the best media contacts in the market. We subscribe to a media relations platform called Muck Rack, which helps us identify media partners in new markets. We also research articles with similar content to identify media outlets that may be a good fit for story pitches.


Becoming a Trusted Resource

It's critical to pitch strategic and timely story ideas. Journalists and writers look to trusted PR teams as content resources. We work hard to maintain our relationships with the media through clear communication and relevant pitch/story angles. The stronger our relationships with writers and journalists, the better our chance of winning coverage for our clients.


Measuring PR Impact

The PR team measures the impact of campaigns through Muck Rack analytics, which identifies a story's reach through unique online views of the publication. We also look for increased sales, increased social media followers, and high-level engagement after media campaigns.


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Introducing Botanical Sciences to Georgia

Botanical Sciences engaged Phase 3 to ensure the public was well-informed about evolving medical cannabis laws and the upcoming launch of their dispensaries in Georgia. The team built a PR strategy based on transparency and information, focusing on consumer education and public engagement.


Framing the Story

It was clear we needed to establish a strong media presence. We framed the Botanical Sciences story by actively providing regular updates about dispensary launch dates, the changing legal framework, and the benefits of medical cannabis. We knew that public perception and understanding of medical cannabis were important. So, we focused on educating both reporters and the public about it. The press materials highlighted that Botanical Sciences works closely with the Georgia Board of Pharmacy, the Georgia Pharmacy Association, and the Academy of Independent Pharmacy to operationalize this pioneering approach of independent, licensed cannabis pharmacies.


Commitment to Transparency

The goal was to debunk myths and misconceptions and foster a more informed and open-minded public. This commitment to transparency builds trust with the community. It also created a personal connection between the brand and patients. Botanical Sciences also drives credibility by giving back to the community by funding scholarships for pharmacy students. 

In addition to media relations, the creative and strategy teams contributed with integrated marketing messaging, visuals, and campaigns that captured and engaged consumers.


The Results so Far

Since December 2022, Phase 3 has secured more than 540 broadcast and online stories, driving over 7 million media impressions. This number continues to grow daily, as medical cannabis is an active conversation in the state of Georgia. The team coordinates consistent and numerous interviews for CEO Gary Long to speak on behalf of Botanical Sciences. This ongoing success is due to the brand’s fascinating story and Phase 3's strong working relationships with the media.


The Heart of Public Relations 

Storytelling is key to any successful PR campaign. It weaves together gripping stories that resonate with audiences and media. Storytelling captures attention. It evokes emotions and nurtures meaningful connections. Whether by sharing impact stories, highlighting innovation, or showcasing an award or event.

Business leaders like you can use stories to shape consumer perceptions through earned media channels. Stories help establish trustworthiness and set your brand apart in the marketplace. Savvy PR professionals use authentic narratives to capture the imagination of journalists, influencers, and consumers. These stories lead to enhanced visibility and positive brand associations. Storytelling extends beyond media outlets to owned social media and other digital channels, where you can further amplify your message and engage with audiences directly.

Phase 3 believes that storytelling isn’t merely a tactic but a strategic imperative for business success. We use traditional media relations, authentic writing, and integrated marketing campaigns to help our clients tell their stories. By harnessing the emotive power of storytelling across earned media and owned social channels, our clients forge strong customer relationships, drive meaningful conversations, and elevate their brand in the hearts and minds of their target audience. Want to know more? Contact us today.