Episode 21 – The Media Landscape & Cannabis

This time around we’re publishing a live-recorded panel discussion moderated by local cannabis accelerator program Leaf Forward as part of our new monthly Cannabinoid Futures speaker series.  This inaugural edition of our series brought Vanmala Subramaniam (National Post), Matt Lamers (Marijuana Business Daily) and Jay Rosenthal (Business of Cannabis) together on the mic.

[expand title=”Podcast Transcript”]

Qasim Virjee 0:00
Going from station to station shaking from Genesis to Revelations Welcome back to this the 21st episode of the start well podcast. As always, I’m your host Qasim Virjee. Start well CEO and founder. And for this session, we’re going to take a listen to a panel discussion that kicked off our inaugural episode of cannabinoid futures, which is a speaker series that we host once a month in our event space on King Street. This time around, we had members of leaf forward in fact, the founding members of leaf forward which is a local accelerator program for cannabis, hosting and moderating a panel that included Vimala Subramanyam, from the National Post, Matt Lamers. From Marijuana Business Daily, Jay Rosenthal from business of cannabis. And of course, we fielded questions from the audience at the end. It’s an engaging listen, and the topic was about the media landscape and how it relates to cannabis. I hope you enjoy it and would like to point you to our website at struggle.co/programmingtofindoutwhenthenexteventthatyoucanattendisandofcourserecommendyoucontinuelisteningtoourpodcastas We’ll be republishing live recordings like this in the future.

[Moderator] 1:42
Great. Well, thanks so much Qasim for hosting us. This is a beautiful venue very happy to be here. It’s our first time hosting an event here and I hope that we’ll be hosting many more in the future. And thank you so much to our panelists. It’s I think we’re gonna have a great conversation tonight. So I guess just will Jay is getting set up there would love for kind of usually you just to give a background of who you are, how you got in the industry and what you do. We can start with even Belen.

Vanmala Subramaniam 2:09
I’m having a cold so if I’m yelling, it’s because I can’t hear anyway. So I started reporting on cannabis when I was at VICE. So I joined vice somewhere mid 2016. And I came in as to report on personal finance economics. But vise did a lot of reporting on cannabis. They didn’t do the business side of it. So I started doing that. I did that for about two years plus, and then I was hired by the Financial Post to be the designated cannabis beat reporter and that was a little bit before legalization, and that’s when everything really took off. So yeah, that’s that’s kind of my background. I’ve been in journalism for about 10 years. So was doing non cannabis stuff before that.

[Moderator] 2:53
Awesome, Matt.

Matt Lamers 2:54
Thanks for having me. I work for marijuana business daily. I report mostly on Canada, every market except the United States. Marijuana Business Daily focuses on news for businesses, which is a little bit different from like a mainstream, mainstream outlet. And I’ve been there since about mid 2017. I was actually a journalist in a different country. And I was looking for a reason to come back to Canada and then I was lucky enough to have this opportunity open up Canada was legalizing cannabis at the exact right time for me anyways, for my job prospects.

[Moderator] 3:26
Which country were you in?

Matt Lamers 3:27
I was on Grand Cayman. Very cool newspaper there,

[Moderator] 3:31
cool. J

Jay Rosenthal 3:32
making making the reverse move from the Grand Cayman to Ontario. So I’m Jay, introduce myself already. I’ve seen famous people do this. So we started business of cannabis in mid to late 2017. We were looking for something a gap to fill in the market of what was being talked about on the cannabis space. I come from a public affairs background. And and it seemed to me assessing what was going on in the market that the industry didn’t have any constituency outside of the couple 1000 people that worked in it. I’m not sure that’s actually expanded much better. But for my background, I knew that if you don’t actually start talking about the interesting, cool job creating stuff happening within an industry, nobody will care what’s happening, especially with cannabis where it was positive Yes, but mixed reviews of what was about to happen. And so to give some legitimacy to the industry, I got to read these guys distill it a little bit. Advisor where they were talking to to come on, like a video or podcast and that’s how we sort of got there. I’m only thing half hearted like I do read everything they write. But it’s really adding a lens to that that is very, we like to focus on sort of leaders and founders initially about what was happening because they to us we’re representing something unique in the Canadian landscape of hyper entrepreneurs taking a massive risk in an uncertain area. That was interesting to talk about.

[Moderator] 5:01
It’s funny I was on a panel last week with a mela and we were talking about cannabis 2.0 And how this first year of legalization is gone? And I answered the question last time, but I love to get your, your thoughts on how this first year has gone. And you know, what was good? What was bad? What was ugly? And I guess we can start with even though?

Vanmala Subramaniam 5:20
Oh, yeah, I asked you that right. Um, so

[Moderator] 5:24
it really doesn’t matter, you guys?

Vanmala Subramaniam 5:27
Well, I mean, actually, Brett and I had had pretty similar thoughts on this, I think the first year has been pretty bleak. And I would qualify this, but qualify that by saying it has been bleak on two fronts. So for consumers, it has been a little bit of a letdown, it’s still cool that we can walk into a shop on Queen Street and buy legal weed, I, you know, that’s something that, you know, we do have to think about, but at the same time, I think the expectations was that the shops are going to be everywhere, the kind of product you want is going to be in that store at that particular time, you’re not going to have to buy it on the Ontario cannabis store, you know, you’re going to have more product variety beyond flower and the flower is going to be good. So you know, there are a lot of things that didn’t meet consumer expectations. And I would say that you’re starting to see that catch up to the licensed producers. So I think the licensed producers have now realized, oops, we can’t just flood the market with a lot of flour. People care about what they want to smoke what they want to kind of buy, right. So I think, you know, on the consumer front, it hasn’t been that great. On the LP front. I think it’s been bad. So you know, I and it really, it really has and I and I try to not make sound too glum about the industry, because you know, we are the second country that has done this. But I think that they took took, the industry took a big bet on this. There was a lot of stock pumping, there were a lot of promoters in the space, there were a lot of average retail investors who in a way, you know, I have friends who kind of got tricked into thinking this was going to be a win for them. Without really knowing the kinds of companies that were investing in a good example was can trust, you know, and when I started covering this canntrust was a company that even I thought was credible. And you know, the analysts was saying that, yeah, I can trust the good company management, it’s great, et cetera, et cetera, turns out the green unlicensed spaces. So there’s a lot of corporate governance issues that are coming to light coupled with the LPS just not being able to figure out who the market is and how to provide for that market. So I think that that’s how I would sum it up.

[Moderator] 7:52
Matt, any thoughts?

Matt Lamers 7:54
Yeah, I agree with all of that. I’ll just add that it kind of depended on maybe your expectations for the first year. I didn’t expect the first year was going to go well, I thought it would be a mess in most in most of the provinces. With the exception of Alberta. The previous NDP government easily had created the best legal framework for businesses to operate in and that was entirely predictable. I really, I was really happy when the new government came in to consider conservatives in Alberta, and they didn’t change or rollback the previous government’s retail plans. And you’re seeing in Alberta, what the rest of the market with the rest of the country could be like, if we had provincial regulators who did what did it was in the best interest of consumers, health advocates and businesses. And unfortunately, we haven’t really seen that in places like Ontario anywhere, anywhere, with the exception of Alberta, and maybe Saskatchewan, and to a lesser extent, maybe Manitoba, but every other province bungled it pretty badly, especially British Columbia, which has the largest illicit market and their government is still isn’t taking it seriously. There’s a lot they could be doing in that market. They could be, they could immediately allow farm gate sales, which would help smaller companies they could promote. I know the province doesn’t regulate micro cultivators. But there’s a lot that the province could do in that in that market to help those smaller businesses. And that’s probably the most important cannabis market in Canada. Because if the illicit market is going to continue going on and on and on in British Columbia, then it’s going to be harder for legal businesses in a regulated market to not compete there, but across the country, because there’s so many consumers who still rely on mail order products from British Columbia. It’s a current I mean, it’s not going to go away anytime soon, right. In terms of like, consumer preferences. Yeah, I totally agree with what you said. Another thing is that you can, maybe now it’s improving, I guess, but from a consumers perspective, when you go into a store and you get something you like. And then you want to go back and get it a week later or two weeks later, it’s never there. And that in any other market, it’s impossible, it’s completely impossible to run a business like that you can’t run a business by selling your product in an unpredictable manner and has to be available consistently, every single time the consumer goes into the store. And if it’s not, that they’re just going to get something else, and they’re going to go to a different brand. All the other branding, branding and advertising. Restrictions notwithstanding, if your product isn’t available, every time a consumer wants to buy it, then you know, it’s gonna be pretty tough to sell your stuff. Okay.

Jay Rosenthal 10:40
Sorry, sorry. I’m just stuck on VC mailorder. Yeah, that sounds like a thing. Brett, it was the best of times. And it was the worst of times. You know, I knew you were gonna say that. I’ve been saying, it has been the best of times the worst of times. I think, you know, we legalized cannabis in the past year. That’s amazing. That’s good. We can’t, we basically can’t sell it certainly not in this province. Not great. We have a couple products you can buy, even if they’re great, and people are buying them. There’s like half the products that people just can’t get yet. Right, we had a great run in terms of serving patients getting patients signed up. We’ve had a plateau of that right now. Like, we have the opportunity to do interesting clinical research about medical cannabis. And getting a license to actually do that is really hard. We have great companies and the smartest people in Canada working on building brands, and the regulations don’t allow it. And that has real consequences about creating a global brand. Because the US is good at that, like so like, it’s dickinsonian. That’s not the way that’s not a real word. But I mean, it has been amazing. And these companies even though today, in other days, they’ve been shitting the bed. And that’s really terribly difficult for an emerging industry. And people we all know and love. The same time those businesses five years ago, there wasn’t even a thing. Right. So it’s the good and the bad. It’s a tough time, it’s going to get tougher before it gets better, I think and your one has been? Yeah, like Tale of Two Cities.

[Moderator] 12:13
Yeah, that’s really interesting. And I love to make a shift a bit to the media side of things. So when a new industry emerges, there’s always a media that’s covering it. And it always takes a bit of time for that media to learn about that industry and understand the nuances and the characters and the details of it. How do you think that’s going so far from just a reporting standpoint? And now we can start with you on that?

Matt Lamers 12:36
Sure. Again, I think it kind of depends on who you’re reporting for and who your audiences. So the stuff I report and how I report is a little bit different from the Financial Post I report. For businesses, it’s kind of business intelligence, I’m always focusing on current and future trends, especially future trends, current and future data and regulations. Because the businesses operate, if you’re operating in legal industry, and always you’re operating within the bounds of those regulations, and you’re not allowed to do anything else. So if you don’t understand that, you’re gonna have a pretty hard time making money legally. But in terms of how that how the business, the business, media landscape, landscape is going, there aren’t there probably aren’t enough reporters do any business to business reporting. There’s I think the mainstream mainstream media in Canada employees. Most of the big media media companies employ one or two cannabis reporters. I think that’s really good. One thing I’m surprised the but it makes sense is that in the US, or the cannabis market is much, much bigger than Canada. The big newspapers and the big wire agencies generally don’t have very much cannabis coverage. But that’s because it’s illegal federally, so it’s hard for them to have a cannabis reporter reporting on something that’s illegal.

Vanmala Subramaniam 13:52
Although the good point, but although I noticed political, so I’m not sure if you know, everyone’s familiar with political here, but big us online publication, the started a cannabis newsletter and the reporter who was covering cannabis in for Bloomberg in Toronto. She was moved by Bloomberg to work out of New York. So I think that media companies in the US are picking up on the fact that a either cannabis might become legal. They’re federally, you know, on the ballot in November 2020. So they kind of gearing up to that. Or there’s just so much going on in terms of business and the movement of money that it justifies covering coverage, right. So, yeah, just want to make that point about the rise

Matt Lamers 14:40
for sure. Although the Boston Globe does a really good cannabis report and APS I think, yeah, a few reporters, so it’s getting there.

Vanmala Subramaniam 14:47
Yeah. But you know, Brett, to answer your question on how the media has been covering cannabis, whether they’ve been doing it well, one of the things to remember about how media covers it thing is, in this day and age when Google and Facebook are eating up 98% of your revenue media companies really need. And I don’t know if I particularly agree with this, but it’s a reality of the business. They have to cater to the audience all the time. So it’s not so much this conventional way of what we think is important. We should cover it’s what do people what are people going to click on? And and so you saw with in the lead up to legalization. So vice started doing pot reporting a long time ago, and they were reporting on the culture of it, and they were deep into it. And it was actually really, really incredible reporting that a lot of mainstream media never did. And but in the lead up to legalization after, you know, we announced that it was going to be legal in the end of 2016. You saw mainstream media starting to get into it. And there was a lot of interest in it. A lot of clicks on cannabis stories, they were always the best performing stories on sites. It kind of The Globe and Mail hired five new cannabis reporters, they started report on business as subscription only. And you know, NFP, we hired a cannabis reporter before me. And we have the growth up, which is our cannabis sponsored, kind of newsletter thing. site. So what you saw, though, after legalization, and a year after that, I guess now, there is less interest in cannabis. That’s just I mean, cannabis wasn’t an election issue. I was covering the election for 40 days. And people from the industry were like, you need to do a story about cannabis and the elections. And I was like, I’m not going to do a story on that. Because it’s not that it’s it’s just not going to you know, it’s not that interesting. Maybe it’s interesting to me and us in the room. But generally, it’s just not something people are going to care about. And it won’t justify coverage. Right. So I think, though that that’s what’s interesting about the media landscape and how recovering cannabis. Yeah.

[Moderator] 17:09
And Jay, you clearly saw an opportunity here. So you saw a void, that there wasn’t enough coverage, and then you start a business of cannabis to provide more in depth specific coverage to the industry. What are your thoughts on the landscape today?

Jay Rosenthal 17:19
Yeah, I mean, certainly the biggest player who write about it all the time is is Matt, certainly on the Canadian landscape, but also MJ biz, and the National Post in the growth of the fence, post all those things, cover it well, and And Matt, this is all he writes about, right. But for from our perspective, what was making the industry certainly in Canada than the rest of the world really unique, where the it wasn’t necessarily newsworthy, it was just insight into the industry. And that’s what we were compelled by we thought the industry would be compelled to think about itself and talk about itself like that. And then if we could, in some way, take the interesting things that we saw, which were generally not even consumer facing, but really sometimes technic technology from sort of inside of grows to like consumer facing technology or patient facing technology that was compelling to us, but would never necessarily rise to the level that Matt would cover. Because it’s just not newsworthy, per se. But it’s a real deep insight into what’s happening. That was fascinating to us. We thought the people in the industry would be interested. And that’s what really tried to focus on when we say what’s interesting to our audience, like our audiences only mostly, besides my parents, and my family, the people that are that look at it are people who are like super keen on the industry itself or in the industry. So it’s really an insider’s look at what’s happening. And we need to expand beyond what’s happening in Canada, because a there’s more opportunity outside than inside. And B there’s an opportunity potentially, for Canadian companies to lead that. And that’s the next sort of wave of stories and things we want to talk about, because that’s interesting. But we I would say of the 500 things that we’ve done 500 interviews for sure. Like most of it has very little interest outside the sort of 10,000 people we talked to want to generalize, like, it’s just not that interesting. Except for that core audience. It’s fucking brilliant. Right? And that’s good enough for us.

[Moderator] 19:02
Yeah, makes sense. And to build on that, I remember early on in cannabis. So when we were talking about, you know, 2015 16, there’s a big concern that the media was too cozy with the established players with the licensed producers primarily, and that there wasn’t enough critical journalism happening on them. And I think that kind of began to change after the Organa Graham pesticide scandal is when I kind of first saw the shift. But do you feel like that’s still the case? Or is the is the press maturing in this space, so much so that they’re beginning to do more critical investigative journalism on these companies?

Vanmala Subramaniam 19:36
I mean, yes, I think they’re definitely you know, we’re starting to dig a little bit more with starting to be more skeptical. But I think one of the differences with covering any other industries say telecoms, or whatever energy environment, and cannabis is that because cannabis was such a nascent industry, you, you were relying on information coming from the light Since producers, you didn’t have people outside who would neutral everyone. So when I first started covering it, I really struggled to find a neutral source on anything. Any everyone had an agenda. Everyone was pushing something, it was the money was coming from the, you know, like from from the public markets, the licensed producers, it was all Industry Focus. So I think that was the reason I don’t think it was the media so much not wanting to be critical as, as just struggling to figure out who to go to, for real and, you know, real insight information. And then, you know, there were a lot of people on the outside and short sellers, including included in this, like analysts, who started also looking at that industry critically, and so it kind of, you know, morphed into a more typical industry. And I think that’s, that’s when we started really becoming more critical. But I would say that, that was a was a Yeah, that’s how I would describe the trend.

Matt Lamers 20:59
I think that you and Mark did like a great job this summer on the canntrust report. And unfortunately, I wasn’t here for that, but it looked like a lot of fun. Yeah. You know, normal people work there. So what I do, it’s a, I guess, not necessarily an investigative journalism into the current operations of cannabis companies in Canada, but I try and present an accurate and honest picture of markets, in Canada and around the world. This applies more to international markets outside of North America, because I think in Canada, the markets pretty well, the picture is pretty clear. Health Canada is very transparent in terms of data, easily the most transparent in the whole world. When it comes to cannabis data reporting. I know we can play everyone in the industry complains a lot about Health Canada, but the amount of data and information we get from them is, is unbelievable. They’re very transparent. And no other country in the world provides accurate, reliable, consistent data on a monthly basis. And they have immediate team who will reply to you in between one hour and a couple days. But that’s still not that bad. In other countries like Australia, for example, the reply to you weeks later, and more often than not, you have to file a freedom, freedom of information request just to get basic data. So we have it pretty good here for without Canada. But in terms of so back to the media reporting International, there’s definitely there definitely needs to be more critical reporting on, on, on markets and on on specific companies. Because what we saw play out in Canada in the last couple years is happening around the world, but they don’t have the reporters and the resources that we have. So just for example, like a lot of money is going into Colombia right now. But why? Because there’s no market there. And why is everyone so excited about that market? There’s no sales domestically or internationally. They’re shipping CBD. But companies have spent, I want to say 100,000,200 $300 million on that market alone. And I went on a couple tours of their facilities. And these are great companies that run by very intelligent people. But who are you going to sell it to? Are you going to, you know, ship all your product to Germany? I’m not too sure that’s gonna work. Are you gonna send it send it to Canada? Well, I’m not so sure there’s a huge market here for products imported from Colombia as an example of like, we need critical reporting on on different markets. And that’s good for businesses, and it’s good for consumers. It’s good for investors.

Jay Rosenthal 23:44
Yeah, I mean, there’s plenty of things to investigatively research. It’s a new industry, and very few people understood it. I think reporters were probably ahead of where the rest of the world was. But there’s still lots to do. And I’m not sure we’ll ever get there. I’m also not sure there’s lots of investigative reporting happening. It’s very expensive to do. It rarely gets done. It’s mostly political aircraft. And that’s just not. That’s not the sexiest thing in cannabis. At the same time, there’s been some really egregious shit, which was not discovered by reporters, it was discovered by either Health Canada or whistleblowers, and so, or police, so or short sellers. So like, it’s four ways away from that, and I’m not sure we’re ever going to get there because I’m not sure there’s deep dives into lots of industries that are new oral,

Vanmala Subramaniam 24:31
I would say one of the things we’re really lucky about when covering cannabis is that they’re all publicly traded companies. So it’s not as hard to dig in. I mean, in tech, I was just talking to my colleague about, you know, covering Uber before I went public, how do you do something like that? Right. It’s so hard, because you know, there’s something going on, but you just can’t find the data. So I think I think just from an investigative perspective, the the main kind of cover Which I guess I do on a day to day basis is I just study the balance sheets, and I just try to figure out what’s going on there. That shouldn’t be. Yeah.

Jay Rosenthal 25:09
Can I just say one thing? Yes, everybody needs that that’s super important. either make or save people money or make sure companies don’t fuck up. And from our perspective, that is the head of the industry. That’s the those are the people. But from what we like to talk about, it’s actually the next wave. And I’m not sure that I’ll be publicly traded, certainly not at the consumer brand front. And I think that’s not actually in Matt’s world. But in general, people who want to know about what’s happening in industry, it’s really about publicly traded companies. But what’s happening inside the industry and where the trends are, and whether money that’s not public is going and where these companies are making sort of brand or product bets, or technology, things that are underpinning the whole thing. That to us, like from our perspective, the smaller audience that we cover, or talk to like that is what’s most important that it’s not even data, business intelligence that’s here, it’s just trend and news necessarily, but not news that will be in the Financial Post, but news that will be on business of cannabis, because that’s what we’re looking at. Well, first

[Moderator] 26:13
of all, let the record show I’m an ex Uber employee, and it’s a great company, and we strongly encourage everyone to buy the stock. But you all in some capacity related to a cannabis specific media outlet, whether it be the growth or MJ biz or business of cannabis. And then well, I couldn’t agree more that interest in cannabis at large is slowing down there. You know, it’s it’s a bubble like any other bubble. I remember when crypto was all the rage. I remember when cannabis was all the rage. And I can see very near when psychedelics going to be all the rage. And so what do you think the future of these cannabis specific outlet is? Is it International? Is it consumer? What do you think the future is for these? For these these type of media outlets?

Vanmala Subramaniam 26:57
I think they have a short. I don’t think that they have a long term future. I think that they have some of you know, I think it’ll just go the way of media, some some of them will survive. Some of them will do well, if they are backed by say, you know, it depends on the business structure. Right. So the growth up is, belongs to us. It’s backed by post media, that sponsors. And so if Postmedia decides, you know, you know if it has the backing of a bigger company, that’s fine. I think, though that not not just because it’s my rival the Globe and Mail, but I think the report on Cannabis Business subscription model where you have to pay 500 to $600 to get news. I don’t know how much that will last because a lot of the time, you can get what you’re getting on report on business on FP or on BNN. Bloomberg, and I’m I’m I’m not sure as to what specifically they’re providing that’s, that’s, you know, additional. So I think it’s like any media company, the best, the best will survive, there will be room for one or two business, cannabis specific publications. MG biz has a very solid business model, because they’re doing it all over the world like, right, so yeah, I mean, I’m not I’m not too confident on the long term prospects.

Matt Lamers 28:25
I’m confident on our long term prospects.

Vanmala Subramaniam 28:28
I said MJ

Matt Lamers 28:31
I think we’re an example of a media company that found a new revenue stream that’s going that’s driving growth now and in the future, which I’m grateful for because the the company is doing well, every time. So I don’t know if everyone knows here. So Marijuana Business Daily. We are a media company. We have two branches, basically media, and then events and our events. We do MJ biz in Las Vegas. And that’s growing a lot. So every time a new state comes on online or legalizes medical or recreational cannabis, you’re adding hundreds or 1000s of business businesses and since we’re a business to business media company, that just means growth is is sustainable, it’s going I think we’re pretty safe for a while anyways.

Jay Rosenthal 29:22
So yeah, till we overtake you know, I’m just never gonna happen and that that totally those models work or work as well as they work now and yours probably works better than yours. For the for the time being. I’m like, This is embarrassing confession time. Like I’m I’m like a Gary Vee nerd.

[Moderator] 29:44
That actually is embarrassing.

Jay Rosenthal 29:46
That’s why I said it as far as that but but but there’s truth in that. I’ll say one thing. It didn’t need to come from Gary Vee. It could have just been my original but the idea that like, find your audience and just keep going out that audience it’s like selling a brand To like, you find your 10,000 people, it’s more important to make them happy than find the next 10,000. Right. And MJ business found their massive thing. And it’s, it’s massive, ours is smaller, but we found it, or we think we found it and not that we’re gonna keep pounding it, but you got to innovate and grow within that, but always make sure that that’s your core, which is really difficult to do at a mainstream publication that is, we serve like Financial Post, we serve people interested in money, and finance, and cannabis. Cannabis is one of the it’s gonna say canopy, certainly that too, but cannabis is one of them. And like, there’s a whole bunch of other things too. And so it gets, you know, you know, almost everyday coverage, but it’s not, it’s one time a day. And for us, it’s it’s we need to we you know, we have an insatiable appetite of like cannabis nerds that want to know about all things, cannabis, and that’s our job to fill it, if we can grow it, that’s great. We have events, which is, you know, how these companies make money. And we’re gonna keep going at it.

Vanmala Subramaniam 31:01
Just just an example of how a publication like FP kind of restructures from time to time. So, for instance, in early 2017, when there was the massive real estate boom, and the lead up to the real estate boom, we had a dedicated real estate reporter doing everything and there was tons to cover. But as the market as regulations came in the market, kind of, you know, tapered out it plateaued. We moved the real estate reported to cover something else. So I wouldn’t be surprised if we don’t have a dedicated cannabis reporter anymore in maybe about a year, you know, I could be moved to cover something else, another industry that warrants coverage. So I think that’s a difference between a mainstream publication and something that is just very specifically focused on the industry.

[Moderator] 31:51
Yeah, it makes a lot of sense. And I guess just before we open up the opening up to the floor for questions, we have a lot of people here, I’m sure we want to get media and want to get coverage. And so I’d love to hear and I guess we can start with you, Jay. But I’d love to hear from the perspective of a business to business outlet. What are some tips that you can give to people when pitching media?

Jay Rosenthal 32:14
Call me. No, don’t call me but email me. And I mean, for anybody who’s I mean, we’ve had on a lot of people even in this room or companies related to like ours. Already RS the easiest to get on obviously. But yeah, it’s really difficult. No, but like, but we’re Inchon talking anybody we have lots of time. You know, we don’t have a set format, necessarily. But I mean, I’ve worked on the other side, too. I’ve worked in public affairs and public Relations, and, you know, everything they’ve described, the industry growing, waning interest in some cases, newsworthiness of only the sort of biggest publicly traded companies in the midst of scandal trying to break into that, like, that’s a shitty environment.

[Moderator] 32:57
Yeah, I think that’s, that’s good advice. Matt, do you have anything?

Matt Lamers 33:02
I mean, there’s, there’s a lot there. One thing I would say is, don’t start the relationship now with the journalists and in the reporters, you, you want to tell your story in the future. So in other words, when you have your story that you want to tell, don’t just call someone you don’t know and hope they tell your story, because it’s probably not going to happen. It’s an amazing story. Tell everyone needs to find for your businesses, and you need to find unique stories. Now you probably everyone probably hears that a lot. But it’s the absolute truth because most of the pitches we get are almost identical. Another thing is to is just tell the truth. Don’t exaggerate, because it’s not going to help if you exaggerate or lie in a press release, or to reporter because they’re gonna figure it out before it’s published anyways.

Vanmala Subramaniam 33:51
I totally agree, especially the do not lie thing. So I think that what I struggle with, with PR, with the PR industry and getting pitches is a lot of the time people don’t see what I’ve already written. So I’ve I’ve been covering the industry for a very long time. And I’ve written so many stories, a lot of which I’m still being pitched on. And if I’m pitched on something to follow up, and, you know, there’s a very compelling reason to right on right on that story. On that particular day, I will pay attention but, you know, in the case of FP we are a lot of what we write eventually goes into the newspaper, so we have very limited real estate. So on a on a on a daily basis, I’m not going to be able to cover a lot of smaller, more repetitive stories, I just need something very unique. I need to what I like is when I’m pitched on a person that’s really interesting, and I’ve never heard of this person, he’s he or she has come into the industry and he’s doing something I’ve not seen anyone else do. That is a reason for me to write the story and report on, on on the on the person or the company. But I think what I tend to get is I’ll report on, say canntrust or hexo. Today, I was writing on xo. And then I’ll get a follow up email saying, I see that you wrote on Qantas. And so how about covering what’s been going on with this company without giving me a reason. So the reason why I covered hexo is because they laid off 200 People, I’m not just going to randomly cover a cannabis company for existing as a cannabis company for having this many square feet of, you know, real estate. I’m not I’m just not going to write that story. Right. So I think that’s what to keep in mind. And and it’s what Matt said, it’s very unique ideas that you can picture yourself looking at when you scroll on Apple news. And you see a headline that’s interesting to you. That’s kind of what you have to picture for me, at least when you when you pitch.

Matt Lamers 35:55
Can I just add add to that another thing? Another thing? So kind of along along those lines is no no, the journalist that you’re pitching to know what they write about what their beat is what they wrote about last, or they wrote about two weeks ago, because that’s going to, it should give you a good idea if they will write write your story. Because if they never write about that, then they probably won’t accept that story. So journalists prefer to be a contact in different ways. I mean, I prefer phone because my inbox is just a disaster usually. So I’d like it when people call me. And then if I, I can, then I can also give you a better answer as to why I won’t cover that or why we’ll cover that something I don’t necessarily want to put in an email. So I prefer phone calls now. Does anybody have any questions? From the floor? Yeah.

Unknown Speaker 36:54
So it’s for all of you. My name is Clarissa, and I’m taking a master’s in environmental studies. And my topic is cannabis sustainability. So you mentioned specifically like one of the issues of sustainability of the business, the industry as a whole. So I would ask you all like, could you tell me like what would be like the three main sustainability issues that the industry currently has? That’s it.

Jay Rosenthal 37:27
Yeah, thank you. One. One, an enormous use of electricity to an enormous use of water. And three, the packaging is disaster. There you go. We just killed everybody with cannabis.

[Moderator] 37:44
Ramallah, Matt. Once again, Jane. We’re coming coming out to the panel. Really appreciate it. Guys. This was really good discussion. Please give him a round of applause.