By Omar Sacirbey
The list of companies with cannaphobia appears to be getting longer.
A marijuana-related startup said its attempt to make an announcement via PR.com, a major distributor of press releases for businesses, was rejected because it focuses on “drug-related content.”
The startup, Healer.com, provides information about cannabis dosing but does not cultivate, sell or even touch the plant.
The decision stunned Healer.com strategist Pekka Paavonpera, who was looking to make a big splash by officially announcing the company’s launch.
“I was absolutely surprised,” said Paavonpera, who forwarded the rejection email it received from PR.com to Marijuana Business Daily. “There’s no reason for this to happen.”
The move comes at a time when other major media platforms have pulled the plug on or rejected content from cannabis-related companies.
Over the past year – and particularly in the past few months – social media giants Facebook and Instagram shut down the accounts of dozens of marijuana companies, although a few have been restored. Other companies have run into issues with Google and Apple.
In each of these cases, as well as with PR.com, some marijuana businesses have been able to use the services just fine, while others were booted or rejected seemingly without rhyme or reason.
Public relations professionals representing cannabis companies say that press release services are a popular and effective method for reaching target audiences, particularly with the problems the marijuana industry has faced with social media sites.
“They’re tremendously important,” said Ann Dickerson, an independent marketing consultant in Denver whose clients include OpenVape and the Colorado Harvest Company.
Dickerson said she’s never heard of a case where a press release distributor rejected a company because it’s in the marijuana industry.
“It’s good for the PR industry” to have cannabis clients, Dickerson said, adding that she uses a service called Market Wire.
There are only a handful of major press release distributors, so seeing even just one reject cannabis-related content could close an important door for marijuana businesses.
Healer.com’s Paavonpera said he tried to push out a press release announcing the Maine-based startup’s launch. The company offers content provided by Dr. Dustin Sulak, a licensed doctor of osteopathy who is also certified to recommend medical marijuana in Maine.
After Paavonpera tried to send the release, he received a notice saying that his attempt failed and that Healer.com’s account had been shut down.
Paavonpera emailed asking for an explanation.
He received this reply from PR.com: “Our editorial department was unable to approve your account because our guidelines generally do not enable them to approve certain drug-related content. So, unfortunately, they will not be able to approve the release … We’re sorry for any inconvenience.”
A person who answered the phone at PR.com’s headquarters in Melville, New York, declined to tell Marijuana Business Daily whether the company has a specific policy regarding marijuana businesses. The representative, who also declined to give his name or position, said the company assesses each press release individually.
“There are different reasons an account might not be accepted. Each account is different,” he said.
But a search on PR.com reveals that the company actually has featured several releases tied to marijuana-related businesses and events.
Spectrum King LED, a lighting company, had a March 3 release announcing its attendance at this month’s Spannabis conference in Spain, while a Jan. 4 press release from a company in Florida called Cannabliss, touting the efforts of one of its subsidiaries to raise $5 million.
PR Newswire, another major press release distributor, said it does accept content from marijuana companies.
“We accept releases from legally established companies who are in the legal production of marijuana or related industries. These releases tend to be about the business operations of the companies and not about the marketing or sale of their products, which are illegal in most states,” said Dave Haapaoja, senior vice president of global operations at PR Newswire.
Paavonpera didn’t let PR.com’s rejection derail his plans, and instead released the announcement through 24-7 Press Release Newswire.
“It’s a speed bump in the process,” said Paavonpera. He added that the rejection had a silver lining, in that it forced him to follow-up with personal emails or phone calls to people in his media database, thereby strengthening connections with them.
Omar Sacirbey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org