Today I was exploring the Internet for my daily dose of news and I came across a very interesting article that involves politics, morality and from my perspective–public relations. The article is called, “Colorado’s pro-pot initiative could threaten medical marijuana paradise.” This title caught my eye, not only because the content is very controversial, but because controversy is a great slate for a PR practitioner.
In summary, the article details Amendment 64, an amendment on the ballot of the state of Colorado which if passed, would legalize the buying and selling of marijuana in the state for any use for people over the age of 21. The meat of the article goes on to discuss the effect this amendment could have on the state and government in general, but also the effect it could have on the business of medical marijuana.
However, the content itself is not what I have found most interesting. To me, the interesting part about this would be how PR practitioners would/should/could promote and defend the recreational use of marijuana if it were passed. I like to give myself scenarios when I read articles in the news to imagine how I would handle different situations as a PR professional. With this particular situation, I think transparency, positivity, and professionalism would be invaluable to support a client with a complex need such as this. So, to break it down, if I were part of the public relations/communications department in Colorado responsible for the promotion and crisis communication of legalizing marijuana for all uses, I would:
- Be transparent. By this, I mean to be completely honest. This type of situation would raise a TON of questions/comments/concerns from the public. In my opinion, the best way to handle them would be by being completely open and answering the questions to the best of my ability. People like to be informed, even if they do not support what you’re informing them about.
- Maintain positivity. This seems obvious, but reminding people of the positives is a great way to promote something. We are not hiding the negatives–we are just simply highlighting the positive points of the campaign to try to keep the negative feelings about the issue (especially one as controversial as this), at bay. To do this, we would highlight what the legalization of marijuana could do for the economy in Colorado and what a new perspective has to offer the public.
- Keep it professional. Because this topic can be very controversial, it would be very important to maintain professionalism when dealing with any publics. The smallest comment of personal opinion regarding the matter could throw credibility for the campaign out the window. Being professional no matter what question is thrown your way, would help strengthen the credibility of the campaign, and in this case, the state of Colorado itself.
Most items in the news can have a PR angle to it if you think carefully, even marijuana, as I have proven today. I don’t know about you, but I will definitely be keeping an eye on this issue and if the amendment is passed, I will be anxiously awaiting to see how the public relations team in Colorado handles it.
Vice President of Member Relations