On the latest episode of Agrify’s The Future of Growth podcast, Chief Science Officer David Kessler sat down with Rosie Mattio, founder and CEO of Mattio Communications. Dubbed the “Queen of Cannabis PR” by Forbes Magazine, Mattio shares how her firm grew from a “one woman show” in Seattle into the powerhouse it is today.
An opportunity that “fell into my lap”
Mattio spent a brief portion of her early career at major PR firms before going out on her own. However, it wasn’t until 2013 while living in Seattle that cannabis caught her eye.
“I’d be driving my kids to school and I’d see lines at the dispensary,” she said. “Cannabis was coming back into my life after it had not been for many, many years.”
Around that time, she was approached to work on the launch of a crowdfunding campaign for a cannabis cookbook. She said it was the first time that top-tier outlets like the New York Times “begged” for the exclusive. When the crowdfunding campaign concluded six weeks later, she said “the light bulb went off,” and it was clear that the cannabis industry was where she needed to be.
Early on, Mattio worked from home while juggling her home life—including caring for four young daughters. She said business ramped up when she entered the tech startup scene in Seattle to connect with small cannabis companies. It was at one of those meetings where she met her first client – one who is still with Mattio today. That opened the door to more opportunities up and down the west coast.
“I [slowly] kept picking up clients because there were very few people [doing cannabis PR at the time],” Mattio said.
Expanding beyond PR and the social media question
Mattio ran things by herself until 2018. Now, Mattio Communications has more than 60 clients and offices in three cities. When other PR firms were late to cannabis, Mattio said she had the unique advantage of building many years of media relationships. Mattio said she earned media trust by “only pitching stories that we know are going to be impactful” that are “rooted in truth, data, facts, no hype.”
Since those early days, the firm has also expanded into digital marketing, including social media management, an ever-present headache for the cannabis industry. Many platforms have been reticent to open their tools to cannabis companies due to federal prohibition of the plant.
Since her clients can’t fully tap into the type of immediacy that social media platforms can provide, she works within the confines of each platform’s terms of service. That means posting articles and using hashtags to get the word out since she can’t purchase promotional posts.
“We understand how to play compliantly within the social media space, so with the right content [and] the right hashtags, our clients won’t get flagged or shut down,” she said. “We don’t think it’s funny or say it’s a rite of passage for a cannabis company to lose their Instagram account. It’s heartbreaking.”
Because of the lack of access to paid tools, Mattio said PR can also help fill in the gaps.
“Because we’re hamstrung by some of the social networks, PR has become a pretty big medium,” Mattio said.
Listen to more Agrify podcast episodes
The full episode with Rosie Mattio can be found on your favorite podcast platform, including Spotify, Anchor, Google Podcasts, Breaker, Radio Public and Pocket Casts. You can also check out past episodes on those channels, as well as
- The Cannabis Cultural Shift – Part 1, with Nick Tenannt
- Cannabis and Ancient Societies with Chris Bennett
- The Science of Cannabis, with Dr. Ethan Russo
- Exploring Social Equity and Cannabis, with Devin Alexander
- Cannabis as Produce: Cooking, Healing, and Wellness, with Robyn Griggs Lawrence
- Craft Cannabis, Cultivar Preservation and Eco-Responsibility, with “Medicine Hunter” Chris Kilham
- The Indelible Mark of Cultivars, with Jimi Devine of LA Weekly
- Uniting Chemistry with Cultivation, with Steve Albarran of Confident Cannabis