Todd Nelson aka 'Pot PR Guy' Finds a Niche in the Cannabis Industry

Todd Nelson is honored to be featured by the San Francisco chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) where he serves as Vice President, Professional Development.

By Julie Knight

You could say Todd Nelson is building his own cannabis empire as the “Pot PR Guy.”

After 17 years of award-winning marketing, communications and PR experience, in 2015, Todd decided to re-open a business he ran years ago, TNTpr. Only this time, the business would specialize in cannabis PR.

How did a Webby Award-winning former SVP of a credit union end up as a marijuana pitchman?

Todd, an SF IABC board member, explains, “When I researched industries and niches most ripe with opportunity, the cannabis industry stood head and shoulders above the rest.”

He points out that sales of legal pot grew to $6.6 billion in 2016, according to New Frontier, a research company that analyzes the marijuana industry. That includes $4.7 billion for medical marijuana and $1.9 for recreational. “The industry as a whole is projected to exceed $24 billion by 2025. And the marijuana industry is projected to create more jobs than manufacturing by 2020.”

Todd researched industry trends, subscribed to publications, created profiles on industry networking sites and beat the business development drum to promote TNTpr as a partner to cannabis industry influencers.

It’s working. He’s doing everything from promoting cannabis research in national press for a market research agency in New York City to securing cannabis experts as speakers at the Western Growers Association 92nd annual meeting. “I’m consulting with startups, cooperatives and businesses promoting ancillary products and services,” Todd says.

He also says he had no reservations taking on cannabis PR work. Medical marijuana is legal in 29 states and recreational marijuana is legal in eight states and Washington, D.C. “As an industry advocate, I take pride in the work I’m doing to break stereotypes.”

What’s his pitch? When promoting cannabis, he breaks stereotypes by telling what he calls cannabis “coming out” stories.

For example, he says, a woman in her 60s was emphatic when saying her cannabis lotion is “the only thing that helps my shoulder pain.” An executive in New York told how cannabis tinctures applied directly under the tongue helped her 90-year-old father eat and be aware of family during his last days of life. And the dean of a school at a prominent university tells how he and his wife smoke weed together as an alternative to drinking.

While cannabis PR comprises the bulk of his work, it’s not all he does. He also consults with clients in technology, food and beverage and education. Todd also has experience helping authors, actors, nonprofits and political organizations raise money and garner media attention for key issues, including advocacy for gay rights.

But for now, he’s happy to ride the Pot PR Guy wave of fame. To ensure he’s the only Pot PR Guy, he’s secured potprguy.com and potprguy usernames on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. “I literally own Pot PR Guy. And I’m proud to wear that badge.”

Julie Knight is an award-winning, accredited business communicator and writer. Her clients have included The Walt Disney Company, Starbucks, Cisco Systems, McKesson Corporation and Hewlett-Packard, to name a few. Connect with Julie on LinkedIn or missionpossible.strikingly.com.