Proven Media’s Kim Prince elevates marijuana’s reputation
By Sarah Donahue
Kim Prince always believed marijuana didn’t deserve the bad reputation it held in society. She saw the potential of working in an industry that was in its infancy.
Prince combined her love for business with her love for the healing properties of the widely misunderstood plant, directing the focus of her public relations company, Proven Media, into the world of marijuana in 2014.
Now that Proposition 207 passed in Arizona, legalizing the recreational use and possession of marijuana, the phones at Proven Media have been “extremely busy,” as so many were waiting for this day to come, she says.
“I knew all along that cannabis wasn’t harmful,” says Prince, the firm’s chief executive officer and founder. “I have a passion for business and a passion for the plant. Cannabis allowed me to take my love of this plant that I knew was medicinal in nature and combine that with business.”
The Proven Media is the agency of record for the Marijuana Industry Trade Association of Arizona. The public relations firm works with clients all over the country and world and is one of the top marketing firms for dispensaries, doctors as well as cannabis products.
Proven Media works with large companies, tech companies, privately held companies, publicly traded cannabis companies as well as investor relations in cannabis, she says.
Originally from Minnesota, Prince started her business in 2008 in Carefree, where she has resided since 1997. Before Proven Media pivoted its focus to the marijuana industry, Prince worked with and represented a number of Carefree and Cave Creek small businesses to help them grow, she says.
“(Proven Media) was started really to serve the community,” she says.
The media firm also worked directly for the town of Carefree as well as Cave Creek promoting various events, she says. Prince was a former Cave Creek Chamber of Commerce Entrepreneur of the Year, according to the firm. Prince also served many of Cave Creek’s nonprofits and was able to watch them grow, she adds.
“My heart is still in the community even though we work all across the globe,” Prince says.
While working with small businesses in the North Valley, Prince says she kept seeing advertisements directing her toward a medical marijuana conference in Las Vegas in 2014.
Prince decided to follow the signs, leading her to the marijuana industry, she says.
“The most beautiful thing happened,” she says. “I ended up meeting some amazing businesspeople, and I walked away with my first clients from the conference and I never looked back.”
Prince still works with one of those clients today, she adds.
“It opened my whole world,” she says. “I was following my passion for business. I love business, I love marketing communications and I also love the plant.”
Prince was able to combine all those aspects with a degree of professionalism she saw as a need in the business side of the marijuana industry, she says.
“We really bring this professionalism to the table that’s expected in traditional business and we bring that to the cannabis industry, and it’s been very successful,” she says. This is the reason Proven Media’s phones ring incessantly now that Proposition 207 passed, she says.
Proven Media represents some of the biggest name brands in Canada and Arizona, she says. She added that the firm also worked with “high-profile individuals” like the former president of Mexico, Vincente Fox, and his CannaMexico Trade Show, also working with former NFL players such as Ricky Williams, Kyle Turley and Marvin Washington.
“I knew that the traditional labels that applied to people who use cannabis didn’t really apply,” she says. “There are so many successful people that use cannabis. I knew that the stigmas weren’t accurate.”
With Proven Media, Prince has worked with the “creme de la creme of the industry,” she says, explaining how it’s been a “huge honor” to help Ivy League graduates from universities like Harvard, Cornell and Princeton with communications in a way that makes them proud.
“I just feel really grateful to work in this industry,” she says. “We’re getting our clients on the covers of national magazines.”
“The story needs to be told about cannabis. We have a knack for knowing how to tell it and present it in a professional manner and how to package that story up so that the mainstream media and cannabis media can really understand the plant and the business and the people behind it. Marijuana has gone mainstream. We are going to dominate.”
Prince and her team of eight public relations professionals have also worked with clients and companies across the country in places like San Diego, Denver, Fort Lauderdale, Pittsburgh, Minnesota as well as Los Angeles, she says.
“I have to pinch myself every day,” she says, adding how “lucky” she is to work in a “wonderful, emerging industry.”
Over the years, Prince has been invited to speak at panels across the country with some of the highest-profile women in cannabis, she says.
Prince serves on the board of the Arizona Cannabis Chamber of Commerce. She was co-founder and co-chair of what used to be the Phoenix chapter of a national organization called Women Grow. Prince and two other women had co-founded this group to “bring forth professionalism in the industry,” she says.
Since then, Women Grow has discontinued its market leader program and no longer has chapters as part of its organization. However, Proven Media states that what was once Women Grow Phoenix was Arizona’s first business group for cannabis entrepreneurs.
While women are making great headway in the “male-dominated” marijuana industry, holding positions on boards of directors as well as executive positions, “there’s still a long way to go,” she says.
The reason Prince started studying cannabis is because her brother had a drug problem, she says. Prince also notices that many other people around her were abusing alcohol and prescription drugs or taking antidepressants and other powerful substances to try to ease their suffering.
“Alcohol is very addictive. Cigarettes are extremely addictive. Prescription drugs, many of them are extremely addictive — you need a doctor’s help to get off of them.”
What she found with her research was that “cannabis wasn’t addictive,” she says, adding that it’s a healing remedy.
With Proven Media, Prince has been able to help companies overcome the negative stigma and help people, she says.
“Slowly over the years, the stigma and the veil has been lifted,” she says. “I don’t ever want to take it for granted. I’m so honored to be able to do this work.”
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