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 said.
“I knew all along that cannabis wasn’t harmful,” said 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 Scottsdale-based 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 said.
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 said.
“(Proven Media) was started really to serve the community,” she said.
The media firm also worked directly for the towns of Carefree as well as Cave Creek, promoting various events, she said. 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 added.
“My heart is still in the community even though we work all across the globe,” Prince said.
While working with small businesses in the North Valley, Prince said 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 said.
“The most beautiful thing happened,” she said. “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 added.
“It opened my whole world,” she said. “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 said.
“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 said. This is the reason Proven Media’s phones ring incessantly now that Proposition 207 passed, she said.
Proven Media represents some of the biggest name brands in Canada and Arizona, she said. She added that the firm also worked with “high-profile individuals” like the former president of Mexico, Vincente Fox, and his Canna Mexico 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 said. “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 said, 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 said. “We’re getting our clients on the covers of national magazines.”
Arizona is home to one of the largest indoor cultivation centers in the country, Prince said.
“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 said.
“I have to pinch myself every day,” she said, 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 said.
Prince serves on the board of the Arizona Cannabis Chamber of Commerce. Prince and two other women co-founded the Phoenix chapter of a national organization called Women Grow to “cultivate cannabis entrepreneurs in Phoenix,” also to “bring forth professionalism in the industry,” she said.
Women Grow Phoenix is the state’s first business group for entrepreneurs, the firm states.
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 said.
The reason Prince started studying cannabis is because her brother had a drug problem, she said. Prince also noticed that many other people around her were abusing alcohol or 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 said, 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 said.
“Slowly over the years, the stigma and the veil has been lifted,” she said. “I don’t ever want to take it for granted. I’m so honored to be able to do this work.”