Iris Dorbian: What were you doing before you got into cannabis PR?
Rosie Mattio: I’ve had my own PR consulting firm since 2004. I come from specialty food and restaurants. I launched well-known brands. I was approached about the launch of a crowdfunding campaign for a cannabis cookbook. There were no mainstream cannabis PR firm focused on cannabis. I had just moved to Seattle for my husband’s job. It was a six-week campaign. I pitched it to a New York Times editor, who asked for an exclusive. It was 2014. You weren’t seeing that much [in the media] about cannabis. After this project, which was super successful, a light bulb went off in my head: I could bring my mainstream background to this industry. I started networking in Seattle and met the guys with Headset and it had grown from there.
Dorbian: What were some of the challenges you experienced?
Mattio: There were a lot. When I first started, a lot of the publications I was pitching would say we’re not comfortable writing about this. Those were in the early days. Now everybody is covering it. In the beginning, changing the perceptions was difficult but it was a fun experience educating them. We were responsible for bringing the first cannabis story in Oprah magazine and also Vogue. How do you get a product that’s not federally legal nationwide notice?
Dorbian: How have you grown your firm?
Mattio: We’re almost 40 clients from five years ago. We’ve also grown our team to 17 full-time employees. It’s now no longer me. We’ve also grown in our services. We started with straight PR; now we have eight different services, such as investor relations, social media and SEO; we also do some programmatics. We do have some non-cannabis clients as well, but we’re mostly focused on cannabis.
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