On October 17, 2018, Canada will become the first G7 country to legalise recreational cannabis. We’re in the process of seeing a new multi-billion-dollar industry appear almost overnight, and one that will touch every Canadian.

Obviously, these changes generate a lot of news. As Canada’s most authoritative media company, The Globe and Mail has been closely reporting on cannabis as it transforms from an outlawed drug into a legal product.

While our existing cannabis editorial hub and event series met the needs of a broad readership, we recognised an unmet opportunity in terms of providing deep-dive news to cannabis insiders. These are professionals, from producers to lawyers, who require niche news to help understand an industry that is not just in flux, but is being built from the ground up.

On September 17, we deepened our relationship with this audience through the launch of Report on Business Cannabis Professional, the country’s only daily specialist news service focused solely on the needs of cannabis industry insiders.

The Globe and Mail produces original content for cannabis industry insiders.
The Globe and Mail produces original content for cannabis industry insiders.

A premium subscription product, Report on Business Cannabis Professional is a weekday business-to-business e-mail newsletter with need-to-know news about policy decisions, people moves, corporate finance, and business strategy and operations. It features original reporting from a team of dedicated journalists, as well as breaking news where available.

This is a unique offering and one that provided multiple key learnings throughout the development period, including:

  1. Know your differentiator. Rob Gilroy, editor of Report on Business Cannabis Professional, points out that while there are many cannabis newsletters on the market, they’re mostly aggregators. “We offer original reporting from seasoned journalists who have prior experience investigating the industry and are familiar with the issues and the players,” he said. “They’re not simply sharing stories, they’re breaking news.”
  2. Leverage your strengths. At 174 years old, The Globe and Mail may not be the first brand to pop up when thinking of cannabis. What we do have is a strongly established brand in business news with the country’s largest business news team. While we have a dedicated team for the subscriber product, the reporters can draw on the support of the entire newsroom.
  3. Narrow the target. Editor and newsroom veteran Rob Gilroy admits it’s been a learning curve: “We usually write for a wide readership, but our team is laser focused on what will give a very specific subset of our audience an edge. The readers subscribing to this product need access to information not available anywhere else, or a time advantage for breaking news. That’s our promise.” 
  4. Move fast and be fearless. When The Globe saw the opportunity, we took it — even though this was a completely new product offering for us. Report on Business Cannabis Professional came together in three months, complete with an investment in five editorial hires, a commercial sales team, an editorial calendar, purchase workflow, and a full marketing plan. The goal was to launch the news service before the official legalisation date in October, and we met it.

We’ve had positive feedback on the news service to date. Our first breaking news alert for subscribers came the second day, in addition to the regular newsletter. Cannabis is a new economic sector that is here to stay in Canada, and The Globe and Mail will be there to cover it as it grows and changes.