E.154 – Breaking Stigmas in Cannabis & Authentic Storytelling ft. Debbie McHugh of Grasslands: A Journalism-Minded Agency
On today’s episode of the HomeGrown Series: Made in Colorado we have Debbie McHugh, Chief of Staff with Grasslands: A Journalism-Minded Agency joining us. Grasslands was started by Ricardo Baca in Denver, CO specializing in PR, content marketing, and thought leadership work amongst many other services serving clients from highly-regulated industries like cannabis. Today Grasslands focuses on supporting clients through product launches, acquisitions and IPOs, crisis management and more.
Debbie shared her earliest professional experience as a cannabis consumer entering the workforce in New York City and the stigmas around her consumption. We also talk about the misconceptions she faced as a cannabis professional and the action she took in educating colleagues and older family members on the widespread benefits of the plant.
We talked more about the good work Grasslands is providing across the U.S. and Canada and some of the strategies the Grasslands team puts in place for its clients. We discuss the importance of messaging and authentic story telling for brands that’s equally important for those that have been in the business for many years as well as those just looking to enter this new industry.
Debbie wraps up the show telling us about her favorite part of working at Grasslands, which is their new Diversity-In-Marketing Internship that debuted in 2021. Debbie expresses both her and Ricardo’s passion for offering opportunities to under-represented groups and how the Grasslands internship really helps spark the selected intern’s new career path whether it’s in the cannabis space or not. Debbie also provides some really great advice for those looking to enter the cannabis industry.
We thoroughly enjoyed this episode and loved learning more about Debbie’s story and the exceptional work Grasslands is doing for the cannabis industry both here in Colorado and nationwide! Give it a listen.
Debbie McHugh is a 20-year media publishing veteran and joins Grasslands from Rodale, Inc. (since acquired by Hearst), where she served as Director of People Operations & Strategy across all Rodale brands including Men’s Health, Women’s Health and Runner’s World. Her career overseeing large-scale media operations includes the roles of senior managing editor at Men’s Health and managing editor at Condé Nast Publications, Seventeen and Aspen Magazine.
Debbie additionally helped guide the nationwide launch of Jane magazine, where she also served as managing editor. In addition to her extensive network of national journalists, Debbie also has substantial contacts and experience in the book publishing world, where she was part of the team behind several New York Times bestselling franchises such as, Eat This, Not That!, The Abs Diet, and The Men’s Health and Women’s Health Big Book of Exercises. She has demonstrated exceptional acumen in the media-publicity space throughout her career, spearheading numerous high-profile partnerships and wide-reaching programs.