Rosie Mattio on Cannabis Going Mainstream, and Guiding the Industry Through Covid

Plus, the PR leader's personal journey with cannabis and fitness

Rosie Mattio is considered a market maker in the world of cannabis, and her expertise in the space is unparalleled. Rosie leads the No. 1 cannabis PR firm ranked by Greenmarket Report, and is a strategic powerhouse, industry connector and influencer.

We spoke with Rosie for our Higher Calling series, where we chat with leaders in the cannabis space.

Rosie, tell us...

Your current role in the cannabis industry, and where you're based.

I am the founder and CEO of Mattio Communications, a leading strategic communications agency headquartered in New York City.

Your earliest cannabis memory.

My earliest cannabis memory was staying up laughing my face off with my college roommates and best friends after making some strong brownies. I am very happy to have access to properly dosed products now, to say the least, but those were some fun times!

A story about the positive impact cannabis has had on your life.

Fitness is an integral part of my daily routine. It centers my morning and gives me the energy and confidence to take on an incredibly demanding job. About a year ago, in the height of conference season, I pulled my back out, which left me in so much pain that I couldn't work out and made walking the trade-show floors very difficult. Aside from the physical pain, I could not shake my sluggish mood and lethargy that came from missing my workouts. 

While I had been representing cannabis companies for four years, I still hadn't experienced the pain-relief benefits of the product. I had a few Papa & Barkley patches at home and thought, well, everyone raves about these, so maybe I should actually try them. Within a few days, my back started to loosen up and I was able to resume my physical activity. It was incredible to feel firsthand the power of the plant. 

A favorite flower, edible, product, or brand.

This is a very hard one for me to answer, so I'll go by category. 

• Vape products: Select Elite Live
• Edible: Kanha Watermelon
• Topical: Papa & Barkley Releaf Balm
• Flower: Canndescent Connect

One thing you're excited about right now in cannabis branding, partnerships or marketing.

I am loving seeing mainstream brands adopt cannabis as a target market. Just this week I saw Rent the Runway feature Maggie Connors of Besito in their newsletter and Parachute Home partner with CBD brand Prima. Seeing these popular DTC brands welcome cannabis into the fold is extremely gratifying.

A cannabis trade/social justice organization that you support.

We are proud long-time supporters of the Last Prisoner Project, which works on cannabis offense expungement initiatives. We were introduced to the organization in early 2019 by Steve D'Angelo of Harborside, which happens to be our client, and have been fortunate to work with them on many initiatives. In fact, we just rode 120 miles with our friends over at Vangst to raise money and awareness for the organization. I am proud to say we raised over $15,000 for the cause with our ride.

A recent project you're proud of.

I am really proud of the work we did around Covid communications on behalf of all of our clients. I often say I think we have done some of our best work over the last few months. We managed communications for over 40 clients who each had their own unique set of challenges, pivots, initiatives and even some crises. We wrote management scripts, facilitated community outreach, investor communications, organized charity initiatives and everything in between. We did this all remotely, and I am so proud of my team, who all stepped up to plate and made a real impact for the clients we service.

Someone else's project you admired recently.

I think Curaleaf has been doing a really incredible job with their product launches. They have launched multiple brands in multiple states that have varying regulations and demographics. Every launch is thoughtfully executed, from the messaging to the visual assets to the clever swag. They are becoming a true pioneer in cannabis marketing and establishing themselves as a CPG leader. They have also been making major strides on their DEI and social-equity initiatives, so I think they are really the ones to watch. 

Someone you admire in cannabis who's doing great things, and why.

I really admire Emily Paxhia, co-founder of Poseidon Asset Management. She and her brother Morgan started the fund almost eight years ago, when there were so few funds investing in cannabis. She is a brilliant trailblazer and one of the very few female venture capitalists in the space. Emily is truly an active investor in every sense of the word, but she also conducts herself with such humility and is a good human being all around. 

A movie, TV show, music or food you most enjoy pairing with cannabis.

This takes me back to college again, but there is nothing funnier than taking an edible and watching Wet Hot American Summer or The Big Lebowski. For me, cannabis is all about those belly laughs with good friends.

What you'd be doing if you weren't in the cannabis industry.

I would be working in the fitness industry. Lifting weights and being active has changed my life for the better in so many ways, and I would want to share my experience with others and help them feel their absolute best.

Higher Calling is a weekly Muse series where we chat with folks in the cannabis industry about their personal history and taste in cannabis and the future of cannabis marketing. For more about Higher Calling, and our Clio Cannabis program, please contact Michael Kauffman.

Tim Nudd
Tim Nudd was editor in chief of the Clio Awards and editor of Muse by Clio from 2018 to 2023.

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