Hollywood to High Times: Entertainment, Media, and Cannabis

by | May 7, 2024 | Podcast | 0 comments

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Join hosts Holli and Robert as they chat with Stu Zakim, a PR expert with a long and illustrious career in the entertainment industry. Stu shares stories from his time working with celebrities and discusses his pivot into the cannabis sector. Stu shares fascinating tales from his early days at Columbia Pictures to pivotal moments like the coining of the term “Brat Pack.” His evolution into the cannabis industry marks yet another significant shift, reflecting both a personal passion and a professional pivot. Stu’s journey is a testament to building relationships and embracing new opportunities. He has shown that you can thrive in any industry and make a lasting impact with the right skills and mindset.

Join us for this captivating discussion with Stu, a PR aficionado, and uncover the intricacies of his storied career, his role in setting trends, and his advocacy in the cannabis world. Gain valuable insights into the power of connections, storytelling, and the transformative effects of education on public perception. With his vast experience in PR, Stu brings a unique perspective to the cannabis industry and is dedicated to making a positive impact. The discussion delves into Stu’s remarkable journey, dissecting his career transitions, the influential decisions made, and his continuous mission to redefine perceptions. Don’t miss this insightful episode of Between Over and Next!

In This Episode

0:00 Tracing Stu Zakim’s PR Journey and Cannabis Advocacy
3:23 Landing a Dream Job in the Movie Business
6:24 Climbing the Entertainment Industry Ladder
9:48 Birth of the Brat Pack and a Generational Label
11:20 Mastering Brand Positioning and Crisis Communications
14:58 From Presidential Dreams to Cannabis PR Emperor
18:35 Evolving PR, Cannabis Stigma, and Career Advice
20:34 The Decline of Local Media and Its Implications
20:51 Defining a Legacy in Film and Cannabis Advocacy
22:17 Dot-Com Ventures and the High Stakes of Early Internet
24:04 Advocacy and Evolution in the Cannabis Industry
26:59 Innovating in the Cannabis Industry Through Education and Advocacy
30:18 Holli and Robert express appreciation for all of the advances Stu’s made in the world of cannabis.

Key Takeaways

  • Stu Zakim’s extensive background encompasses significant roles in PR across entertainment sectors, culminating in his influential presence in the cannabis industry.
  • The concept of brand positioning and crisis communication in PR has played a pivotal role in shaping the trajectory of businesses and public figures throughout Stu’s career.
  • Stu’s role in the ‘Brat Pack’ phenomenon exemplifies his knack for seizing opportunities and creating impactful narratives.
  • Mentorship, attention to industry relationships, and continuous learning are key themes Stu emphasizes for success in PR.
  • Despite his diverse experiences, Stu believes his current chapter in the cannabis industry might be one of his most impactful and fulfilling.

Stu Zakim Quotes

  • “It’s all about relationships, period. And so that skill, which I have a natural ability to generate, certainly is a way to meet new people whom I need to cultivate.
  • “At the end of the day, it’s really about education, because the only way you eliminate the stigmas that people have… is by storytelling and telling the right kind of stories.”
  • “I think there’s so much more to accomplish, whether it’s with cannabis or extends to the psychedelic era, which is also gaining enormous traction right now.”
  • “And that’s how I continue to look at things, who knows what’s going to happen next?”

About Stu Zakim

President and CEO, Bridge Strategic Communications

Stu Zakim is a seasoned public relations (PR) professional with a career spanning over four decades in various entertainment and communication sectors, including film, music, publishing, and most recently, the cannabis industry. Having started his journey at Columbia Pictures right after college, Stu quickly rose through the ranks, translating his passion for media into a thriving career. Engaged in significant pivots throughout his career, Stu has contributed to and influenced iconic projects like ‘St. Elmo’s Fire.’ A proud consumer and advocate for cannabis, Stu has transitioned his expertise to the PR side of the cannabis sector, where he continues to shape opinions and dispel stigma, earning him the title “The Emperor of PR” by Honeysuckle magazine.

He has worked for some of the best-known film, magazine, and television brands. Zakim has provided counsel to a variety of iconic media leaders including Jann Wenner, Bonnie Fuller, Christie Hefner, and David Pecker, and their publications – Rolling Stone, Playboy, Us Weekly, Shape, and Star magazine among others. As an executive at Columbia Pictures, Universal Pictures, and Showtime Networks, he has also worked on the PR campaigns of some of the most popular and successful films and television shows in recent history. Zakim is a frequent contributor to CNN and MSNBC. He is a member of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences. His peers recognized him as one of the Top 100 people in the cable industry and also serves on the Board of Directors of the Publicity Club of New York.

In the Cannabis space since 2013 as both a PR professional and advocate, Zakim’s firm has represented clients in multiple states like The Happy Munkey (NYC), and CryoCure (NV). The Marijuana Business Association (MJBA) )(WA), LIM College (NY), Berkshire Roots (MA), The Travel Agency: A Cannabis Store (NYC) Queen City Dispensary (NJ), Cannabis Platform Advisors (NYC) Flower Power Dispensers (NYC), Mighty Lucky Dispensary (NYC) Heavy Metal Cannabis and writes regularly on Cannabis issues for Rolling Stone and other outlets. Since 2021, his firm helped clients win 6 Clio Awards and the firm was a finalist in Best PR Firm and the Cannabis category from the EMJAY awards and has generated over $15 million in earned media coverage.

Rolling Stone article by Stu Zakim:
What’s In A Name: How Cannabis Brands Can Break Through The Clutter

Mentioned In Episode 17

Canna Pop-Up

Sex & the City and Playboy 
Carrie Bradshaw, aka Sarah Jessica Parker, wearing a Playboy bunny pendant in the massively successful Sex In The City series. The fashion-forward, urban-glamour “look” has whipped America’s style press into a frenzy.

June 10, 1985 Feature: The term Brat Pack was coined by New York magazine writer David Blum in a profile of several up-and-coming actors. That spring, Blum flew from New York City to Los Angeles to interview Emilio Estevez, a son of Martin Sheen and brother of Charlie Sheen. “The Brat Pack” was inspired by the name of a previous group, who had come 20 years beforehand: the Rat Pack. Made up of members including Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis Jr., they frequently performed and starred in movies together. The Brat Pack: Where Are They Now?


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