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“Collaboration is key.” With Len Giancola & Durée Ross

Be prepared for a potential crisis — For example, there has been a lot of negativity surrounding vaping, with a number of tragic cases highlighted in the press. Product education is critical, plus a good crisis team to help navigate crises swiftly as they arise. I had the pleasure to interview Durée Ross. Durée had […]

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Be prepared for a potential crisis — For example, there has been a lot of negativity surrounding vaping, with a number of tragic cases highlighted in the press. Product education is critical, plus a good crisis team to help navigate crises swiftly as they arise.


I had the pleasure to interview Durée Ross.

Durée had the bold passion to launch her own public relations agency, Durée & Company, at the age of 24 in 1999, and has since been setting the bar for excellence in PR, serving the corporate, agency and nonprofit arenas for local, national and international clients. An award-winning entrepreneur, she has been nationally recognized for her ability to develop winning strategies and successfully deliver creative campaigns for clients.

Durée leads a 10+ member team of PR and marketing professionals in her Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and Aspen, Colorado offices. She fosters diversity and inclusion in every aspect of her business and is the winner of PR News’ 2016 Top Women in PR award, which honors influential women who are driving the agenda for the industry and in their companies.

Durée is always willing to share her journey, perspective and lessons with the next generation of PR pros and entrepreneurs. With each new experience, Durée is able to capture valuable takeaways and impart wisdom to her team and others on how to shift with the new demands of PR, marketing, social media, and crisis communications.

Durée is also a pioneer in her adaption of emerging industries, including CBD. Her work in the space has resulted in a growing list of clients, from processing facilities to consumer products sold in big-box retailers. Through a watchful eye on local and federal legislation, a strong pulse on key expos and leadership conferences and proven relationships with influencers and thought leaders, Durée understands how to navigate the rapidly-growing cannabis industry to achieve client goals. She is a Marijuana Moments member, corporate partner to CannabisLAB and a board member of The Florida Hemp Council.


Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to the cannabis industry?

When a long-term client became involved in the cannabis industry, he reached out to me and said he needed my strategic PR help in this rapidly growing marketplace. I always like to support my clients and their big ideas, and also couldn’t resist a new challenge, so here we are!

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I have bumped into clients in Aspen (where we have a second office)! It’s crazy how small the world is and you just never know who you may see, or where that will lead to, so it’s important to always be prepared and be ready to be “on” whether hiking, biking or skiing.

I was recently hiking in a remote place where there was no cell service and a woman came up to me to introduce herself because we had spoken before. She identified me because of my logoed baseball cap and we subsequently had several meetings and are in the process of doing business together.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

When I first started my company at the age of 24, I was afraid of showing my true self through my company brand. I thought about using more “corporate colors” so I would be taken seriously. I was concerned that men wouldn’t want to work with me if my colors were too feminine.

Now I believe that being authentic to my true self is a key differentiator. If you attempt to mimic a competitor’s brand, people won’t have a compelling reason to choose you over that other brand. As you may have noticed from our business cards, website and company logo, Durée & Company are all about pink. We have developed an image and voice that is distinctly our own which makes us stand out from the competition, and we continue to evolve so stay tuned!

Do you have a funny story about how someone you knew reacted when they first heard you were getting into the cannabis industry?

“It gets you high, right?” This gets me every time. I enjoy educating people on CBD’s non-psycho-active effects (like CBD’s counterpart tetrahydrocannabinol or THC). The effects are derived from the non-intoxicating compounds found in the hemp plant and are commonly used to promote wellness. Plus, the 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp at the federal level.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful to who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

It takes a village! My family is incredibly supportive and understands that my career often has me working nights and weekends. They are my biggest cheerleaders and who I strive to make proud daily. Additionally, all the people who took a chance on me as a 24-year-old and have continued to refer me business to this day. My team is unwavering in their support of me and, of course, our clients who allow me to do what I truly love.

My husband has been unwavering in his support, especially when we purchased the first Durée & Company office space six years ago and the second space next door four years ago. He dealt with all the paperwork of both office purchases so that I didn’t have to.

Are you working on any new or exciting projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Yes! In addition to our ever-expanding client roster, we are working to support clients as they pursue additional resources, such as affiliate marketing. We are also working with a young and growing brand that is expanding into a franchise business model. Wellness continues to be very important as consumers want a wellness and social responsibility angle to how they live, eat, work and play.

Despite the great progress that has been made we still have a lot more work to do to achieve gender parity in this industry. According to this report in Entrepreneur, less than 25 percent of cannabis businesses are run by women. In your opinion or experience, what 3 things can be done by a) individuals b) companies and/or c) society to support greater gender parity moving forward?

  1. There is a need for working together and collaborating with others in the industry.
  2. I keep a strong pulse on key expos and leadership conferences, maintain proven relationships with influencers and thought leaders to be an established presence in this rapidly expanding community.
  3. As individuals, companies, and society, we need to keep lifting each other up! We must continue to mentor and help the next generation.

You are a “Cannabis Insider”. If you had to advise someone about 5 non-intuitive things one should know to succeed in the cannabis industry, what would you say? Can you please give a story or an example for each?

There cannot be claims made in promoting a product — Per FDA regulation, claims about what a product can do or alleviate are not permitted. Know that the FDA patrols and sends out warning letters to those in violation.

Thousands of products with more coming every day — With new products coming on the market every day, it’s important to know your audience and stay on top of the latest news and trends. Having established branding in place can help position a company as a leader in the industry, and responding to consumer feedback and preferences can ensure your company stays on track in delivering what the market demands.

Be prepared for a potential crisis — For example, there has been a lot of negativity surrounding vaping, with a number of tragic cases highlighted in the press. Product education is critical, plus a good crisis team to help navigate crises swiftly as they arise.

Startup mentality — As the cannabis industry evolves and changes on a daily basis, many young companies are having to adapt to these changes very quickly. The more flexible and adaptive a company, the better it is positioned for success in this industry.

Things move incredibly fast — Legislation can change everything from one day to the next, so staying educated on industry news in crucial. A company that has a solid short term and long-term vision with a strategy to guide them along the way can achieve success, but the company must remain nimble in its actions.

Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the cannabis industry?

  1. There is a need for PR. With the industry’s expansive growth comes a lot of uncertainty. Whether you are fronting a flourishing cannabis brand or a startup, public relations can help you stand out from the competition and help you navigate the everchanging marketplace. It takes a thorough strategy to launch a new product and that’s where we come in.
  2. The opportunity to educate people. We keep our clients up to speed on the most current information. When it comes to consumer education, we position our clients as an educational authority on the right subject matters, like the newest ways to consume cannabis, cannabis innovations in the medical field and the growing popularity of CBD.
  3. The need to stay innovative. I have learned to adapt quickly and stay innovative ultimately delivering the best possible results to our clients. Between social media guidelines, FDA regulations and closely monitoring trending news stories, staying ahead of the curve is imperative. At Durée & Company, we know it’s crucial to stay fresh ultimately creating buzz and driving results.

Can you share 3 things that most concern you about the industry? If you had the ability to implement 3 ways to reform or improve the industry, what would you suggest?

  1. As many studies are currently in progress, information is not readily available to the masses. This will continue to improve over time, but education that is based on facts and studies will help consumers have a better understanding of the industry.
  2. There are many misconceptions about CBD. Many myths are brought on by a lack of understanding of CBD itself and what separates it from other compounds, such as THC.
  3. It’s a crowded space. Recognized nationally as a booming category in the wellness field, CBD products are appealing to a growing number of people, young and old, especially now that the 2018 Farm Bill has been signed into law, which legalizes hemp at the federal level. The CBD industry is expected to quintuple from $8 billion in 2018 to $41 billion by 2025!

What are your thoughts about the federal legalization of cannabis? If you could speak to your Senator, what would be your most persuasive argument regarding why they should or should not pursue federal legalization?

Federal legalization should not be something that happens overnight and requires years of education, research, and best practices. We support any legislation that is backed by data, positive economic impact, and oversight.

Today, cigarettes are legal, but they are heavily regulated, highly taxed, and they are somewhat socially marginalized. Would you like cannabis to have a similar status to cigarettes or different? Can you explain?

Fair regulation is a good thing. Our publicly-traded and private clients want this! FDA regulation of CBD oil would help consumers understand the benefits of CBD and what ingredients are (and should be) in it. The regulation would clarify dosing and would streamline the consumer process with clear labeling, packaging, and guidelines.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

My motto is: “under-promise and over-deliver” and I am passionate about delivering stellar results for our clients each and every day! At Durée & Company, we never accept the status quo or the word “no,” so we work relentlessly to find, or create, that next great opportunity for our clients. We’re always proactive and stick to that motto.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

Collaboration is key. Bringing together knowledge, expertise, and experience with other industry groups is extremely important to me. This helps our company gain access to valuable resources, stay up to date on policies and to remain relevant and innovative within the industry. Durée & Company was recently involved in the 4th Annual Cannabis LAB Conference, Expo & Career Fair and I am a Board Member of The Florida Hemp Council, to name a few.

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