Written by Emma Lawton • Published 07th June 2018 • 6 minute read

A holistic strategy is essential to getting your blockchain company noticed.

Global investment into blockchain or bitcoin-focused start-ups in 2017 amounted to just over one billion US dollars – a record year for the emerging industry. According to the latest predictions, the amount of money that will be raised by blockchain companies in 2018 is set to be even higher.

It’s unsurprising then that a new industry growing so quickly is saturated by start-ups all vying for the media spotlight.

A comprehensive communications strategy is essential to navigating the challenging and ever-changing media landscape. So, how can you ensure your blockchain company gets noticed above the rest in the media?

Blockchain in the press

Before we delve into strategy, it’s important to understand the lay of the land when it comes to blockchain coverage in the media.

Firstly, and most importantly, there is still a huge educational process that needs to take place. The majority of mainstream journalists and audiences still don’t get blockchain or cryptocurrencies. They need simple explanations and to see in the first line of an article why this tech will be relevant to their daily lives or industry.

Don’t get us wrong, there are a growing number of journalists who do understand and are really interested in blockchain. But they write in-depth features for the likes of Coindesk, CoinTelegraph and Forbes – not BBC or The Guardian. It may sound obvious, but the national media only cover stories that are of national importance, and unfortunately not all new start-ups meet these criteria. Harsh, but a necessary truth to acknowledge.

What’s paramount across both media camps – those who do get blockchain and those who don’t – is credibility. Now, this doesn’t mean just having a fancy website and whitepaper. This goes from the founders of the business all the way to the product offering or service. Everyone and everything associated with the brand must portray a credible, united front. Journalists are sceptical by nature, we don’t want to give them anything potentially damaging to run with and damage your brand before it’s even had chance to get off the ground.

Brand positioning

What we at PHA love about blockchain is that it is genuinely sector agnostic, disruptive, and one day soon will be universal. This means the majority of blockchain start-ups tend to straddle two sectors – blockchain technology and the industry they are trying to disrupt such as recruitment, charity, enterprise, property, sport or finance to name a few.

To have the most media impact, it’s important to position your brand as more than just another blockchain start-up. A clearly defined message for the vertical you operate in, and the key stakeholders you’re trying to target, is essential, as they need to understand your value proposition without being confused by technical blockchain jargon. Before even picking up the phone to a journalist, you need to have a clear view of what value your blockchain business will bring to that sector.

Expert spokespeople

With blockchain only now really beginning to step out of cryptocurrency’s shadow in the mainstream media, publications are desperately looking for commentary from people who genuinely have experience with the technology. This presents an incredible opportunity for founders of blockchain start-ups to become the go-to expert for TV interviews, extended thought leadership articles, keynote or panel speaking slots at events, and national commentary on the technology.

It’s essential for founders and key spokespeople to make their names known, both in the blockchain technology press and the trade media of the sector the business operates in. Sharing knowledge and adding genuine value to the wider conversations, as well as highlighting the benefits of the company service or offering, increases credibility and trust in the business. This is essential, as only producing articles about why your business is the best will cause journalist fatigue, a fall in media coverage, and will create the impression that you’re not interested in supporting the wider industry.

ICO/ TGE investment

Five or so years ago, announcing you were doing an ICO would have been a genuine news story. However, in 2017 there were 435 successful ICOs, raising an average of $12.7 million according to Business Insider UK. Doing an ICO or TGE these days is no longer a novelty, as almost every single blockchain start-up is doing one.

To stand the best chance of your ICO or TGE being covered by blockchain and mainstream journalists, you must be able to explain why yours is unique compared to every single other one out there that week. The story must stand out from the crowd and having a clear plan of what the tokens raised will go towards significantly helps in this regard.

While the ICO or TGE is live, ensuring your company name is kept in the right media outlets is incredibly important for ensuring a steady stream of investors. Thought leadership articles, media interviews and reactive commentary on any breaking news stories that are relevant to your business will help to further establish your credibility as a business worth investing in. Closely managed social media channels are also essential before, during and after the ICO/ TGE – again, they bring much needed credibility to a process many journalists still do not fully understand.

Social media

Possibly the biggest differentiator between a successful PR strategy for any other business and that of a blockchain start-up is the approach to social media. While Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are the three go-to channels, with Instagram added for more consumer-focused brands, Telegram and Slack are the most important platforms for targeting the blockchain community.

As with any form of social media though, the key to success is moderation. With Telegram, a welcome message highlighting the key information pinned to the top of the group is best for giving clarity to new members. On Slack, this can be achieved with a welcome chatbot that directs new members to the channels that might be relevant to them for more information.

The key with Telegram and Slack is that they give potential new customers, investors and users the chance to engage directly with the founders and developers of the business and ask detailed, technical questions that would be too heavy to include in a website Q&A. It’s for this reason that the best Telegram and Slack accounts are internally managed by the founders or senior developers. We offer council on all social media platforms, including full community management for the traditional four channels, and are happy to be on hand to provide advice on any particularly difficult questions that get thrown your way on Slack or Telegram.

A note on Reddit – authenticity is vital. Redditers are infamous for calling out brands who have tried to blatantly advertise on the platform and have even been known to trace IP addresses back to agencies calling PRs out for posting on behalf of clients. If you are going to use Reddit, be transparent about who you are, what role you have in the team, and don’t just talk about your offering – add to the wider conversation or you will be ousted from the community.

To conclude

Competition for the media spotlight has never been fiercer for blockchain start-ups. There are a number of rules that apply to the blockchain industry that simply aren’t a factor for other start-ups; ignoring Telegram or Slack for example would be to your peril. However, the opportunity for founders to take their companies mainstream and become the go-to expert for their sector should not be downplayed. With a clear, concise and holistic comms strategy, your blockchain start-up can grab the media spotlight.

Join us at London Tech Week to find out more about how to create a holistic PR strategy for your blockchain start-up. Sign up to our event here.