Blockchain is one of the fastest-growing industries in the world and the massive inflow of capital has brought increased interest, expectation, and a community that is quick to judge. Enter: Blockchain PR, a specialised add-on that has the potential to make or break a cypto company.
Over $5.6bn was raised by blockchain ICOs in 2017, with the average project raising $12.7m. That trend looks set to continue to rise with over half that amount ($2.86bn) already being raised in 2018 and we are only entering the 3rd week of March.
Along with the money raised, the blockchain world is victim to a fast pace news cycle, and the smallest trip-up from a project team can lead to chaos on the various crypto-focused social channels, like Telegram & Reddit. These wildfires spread quickly onto the exchanges, turning green candles into the dreaded red in a matter of minutes. With this in mind, having a specialist PR agency that knows the landscape can be the difference between a successful project and an unsuccessful one.
We only need to check the news every few days to find the latest hiccup that is fast becoming a trend. Take Waltonchain: only last week in what was supposed to be a 'valentine's day campaign 'quickly led to more broken hearts than smiling faces. The campaign was a public giveaway of 564.96 WTC (approximately $10,500), encouraging their community to send a message to a loved one to be entered into a prize draw.
Unfortunately for Waltonchain, a member of their team was among the winners and tweeted their joy from Waltonchain's Twitter channel. This mistake, which required skilful damage control, made several investors doubt the project's legitimacy, and eventually they withdrew their investments.
The result? Waltonchains marketcap dropped $120m in a matter of hours, with the token price dropping a whopping 20%, all because of a tweet. An experienced PR professional would have implemented due diligence to ensure Waltonchain employees did not enter the contest and carried out a spot-check before announcing the winners, saving Waltonchain the PR disaster that ensued.
Tron (TRX) also fell prey to mishandled communications. Despite having promise, this project has had to backtrack on its words on numerous occasions, speaking volumes for Tron's attention to detail. Tron was accused of allegedly plagiarising parts of its whitepaper from Filecoin and IPFS's own respective whitepapers. Another incident spun what should have been a positive announcement for Tron into a whirlwind of negative press. Tron announced it had agreed to a partnership with the 'Chinese Netflix', Baofeng, when it soon transpired that Baofeng was a video software provider, a far cry from the Netflix counterpart.
Similar partnerships between Baofeng and other blockchain projects like Qtum, were later announced with considerably less acclaim by their respective founders. Though these gained less hype, the founders of those projects successfully garnered a positive reaction from its community through being open and transparent about its partnership. Tron's Justin Sun could have benefitted from some sound PR advice before hastily labelling Baofeng as the 'Chinese Netflix'.
So why is it that so many companies are generating huge amounts of money and not allocating the correct time and money into something that is so fundamental to a projects success? This is a basic question these companies should be asking themselves. With new block chain startups seemingly popping up every day and the space becoming increasingly competitive; it's getting tougher to stand out from the crowd. Creative and engaging PR can be the solution to this.
Launching new ICOs 18 months ago was much more likely to garner attention from major news outlets and publications when having an ICO was big news. Now any blockchain journalist will agree that this alone is not enough for a story. Instead, companies need to show what the story is under the parapet; the human side to the company, the history of success, the industry support, and much more.
Likewise PR agencies need to be as careful as ever with whom they decide to work with, since a successful or dodgy association can be wildly damaging to the agency's brand. Relationships in the media are a key component to effective public relations and pitching a project that turns out to be a scam is never a good look.
Trust and transparency needs to be built between the agency, client and the community from day one through creative communications and genuine interest from both sides about new developments in the industry. Blockchain companies will do best to heed the advice that trust cannot be built in a day; projects need to work on building a solid foundation in their public relations efforts, instead of going for the quick win.
Erhan Korhaliller is the Founder and CEO of specialist Blockchain PR Agency EAK Digital. Follow: @EKorhaliller