There’s a lot of ground to cover on how to put together a winning strategy for a blockchain PR campaign and how to run it in real time, so let’s skip the customary lengthy intro that states the obvious; you know what blockchain marketing is and you know why you’re here.
We’ll do a quick overview of what makes a blockchain marketing campaign more challenging than a ‘normal’ one, and then we dive right in.
Let’s get to it.
Table of Contents
- How Blockchain PR is Different from ‘Normal’ Digital PR
- The Building Blocks of a Blockchain Marketing Strategy
- Final Words
How Blockchain PR is Different from ‘Normal’ Digital PR
The main difference is that in order to run a successful blockchain PR campaign you need in-depth knowledge of the industry and its underlying technology and really understand how the community is interacting.
Sure, you can say that about any industry, but not about any PR campaign. The same person or firm can run PR campaigns for a cloud storage provider, a conversion optimization tool for web shops, a content discovery app, and a social listening platform (as many PR firms do.) But such a firm won’t take your blockchain PR campaign, because they know that the blockchain universe revolves on a different axis than the online-media-tech-marketing one and different sets of principles need to be applied.
The other difference worth mentioning is the multitude of channels you need to be involved in for your blockchain PR campaign to be effective. The crypto community is a close-knit one, but it is also spread across overlapping channels and platforms. You’ll need to be simultaneously active ‘everywhere’, and speak the right language of each of the channels.
The Building Blocks of a Blockchain Marketing Strategy
- A Great Story.
- Owned Content.
- PR Blitz: Earned Media & Thought Leadership.
- Brand Engagement with the Community.
- Influencer Outreach.
- Reputation & Crisis Management.
- SEO & Content Amplification.
Breaking it down.
A great story is not a great product. A great story is how you communicate your great product. As with any public relations campaign, blockchain or not, you need to generate interest and excitement in your target audience, to engage them.
How do you craft a great story? You leave aside tech specs and features and focus on the need in the market for your product and how it answers this need; the problem and its solution.
Every product, any great product for that matter, delivers value to its users. As the hilarious Silicon Valley show exemplified, “making the world a better place” is not an actual value. A product value needs to be tangible, something potential users can relate to on a personal or professional level.
But your product value isn’t your whole story. It is the underlying storyline, but it needs to be wrapped with the problem and the solution.
Here’s an example of a great side-story PR agency MarketAcross did with Elrond, an infrastructure blockchain protocol, to ‘warm up’ the crowd on the way to their mainnet launch:
Crafting your brand story should be done as the first step. Everything else in your PR strategy will stem from it.
The term ‘owned’ refers to pieces of content / media you have 100% control over their creation and publication. Owned content is created internally by your team and published on your online assets.
Here are a few essential pieces of content you’ll need to create before launching your PR campaign:
- Website – it’s obvious, but needs to be mentioned.
- One-pager – think of it as a distillation of your website. A one-pager is an important sales-enablement tool. You can have it as a PDF attachment or a PDF link, either way, it should deliver your product and company’s most powerful selling points.
- White paper – a ‘technical’ document that presents your product in the context of the problem it solves. A white paper is not a self-promotional piece and as such, it should not ‘sell’ your product. A white paper is written to explore and explain a current problem / need / pain and opinionate the right path to take in order to solve it. Your actual product is of course the solution, but the white paper should highlight the reasoning behind the solution path, not the product itself. Here’s a concise guide on crafting a white paper.
- Press release – even though a press release is published on third-party websites and not on your own assets, you hold full control over its content. A press release needs to be written in a certain, quite strict way (a great guide for writing a great press release). You must follow the guidelines in order for it to be handled by quality press release distribution channel. The leading distribution services are: Berkshire Hathaway’s Business Wire, Chainwire, PR Web, and PR Newswire.
- 3-5 blog posts – published on your website (and can be mirrored on Medium and LinkedIn) these initial blog posts should lay out your ‘claim for fame’ – what is your product, why is it valuable, and how your industry-at-large stands to benefit from it. The blog posts need to provide your target audience a better understanding of what you’re all about.
- Video – not a must, but highly recommended and effective. A 90-180 seconds video introducing your company and product is a great way to communicate your entire story. Videos get high click rates across all channels, from email to home pages. Videos are highly usable, in addition to your website, you can post on it YouTube and share it on social channels.
Now we get to the actual campaign. With the essential owned content pieces in place – these will act as references to link back to – it’s time to start spreading the news.
Two elements to a powerful and effective PR blitz – earned media, articles penned by publications and thought leadership pieces written by your company’s executive team, referred to as ‘bylines’.
The earned media articles give your company credibility; it has earned the right to be talked about due to its technology. The thought leadership bylines give your executive branch the chance to lay your company case in a more reasoned manner and to position these individuals as, well, thought leaders; individuals with unique knowledge and understanding of the industry that identified a real need and came up with the right solution for it.
Both channels require a different strategy to get the relevant articles published in the best possible online publications. What needs to be understood is this:
With earned media you need to put in motion a ‘classic PR’ move, contacting journalists, editors and webmasters and pitch them a story. With thought leadership pieces you need, in a way, to pitch a person, to convince the publication that they have valuable, relevant and unique information to share, information that will change minds or illuminate a previously unsolved issue.
- Earned Media
An earned media PR blitz for a blockchain company is a balancing act. On the one hand you’ve got the big, general business-and-tech online publications like Forbes, Huffington Post, TNW, Inc.com, Entrepreneur, Yahoo News/Finance, CIO.com and so on. On the other hand you’ve got the blockchain-focused publications, the major ones being The Cointelegraph, Coindesk and Bitcoin.com. Of course there are hundreds more relevant online publications, both in the business-and-tech space and blockchain space.
So how do you decide where to publish? Two main things should guide you here – first, where your potential audience is and second, getting traction and brand awareness. As said, it’s a balancing act; you want to get recognition and eyeballs inside the blockchain community and you also want validation and recognition for your brand from recognizable publications.
Here is another example from MarketAcross for a blockchain PR blitz they did for Simplex, a licensed financial institution that provides an online fraud-free payment processing solution:
- UToday: “Simplex Payment Provider Cancels KYC for Transactions Under $150”
- Blockonomi: “Fiat On-Ramp Simplex Removes KYC Requirements for Crypto Transactions Below $150”
- CoinTelegraph: “Huobi Wallet Now Allows Crypto Credit Card Purchases Through Simplex”
- CoinGape: “Tether Gold (XAUT) Now Available to Buy via Simplex Using Credit Card & Debit Cards, on Celsius Network”
- Investing.com: “Celsius Users Can Now Buy Tether Gold via Debit and Credit Cards”
Mind you, all of the above came out in the same month, among many other hits they got for Simplex. Notice how the titles are ‘optimized’ for each publication, relating to their core topic and their audience’s interests, and how they presented a different angle of the bigger story with each publication. Together, the published pieces tell a big, powerful story of a major move by Simplex that culminated a few months later with this:
You can see this is where the Story is put into use. Simply contacting leading publications with an announcement of yet another crypto launch would have not cut it; publications are looking for attention-grabbing stories, they need to provide their readers with news that matter. And for you, a story that positions your company as an innovative, market-defining one.
- Thought Leadership
Thought leadership articles are important, especially for younger companies, because they give you the chance to introduce your leading team and position them as a ‘voice’ in the blockchain industry. VCs always say they invest in teams rather than in products, and this statement can be carried over to the community at large.
The blockchain industry suffered an image backlash back in the ICO heydays when, lets say it gently, a few companies took advantage of the loose regulations. Since then the blockchain community is extra careful in who to trust and new companies entering the arena have the burden of proof on them.
More than companies, people are far better positioned to elicit trust. So a well-written and well-reasoned article by your company CEO or CTO that allows readers to understand the idea behind your product and hear the people behind it is a powerful marketing and public relations tool.
Thought leadership articles aren’t promotional in nature. Don’t write about your product and submit it, because it will be rejected. Thought leadership articles need to explore a concept, a pain, a problematic implementation of a known process and illustrate how a solution can be achieved. Obviously your product is the solution, but don’t explicitly say so. You need to convince your readers that your proposed solution is sound, and valid and how you reason to achieve it makes sense. If you convince them at that, they’ll trust you.
Here’s an example for a thought leadership piece MarketAcross did with Skrill. Notice that the title presents a general concept:
Another example for how thought leadership piece should address a big issue and give a unique perspective; this one they penned with IOVLabs:
How to get your thought leadership articles published? Every publication has its own submission process, but in general, you’ll either need to submit an outline or the entire article. Most publications will want to see previously published articles and social profiles to ensure that you are indeed a respected and strong voice in your community.
It might sound like a bit of a catch22 – how do I get published if I need ‘previously published’ articles – how do I get started? The secret here is to start with smaller publications and climb your way up.
An essential part of trust building. Engaging with the community is one of the elements that separates blockchain PR campaign from a ‘normal’ digital PR campaign. If I’m looking for a CRM, database query engine, video editing software, task management tool – I won’t be looking to engage with the company. Why not? Because I sign up for a monthly subscription and the second I’m not happy I’m canceling it. With blockchain, things are different. Very different.
Blockchain companies are tasked with gaining the trust of their users in a much more meaningful way, and that’s why direct engagement is so crucial.
The crypto community expects its companies to be readily approachable, to engage and communicate in social platforms, forums, subreddits, Telegram and Discord. They want to be able to ask questions, raise concerns, suggest improvements – they want the company to be more than just a brand, they want to get a feel of the people behind the company.
You’ll need to devote team members to be active in the community, on behalf of the company and on behalf of themselves.
Here are the community-driven platform your company should be involved in during the campaign:
A massive communities hub; more than 130k communities, more than 400M members. Reddit can be a bit intimidating for newcomers, but once you dive into the subreddits /r – the actual communities, huddled around topics – things get more manageable. The challenge here is to understand what are the most relevant subreddits for your company and figuring out the merits and faults of participating in a large subreddit, like r/CryptoCurrency with 1.2m members, or going with one of the numerous smaller subreddits. Also, as with any social platform, Reddit has its own unwritten rules of conduct that you’ll need to learn and abide by.
Fortunately for you, we complied a list of the best crypto subreddits out there.
Here’s an example of a discussion MarketAcross initiated for Binance; notice that there is also a link to an owned piece of content, so the discussion both increase brand awareness and drive relevant traffic:
No need to introduce. Twitter is a major source of engagement and information for crypto and blockchain-related public debates. You should invest in your company page and feed, make it appealing and informative. But more important are your leading team’s profiles, as people are more into engaging with other people than with brands. Think of your company page as an announcement board and the personal profiles as the drivers for engagement and thought leadership positioning.
the messaging and community management app has established itself as the go-to app for all things crypto. The vast majority of blockchain companies manage their communities via Telegram these days. The app’s API allows you to customize your presence there by adding bots and community managers to your channel to allow real two-way communication with your community. The only downside of Telegram is its popularity, which magnets in spammers.
basically the new Telegram. Discord offers the same features and functionalities as Telegram, but with much less ‘noise’, a.k.a spam. There is an unmistakable movement of blockchain companies from Telegram to Discord, where you can enable a more close relationship with your community without devoting too much time to spam management.
the forum of all forums, 4chan is recently gaining momentum as a crypto-hub to reckon with. Even more than Reddit, it’s a rough place to hangout in, but you go where your audience is if you want to get yourself noticed. You’ll need to learn the special lingo of 4chan in order to communicate effectively with the highly engaged crowd, the so-called ‘CryptoHeads’, and brush up on your meme skills.
This part of the campaign should run parallel to the PR blitz. Your owned and earned media pieces will come handy here, directing community members to in-depth content about your product.
As mentioned a few times already, online marketing and PR is shifting in recent years with individuals gaining ground over publications. You know this from any other industry, and the blockchain community is no different. Influencers, thought leaders, trend setters – they got the ear of the community. They are listened to, they are trusted, they are respected. Their opinion matters.
The strategy and process of reaching out to crypto and blockchain influencers is both similar and different than reaching out to publications.
The similarity – you need a great story. You need to excite them about your company and product and convince them that you bring real value to the community and industry.
The difference – influencers have a limited bandwidth of what they can and want to communicate with their followers. While a publication needs to put out dozens of content pieces a day (which means they are always on the lookout for great stuff to write about) an influencer churns out maybe one piece of content a day, be it an article or a video. They are much more selective, simply because they can be.
Since we’ve mentioned video, this would be a good opportunity to highlight that YouTube is a dominant platform for blockchain influencers. Check our YouTube crypto influencers page to get to know the leading crypto voices there. A sizable portion of your influencer outreach should be devoted to YouTube.
Outreach to influencers works on a personal level, obviously. You need to ‘hit it off’ so to speak in order to start a dialogue. Then, you need to make them realize the real value that your company delivers and how your product will be an essential addition to the users’ arsenal.
Remember – influencers ‘live and die’ on the quality of the information they pass to their followers. They’ve built their trust and respect with the community by being knowledgeable and smart about their industry, by having killer instincts and providing actionable insights. So the chances they will ‘plug’ your company without truly believing in its merits are slim.
Online reputation management divides into two: on the one hand, how your company ‘looks’ on SERP (Search Engine Results Pages) and on the other real-time crisis-control.
- Search Results Management
When people search for your company name on Google, what results do they get on the first and second page? That’s the core of reputation management.
For any company, especially one that’s starting its journey, the search results that are returning on its name are one of the most significant factors for how the community perceives it.
Negative or unflattering results can cause serious damage to your reputation and standing in the industry. More than that, it can drive away people from investing in your company.
So if and when these negative mentions of your company appear, it is crucial to do everything in your power to remove them, or at least ‘push them down’ the search results. The way to go about that is to create favorable mentions of your company that will replace the negative ones.
There’s a whole methodology for ORM (Online Reputation Management) and truth be told, this is something you’ll need to get help with, meaning, hire a professional agency to take care of it for you. Time is of essence here; the faster you start working on removing/replacing these negative mentions the better your chances are in succeeding. Because once a search result ‘parks’ in the first page, pushing it down becomes a challenging and prolonged endeavour.
Last thing – if you’re thinking ‘Why would anyone write something negative about my company? We have a great product and we’re honest and transparent about our dealings’ let’s just say that from our experience, there’s a probable chance someone will. That’s the reason there are reputation management companies that provide this service.
- Real-Time Crisis-Control
The other aspect of being on top of your online presence is handling reputation issues in real-time as soon as they arise. The crisis-control aspect is about users’ comments in social networks, forums and community sites like Reddit.
Online discussions are happening all the time, everywhere, and it’s not far-fetched to assume that among the numerous discussions a disgruntled user will air some grievance about your company.
In the ideal scenario, you are monitoring the online chatter about your company and when a negative comment comes up you’ll be there to address it. Politely. No point to attack back, that will only make things worse. You need to accept the critique and try to provide concrete information to counter it. Your response to negative comments from users will be read as closely as the comments themselves, so it’s right there and then that you can diminish the damage.
The worst thing is to not be there, not to know how the actual community is talking about your company. The ancient saying of ‘any publicity is good publicity’ has been debunked over and over again in the age of lightning-speed social interactions. So make sure you are listening and ready to respond. Needless to say, positive comments and praises should be replied to with as much diligence as negative ones.
The days of just writing content and hoping for it to rank because it’s ‘great content’ are long gone. With the incredible influx of content you must assume that great content is being created not just by you. You need an edge, and that edge is SEO (Search Engine Optimization).
Everything you write, be it your website, blog posts, byline articles, should be written with SEO in mind. Do your keyword research prior to deciding what to write about, because if nobody is searching for it, what’s the point of writing about it?
Think about what search terms or keywords you want to ‘connect’ to your company and highlight them in your writing, especially titles and subtitles.
Once you published your well-structured and optimized piece of content there are two things you need to do in order to make the most of it – amplify its exposure in the short-term and improve its ranking in the long term.
- Content Amplification
The idea of content amplification is that once your piece of content has been published you need to launch a mini-blitz to get it as much exposure as possible, which means synchronizing all your social channels and connections to share it, comment about it, link to it, vote it up and so on.
It’s not enough to tweet a link to it, or post about it in your company’s LinkedIn page. You need to share it with your Telegram / Discord community, write about it in the relevant subreddit, create a meme about it for 4chan, tag relevant people, reach out the influencers you are in contact it and let them know about it, ask your company’s employees to do the same with their personal accounts, and any other action you can think of that will get eyeballs to your piece of content.
All this needs to happen simultaneously, and as soon as the piece is published. Content freshness is a strong metric.
If it’s an important piece, like a major announcement or a product release, you can provide selected influencers with preview access to it. Similar to how tech companies send a gadget to leading bloggers and publications prior to its launch, so they’ll be able to publish their reviews immediately after the product is unveiled. Influencers love to being ‘the first’ to announce or review as it strengthens their standing in the community. They’ll appreciate the gesture and increase your chances of getting covered.
- Ranking Improvement
After you squeezed every last drop of short-term exposure, you can now turn to enhancing long-term exposure by improving the content piece’s ranking in search results.
Writing content that is search engines optimized is only half the job. The other half is gaining references and mentions from other websites; what is commonly referred to as ‘link building’ or ‘link acquisition’.
The reason for doing this is that Google looks at links as one of the main attributes of content evaluation, and based on this evaluation determines how high to rank it. Google looks at the quality and quantity of links a piece of content receives and deducts from it its value.
The ‘quality’ of the link is based on the issuing site’s authority and organic traffic. It is safe to say that Google values the quality of the links over their quantity.
All this quasi-technical talk meant to say one thing – it is highly important to secure links to a piece of content for it to rank high. This will allow your content to continue generating clicks and views long after its publication date.
As with reputation management, SEO is best left to professionals as it requires thorough understanding of the Google algorithm and a lot of technical know-how of how to build an effective backlink portfolio.
As mentioned at the beginning of this guide – a lot of moving parts to a blockchain PR campaign. The core is to have a killer product, a great story, mastery of the channels, and conviction. Don’t be intimidated by the community; they can be harsh at times, but their opinionated nature stems from true knowledge. Use their knowledge to create meaningful interactions that focus on transfer of information and transparency. Or in simpler terms, don’t try to bull***t them ‘cause they’ll spot you in a sec.
Special thanks to MarketAcross for contributing insights and examples to be able to draft this article.