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Blockchain as a technology and its subsequent potential was increasingly recognized around 2014. Let’s face facts—the market does not need just another ICO.
To me the hype and excitement around blockchain and ICOs have died down somewhat compared to last year. Regulation has increased with an eye towards scams, phishing thefts, and failed launches—investors, users, and lawmakers are increasingly wary of cryptocurrencies.
The burning question then facing ICOs and increasingly, STOs (Security Token Offerings), are: How do we rise above it?
Brand recognition and awareness are of primary importance for all blockchain and cryptocurrency startups today. Projects are new players in a market—seeking to grow and establish themselves. Hence, they cannot draw on a long business ‘tradition’ or a positive legacy. Add the growing wariness surrounding blockchain and crypto into the mix and credibility building rises to the forefront for any new company operating in the blockchain sector.
Unfortunately, building brand awareness is often a low priority for many startups and new blockchain ventures as they focus on building new technology.
Smart media engagement can be the deciding factor for investors and users when determining which token to invest in, or which company to support.
Finding the right balance between paid and earned media isn’t easy. Earned media brings a hygiene factor to the game: a company can be viewed as more authentic and trustworthy when third-party trusted media write about them. Paid media can be powerful, but it is often expensive (especially for the bootstrapped) and sometimes does damage through ‘inauthenticity’ if it is not handled correctly.
For companies running a token sale, it is essential to engage with media pre, during, and post-ICO. Not only will it improve the trustworthiness of the brand, it can positively impact the token sale. The story is not just about an ICO or the technology but why it is solving a problem. You need to communicate in a practical, problem-focused, way. However, stakeholders and the wider public need to both be aware and agree (or at least acknowledge) that these problems you solve exist in the first place. Without the acceptance that there is an issue, there is ‘no need’ for a solution (and therefore a much harder ‘sell’ to convince them there is a problem they currently don’t perceive)
What is the differentiator?
Being able to separate a provider from its competition is another important aspect a startup needs to articulate. In order to succeed in a particular country, the startup needs to understand the local and regional angles. Media will primarily ask “what is the relevance of the company to me? Why should I write about this company?” Particularly for ICOs, it is key that companies explain their rationale behind offering a cryptocurrency or utility token. Why is it relevant to their business model? Given the dozens of ICOs that were launching or announcing on an almost daily basis worldwide, it is imperative that companies highlight their unique and distinct difference to other token providers.
Timing and planning are key for success
Ideally, companies should prepare a complete communications plan aligned with their business plan, including both media outreach and raising both consumer and investor awareness. In the end, public relations is there to sell the solution. Having a good strategy to educate the audience about the product and its credibility is crucial. It is only by taking a long-term and steady approach, and investing in brand management, that startups will be seen as credible contributors in and to the space.
In the long term, startups need to establish trust as their foundational message in order to build a successful business.
To find out how PRecious Communications can help your Blockchain and Cryptocurrency start-up get the right media attention and feature on the global stage visit Blockchain for Everyone.