A few years ago, Blockchains and cryptocurrencies were virtually unknown to the general public. Apart from a few tech-lovers, hardly anyone used it for transactions or investments. Slowly this has been changing. And as the Blockchain has gotten broader traction in recent years, it has evolved from financial use cases to a number of other domains. Today, for example, there is restaurant chain who awards customers loyalty points in the form of a cryptocurrency and another service uses it to pay out royalties to photographers. As this new technology’s popularity continues to grow, we at Midas have asked ourselves: how will this development impact public relations? What are the opportunities and potential challenges? Read on for a summary of our findings.
What is Blockchain?
Before we get into this topic though, it’s important to clarify what Blockchain is.
According to the dictionary, Blockchain is a digital ledger in which transactions made in Bitcoin or another cryptocurrency are recorded chronologically and publicly.
Every time a new transaction takes place, it is linked to the previous one. This creates a new block in the chain which is saved to the ledger in several places. Interlinking the data in a unique sequence and storing it in multiple locations makes it impossible to tamper with thus creating a secure environment for all parties involved.
Don and Alex Tapscott, authors of Blockchain Revolution (2016) explain it in simple terms: “The Blockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value.”
This quote stresses the important aspect that Blockchain can be used for an endless array of other transactions as well. This is what has already started causing disruption in several industries including the financial and retail sectors. Blockchain experts even go as far as saying this technology has created the backbone of a new type of internet. And we all remember how many changes the advent of the internet brought with it.
How Does the Rise of Blockchain Impact PR?
As Blockchain’s popularity is growing, many new and existing companies decide to benefit from the growing demand for this new technology. Products and services offered by these companies vary greatly and include everything from new cryptocurrencies to encryption systems for transactions and data transmission.
To build a market for these novelties, it is crucial to publicize them in a way that engages an audience which is not very knowledgeable about Blockchain. This is where PR professionals come in. Since the general public still has many questions about it and might even see Blockchain as something slightly shady it’s particularly important for businesses embracing this technology to share information and promote themselves and their offering.
The role of PR agencies here is more challenging than when representing more traditional clients such as retailers, restaurants or educational institutions. To help potential customers understand solutions based on the Blockchain, the technology behind it needs to be explained first. Awareness of its many advantages and benefits must be raised and only then can the business and its products be promoted effectively.
Opportunities for PR Professionals and Their Clients
This steady increase in the number of companies promoting services based on Blockchain has created a whole new market for PR companies. If PR professionals take the time to learn about and understand this new technology, they can open themselves to a new and growing target market with a strong need for good representation. Some agencies have already understood this and are either dedicating themselves entirely to this niche or are adding staff specialized in this area to better serve their new customers.
Apart from being able to gain new contracts, PR agencies who understand the power of the Blockchain can also use its advantages to benefit their existing clients. As it offers strong encryption and verification processes for example, soon will come the time when news stories can be verified via the Blockchain to avoid the occurrence of fake news. Copyright will also be better protected, and information transferred more securely, an important point for companies operating in highly competitive industries.
Finally, measuring the reach of news stories, advertisements and social media postings will soon become more accurate as real (human) internet users will adopt encrypted identities and fake traffic (e.g. from bots) will become easily identifiable. This will make it easier to determine the success of a campaign, measure its ROI and decide future steps.
Risks of the Blockchain Development
With the Blockchain’s many advantages also come some risks and challenges. One of them is simply to realize the power of this new technology. For a long time, many other new developments (e.g. the internet, online content marketing, social media…) were not appreciated for their full potential, be it commercial, financial or in terms of building reputation. So far, the PR industry risks making this mistake with Blockchain. While there are some agencies specializing in this new domain, the industry as a whole has shown little interest so far.
The companies which have decided to represent businesses working with Blockchain face a different challenge. As this topic is so new, many media representatives are not familiar with it yet, especially journalists from mainstream publications. For agencies to represent their clients properly, they need to learn about the media’s level of understanding of this topic and provide sufficient background information to ensure accurate coverage.
If you are looking for a savvy PR partner to guide you through these turbulent times of constant technological innovation, get in touch with us by e-mail or have a look around our website www.midas-pr.com to learn how we can help your company make the most out of our time’s many novelties.
To highlight a very real way the Blockchain can benefit PR professionals and their clients in the near future, we have chosen to highlight the work of Blockchain expert Ian Kane. Having become aware of the challenges in digital advertising, he co-founded Ternio, a company which will use Blockchain technology to ensure advertisers get their money’s worth from digital ads and are not scammed by shady providers in this sector.
Find below an article recently penned by Ian on how his company aims to shake up digital advertising and cut out untrustworthy middlemen.