In April 2018, Savedroid, an award-winning project, had a successful ICO run in Germany, raising over $50 million from more than 35,000 investors. The project aimed at creating AI-based algorithms to help people manage their expenses and investments more efficiently. It is a brilliant idea targeted at Germans who are generally thought to be very careful about finances.
But then, it went ahead and pulled a horrible “scam-but-not-a-scam” PR stunt, by putting up an act of disappearing with the public’s money. While they believed that they were gaining traction, investors were furious. The entire project is now tainted. That’s how desperate the ICO marketing scene is!
Do: Optimise Your Media Outreach
The lesson that we get from the above example is that ICO success depends on credibility. The cynicism around token sales still exists, amongst the media and the public alike. For example, a report on Bloomberg suggests that there is no way to certify the earnings made by ICOs in 2018, and while the latest figure stands at $22 billion as of November 2018, different sources say otherwise.
Initial Coin Offerings are challenging and complex initiatives that involve a range of business processes. Many teams are building compelling projects, so the competition is intense. Sometimes, strong media coverage by reputable sources in a very narrow window of time is all it takes to make a difference. Here are some pointers to keep in mind, if you are planning a PR strategy.
Do: Have a Solid Product Ready
Make sure that you have something to show beyond the idea stage. It would be great if you have a product that is running and subscribed by customers. This would come in handy, when you start reaching out to fintech journalists and publications. The aim is to pitch a product and not an ICO. Remember, top media houses have 50 different ICO pitches at hand every day. Also, a running product reflects upon your capable team. It shows the presence of a core team whose competencies one can trust and also talk about.
Do: Find High Quality Technology and Financial Publications
Figure out the publications that you would want the project to get featured in. Target platforms like The Wall Street Journal, Hackernoon, CNBC, The Next Web, The New York Times, etc. These channels attract avid ICO followers and investors, while also being followed actively by readers interested in learning about crypto projects. An article published on a legacy media channel will offer great coverage for the project. Also, many smaller media publications pick up stories from these major publications, with syndicated content or write-ups of their own.
Do: Research the Journalists
Search the web for fintech journalists who have written in the past about various projects. Be proactive and answer all questions in your pitch; regarding your blockchain solution, the team members, funding sources, and product and subscriber traction. Use real statistics or numbers to convince them, but also make sure that you use simple terms to explain your project. Most fintech journalists are not really blockchain experts yet.
Don’t: Resort to Unethical Practices to Convince Journalists
Do your best to convince the writers, but make sure to not pursue them to the point that you anger them. Be wary of offering to pay for press coverage as it doesn’t cast your project in a good light. If regulatory bodies get even a hint of such transactions, you could face legal consequences. The US SEC has been conducting a strict crackdown on ICOs lately. It has recently started to ask companies to register as security offerings, even without fraud implications, according to a report on Coindesk.
Do not attempt to manipulate the press.
Don’t: Attract Negative Publicity
We cannot stress enough on the above point. Influencer marketing is a huge rage in the ICO world. Many celebrities and social influencers have endorsed projects in the past, earning success for their teams. But, on the ugly side, innovative influencer programs can go horribly wrong, if the person associated with the project has a bad track record. Also, the US SEC and other regulatory bodies are scrutinizing deals to buy endorsements from social influencers. This is because often, these celebrities are found to be lacking in knowledge about the financial markets and compliance issues. Celebrities need to disclose the nature of their agreement with the companies involved.
Do: Create Unique Stories to Differentiate Yourself
Aim to tell an incredible story. Your project is solving a problem and you need to communicate this to your target audience. Writers, who deal with blockchain reporting, are creating content on a daily basis for their channels. You need to make sure that your content is different from that of the competition.
Do not bank only on hype-building principles. Instead, create authentic and evergreen content that people would like to read, see or listen to. For this, it is important that you go beyond the traditional media channels and target other channels as well. The crypto industry has an extensive list of forums and channels that boast active crypto communities. Try to be a part of offline activities too, such as conferences, blockchain summits, expos, presentations and discussions. Try to engage the press at these events; the major ones are being followed by big names already.
Guest postings published on relevant sites, like LinkedIn, Medium.com and your own blog, help enhance exposure and boost SEO too. Prospective investors will get useful information regarding your project to make an informed decision.
Don’t: Forget to Evaluate the Marketing Campaigns
Calculate the ROI of your ICO marketing activities. Use links with UTM parameters and beautiful anchor texts in your articles. Identify the channels in your marketing mix that are driving the maximum traffic to your ICO website. Make sure that press coverage is planned for at least 2 weeks before the token sale begins. This way, you get to reach more people and also modify strategies that are not fruitful.
Do: Get reliable PR people onboard
Work with experts who have had a good track record in ICO marketing and PR activities. The reality is that ICOs have only been around about 2 years which has seen a number of PR companies claiming expertise in the field. Do check out their credentials and whether they have a track history in marketing and PR prior to the rise in ICOs.