What The Cryptocurrency Craze Can Learn From Other Disruptive Industries

Blockchain, Bitcoin, ICOs, oh my! It’s the hottest thing in the fintech world! Mark Cuban is investing in it. Sequoia Capital is in the game. Jamie Dimon feels threatened by it.

And with that attention must come an elevated approach to communications, because the crypto world is under the microscope and it could learn from other industries and companies that have come under scrutiny.

Think about the coding bootcamp space, which is for-profit education. For it to become more mainstream, people needed to be educated on technology, coding and the value a coding degree has. Your typical four-year college probably wasn’t too thrilled with the competition. The education trades were more than eager to learn about the demand for coders and the skills these schools were teaching. While there have been a few attempts at coalitions, bootcamps like Flatiron School (a Ditto client), crafted the first jobs report to create some kind of industry standard. So, education, media strategy, accountability.

The fintech world has been going through this as well. When apps like Robinhood popped up, the financial community – and their powerful lobbyists in D.C. – were up in arms. The fintech industry needed to educate policy makers and future customers that a robo-advisor could make better investment decisions than a human. This fight took place in Middle America and in Washington D.C., where the Department of Labor passed fiduciary standard, meaning a financial advisor had to act in the best interest of the client. How could a robot do that? From Financial Advisor Magazine to WealthManagement.com, reporters were very open to hearing a robo-advisors pitch. In the mainstream media, wealth and personal finance reporters were assigned to cover robos. And of course, a handful of fintech associations have popped up to protect the industry. So, education, media strategy and coalitions.

With that being said, here are “3 things cryptocurrency companies should do:”

1.    Education has to be the first step. First, consumers (i.e. investors) in major cities and – dare I say - Middle America need to know more about cryptocurrency. While these aren’t your current customers, if resources like Bitcoin get more popular, they will be. Second, most the media still don’t understand blockchain and ICOs. I watched a recent CNBC segment when Bitcoin hit $4000 and one commentator said he was worried about the technology. Another said he wasn’t worried at all by the technology. The media – who “buy ink by the barrel” – need to better understand the ins and outs of cryptocurrency. Third, policymakers in Washington D.C. must be educated on the pros and cons of cryptocurrency. These are people that can make or break this industry – even if you think government can’t stop a digital currency. The industry’s ability to work with Members and educate them on what it is and how it works will make things much easier on crypto companies.

2.    Trade media is your friend. Bitcoin trade publications want to help get your message out. It doesn’t mean they will always write positive stories – you still have to present them with something credible and interesting – but they are very willing to “play ball.” Tech trades are a little more difficult but when hot trends pop-up, every reporter wants to write a new story with a different angle. This is what people are reading about and therefore, it’s what the trades have to write about.

3.    There’s power in numbers. One on side, the crypto community needs to come together to form an association that establishes educational content and best practices. Do not let the bad players in the crypto and ICO world define the entire industry. Second, they need to build a coalition community. Economists, financial advisors and investors – to name a few – need to be brought together and utilized as crypto-evangelists.

There’s an opportunity for cryptocurrency to have a permanent place in our investment and transaction lives, but the community has to be strategic in the approach.

3 Steps to Take to Generate Media Interest For a Complex Product, Concept or Company

It’s difficult to imagine a time when the Internet was still very much a mystery to the general public - or even when the general public was not keen to “be online” (in the video above Katie Couric mentions “a lack of desire to be a part of the Internet” - can you imagine that today?)  Now that we are in the era of machine learning, AI and alternate reality, we at Ditto are always prepared to both break down and explain the latest breakthroughs in technology.

Here are three steps to make your complex product palatable to the media:

Let’s use cryptocurrency as an example. Cryptocurrency is defined as “a digital currency or decentralized system of exchange that uses advanced cryptography for security.” Now, what exactly does this mean?

STEP ONE: Simplify the Definition or Overall Concept

We can all agree that the above definition of cryptocurrency would not make sense to a large majority of individuals. To overcome this lack of understanding, PR professionals need to simplify the definition in order for it to resonate with the general public and, therefore, the media.

Here is an example: “A cryptocurrency is a digital medium that people can use to securely send or receive funds online without needing a bank.”

STEP TWO: Highlight Differences Between the Old and the New

To further increase overall comprehension of something as new as cryptocurrency, it makes sense to highlight differences between cryptocurrency and currency (money) as the general public knows it. 

Crypto Chart

STEP THREE: Find a Tie-In

Now that we have a simplified definition and have identified key differences between currency and cryptocurrency, it is important to demonstrate how it will impact everyday life. One applicable tie-in for cryptocurrency would be that most economic experts cite the U.S. banking system as the primary cause of the 2008 worldwide financial crisis; therefore, individuals may be motivated to switch to - or learn more about - a currency that has a decentralized network, effectively removing bank and government involvement. Another relevant tie-in would include the decreasing use of physical currency and the increasing use of digital peer-to-peer payment applications (such as Venmo, Splitwise, etc.) - and how cryptocurrency is the next logical step as the world becomes more digital.

What’s Next?

With these three steps complete, we are able to speak upon - and pitch - storylines on new, complicated technologies or even storylines for products or individuals that intersect with this technology. Plus - this exercise increased your own understanding of cryptocurrency, right?