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The crypto industry seeks to repair the damage of a dreadful year and return to first principles. Meanwhile, the wider world has been decentralizing, Web3 emerging, resulting in new avenues and opportunities for all PR. The only thing certain is uncertainty — but certainly, some things are already suggesting themselves. So, here are a few trends that crypto public relations professionals should be aware of this year.
1. Increasing quality in journalism and audience targeting
The quality of journalism covering the crypto industry has greatly improved in recent years. Journalists from such outlets as The Financial Times, Bloomberg and Forbes have moved across from traditional finance to cover the space. With this increase in quality, the days of indiscriminate pay-to-play promotion are over. PR must now skillfully build a narrative, emphasizing engagement with, and relevance to, the target audience.
In the wider world of PR, there is likewise an increasing focus on quality over quantity. Instead of a scattergun approach, publicists must increasingly pitch and produce stories that are tailored to their clients’ products and demographics. This includes also crafting output to catch the attention of specific reporters.
Crypto PR needs to keep pace with the upsurge in quality, specifically around communication around technological innovation. Many projects are so focused on driving innovation that they can easily bamboozle the public. PR should bridge the gap, simplify the message and create the educative materials to match. The goal is to deliver the story to mass audiences in ways that can be easily digested, holding back on some of the bleeding edge details.
2. Social consciousness continues to grow in importance
The demonstration of social values has never been more important. According to recent research, the majority of consumers (70%) believe it’s important for brands to take a public stand on social and political issues.
In the crypto space, this means projects will want to put distance between themselves and the negative values associated with industry setbacks of the prior year, such as the collapses of FTX, Terra Luna, Celsius and 3AC. Messaging will focus on increasing transparency and returning to the foundational principles of blockchain itself. The aim is to repair the reputation of the space as a whole and build trust.
It is a time to develop relationships with journalists and help them to navigate the evolving landscape. A key message to communicate is how the industry has learned its lessons — and for individual projects and companies, to clearly explain how differently they operate and deal with client funds compared with the failed projects of the previous year.
3. Decentralization in media
Traditional media, the arena of PR for more than a century, continues to shrivel, with its operations almost entirely migrated online. But the online environment itself is also developing quickly. The integration and amplification of news through social channels are expected to strengthen throughout the year. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter remain dominant, but not as before. TikTok has become a force, although, in the U.S., there are questions over its privacy policies and ties to China, with the potential for a full ban possible.
No single platform is dominant, so the utilization of several is necessary. Twitter and LinkedIn will continue to be efficient ways for subject matter experts to reach the media. Despite recent complaints of toxicity on Twitter, it remains the best way to break news and timely information.
4. Independent journalists, newsletters and Substack
In recent years, there has been a growing break-out of journalists from media outlets into their own independent channels. Most notable is the phenomenon of newsletter publication on platforms such as Substack.
This trend emphasizes for PR professionals the importance of fostering relationships with specific journalists, rather than outlets. In a time of declining revenues for traditional media entities, along with the viability of earning income for independent journalists, this trend looks set to continue.
Podcasting is already a well-established channel of independent publishing. In the U.S., 130.5 million people listen to podcasts on a monthly basis. PR cannot afford to ignore this vertical. While some podcasts have only niche appeal, they deliver a highly engaged audience. Other podcasts can reach millions.
These online newsletters and podcasts can also become another channel of owned media for companies. Owned media has never been more important in the PR world.
Influencer marketing spend is projected to grow 23.4% and 15.9% respectively in 2023 and 2024. With the unpredictable dynamics of the shifting media and social media landscape, investing in individuals and personalities with audiences becomes even more attractive.
Crypto projects often possess their own potential “influencers,” the core team itself. It’s important for PR campaigns to not only tell the story of the project but that of the team itself, especially the founder’s story. This will entail such details as their background, education and vision. It might very well be the most valuable story to be told.
Much more than abstract technological concepts or brand names, people trust people, and people buy from people. Such interesting and inspiring personalities can be deployed via thought leadership pieces, media quotes, podcast and event appearances, and so on. In this way, the brand can be built outwards from a founder and team and from owned media to earned media.
7. Web3 — “The future of the internet” and PR
What we are seeing with the proliferation of decentralization is also all part of the arrival of Web3. The job of PR is to build a relationship with the audience and users, and in the realm of Web3, the informational flow is much more reciprocal.
Proactive publicists in 2023 will be collecting more data and listening to signals from target audiences, rather than simply transmitting messages at them. This means having conversations via social media and community outreach channels.
Quantifying business impact from PR is also becoming easier. In addition to monthly unique visitors, ad impressions and so on, clients increasingly seek to know how their PR efforts are achieving results, tracked over time. Thanks to improving analytics tools, PR impact is becoming easier to quantify.
Bearing in mind the technology-driven nature of changes to the overall PR landscape, crypto PR pros should (and must) ride the edge of innovation in 2023. Communication in every direction.