Lama Kanj, ICO and Blockchain PR Expert @ Powerful Outreach
30 April 2018
So, you’ve decided to launch an ICO to kickstart your newest project and your hoping to use PR to promote your ICO campaign?
Well – you’re not alone!
Last year, startups raised over $5.6 billion in funding through ICOs – but this doesn’t mean that it’s easy to get your slice of the pie.
In fact, only 48% of ICOs that launched in 2017 were actually successful.
This means that it’s not enough to simply launch an ICO – you also need to work tirelessly to promote and market it to the right audiences in order to hit those funding goals!
While you may think that simply “getting in the press” is your goal with a PR campaign – you need to take a wider perspective and think about what that actually means.
Press mentions, guest posts, feature articles, and sponsored posts are not the goal – they are the tools you use to reach your goals.
Instead you might want to think about questions like:
How can we prove the expertise of our team?
How do we demonstrate the innovation behind our project?
How can we get the attention of potential investors?
With this in mind – then you need to think about what you can offer the press and the stories you need to tell to build a narrative around your campaign that will support the greater goals of your ICO and the project overall.
If you’re going to win over members of the press, then you need to think like a journalist.
That means coming up with a compelling story and pitch for your ICO, differentiating yourself from your competitors, and staying away from overly promotional language.
Common Challenges For Promoting ICOs With PR
There is no doubt that cryptocurrency and blockchain technology are here to stay.
Hundreds of new ICOs continue to flood the market – but that doesn’t mean that you can simply ride the wave of excitement to success.
In fact, with so much competition – you need to work even harder to get noticed. Journalists and editors are constantly getting tips about new ICOs, so there’s a good chance that your email pitch or tweet will go unread.
Of course, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to rise above the ranks and become a well-respected and well-known project.
Challenge #1 – The Existence Of Your ICO Is Not A News Story!
Many clients that we work with often come to us and say – “Hey! We have an ICO and we want to promote it!”
Awesome! We want to help you promote it – but the fact remains that the announcement of your ICO launch is not something new or compelling to journalists.
As we mentioned – there’s hundreds of ICOs out there – so what makes yours special?
Instead, you need to think about why your project is relevant to the world and what makes it important:
- What problems are you solving?
- How will it impact your industry?
- Are there influential people involved in your project?
- Is the project innovative or world-changing?
- How will it impact people’s lives?
Challenge #2 – Monetization of Blockchain and Crypto Media Publications
Another challenge to promoting an ICO is that many blockchain and crypto-related publications have implemented systems to monetize their websites by charging people to post on their websites.
This became particularly apparent to us during when BTC was topping out at 20k at the end of 2017.
With all the craze around crypto, ICOs were being launched in unprecedented numbers and many websites that were once happy to feature a new ICO – started to ask for payment to publish anything that seemed geared towards promoting an ICO.
Sometimes you need to pay the piper to get the impressions that you need to succeed – but the lesson here is —-> Pitches about the launch of a new ICO simply are not good enough!
Challenge #3 – Investor Attention And Project Relevance
Another challenge to getting an ICO successfully funded is that there is usually a split between audiences.
Most token investors are looking to flip tokens and don’t actually care about what a project is really doing beyond its potential to be successful.
People that might actually be interested in the project for the problems that it solves – might not be the type of person who normally invests or purchases tokens.
This creates a split between your audiences.
Yes – you want to attract investor attention in order to get funded.
But you also want to appeal to people who will actually participate or benefit from your project’s service or product offerings in order to prove that your model will work.
This split is also reflected in the types of publications that these distinct audiences read.
People who normally purchase tokens are usually more attracted to blockchain and crypto-related publications like CoinTelegraph and Coindesk.
People who might be interested in your project will probably be reading more industry-related publications.
This means you will probably need to develop specific strategies to appeal to both audiences in order to truly be successful.
So How Do I Overcome These Challenges To Use PR To Promote My ICO?
Basically it all boils down to being able to appeal to a journalist’s or editor’s basic duties – sharing important, timely, and relevant news stories with their audience.
As Simon Cocking, Chief Editor at Irish Tech News and Cryptocoin.News, Business advisor, and #1 ranked ICO advisor on ICObench for last 3 months, states, “Be able to simply communicate why it is awesome, and why it is worth getting involved with.”
Remember that members of the media won’t know anything about your ICO or what makes it special.
That means you will be a journalist’s primary, if not only, source when they’re trying to figure out if your story makes sense for their blog or publication.
If you’re going to use PR to promote your ICO, you need to find a way to present your ICO in a way that feels fresh, innovative, and exciting.
Spend some time reading the kinds of stories your target publications tend to feature and think about what makes these stories compelling. Take these lessons and figure out how to apply them to your own ICO.
With that said – let’s look at some specific strategies that you can apply to promote your ICO.
“Be able to simply communicate why it is awesome, and why it is worth getting involved with.”
Hard Pitches That Get Great Press For Your ICO
If you want to use PR to promote your ICO – then getting a journalist’s attention is about appealing to their instincts as a storyteller.
Getting their attention all comes down to the pitch.
Many people have the impression that a pitch needs to be a complex and extensive email that will somehow “trick” the journalist into writing about you.
However – this is very far from the truth.
The most important element of your pitch is what you are sharing.
You don’t need to do anything fancy – you just need to state the facts and share something that is actually valuable to the journalist.
The world is full of problems and blockchain and cryptocurrency projects have the potential to solve them in new and innovative ways. The challenge is expressing your projects potential and impact in a way that’s compelling and appealing to journalists.
Let’s look at an example of a hard pitch that got our client an interview with a journalist:
Guest Posting As PR For An ICO
In addition to getting 3rd-party validation on your project from press mentions and feature articles written about your project – it’s also important to prove your authority within your industry and prove the expertise of your team.
Guest posting is an excellent way to do this because you can dive deep into important subjects related to your project.
It gives you the opportunity to:
- Demonstrate expert knowledge on important issues related to your project
- Provides validation to your team by getting featured as a writer on publications
- Allows you to educate your audience around the problems that you are solving
- Establishes authority and expertise in your field
- Gets your content and project in front of established and engaged audiences
The important element to successful guest posting as a form of PR to promote your ICO exactly reflects hard pitches to the press – it should never be solely promotional around your ICO campaign.
What matters most is creating content that is actually useful to your readers.
This might be an article that provides actionable advice on a topic that your project touches on or it might be an interesting industry insight that you can provide based on something learned from your project.
Of course, you should be creating awesome content for your own blog, LinkedIn, and Medium accounts – but there is a special boost of validation and visibility that comes from having your work featured on recognized and popular websites.
Here is an example of an awesome guest post that we set up.
The pitch that started the conversation:
And the guest post it produced:
Sponsored Posts For ICO PR – Is It Worth It?
As mentioned above – one of the challenges to promoting an ICO is the monetization of many blockchain and crypto-related websites.
This means that sometimes – the only option for getting featured is to pay the piper for a sponsored post.
We have worked with clients that have spent over $100k just in sponsored post opportunities.
Yes – they successfully funded over $18M in their campaign – but not everyone has that kind of budget.
When considering sponsored posts it is important to consider the actual reach and impact that a paid post will provide.
To be entirely honest – not every website is worth the cost, but you need to weigh the potential against the cost.
Here are a few suggestions that can help you consider the value of a sponsored post.
#1 – Check the Website Analytics First
It’s important to draw back the curtain and get a sneak peek at the true traffic of a website.
This will help you determine if the cost is worth it or not. If the site gets a lot of traffic – then there’s good potential to reach many people with your sponsored post.
An easy and free tool to give some basic insight is SimilarWeb —> Check it out here: https://www.similarweb.com/
#2 – Check Their Social Profiles
Sometimes websites have low traffic numbers – but very well established social groups that are very engaged.
Perhaps your post won’t get much traffic on their website, but if they include social promotion then the reach may be amplified significantly.
It’s not hard to click through to all of their social accounts – so don’t forget to check them out too!
#3 – Ask For Media Kit or Package Breakdowns From The Editor
Many times, editors offer packages that go beyond a simple post.
It may include things like:
- A series of posts
- Social promotion
- Banner or other website ads
- Email marketing blasts
- Podcast or Webinar appearances
Sometimes one post won’t do much – but in tandem with a few other marketing channels the impact can really move the needle for your campaign.
Here’s an example of a media kit from NewsBTC.com:
Banking on PR For Your ICO
Writing a great PR pitch or killer guest post is one thing, but having enough time and resources devoted to PR is another matter entirely.
Despite some common misconceptions, you can’t just snap your fingers and have your ICO land in a major publication.
It takes a lot of work, research, and planning to get your ICO outreach efforts off the ground. Reserving some of your ICO’s budget for PR is the only way to grow your new cryptocurrency venture.
Tony Simonovsky, marketing data scientist, ICO focused growth hacker, blockchain enthusiast, digital nomad, and currently token sale advisor at bnktothefuture.com, recommends creating “a healthy community of at least a few thousand people,” and having a “marketing and PR budget of at least $500,000 USD (if you plan to do a public sale).”
If you’re getting ready to launch a PR campaign for your ICO, make sure you have enough manpower, time, and money to get the job done.
When in doubt, remember these important PR guidelines:
- Avoid overly promotional language
- Focus on your ICO’s benefit to society
- Set yourself apart from your competitors
- Hook them with a story that appeals to a wide audience
It is also important to remember that PR is just one marketing channel for promoting your ICO.
You need to pull as many strategic levers as you can in order to be truly successful.
Never put all your eggs in one basket!
Looking to Promote an ICO or blockchain project? We can help 🙂