A PR Survival Guide for Crypto Winter: How to Secure Top-Tier Media Coverage of Your Mainnet Launch
The crypto market is maturing. For many projects, the building they did in 2018 is resulting in mainnets in 2019. But how newsworthy is mainnet? What do you need in place to get coverage?
Crypto reporters are a jaded bunch
Many of the reporters in this space went through the bull and bear market of 2018. Editors are pickier when it comes to product announcements. And just like in any traditional media outlet, they have to balance interesting news with how much readership it will get.
As a result, the bar for coverage is much higher than it used to be. A reporter recently told me they’re unlikely to write a story about my client unless:
- There’s a lot of hype around them (think Serena Williams investing in Coinbase)
- They scream mainstream adoption (like buying groceries with bitcoin)
- They messed up or laid off employees (so let’s make sure that doesn’t happen)
Not all mainnets are created equal
No one is covering mainnets with any consistency, but it’s still possible to get coverage. I know that because we’ve done it time and again for our clients, from Augur to Origin to Orbs. Mainstream outlets like Forbes and TechCrunch have covered mainnets in the last six months (although they don’t call them mainnets — see below), and so have trade outlets like BREAKERMAG, CoinDesk, Cointelegraph, and VentureBeat. The trades are much more likely to cover mainnets, but the burden of proof is on you to show you’re credible and legitimate.
Yes, you want coverage. But do you *actually* have a mainnet?
Before you hit “send” to every crypto reporter whose email you could find, ask yourself this: Do I actually have a working mainnet that does what I say it does? Don’t put the cart before the horse — marketing shouldn’t happen until you’ve got the proof to back it up. I always tell clients not to let their marketing get ahead of their product. The last thing you need is bad press around a failed or delayed mainnet (I’m looking at you, EOS).
Yes, Trey, I have a real, working mainnet.
Good. Now, ask yourself these very important questions:
- What’s my goal with this announcement? What am I trying to accomplish?
- Do I want investors to invest in my project?
- Do I want mainstream consumers to use my app?
- Am I looking for developers to help build my platform?
- Do I just want press to stroke my ego?
Your objectives and target audiences will determine how you approach your mainnet announcement. For instance, if you’re trying to recruit developers, an article in a mainstream business outlet like Bloomberg isn’t going to help you, because developers don’t read Bloomberg. Instead, you might want to submit a blog post to Hacker Noon, which is read by millions of techies.
I’d also argue you should think beyond traditional media. What about an influencer marketing campaign or doing an AMA on Reddit?
Know your customer (audience)
Type “mainnet” into Google, and you’ll see a few articles — some from a few good publications, but mostly from subpar ones (sorry, cryptopotato.com). Is that what you want for your project? I didn’t think so. If you want coverage that will really move the needle for you, you’ve got to explain why your mainnet matters and why your audience should care. Some of the most important up-front work you can do is to message yourself properly. That means spending time and brain power putting together a well-thought-out brand narrative and messaging platform that’s tailored to each target audience.
Now, let’s go back to the media. Once you’ve determined you have a functioning mainnet, you know your objectives, and you understand your audiences, here are the ingredients you need to successfully generate publicity around your launch:
1. Want mainstream coverage? Don’t call your mainnet a mainnet.
If you want coverage in the big mainstream media outlets, use vocabulary that is understandable to the average reader. Most people don’t know what a mainnet is. Do you want a reporter to care? A potential customer to look twice? Try using the following:
2. Prove you’re legit
Okay. So you’ve got a working mainnet, and you know not to call it a mainnet (sometimes). Now it’s time to establish to a reporter that your project is going to be impactful in the crypto space and is worthy of readers’ attention. Here’s how:
- Leverage the power of big names
Binance’s mainnet launch caused a media flurry because of its household name and established legitimacy (it is, after all, the biggest crypto exchange in the world). But not every project has that name recognition. So, take stock of who works for your project and their employment history. Did your founder previously work for YouTube (like Franck Chastagnol of Ditto client Origin, whose mainnet launch was covered in TechCrunch)? Point that out. Remember: Crypto reporters are looking for credibility or adoption.
- The proof is in the partnerships (or users)
The more people or companies that agree to use your project, the better the chance you have at getting coverage. In March 2019, the Cosmos mainnet was covered in CoinDesk, which pointed out that high-profile crypto companies like Binance are already using its software. That’s a huge vote of confidence in Cosmos. Beyond the crypto space, Cosmos emphasized that their partnerships will include retail investors and investment funds. Ditto client IOST secured coverage in VentureBeat for its mainnet launch in February 2019 by referencing its global network of 150+ partners, including credible names like Huobi, DDEX, iBank Digital Asset, and CoinGecko.
- Numbers don’t lie
Statistics and funding matter. Almost every piece of mainnet coverage over the last six months includes some sort of numerical comparison or funding information. Tron’s mainnet launch, covered in crypto trade AMBCrypto, focuses on beating out Ethereum’s usership with 2.5 million accounts and 8.3 million blocks. The TechCrunch article on Origin’s mainnet launch mentions its $38 million in funding. Forbes coverage of BlockFi’s mainnet highlighted its funding sources and that it raised $58 million in 2018. BREAKERMAG covered Ditto client Orbs’ mainnet launch, citing its previous $118-million raise.
3. Show, don’t tell
In the age of the Internet, you’ve got around seven seconds to grab someone’s attention. Stand out from the crowd and think back to a valuable lesson from your 5th-grade middle-school writing class: show, don’t tell. Demonstrate to reporters, potential investors, and users how your project works through demos and videos. Both Origin and IOST produced video introductions and tutorials to their projects, and it was included in their coverage.
These crucial ingredients aside, it’s important to recognize that PR is a marathon, not a sprint. A lot of crypto projects say to me, “Trey, I can handle the PR for my launch myself. It’ll be super easy — all I gotta do is email reporters!” I just laugh when they do it themselves and then get zero coverage. The biggest mistake you can make is failing to plan and waiting until a week before your launch to start thinking about your communications strategy. You need to start planning your targeted messaging and brand narrative, identifying media targets, drafting press materials, creating visuals, and training your spokespeople months — not days — in advance. It’s just like creating a product. You wouldn’t wait until the week before its launch to build it, would you? The more work you put in up-front, the bigger your payoff in the end. After all, if a mainnet falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it actually make a sound?