Five ICO PR Mistakes

Getting the word out about your Initial Coin Offering (ICO) is vital to its success. On top of a valuable product, cohesive marketing, and a solid team, earned media coverage can make for a huge boost to any company hoping to raise funds via a token sale.

PR isn’t an easy game at the best of times, and ICOs present a distinct challenge. They’re complex, have a narrow timeframe to maximize media impact, and there’s a lot of cynicism surrounding crypto in the media and the public. Still, PR is worth it, if you know what to do. Just as importantly, it’s good to know what not to do.

Here are five things that will torpedo your ICO’s PR efforts fast:

1) Focusing on the ICO.
Media outlets and reporters receive ICO pitches frequently. Hearing about yet another ICO will elicit a “so what?” from reporters. Instead of focusing on the mechanism of the ICO, focus instead on what your ICO will fund. What is the planned outcome? What problem will your project solve? Even better, demo a prototype so your idea goes beyond a concept.

2) Badly timed coverage

A well-planned timeline is always important, but for ICOs, it’s vital. Eighty to 90 percent of tokens are sold on the first day of an ICO, often at incentivized rates. If a media piece drops toward the end of your ICO it will still hold merit, but not as much impact. Press should ideally run within the two weeks leading up to your ICO.

3) Chase only one media segment
As everyone and their cat knows, crypto is big news lately. Reaching out to crypto media should certainly be one of your goals, but mainstream legacy media should not be ignored. Tons of media outlets are writing about crypto, and are an effective way to reach your audience. Often, crypto outlets will follow mainstream pieces, either with original or syndicated versions. An ideal strategy targets both media categories, with appropriate assets and a story that will resound with each.

4) Have a vague ICO roadmap, or no roadmap at all.
There is a lot of cynicism around ICOs and, with many being unable to deliver or outright scams, it’s important to make it clear that you’re legit. A vague roadmap will do the opposite. Make sure you have a clear, well-developed, airtight plan for delivery. You should also be able to speak to your plan, incorporating security measures and considerations for regulatory approval to demonstrate you can, and will, deliver.

5) Be mysterious.

If you don’t explicitly outline the team behind your ICO, a valuable chance to gain credibility will be lost. A big part of selling the media on your ICO is selling the media on you. As outlined above, the cyrpto world is rife with skepticism. It’s important to build trust early by recruiting a solid advisory board and team who have the competencies needed to deliver. From here, form messaging stressing the team, advisors, and the expertise each bring. Build credibility further with fleshed out Linkedin bios, Medium posts, and op-eds to prove you’re a real person with real expertise.

6) And a bonus way to fail – don’t do media outreach at all.

Remember, as the age-old (well, decades-old) adage goes – you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. Earned media is a valuable way of getting out the word about your ICO. When done properly, PR can go a long way towards a successful token sale.

Jackson Wightman, Borjana Slipicevic and Allison Aitken are partners at Proper Propaganda, a PR firm that helps technology companies craft and spread their stories.