TOP Talk

Public Relations for Blockchain (Beyond Bitcoin)

Posted July 11, 2018 By Matt McCarthy

Topics: Thought Leadership, Earned Media Relations


Whenever a new technology enters our collective conscience many unrelated businesses try to align themselves with it in an effort to demonstrate they are cutting edge. Sometimes this works...and sometimes it doesn’t.

What’s one of the deciding factors in whether this is successful or not? Public perception. That’s where public relations can play a major role.

Enter, blockchain.

This latest buzzword seems to pop up in every publication with experts touting its potential to revolutionize how we do business. But there’s still a general lack of understanding of this tech, particularly outside of the world of finance.

For PR professionals this presents a challenge, aka an incredible opportunity to help clients define this up and coming technology. Clearly communicating the potential of this space will be crucial as it makes its way into more and more sectors.

Step one: Understanding what in the world blockchain is.

So, what is blockchain?

Blockchain is a digital, decentralized public database that can be shared between users. It can record transactions between two parties efficiently and in a verifiable and permanent way. Its “blocks” are an ever-growing list of records linked and secured using cryptography. Each block contains a cryptographic hash, a time stamp, and transaction data. By design, blockchain prevents modification of its data. Once recorded, the data in any given block cannot be altered retroactively without alteration of all subsequent blocks.

Did you get that? Basically, it means there is an online way to record transactions that is fast, efficient, and difficult to hack.

The first major use of this technology, and what it is best known for, is recording transactions for cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. But the technology has the potential to be used for any number of applications in just about every industry. It’s suitable for recording events, medical records, financial transactions, and other records management activities. That includes identity management, food traceability, voting, and many others.

How can this technology be publicized effectively?

Although blockchain has been described as the most disruptive technology to be introduced in quite some time (preceded by 3D printing, IoT, AI, and more), the way public relations practitioners approach raising awareness for blockchain capabilities shouldn’t be any different (putting the more technical complexities aside) than the way they do for any other technology.

Cryptocurrency Awareness

The cryptocurrency market is hot, with many different currencies competing against each other. Like all markets in a bubble, eventually, the number of cryptocurrencies will dwindle as the market consolidates. Which cryptocurrencies survive and which ones fail will depend on their popularity and usefulness. Public relations firms representing cryptocurrencies can raise public awareness of blockchain’s important role in cryptocurrencies and help build trust and credibility.

Defining the blockchain technology and its role with cryptocurrencies in a way that the less-technically minded can grasp is a great place to start. Take advantage of your thought leadership through owned and earned content opportunities. That could be on your blog, through contributed content, relevant podcasts, industry events, etc. Just don’t miss the chance to share your knowledge. 

Going Beyond Cryptocurrencies

For clients outside of finance looking to publicize blockchain capabilities, public relations practitioners will want to emphasize how adding this capability will enhance how their client’s technology or products can be sold or consumed.

For example, one of the biggest costs impacting healthcare is the cost of supplies due to their highly complex nature. Because of this, healthcare supply chain professionals are constantly searching for the best prices on the goods and products they need to operate effectively. 

A company that works in the healthcare supply chain could utilize blockchain technology to expedite transactions and deliver lower costs to both the suppliers and the healthcare organizations they work with. From a PR perspective, being able to tell that story and demonstrate how blockchain delivers a tangible ROI is integral to positioning those companies as best-in-class.

As industries find more and more ways to utilize this technology, it’s become clear that blockchain as a technology is here to stay. Its potential to improve the way we purchase and consume products and services has every savvy company looking at ways they can use it to enhance the way they do business. When working with blockchain, helping these companies tell their stories and show consumers how this will simplify their lives is the goal all public relations practitioners should strive to achieve.

Matt McCarthy

About Matt McCarthy

What Motivates Me: Finding and telling a good story. Each client has one, you just need to work with them to find it.