You may have seen the Distracted Boyfriend meme on social feeds last year. It epitomizes how media has pivoted from blockchain and crypto-currency stories to the new kid in town, artificial intelligence.
Here’s an illustration:
This was the picture painted by reporters from Barron’s, Business Insider, Yahoo! Finance, Modern Consensus and Fortune Magazine at Business Wire’s ‘Meet the FinTech media’ event in New York.
“We are in the hangover period,” Fortune’s Robert Hackett said, after the rapid price swings of bitcoin in the last year. The panel was fatigued yet committed to cover the blockchain for the long haul.
Lawrence Lewitinn, editor of recently launched publication Modern Consensus likened the rise of blockchain companies to the dot-com bubble. This says two things:
- The media still values the potential of blockchain technology
- The space is incredibly crowded, making it difficult for journalists to identify which companies and founders are truly special
There’s a lot of noise out there. How do you make sure your voice cuts through the clutter?
Throw out the jargon
The media are wary of going “all in” to say a company is great. Avi Salzman from Barron’s said he doesn’t want to see his headlines used as an example of how the media misjudged a company which fell by the wayside after initial hype. Saying a company is the first innovative decentralized blockchain platform set to bring ‘Uberesque’ disruption to a sector isn’t going to cut it. Jargon is a turn off. Get rid of it.
Focus on the real-world connection and how your company relates to it said Business Insider’s Sara Silverstein. How is it going to change the lives of those working in that sector? Who is involved and who is backing it? Demonstrate your concept works and why blockchain is necessary for that concept. Pair it back to basics and let the journalist decide the potential of your company.
It’s not business, it’s personal
Lewitinn explained it is becoming increasingly hard to separate the wheat from the chaff when analyzing blockchain companies and concepts. No one well-written whitepaper or blockbuster animated video will be convincing. The panel agreed that demonstrating a founder’s credibility and building a relationship is paramount. It doesn’t matter if you are a 20-year banking vet who has quit his Wall Street job to build a blockchain out of his shed, or a recent MIT grad who is a coding whiz. If you are interesting and knowledgeable, then you can be a good source.
Hackett said he likes to build a relationship over the course of three to six months. He values expertise of a contact over the perceived credibility of their company.
Become the master of the ‘blockchainverse’
The Blockchain universe is not restricted to financial services. Having opinions on where and how blockchain can be deployed, or regulation of the technology is important. Just because your company doesn’t do X, Y and Z, doesn’t mean that you cannot provide an opinion. Krystal Hu from Yahoo! Finance gave the example of Amazon Web Services’ investment in blockchain. If you have any opinion on the company’s strategy, communicate it.
Becoming a ‘futurist’, aside from being an egotistical LinkedIn descriptor, is one way of mastering the blockchainverse. What will a blockchain world five or 10 years’ time from now look like? Do you think that 95% of blockchain companies will fail? If so, make the prediction. George Soros, a man of prolific prophecy, has become known as a bold predictor of the future. Elon Musk regularly makes outlandish statements which make headlines, knowing full well that a bold prediction proved right is far more noteworthy than one that didn’t hit the mark. “I look for the headline I want to write before anything else.” Silverstein said.
Generating media cut through with blockchain companies and stories is becoming a bigger challenge. Growing recognition of the potential of the technology comes with inevitable skepticism and increased competition. But, great blockchain stories are there to be told and journalists will tell them. As Philip Tetlock wrote in his book, Super-Forecasting, “The one undeniable talent that talking heads have is their skill at telling a compelling story with conviction, and that is enough.”