The art of marketing blockchain and the ICO

Jordan Chanofsky’s background bridges technology and public relations.

As founder and CEO of Fusion Public Relations, he uses his experience in both sectors to help blockchain-based clients reach key markets.

After graduating with a degree in electrical engineering and an MBA, Mr. Chanofsky worked in sales and marketing for IBM before founding and then selling a company in the 1990s. He then worked at public relations firms before founding Fusion in 2001.

Jordan Chanofsky

Jordan Chanofsky

“The idea was to find people like me with unique tech backgrounds, and mix them with people with PR and marketing backgrounds,” Mr. Chanofsky said. “With our unique knowledge, we could help them.”

Mr. Chanofsky explained lead management at many technology startups are often former engineers and physicists who will pay attention when receiving communications advice from someone with a demonstrated history with technology.

Nuances are key

That person gets the nuances of such a business and that helps with proper messaging and positioning. They then link the client with specific media by drawing coverage based on a similarity between the client’s strength and the media organization’s story priorities.

And as fast as technology advances, a public relations agency has to remain on top of the latest changes, Mr. Chanofsky explained. Fusion PR hosts weekly in-house seminars where engineers and technologists explain the latest developments to their account executives.

TokenBoost unveiled

Fusion PR recently unveiled TokenBoost, a service helping companies staging ICOs. A partnership with Fusion Public Relations, Fusion PR concentrates on getting the message out to relevant media while blockaindevelopers.org adds smart contracts, web development, video production and bounty programs to the mix.

“The marketing started with PR and social media,” Mr. Chanofsky explained. “But over time we realized that companies running ICOs have greater needs than marketing. We create a complete package from the development of the ICO platform to the marketing, graphics, website, and social media.”

The blockchain industry and more specifically ICOs are the wild west and to function in such an uninhibited industry requires out-of-the-box thinking, Mr. Chanofsky said. Many traditional approaches don’t work with a clientele coming from such eclectic backgrounds, so the agency has to educate them on the practical boundaries that can be reached while still having an effective campaign.

Public relations agencies working on ICOs have to run two concurrent campaigns, Mr. Chanofsky explained. First, there’s the actual business, which is likely newer and not well-known. Publicize its team, their solutions and what makes them unique. Then there is the ICO and coin, which initially involves an intensive effort to promote the sale before engaging in a more long-term effort with the coin itself, a playbook still being written.

Regulation is inevitable

While the founders of cryptocurrency tend to be anti-establishment and by extension anti-regulation, they need to act as if regulation is inevitably coming, Mr. Chanofsky said. For those companies based in the United States, it’s best to function as best as possible based on SEC guidelines. Either securitize the coin or make it explicit that it’s not auctioned as a security.

“What we’re seeing and what I hope the majority of cryptocurrency companies are recognizing is they should be doing what they can to stay within foreseeable regulation,” Mr. Chanofsky said.

The flurry of cryptocurrencies and ICOs has, for those in the industry, raised the question of how much does the regular person need to know about the blockchain. That’s a foundational question for a public relations agency.

“For an ICO company, the blockchain is irrelevant. You’re selling the company based on the product and token,” Mr. Chanofsky said.

“The flip side is the blockchain is an independent technology from cryptocurrency. Many private blockchains are using the power and security of the distributed ledger to do things in fields like banking and healthcare that have nothing to do with cryptocurrencies.

‘Blockchain life of its own’

“Blockchain has a life of its own; it’s a technology like an enterprise network. There are good uses for it and eventually, it will be bridged over to include a greater network ecosystem.”

That development will shape the direction of Web 3.0, Mr. Chanofsky said, citing a quote from client James Grundvig, the founder and COO of Myntum.

“As the Information Age fades into the Digital Age, from Dot.Com Web 1.0 in 1995 to Mobility and Social Media Web 2.0 in 2007, blockchain is the next jump of the curve in technology. Blockchain will eliminate middlemen and reduce fraud, from fine art and diamonds to motor vehicles and real estate. Those two use cases are just the start of how blockchain will become the Web 3.0 in 2019, the next 12-year cycle that will transform how we will consume and conduct business with greater efficiency.”