Public relations is, in large part, the art of making care. A public relations firm succeeds or fails on how well it understands what interests, intrigues, and inspires journalists and the broader public. If our pitches bore or our stories stultify, our clients won’t receive coverage. Because public relations professionals must pay attention to changes in trends, they’re ideally positioned to record changes in industry narratives. A month into 2020, it’s evident that the important stories for cryptocurrency, blockchain, and emerging technologies aren’t what they used to be. Who cares about your clients? If you keep telling the same old stories, the answer will be “no one.”
For much of the last decade, the principle outputs of many blockchain projects were ideas and whitepapers. Reporters, readers, TV viewers, and podcast listeners were all eager to hear about theoretical advances and systems in alpha- or even pre-alpha stages. Because distributed ledger technology is extremely complicated, because major advances in theory occurred often, and because there were loud ideological and personal battles, projects could succeed without major releases. Just as important, the rise, fall, rise, fall, and rise again of cryptocurrency drove interest: Anything even tangentially connected to this drama was worth coverage.
Things have changed. It’s impossible to pinpoint an exact date, but in early 2020 it’s clear that audiences have turned from theory to practice. Whitepapers and bright ideas remain essential, since new and reimagined projects must share their visions, but the real attention goes to project execution. Companies like Orchid, which enables blockchain-powered Virtual Private Networks, and Hedera Hashgraph, which placed live disease tracking on a distributed ledger, receive most of the press and almost all of the plaudits.
The emerging technology landscape changes quickly; the industry at the beginning of the year and at the end of the year may be so different that you could almost imagine decades, not months, had passed. Despite the changeability of the industry, it’s unlikely that the media and public relations landscape will return to what it once was. The world is ready for a new story about blockchain and emerging technologies: Real-world use cases, real-world users, and real-world impact. It’s going to be an exciting decade.