PR For Crypto: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

By Pablo Londoño Published: 19 April, 2019 Last updated: February 17th, 2022 at 4:55 pm

bitcoin logo and binary code

The vast majority of crypto and blockchain startups often struggle to deal with PR. That’s not new. Not long ago, FT columnist Jemima Kelly revealed all the things one specific company had to do in order to promote its token. Ukraine-born startup ASKfm decided to launch its crowd sale by putting 500,000 of their tokens on the peak of Mount Everest “for those brave enough to climb the mountain,” according to the startup’s official statement.

Luckily, and in good time, no one was dumb enough to take that gamble, but ultimately it seems that wasn’t really the main point. After a minor research, it turned out the Ukranian company sent up the world’s highest peak a team to place a stockpile of tokens. However, their plans weren’t quite as successful from a PR standpoint as industry would suggest. Here’s the video of the pitiful stunt.

After placing the tokens, on its descent the team came across bad weather. The expedition got stuck at 7,000 meters, with no comms and no oxygen. On the second day, the team had to be evacuated by the local air rescue; however, the worst was yet to come. Later that day it became clear that one of their guides was missing. Local authorities subsequently confirmed his death, turning a sorry crypto stunt into something more obscure than anyone could have expected.


The events that led to the death of a man seemed not to be enough to make the Ukranian company go away and hide under a stone. In another attempt to get publicity, the company tastelessly wrote: “ASKfm kicks off a new stunt —this time without killing a guide.” But ASKfm isn’t alone in these kind of attempts at earning media.

You can call it a rather unfortunate consequence of the ban on crypto and blockchain ads, or the latter’s ability to escape the nature of today’s advertising standards. Be that as it may, blockchain and crypto startups and projects often do the unthinkable to capture prospects, funding, leads, and audiences. And this is a fact backed by the following cringe-worthy projects the industry still struggles to forget about.

Dennis Rodman And Kim

Potcoin once sponsored the visit of former NBA star Dennis Rodman to North Korea, where he acted as an unofficial observer of the dictator’s meeting with Donald Trump.

Mao Is Back!

A blockchain conference in China ended up featuring an actor portraying Mao Zedong, China’s most revered and famous communist leader. Turns out Chinese law forbids the use of images of past and current leaders in national broadcasts and advertisements, which is why the whole thing resulted in mass social media backlash. Making people angry isn’t the best way to convince your prospects to use your products.

Now You See Me (And Then You Don’t)

Not long ago, crypto savings company savedroid shut down its official website and social media channels, abandoned its offices and replaced their site with a South Park meme. The objective? To warn the public about the perils and dangers of crypto scams. Investors were definitely not amused.

How to Proceed?

The aforementioned examples are simply a sample of PR for blockchain being done wrong. Of course, the most common hurdle blockchain and crypto companies encounter when trying to earn media is the fact that both industries are full of notorious scams. But there’s more to it.

When it comes to doing worthy and scalable blockchain PR, it all comes down to clarity and thinking strategically. A renewed focus on a PR strategy can help you do exactly that.  So how can crypto businesses still get positive press and reach new people in such an uncertain time?


Focus on The Basics

As a crypto startup you must be eager to let the world know about your business. We get it. You want to make the headlines of major publications just like many of your predecessors have, no matter what; however, this is not a good approach. First you need to consider what’s behind all those PR accomplishments other companies have achieved, and in order to do that you need to get back to the basics.

Although crypto and blockchain startups face unique challenges, many of today’s PR and marketing best practices are still useful: is your website engaging and user friendly? Is your brand consistent with the message you want to convey? Are you explaining both your mission and vision clearly even for those outside these industries? Have you identified your target audience?

You need to deeply understand your business, as well as your industry, and your target audience. The ideal crypto PR strategy will spend the vast majority of time building your voice and your brand. You can check out our Startup PR Strategy Toolkit to learn how to map out a 12-month PR strategy plan.

Related: VIDEO: 5 Tactics to Market Your Crypto

Develop Your Content

Being a new company in a fairly new industry is complicated, especially because even the media is still trying to grapple with the idea.

One of the first things you should do to enhance your website’s content is create a white paper. This should address all the basic questions like pricing, contracts, legal issues, as well as provide your abstract mission and vision with the tangible cornerstone it needs —how you are going to make your mark on the crypto industry.

When developing your content, avoid the use of jargon and try to explain complex process in a simpler way. Again, clarity is important. This way you can maintain credibility while appealing to both the savvy and the inexperienced audiences.

Your content will definitely help you reach out to media outlets, influencers, blogs, and publications. Don’t forget that they are all desperately looking for experts who can elaborate on cryptocurrencies authoritatively.

Media Outreach

The best way to promote your ICO or crypto startup is by contacting the media. Take a look at how thought leadership articles, guest posts or articles, websites, press releases, etc., have helped other companies earn media. Getting the attention of the media is a science, which is why you need to know exactly how to make your company and your ideas useful and compelling.

So before you start contacting every major publication you come across with telling them how incredible your startup is and why they should address you, it is best if you take a step back and take a look at our Pitching To Journalists Toolkit which will take you through exactly what kind of email you need to write to get the attention of a busy journalist.

A Final Word

Although digital channels have definitely helped the blockchain and crypto industry hit the spotlight and make the headlines, even in spite of the digital ads ban, attending events, conferences and carrying out networking activities can really give you an extra push in getting attention and earning media for your business. You’ll be in direct touch with those leading the waves in the crypto world, investors and VCs.