Debunking 5 Common Web3 Communications Myths

24 Apr 2024

The crypto market is emerging from a tough bear market as we step into 2024, with a staggering 90% increase from its 2023 low in the overall market capitalization to $1.7 trillion, and Bitcoin’s value has more than doubled from $16k in January 2023 to over $73k in March 2024. This surge is powered by key factors like the Spot Bitcoin ETF approval, increased institutional participation, and developments in areas like tokenized Real World Assets (RWAs), modularity, Zero-knowledge proofs, AI, and Decentralised Physical Infrastructure (DePIN) integration.

In such a dynamic landscape with the emergence of new entrants and funds, it is expected to become increasingly challenging for projects, applications, and ecosystems to distinguish themselves amidst the growing media noise. To overcome this obstacle, establishing a strong media presence becomes paramount not only for visibility but also to combat the negative perceptions associated with Web3 and crypto.

For CMOs, communication managers, and marketers, it’s now time to create communication plans that cut through the noise and build trust in the ever-changing world of Web3. Dispelling PR myths is the first step in shaping effective PR strategies. Let’s start by debunking these misconceptions.

Myth 1: We don’t need a communications plan…yet

In the competitive landscape of project development, strategic planning is paramount to sustain growth. A well-rounded communications strategy ensures clarity and transparency in community engagement, allowing projects to have better control over their narratives. A notable example is the DeFi Education Fund initiated by Uniswap, which faced significant backlash following a community funding decision. Despite allocating millions from its treasury to be used over five years, controversy ensued when it was revealed that nearly half the fund had been disbursed suddenly. This prompted widespread criticism, questioning the fund's integrity. However, subsequent clarification revealed a strategic diversification move amidst regulatory uncertainty.

The lack of a proper information dissemination plan resulted in the DeFi Education Fund receiving negative attention for an important decision for the long-term sustainability of the Fund. This episode underscores the importance of effective communication plans in navigating community perceptions and averting misunderstandings.

Fact: A communications plan is a must

Effective communication is not just about conveying information; it is about creating a narrative that resonates with the audience, generating interest, and fostering a sense of community around the project. Moreover, the timing of an announcement is also crucial in generating positive momentum for a project's launch.

Myth 2: The tech will speak for itself

While cutting-edge technology is vital, relying solely on its merits can create challenges when communicating with a wider audience. In the competitive and fast-paced Web3 industry, new terms and tech offerings are created very rapidly, making it difficult for users to keep up with the latest trends. A strong communications plan can help not only simplify complicated technology to reach a wider audience but it can also help differentiate projects, creating a niche space for them in the media narrative.

As an example, although an interesting project, =nil; Foundation has a very technical product, making it difficult for the masses to understand. Therefore, =nil; Foundation’s PR strategy specifically targeted journalists with pre-existing ZK technology knowledge to introduce them to the project and its work. This helped in overcoming the project’s visibility hurdle, due to which =nil; Foundation eventually became CoinDesk’s ‘Crypto Project to Watch.’

Fact: Communications plans allow tech to speak for itself

Successful projects like =nil; Foundation demonstrate the symbiotic relationship between advanced technology and adept communications strategy. In the dynamic Web3 landscape, where trust is of paramount importance, a well-crafted communications strategy can significantly enhance a project's reputation and community trust. Ultimately, technology is paramount, however without a strong communications strategy, it cannot attract the attention it deserves.

Myth 3: Paid content and event sponsorship equal attention

Front-page stories earned through efforts hold a greater and truer value than paid media campaigns. Coinbase’s paid campaign in the Washington Post is a glaring example of how such campaigns do more harm than good. The campaign included advertisements in The Washington Post and on X, encouraging cryptocurrency users to engage with their congressional representatives and advocating for the passage of legislation favorable to the crypto industry. This campaign received a negative response from the general public and backfired even further when The Washington Post concurrently published a story bearing the headline "Crypto Skeptics Rebuff Industry's Public Lobbying Push."

On the contrary, stories like "The making of Binance’s CZ: An exclusive look at the forces that shaped crypto’s most powerful founder" in Fortune and "The Man Behind Ethereum Is Worried About Crypto's Future" featuring Vitalik Buterin in TIME magazine, hold greater influence than paid content, evident by metrics such as the Time’s feature of Vitalik being retweeted more than four hundred times on twitter. Such genuine pieces are historically successful in naturally instilling greater trust and credibility within the audience.

Fact: Paid content and event sponsorship doesn’t equal positive attention

These examples highlight the significance of earned media and the inherent trust associated with independently conducted analyses, appearing more genuine and authentic in contrast to endeavors driven solely by paid promotional efforts.

Myth 4: We can just use AI for PR and marketing

AI-generated content is fast to produce. However, it lacks the qualities inherent in creating successful media narratives that strike a chord with the intended audience. Utilizing AI for content creation poses numerous challenges, ranging from privacy concerns and lack of human touch to the increased potential for inaccuracies. Furthermore, AI content is susceptible to producing biased opinions based on the data used for training the model itself. AI simply is unable to provide the value that a PR and marketing team can provide. PR professionals are adept at becoming extensions of their Web3 clients, carefully curating the media narratives based on the ins and outs of the industry.

Following is an AI-generated tweet for EthDenver2024 and a Twitter post-YAP team draft for EthDenver, where you can see some inherent problems:

"🚀 Exciting news! EthDenver 2024 is on the horizon! Mark your calendars for this epic Ethereum event, where innovators, developers, and crypto enthusiasts come together to shape the future of blockchain. Stay tuned for updates, and get ready to dive into the world of decentralized possibilities. 🔗💡 #EthDenver2024 #Blockchain #Ethereum".

This AI-generated tweet comes across as vague and lacking essential event details, such as the date, names of headline speakers, and a personal touch with a clear call to action.

Fact: AI alone cannot be used for PR and marketing

PR professionals possess a deep understanding of the project and, by forming strong relationships with executives, can shape thought leadership content that resonates with the audience as well as the project team. Such relational and nuanced aspects, which form the foundation of effective communication, cannot be replicated by AI, which also raises ethical /legal concerns.

Myth 5: Marketing and PR are the same thing

Marketing practices involve promoting products, services, and initiatives through channels like social media, with Crypto X being the preferred platform for the industry. For instance, Coinbase's Onchain summer festival was a month-long launch event that celebrated the launch of Base. Coca-Cola, along with various crypto-native organizations, artists, and influencers,  released exclusive digital art NFTs on Base. This campaign leveraged the power of social media, resulting in over 700,000 NFTs being minted by more than 268,000 unique wallets in a month, making it one of the most iconic marketing campaigns in the space.

On the other hand, PR focuses on establishing and maintaining positive relationships between a company, its community, and the media, proving to be a longer process. CZ, the former CEO of Binance, exemplified best PR practices during his tenure. Binance demonstrated the power of consistent and active engagement in Web3, as seen when it swiftly and effectively responded to news of a lawsuit by the SEC earlier this year. Binance promptly acknowledged the filing, confirmed its authenticity, and provided a clear outline of upcoming changes that would impact the platform. This proactive approach reassured users and prevented a mass exodus. Binance had previously excelled in leveraging engagement to navigate challenges, such as when FTX faced scrutiny last year. Even after CZ stepped down, he remained highly regarded and missed by his community, the public, and users.

Fact: Marketing and PR are NOT the same thing

Marketing refers to the promotion of products, services, and initiatives, whilst PR refers to creating a channel of communication between the business, user base, and the media. Both these practices are integral to the successful implementation of a strong communications network required for the holistic sustainability of a business.

Debunking these PR myths highlights the critical role of a robust communication plan in shaping a Web3 project's narrative. Such a plan enhances the effectiveness of your strategies and fosters a strong sense of community amongst users. From breaking down technical jargon to creating genuine trust and adding a human touch, a well-crafted PR plan is imperative to create a well-rounded, authentic public image for your business.

This story was distributed under HackerNoon’s Business Blogging Program. Learn more about the program here: