Media and PR for Blockchain Startups
Welcome to our comprehensive interview series – Humans of Blockchain ™ where we get the best in the business to answer a diverse set of questions.
This series will clear the air of doubt in the blockchain space today by focusing on bringing more transparency to the readers.
Not wasting much time, let’s hear it out from Mihai himself.
1. Can you give us a basic introduction Mihai? Tell us about your Journey and how you got into the blockchain/fintech space.
My entrepreneurial journey started in my first year of university (2010). Since then, we (my wife and I) had several blogs, drop shipping businesses and B2B services, until I finally landed on blockchain PR. I got into this industry (crypto) almost by mistake: while on our honeymoon in California in 2016, we were introduced to the whole cryptocurrency fiasco by an acquaintance and I’ve started investing in early 2017.
By the end of 2017, I was a passionate supporter of the movement and 2018 brought the opportunity to work as a PR Manager for an energy-based blockchain startup from Romania, Restart Energy Democracy (RED).
Of course, I took on the opportunity because at the time I was pretty sick of my marketing/business coaching business and wanted to try something new.
After working for several months with RED, I remembered that I am an entrepreneur at heart and as I’ve discovered a gap in the PR industry within the blockchain space, I started researching ways in which I could potentially change the game.
Since then, all my focus has been on growing Herman Media and building a brand that people will recognize and that will stand for results, quality, integrity, collaboration, and kindness.
- Results, because it’s the main model for our business and startups, deserve results, not merely pitches.
- Quality because it’s the only way of building a brand that will be able to thrive in five years time and because I am a perfectionist that couldn’t live with himself if our work was less than exceptional.
- Integrity because we are clear on what we can deliver and we take full responsibility in case that doesn’t happen.
- Collaboration because it’s the only way to grow and we’ve got partners that can assist with marketing, advertising, exchange listings or even whitepaper creation.
- Why kindness? Because my goal is to reach a point, probably in 2020, where I can offer some of our services to non-profit organizations for 50% less or even for free. We also donate part of the revenue to the elderly, ill children and dog rescue organizations.
2. We see that you carry good expertise in PR Marketing & Content Writing. How do these skills contribute in your day-to-day work for Herman Media and building the future for your company?
When I first got into the whole online business and marketing, I started out as a blogger. A fashion & lifestyle blogger actually. I pretty much wrote for a living for a long time, working with advertisers, fashion brands and even producing content for reputable publications.
Many people saw what I couldn’t see: the fact that I was really good at connecting people and scoring opportunities.
While a fashion blogger, we’ve attended New York Fashion Week, London Fashion Week and Pitti Uomo (biggest men’s style event in the world). We’ve also been invited to all the other major fashion weeks and we’ve worked with some of the biggest media agencies in the world.
While a business coach, I was also able to connect with some of the brightest minds in the industry – entrepreneurs and coaches making several six figures or even seven figures per year.
Now, as a PR person (for some reason I don’t like calling myself an expert or a guru), I am working my way up to being connected to influencers and projects that are changing the world. Right now, we have connections to several top 100 projects and even some in the top 10.
When we talk about Herman Media, my business and PR experience have helped me identify team members and freelancers whose main value is quality, and have helped me build services that could potentially be seen as a breath of fresh air.
Many agencies or individuals offer PR services, but what sets us apart is that we work on developing a strategy, we brainstorm PR angles, advise and create high-quality content. Securing a couple of brand mentions for a startup isn’t a PR campaign nor is it a strategy – it’s more of a way for founders and CMOs to deal with the inner guilt of not promoting their product enough.
A PR campaign is a combination of press release distribution, pitching and securing mentions, interviews, creating content for the company’s blog and even publishing bylined articles in top publications as a way of positioning the founder/CEO as a thought leader within the industry.
3. Can you tell us more about ZoidCoin Network? What are your roles as a PR Advisor?
At ZoidCoin Network, my role is pretty simple: advise the team on anything PR related, including announcements, partnerships and talking with the community.
I am also assisting the team in identifying key players within the industry that could become partners and find ways to leverage my PR skills to make intros that could lead to interesting opportunities.
4. What are your thoughts on the current Information/Education flow in the Blockchain Industry?
It’s been getting better, but I believe we have too many news and little educational content in all of its forms: text, video, audio.
We have some players in the industry doing their very best to educate the masses, but we need to flood all social platforms with facts and benefits of this wonderful technology.
LinkedIn, for example, lacks quality content. If you browse by hashtags, you’ll either find news (mostly hype news) or people doing a ton of self-promotion.
Twitter is hot when it comes to blockchain technology, but it’s too much about trading or profiting and too little about teaching and collaborating.
It’s a bit frustrating to see this because we’ve got some of the brightest minds in the world working in this space, yet we lack some basic skills like content creation, networking or branding.
We’ve got some great podcasts, a handful of legit YouTubers, and this only shows how early we are. The bear market was great because it drove out many scammers and shillers, but we need to stand up as a community and make it our personal responsibility to create quality content that will eventually drive mass adoption.
I am doing my part on LinkedIn (profile link) and through the Herman Media blog where I’ve published three guides already and I plan on publishing 10 more informative articles (usually ~1,500 words long) in 2019.
5. How many projects have you advised/ helped so far in Media & PR Relations?
I am, however, proud to say that in the six short months since I’ve launched Herman Media, we’ve been able to close six clients even with all the downside that the market had experienced.
We do our very best to satisfy each and every client — hence the results-oriented model and money back guarantee. We’ve experienced some difficulties, like every startup, but I am here for the long run and I can’t be bothered by short term losses or issues.
One of our core values is that it’s always better to “under-promise and over-deliver, rather than over-promise and under-deliver” and I believe this was crucial in having lots of positive feedback from our clients so far.
We guarantee that all mentions will come from websites with at least 50,000 visits/month (a guarantee that not many PR agencies can make), but we had clients where the average monthly visits per website were even over 15 million by scoring HackerNoon, VentureBeat and even Investing.
6. What do you see the year 2019 holding for Blockchain in the Media Industry?
Hopefully, we’ll see more quality content and less pay-to-play. Many publications are starting to accept quality, educational articles but this wasn’t the case in the Summer of 2018 or before that. Everything was mostly pay-to-play, no matter how much value the article added to their readers.
The hype period was great and I believe needed for emerging technology, but I am glad we’re past that point and now we can focus on developing useful products and services that can drive real world-wide adoption.
I am also hoping that blockchain startups will find a balance between focusing on development and pouring money into marketing their product. PR is a long-term, branding strategy – you can’t do it for three months, stop for five and then start again for two more months. It could end up being even more expensive because you’ll lose most of the connections during the break.
Sure, you can’t allocate the same budget all the time as during a mainnet or product launch, but if startups want to one day become brands, especially mainstream brands, they can’t neglect PR.
PR is a big part of branding and I totally support what Gary Vaynerchuck preaches that “if you don’t focus on becoming a brand, you may not exist in the (near) future.” Brands will be all that there’s left and there’s no better sales strategy than focusing most of your efforts on branding.
Any ending remarks for the readers, Mihai?
Some unsolicited advice, if I may: publishing a couple of (sponsored) press releases in 5, 10 or even 20 crypto websites is not a PR strategy/campaign. Nor is spamming 5,000 tech journalists with a general, 1,000 words long pitch about your “disruptive” startup. And don’t even get me started on directory submissions to 10,000 web directories for “SEO purposes.”
PR is similar to the health/dieting industry where many people are looking for the next big diet that will offer them the body they all dream of, instead of being more focused on a lifestyle change.
PR is not a diet, but rather a lifestyle change. We need to start thinking of PR as being sustainable in the long run and rather invest less, but constantly than have too many breaks in your campaign. It will pay off, I promise.
Read more about the Future of Blockchain Startups HERE
Check out More Humans working in the Industry Here!