The crypto industry, centered around emerging technology and a reliance on algorithm instead of people, has had to deal with issues of trust since the very beginning. Early misconceptions that crypto is used to circumvent government controls and can be used for illegal activities have also tinged public perception of the industry.
As a result, blockchain companies have to go the extra mile to make sure their hard-earned trust is not under threat — especially in face of crises unique to the industry; most typically, these are hacks or security breaches but can also be actions and communication gaffes that trigger what are highly-engaged online communities passionate about what they perceive to be shared values in blockchain and crypto.
According to PRNewswire‘s research, about 62% of interviewed companies have a PR crisis plan put together. And although you cannot predict what is going to happen in the future, having a blockchain PR crisis plan and knowing how to react in certain situations will make things much easier for you when an unexpected crisis occurs.
Get legal advice. Depending on the scale and nature of the PR crisis, the first step should be asking for legal help. Having a legal team within your company will speed things up since they have firsthand information of the events and the company, and will be available immediately to assess the legal side of the situation and provide the advice accordingly.
Give a public announcement about the incident. Take control over the situation, and inform the public of the issue. It‘s better to do that before the news goes mainstream, so the press has your side of the event covered as well. On another side, try not to do things rashly and say something that will be difficult to fix later. For example, when a Blockfolio employee‘s account was compromised and someone was sending racist messages through their communications feed, Blockfolio came forward, admitting the situation, apologizing, and reassuring the users that their accounts are safe and unaffected by the event. They even went a step further and donated 10$ to each trading account in the form of an apology. The downside, however, is the rash Tweet of their CEO, accusing an unnamed competitor of the incident, which he later restated in a response to Reuters.
Update the public and affected parties about the progress. If the situation is ongoing, make sure to establish a channel on social media and keep the updates on your blog. That will show the public that you are working on solving the problem, and will calm them down. When a KuCoin hack happened last year, they updated the customers about the tokens retrieved on their Twitter channel and the blog page. They also had their media manager giving insights for the media, and their CEO even hosted a live stream event announcing and giving updates about the hack.
Apologize. The most important part of an apology is sincerity. If you are not honest about your apology and try to cover things up, people will know it and they will lose their trust. But if you are honest and give your best to resolve the problem, they will know to appreciate it and that might make your bond even stronger.
Monitor mentions on social media and news outlets. With active social listening, you can track, analyze and respond to what people are saying about your brand. This will help you understand the scale of the damage, and sometimes even help you prevent a PR crisis from blowing out of proportion. For example, when Coinbase acquired Neutrino in 2019, they noticed the negative sentiment building around the discovery that a part of Neutrino‘s founding members was affiliated with the controversial Hacking Team. The things started escalating when the community launched a hashtag #DeleteCoinbase, encouraging people to close their Coinbase accounts. Coinbase‘s CEO responded by parting ways with the management involved with the Hacking Team and issuing an official announcement about the decision.
Be careful what you say in public. People sometimes can be unforgiving, and even if you delete the Tweet in question, be sure that someone took a screenshot of it and it will continue to leave on the internet. So brainstorm and plan carefully what you are going to say publicly because every reaction is equally important.
Don‘t give more information that‘s needed. Although honesty is a MUST in a blockchain PR crisis, sometimes giving too much information can also be damaging. That being said, don‘t withhold the information that is of great importance to your concerned customers but unnecessary details they can live without.
Don‘t use the “no comment” phrase. In the eyes of the public, that often means that you did something wrong, and you don‘t want to accept the responsibility. If you are still assessing the problem and not ready to come with the announcement yet, it‘s better to say so rather than giving this vague response.
Don‘t blame others. Blaming others for what happened is not a noble thing to do and will reflect negatively on your brand. Instead, acknowledge the responsibility, fix the damage, and take the necessary steps to prevent the situation from happening again.
Every company, regardless of the industry or size, can experience a PR crisis and come into a situation when it has to defend its reputation. Your entire business might depend on how successfully you navigate through the storm so these are the matters that have to be taken seriously and planned in advance. So be on alert through social listening, respond timely but don‘t rush, and have a blockchain PR crisis plan put in place just in case.
Note: this blog post expresses the author’s personal opinions and does not necessarily represent the views of Bitcoin PR Buzz.
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