I was just watching Jeff Garzik's presentation at the Bitconf (really? Bitcon? was someone asleep?), and he mentioned the need for a PR effort to bring a higher level of bitcoin education to the general public.
As I happen to agree, and have a background in communication and journalism, it resonates with me.
So I thought we might start a discussion as to what this Bitcoin PR would look and feel like. Here are some ideas:
- A clearing house for expertise on the different aspects of bitcoin (THIS IS BRANDING), that puts out regular press releases to media outlets, then guides the incoming queries through the appropriate channels.
- A repository of all previous coverage of bitcoin in the media. (THIS IS MEDIA RELATIONS)
- A proactive effort to contact levels of government, banking, trading, law enforcement, etc... towards showing that bitcoin, while truly revolutionary as a concept, isn't necessarily "dangerous" and can in fact be complementary to already existing policies, systems and paradigms. (THIS IS PUBLIC RELATIONS)
- Perhaps some inroads into academia, to see if some bright students want to make bitcoin the object of their dissertation, or to channel the knowledgable people to give talks at universities and colleges. (THIS IS MARKETING)
Any other ideas? A name would be great... too bad Bitcoin Consultancy is already taken.
Or, this PR effort could be rolled into an existing entity, like Bitcoin Consultancy.
The key is that it has to be done professionally. So far, most attempts at bringing bitcoin to the public at large have had a certain whiff of amateurishness to them. We need to raise the bar a tad.
First and foremost, it is imperative to delineate the difference between Public Relations and Branding...despite widespread misconceptions, the two are positively not one in the same. I think what you (and many others, including Garzik, Antonopoulos, Armstrong et al) are really talking about here is a concerted Brand Strategy. You bite off nearly every aspect of the communications spectrum with your initial ideas...see my comments in red next to each above.
Bitcoin needs it all.
Public Relations is at its core, outreach that builds symbiotic relationships between organizations and their stakeholders...but it has, as an industry, generally evolved (or devolved, depending on your perspective) into damage control.
Brand is who and what you are and Branding is the process by which you communicate who and what you are...this requires a certain element of focus and, dare I say, centralization. You use terms like "clearing house" and "repository"...and these are appropriate for effective Brand Strategy given the specific and controlled requirements needed for effective Branding.
Prioritization is needed. Before moving to actionable one-off steps, a more over-arching stratagem and understanding regarding precisely which of these aspects is being addressed should be determined, then it would be wonderful to be able to compile a wide-reaching "peer-to-peer" effort in the truest spirit of Bitcoin to address this significant void. Companies however, spend seemingly countless amounts of time and money to create effective specific Brand Strategy...it is unarguably the most defining aspect of a business model, regardless of industry.
Bitcoin, by its very nature, has no such concerted effort. The Brand, Media Strategy, Marketing and Public Relations initiatives have been and will continue to be largely splintered at best, and as we've often seen, detrimental at worst. My guess is that eventually one or perhaps a few Bitcoin focused companies will begin to dominate both the Bitcoin economy and public awareness...and these leaders will shape and shepherd the Bitcoin "Brand" as it were...much as Visa and American Express did for the credit card industry. This is a chilling special-interest prospect indeed. Anyone remember these early credit card industry efforts from the 1970's...?