Last week, it was announced that Sierra Leone had a blockchain election. And then it was announced that it did not. The company at the heart of this was Agora, who had claimed to run part of the election on the blockchain, when they were really only running a POC on the side. It was a shambles and Agora’s reputation has been tarnished, arguably beyond recovery.
Small miscommunications and lack of clarity in communications – no matter how small they seem – can lead to disastrous consequences. In the world of blockchain, an area that is so new, it is especially important to have crystal clear messaging and for spokespeople to be well-briefed and drilled on answering questions that could lead to misunderstandings. Case in point, Jason Lukasiewicz, the COO of Agora was interviewed by Cointelegraph and his quote was that this election was “the first time in history a Blockchain has been used in any government election, ever.. You can see where the press might have got the wrong end of the stick.
The journalists that covered the story in this light will undoubtedly feel a little miffed, which is not good for future relations. But that is the least of Agora’s problems – what impact does this have on their future partnerships? Blockchain is all about trust and transparency, not leading people to the wrong conclusions.
This PR fail has left an uncomfortable feeling at Bright Bee HQ. We’ve seen many agencies spring up out of nowhere to offer PR for ICOs, crypto and blockchain – some are doing little more than paying for press releases to be placed. This is not PR – PR is about third party endorsement, it’s about building trusted relationships with the right journalists and credibility through truthful stories. As an agency that has been doing PR for leading tech firms for nearly seven years, we have former journalists, former heads of PR in established multinational corporations and a team of professionals that have grown up in technology communications. We take our roles seriously as communicators and advise on the stories and messages to both push and have the maturity to know what not to push. PR fails like this cast a shadow on the entire PR industry.
Our parting advice from this blog is, make sure you are transparent in your communications for the longer term brand credibility.