As public relations professionals, especially ones who work for agencies, we often pitch across different industries. On any given day you can find us pitching jewelry, then doing social media for a holistic healing product and later working a nonprofit awards ceremony. The PR experiences near and dear to my ever-pitching heart are the ones where I am stepping into a new industry that has yet to be “PR’d” if you will. A few years ago, one of these industries was cryptocurrency.
When I first heard the word ‘cryptocurrency,’ specifically Bitcoin, I was sitting in the car with my former boss when he asked me if I would handle social media and PR for his new company. “Bitcoin?” I said, “Sounds like fun.” Months later we had a new office, I was doing research about the digital currency and practiced pitching it to my friends. Here are a few PR lessons I learned while working for a budding tech company.
It Starts With Passion
Working in a new industry, you have no choice but to be passionate. When you start exploring the unknown, you can’t do it effectively without excitement about the project you’re working in. Sure, Bitcoin was a little tough to grasp because it got really technical, but I explored all of its angles and found the one that made sense for me. As someone whose family resides outside of the U.S., the possibility of sending currency across borders with less fees and better security resonated with me so I held on to that. Entrepreneur highlights a few tips on how to find your passion and keep it, like making a creativity board.
What Comfort Zone?
The amazing thing about Bitcoin is that tight-knit communities passionate (read: obsessed) about cryptocurrency started forming. The more work I did within the industry, the more events I attended (and sometimes organized). Because it was such a new industry back then, I was also usually one of the only women, and women of color, at events and conferences. Needless to say, I stuck out and found myself thrust into conversations I didn’t feel like I was ready to have.
The same concept applied with crypto-journalists. Some of the questions got so technical, I found myself running back and forth to my CEO’s office for the answers. It was great exercise now that I think about it. I was uncomfortable but it yielded great results, and I built some great relationships with people who knew I just had a genuine interest in their passion and work. The moral of the story is, leave the comfort zone at home with your favorite blanket and pillow and immerse yourself into new territory.
Research Is Key
Research, research, and research. There is nothing worse than talking to a PR professional who doesn’t know what their client does. While I have to admit explaining Bitcoin and digital currencies in general was a bit of a struggle, I found a way that worked for me and practiced it. I also found myself reading a lot of think pieces about Bitcoin, even when my eyes glazed over, but it was useful. It was also a beautiful challenge finding reporters who specifically covered Bitcoin so building a media list took just a little longer than usual.
As time went on, because it did take time, I could answer journalists’ questions quicker, stopped having to run to my CEO’s office and became a great resource for reporters and industry leaders who wanted to partner with the company. Inc gives a few tips on how to research an industry, which includes looking at associations and going to trade shows. You’d be pretty surprised the amazing people you meet at events. This is neither here nor there but I did meet a great couple investing in Bitcoin who invited me to go sailing with them on their yacht!
A Coin For Your Thoughts…
When I look back at working for a Bitcoin company, it was an amazing experience I wouldn’t trade for the world. Did I mention they were publicly traded? I learned a new industry, made new connections and even walked away with a few Bitcoins myself. Best of all, I entered and planted myself in a new territory and garnered great press (WIRED!, CNBC, Bloomberg, etc) for an awesome company. The learning doesn’t stop here, of course, but I would love to hear if any other PR professionals worked in a different industry that opened their eyes to a new world.
Have any similar experiences working for a new industry? Let us know in the comments below!