NFT Marketing: Best of luck getting that cov, mate!

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The second in a series of blog posts for the Hard Numbers website, MD and Co-founder Darryl Sparey talks openly about our approach to marketing for Pandimensional Trading Company, an NFT project. Darryl shares the challenges, opportunities and lessons learned from marketing a product he knew nothing about two months ago. This week, he looks at the challenges of getting earned media coverage for an NFT project. 

1.73 seconds. Less than 2 seconds. Usain Bolt would barely be out of the starting blocks. That’s how long it took me to find a journalist or commentator saying something blisteringly negative about NFTs and the people communicating with them about them. In this instance, it was former BBC journalist Rory Cellan-Jones who tweeted last year “The whole NFT thing is just a massive troll of technology journalists. My inbox is a hot mess of nonsense”. Take a look for yourself

I can understand the ire that much of the tech press feels towards many NFT projects, based on how they’ve been approached by them to date. Those who’ve plied their trade in professional media relations for a reputable PR firm or in-house press office know the basics of email pitching technology journalists:

  • Make sure you’re sending the release to the right person
  • Spell their name correctly
  • Tailor your approach to the journalist and outlet that you’re sending it to, and show why the story is relevant for their audience based on your understanding of their previous output
  • Take your lead from Dragnet (a cultural reference point that will be lost of most of the readers of this post, given the average age of a PR is under 30) and give “just the facts”
  • Under no circumstances use excessive superlatives or make claims about your product of service which cannot be substantiated
  • Treat Charles Arthur with the care, concern and carefulness that you would expect to treat the handling of weapons-grade plutonium.

A journalist friend of mine recently shared their screen with me, searched for “NFT” and showed me the extent of excitable and, in many cases, execrable emails they get a week on the subject. The sheer volume of content (and its quality) brought to mind the factory of one thousand monkeys at one thousand typewriters employed by C. Montgomery Burns in The Simpsons to produce the next great literary work: “It was the best of times, it was the blurst of times”.

When I took this project on, I sought the opinions of wiser and more experienced communicators than me – like Paul Sutton, Stephen Waddington, Alan S. Morrison and Andy Barr. My favourite feedback was “best of luck getting that cov, mate”.

However, there is more than one way to shoe a horse. Or, in this case, bang on about 10,000 JPEGs of cherryade-loving aliens in third-party media outlets. I know which skill my Grandad would value more highly…  So, we developed the following plan to approach media for this client:

  • News about the launch – We’re going to struggle to get national media to write about this, so we’ll focus our efforts on the “trade” or “sector-focused” titles that cover NFTs and cryptocurrency more broadly, such as The Block, Drop Magazine, The NFT Mag, CryptoNews Crypto Briefing and others.
  • “What’s an NFT” opportunities with media – We’ll track journalists who share that they’re writing pieces on NFTs using #journorequest on Twitter, ResponseSource and PressPlugs enquiries, and other tools to see when journalists or commentators are looking for people to explain what NFTs are to the uninitiated. We’ve been gifted with a brilliant, enthusiastic, but plain-speaking Founder in PJ Cooper of Pandimensionals, and he’s a great asset to use for these opportunities.
  • Personal finance and investment stories – Combing forward features and other opportunities for anyone writing about the investment potential (or otherwise) of NFTs. 
  • Newsjacking like our lives depend upon it – Any time there is breaking news which is relevant to the NFT space, we’ll be moving quickly to get expert comment from the client, and get it to media. 

And with the final one, we got lucky last week. Twitter announced that it had launched a new service in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand for owners of NFTs to connect their wallets to their Twitter account, and have their NFTs as their profile pictures. These would appear as a hexagon-shaped profile picture, rather than Twitter’s usual circle. Our brilliant team picked the story up overnight, messaged the client and asked for commentary first thing in the morning. Within no time at all, we’d spun the content into a pitch for commentary to media, offering Paul’s expert opinion on the move. We pitched it out to the journalists that we knew would have an interest in this, and potentially be covering the news, and looking for industry insight. And then, we nervously waited…. 

By the Friday evening, we only went and got it published in Wired, didn’t we?! The content went live around 8.40pm on Friday evening and my DMs blew up from about 8.44pm. Of course, I’m slightly disappointed that it took less time for me to find a negative article about NFTs online than it did for our team to find this great piece of client coverage, but you can’t have it all… 

As is customary with the Hard Numbers team, we weren’t finished! By Sunday morning we’d secured yet ANOTHER piece of coverage, this time in The Sun! It’s a marathon, not a sprint, though. We’ve got eight weeks until launch for the Pandimensionals, so we’ve got a lot of work to do between now and then, but I’m glad we got our first coverage runs on the board so quickly, and in such premier media outlets. If you want to follow my journey into learning more about NFTs and how to market them, I’ll be posting about this regularly to this blog, and I’m tweeting about it using my (not evil) alter ego Darkly Spray.

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