The annual juggernaut that is the SXSW film, interactive, music, and media conference recently wrapped up in Austin, and as always, programming and conversations were driven by cultural and scientific innovations, ideas, and trends. One of this year’s most-discussed trends was blockchain technology and how it might revolutionize not just the exchange of financial assets, but everything—much like the Internet changed everything.
A simple definition: Blockchain is a shared, distributed ledger that facilitates the process of recording transactions and tracking assets in a business network. An asset can be tangible, such as a house, a car, cash, or land; or intangible intellectual property, such as patents, copyrights, or branding. Virtually anything of value can be tracked and traded on a blockchain network, reducing risk and cutting costs for all involved.
Blockchain has come a long way since it was best known for being the method for anonymously using bitcoin to make drug deals on the dark web. Cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and ethereum are currently getting a lot of hype, but blockchain is the platform making it possible to use these and hundreds of lesser-known digital assets.
Companies like Kodak, IBM, Microsoft, and Walmart are using blockchain for projects that are attracting a lot of attention. Small businesses in everything from real estate to fast food are also earning media and public attention for delving into blockchain technology.
“Imagine a technology that could preserve our freedom to choose for ourselves and our families, to express these choices in the world, and to control our own destiny, no matter where we lived or were born. What new tools and new jobs could we create with those capabilities? What new business and services? How should we think about the opportunities?” –from The Blockchain Revolution.
What does blockchain mean for the public relations business? If blockchain will transform the way companies do business, then every kind of business professional needs to understand it.
There are a number of PR firms and consultants specializing in blockchain and related industries. Even for those of us not planning to specialize in “Crypto PR”, it’s still an excellent idea to learn about it. In addition to The Blockchain Revolution quoted above, a couple of the best-reviewed books on the topic are Blockchain: The Beginners Guide to Understanding the Technology Behind Bitcoin & Cryptocurrency; and The Internet of Money.
Brenda Thompson began her public relations firm in 2003 with a few guiding principles: doing smart work for people she likes and brands she admires, getting outstanding results, cultivating long-term relationships, and staying small and selective. Remaining true to these values has meant working with a wide variety of clients over the years. Today, Brenda Thompson Communications provides strategic public relations counsel and services to organizations in the corporate, alternative energy, nonprofit, and hospitality sectors. Highlights include promoting a statewide documentary series for public television created by The University of Texas System, working with co-founders of GSD&M on their book about the nation’s most effective anti-litter campaign, launching a unique bottled water benefiting college scholarships, planning one of the largest rallies ever held at the state capitol, and helping Austin-based nonprofit groups expand their influence through national media coverage. Thompson was one of the founders of the now-international Social Media Club, organized for the purpose of sharing best practices, establishing ethics and standards, and promoting social media literacy. She’s been a finalist twice for the Austin Business Journal’s Profiles in Power awards, and was included in the Austin American Statesman’s Out & About 500 List for five years. Her work for previous employers received a number of national awards, including from the Council for Advancement and Support of Higher Education.