The Road from Stuck to Success in Web3

February 22, 2023

Credibility and Transparency to Define PR in Web3 in 2023 and Beyond. Trust the process.

Kanter’s Law says that everything looks like a failure in the middle. Afterspending decades observing the very familiar path from ambition andinnovation, to the sticking points of execution, Harvard Business Schoolprofessor Rosabeth Moss Kanter took particular interest in the discomfortand hardship of the middle years between breaking ground and achievingsuccess. If you work in and around Web3 today, this discomfort is all toofamiliar.

With constant noise from the nay-sayers and cynics who deride the globalshift from Web2.0 to Web3 as a fad or a fallacy, success awaits those whopush through the uncertainty and clearly articulate a storythat faces globalchallenges head on.

Disruption Creates Discomfort

The high profile bad actors and unfortunate boundary-pushing failures thathit the headlines in Q4 2022 and Q1 2023 have placed many parts of theWeb3 world on a new and uncomfortable path.

The seismic shift in the bullish confidence and seemingly endless fundingof Web3 solutions may have made the dealmakers uneasy, but ourexperience suggests that this is not a fair reflection of the slow, consistentand meaningful shift to experimentation and adoption in some of the mosttraditional and longest standing brands in the world. As McKinsey reports on the potential of Web3, “it will need to overcome continuing challenges,obstacles, and risks for both consumers and institutional participantsbefore it can fully establish itself”, but there is no sense of Web3 as a failedexperiment.

Regardless of roadmap, milestones, financial health, or user base, it’sbecoming clear that reputational management, clear messaging, andauthenticity of intent are non-negotiable at this stage of ecosystemmaturity. When doubt is high and trust is being challenged, no Web3project can overlook the importance of understanding their reputationalrisk in a market that can be as fickle as it is complex.

Out with the Old

This year, transparency is non-negotiable and trust is no longer assumed.Whether a project leader or founder, the roadmap for the entire ecosystemis dependent on a top to bottom understanding of ‘Reputation’ as a leverfor both success and failure. And while reputation can be bolstered byhype, and buttressed by ambition, it can only be maintained by credibility,delivery and impact on the people that you are trying to serve with youreffort.

In our view of this peer-dependent, value creating economy, credibility isthe currency forged by excellent communication. The type that internalizesrisk and reputation management; interrogates and strengthens yourmessages; empowers and serves the active community; and informs andassures stakeholders, shareholders and investors; all while taking time toconsider if you can be an accessible entry point for millions of people yet totake their first, decentralized steps.

Who are you Talking to?

Strategic Communications is often mistakenly seen as a finely tunedconveyor belt of perfectly crafted pieces of information that travel from abrand to its various target audiences. The reality, however, is more similarto that of a teacher in a playground.

Yes, there are many individuals and groups you talk to directly withthoughts you have prepared, but you have to appreciate that 1) unexpectedthings will happen that require you to respond, 2) those groups will alsotalk to each other, sometimes about you, 3) they each have their own rulesand preferences for engagement, and 4) they respond both predictably andunpredictably to the things happening elsewhere in their environment.

Good communications then, is not simply about the steady flow ofinformation, but the identification, engagement and understanding of keycommunity leaders, taste-makers, dissenting voices and random messagesthat shape your entire operating world.

2022 has proven that it is not necessarily the loudest, or most active, thatwill define the success of your project. Difficult as it may seem, every brandmust carefully consider the expectations of each group when planningcommunications for 2023. Then, it’s about taking the time to cut through tothe right groups, at the right time, with the right information.

Tell Your Story, Simply

This year, if your Web3 project is not committed to the simple, cleararticulation of what you are trying to do, you will simply fall behind to theones that do and the ones that welcome the newcomers to Web3.

One of the biggest challenges that Web3 has faced is a lack of widespreadunderstanding of what it means and how it works, outside of the tightly-knit ‘DeGen’ community of early adopters and advocates. Thisinsider/outsider dynamic, with a particularly strong use of slang and native terminology, has meant that Web3 adoption requires a commitment tounderstand the technology and the terminology on a level unlike otherforms of business or digital transformation.

And this Web3 Community, made up of old and new, enters every year withhigher expectations – fair or not – and there’s an unfettered demand forexperiences that connect values, value, exclusivity and novelty all at once.In short, the Community is challenging brands with the idea that new isgreat, and well done for trying, but what’s in it for me? Is it underpinned bygood architecture, a strong plan, a clear roadmap, and a problem to solvefor? Is it easy to use? How many people use it? How many of them are likeme? And, for brands at least, the dreaded: “So, what else?”.

Perfection is the Enemy of Good

One of the best things about Web3 projects is the community-wide sensethat everyone is trying something new, figuring things out, sharing theirlearnings and contributing to industry-wide progress along the way. Forlarger brands and the leading Web3 projects, this can be a double-edgedsword.

As a brand or community leader, the message from the community can feelsimple: over-communicate everything. But for larger brands withshareholders, we know this isn’t always an option.

In most cases, we believe that it’s about communicating accurately,authentically, regularly and holistically – so nobody who could contribute toa project’s success is left out of the loop. The reality is that no matter howmuch the Discord or Twitter community cries for ‘More!’, they want to seemore, not just hear it.

The most successful projects have focused on strength of delivery, qualityof assets, and relevance or desirability of utility. Sure, they allcommunicated and engaged along the way – some more than others – butthey never let anything distract them from their ultimate goal.

Best Foot Forward

If you are entering or expanding in Web3 in 2023, you should be lookingforward to putting the work in this year. Those who don’t take the time tointerrogate and articulate will join the hundreds of others well-intentionedfrontier builders who never made it, and those who do will enjoy theopportunity to explore the place where ambition meets reality in ever-blurring, decentralized, virtual worlds.

By Colm Woods
Simply put, we build trust.
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