Adopting Blockchain In Digital PR: The Opportunities And Risks

By Kabir Abdulsalam

TECH DIGEST – Technology has inculcated change into our lives style, so all industries on board have leverage on its benefits. For public relations expert and communications professionals, it took some years before they truly understand the impact and usage of the internet in the industry.

The use of internet appears both easy and complex in PR practice. Apart from a few tech- users, hardly can you see other professionals lagging behind in the use of tech innovation. Yet as the trend is going, Communicators are expected to keep up-to-date with the latest developments. This prompt the lates use of Blockchain Technology in Public Relations practice.

The use of Blockchain has gotten broader traction in this recent time, it goes beyond financial use or a game of numbers to entertainment and corporate communications.
Joel khalili, a tech expert explained that the Blockchain is not only relevant to those working in tech industry,but it’s inherent qualities that can be use to enhance operation beyond finance and IT sector.

Further studies has proven to reasonable direction on how PR should understand, communicate with blockchain effectively as from the work of Saskia Stopler’s essay on storytelling as a pillar to build a blockchain brand. However before dwelling on that, lets understand the term blockchain.

Blockchain is usually associated with cyrptocurrency and virtual currency Sector, aside increasing level of providing transperancy and security, blockchain has grown beyond Satoshi Nakamoto idea, the first person who coined the term and created the first blockchain application known as ‘Bitcoin’. It becomes an interlinking data in a unique sequence and storing it in a multiple locations for a secure database for all parties involved.

This write up will not dwell on the reason for Nigeria government through Central Bank of Nigeria, banning the trading or exchanging cryptocurrency by all banks though it was later revisited. But will focuses on the importance and the functionality to data transmission in the Communication industry.

Since, effective use of data and evidence-base information is crucial in this profession, how can we apply blockchain technology into PR practice?

Philippe Borremmans, current president of the International Public Relations Association, (IPRA) provides that blockchain technology via artificial intelligence can validate and recognise online identities to build public relations plans and for authenticate feedback from real human, identified audience rather bots or fake account.

Many we aggree with me that fake news has become the most dangerous enemy of Communication industry. Mr. Yushua Shuaib, an award winning PR practitioners explained that different ways fake news menace affect our daily lives through misinformation (harmless), disinformation (deliberate), manipulation of photos and or videos to influence bad judgment, aggravating anger, induced mob attack and trigger extremism.

Patrick Degenhardt, head of marketing at ConsenSys, said blockchain came to solve this issue of trust. It creates a technology that doesn’t depend on people needing to trust each other using smart contracts. Smart contract can be use to avoid data breach in the case of cyber crisis.

For PR professionals to keep benefit from new and existing clients, blockchain offers strong encryption and verification process to prove authenticity of official communication. To combat this, a French cloud software providers Wiztopic in collaboration with Euronext Corporate Service provide a platform for clients to accelerate digital communication in a secured environment.

The platform according to the Head of this company, Mathieu Caron, said it certifies corporate press releases for investors and Journalists. It was also deploy recently by news agency Associate Press (AP) to distribute US presidential election race using blockchain to verify the legimacy of Information and the Italian news agency through its ANSAcheck to help readers check the originality of news content

As a PR firm, one of the cardinals practice of PR proffesions is risk management and crisis communications, blockchain technology can also be deployed to communicate and respond timely during emergency response. Philippe Borremmans, posited that crisis blockchain can be use to assess Information records and encrypt communication which cannot be edited or tampered with, this will generate and building trust for stakeholders management.

For us in communication industry, we should also familiarise with content that are capable of distructing news and video content. For example the face swapping software known as Deepfakes that replaces an original face with another using a machine- learning algorithms for another version of subject’s face. While the Generative Adversarial network (GAN) , Autoencode is deployed to legimize and ignore noise from the contents.
Metapicz for pictures contents, to fight fraud and online identity investigation information.
Similarly, blockchain technology are progressively moving fast, having potential to change the way PR works. A simple formula for blockchain storytelling approach explained by Tobias Kirner, from ConsenSys Academy, that PR professionals should begin with the problem, explain the cause of the problem, describe the real conditions and outline the solution to offer to the problem with the action your want the audience to take.

As such, blockchain technology stands to unravel more fabrics of digital trust from human to machines and has the potential of bringing innovations to the PR profession.

Kabir Abdulsalam, is a Manager and Staff Writer with the Spokespersons Digest