Just about anyone or anything can bounce back from a PR crisis. This week’s Exhibit A — Bitcoin. The embattled currency exchange recently received a massive PR bump from Rand Paul, an underdog presidential candidate.
That’s right, Rand Paul is now accepting donations via Bitcoin. The established maverick, the darling of libertarians is not surprisingly the first United States presidential candidate to accept donations via Bitcoin.
More importantly, Paul has a virulent following among younger, tech-savvy Millennials, the most likely users of Bitcoins, for campaign donations or anything else.
It’s convenient for both parties involved that Bitcoins fit well into Paul’s policies. A fiscal libertarian, Paul prefers the government take a “hands off” approach to the nation’s financial reserves. He believes excessive government messing with our currency devalues it and increases inflation. It follows, then, that Paul would embrace an independent currency opportunity.
There is a downside, though. Bitcoin has been linked to illegal black market online marketplaces. That reputation, particularly among those unaware of the benefits of Bitcoin, might come back to bite Paul on the campaign trail.
It’s not difficult to imagine his opponents telling less-than-tech-savvy voters that a vote for Paul is a vote for a technology used by Internet pirates. An unfair connection? Probably, but when have political public relations ever been fair?
Sure, Paul might trumpet the benefits of Bitcoin exchanges — the creativity and cost savings or the immediate, secure transactions. But all that might sound like Greek to those for whom the Web is still a thing of wonder and mystery.
This scenario illustrates one of the primal truths of PR — a position that attracts some fans can scare or confuse others. Walk that tightrope with extreme caution.
Ronn Torossian is one of America’s foremost Public Relations executives as founder/CEO of 5WPR, a leading independent PR Agency. The firm was honored as PR Firm of the Year by The American Business Awards, and has been named to the Inc. 500 List. Torossian is author of the best-selling "For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results with Game-Changing Public Relations." For more of Ronn Torossian's reports, Go Here Now.
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