[Grant Application] Transform Group's Proposal

Please find our proposal here:

We are very happy to see a proposal from your great company. Before we decide, we have a few questions about the type of work you would be providing.

We are aware of PR Newswire and have an account with them (and pay roughly $250 per release).

  • We would like to know how the Newswire relationship you mention in your proposal differs.
  • In our experience, newswire releases haven’t been as impactful as the headline numbers suggest. We would love to know what you would do differently and please highlight any success stories.
  • Additionally, it would be great if you could provide your viewpoint on this article discussing the specific value of PR Newswire releases. We are very interested in your expert opinion. https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/304383
  • Additionally, can you break down the costs for your service in more detail (ie personnel costs to draft releases, personnel costs to market releases across media providers, costs to publish articles through the Newswire etc)
  • Lastly, can you discuss any KPI targets you plan to hit over the 6mo period?
  • For example, 1-2 top tier publications per month (crypto: Coindesk, theblock, finance: cnbc, bloomberg, forbes etc) , 10,000 views for a particular release etc

Our newswire covers the full North American circuit (US and Canada) for GlobeNewswire (a PR Newswire competitor - there are three major newswires who basically all go to the same places), plus global Internet. We would be happy to compare what you’re actually getting for $250 per release, as it may be Internet only and not go to many journalists. If it’s close, we will equal their price point within the package.

We structured this initial grant proposal to make it understandable to the community members, but we are happy to modify it according to the true needs of the community. Michael Terpin started both the company that became GlobeNewswire (in the 1990s when it was partnered with NASDAQ and backed by Sequoia Capital) as well as Transform Group, which has worked with more than 150 token companies and foundations, including Augur, Dash, Ethereum, Gnosis, Golem, Lisk, Neo and many others. We can provide a link of automated coverage per release, but it takes proper messaging, writing and follow-up prior to putting out the release to get success stories beyond SEO and search engine views.

Sure, he’s correct in terms of newsworthy topics (and I’ve known Jason for many years - his product is mainly a way to format your individual pitch letters to media). For big news, I feel it’s malpractice to send out something substantial on a wire without first pitching it “under embargo” to the outlet(s) you’d like it to appear. You can research and try this yourselves, but it’s always better to have an agency who already knows the reporters well (they not only take our calls and emails; they proactively call us asking for what’s new and for quotes from our clients on hot topics). For releases that have minimal news value, the value is mainly the SEO and views you get on Google News and other outlets, plus the occasional small outlet picking it up because they don’t care about getting it afterward - this is rarely the way to get picked up by CoinDesk; it takes relationships, pre-pitching, proper messaging and timing. We have multiple clients in CoinDesk every month.

This proposal was a starting point. It sounds like you’re more interested in having a handful of impactful pieces hit about ICON vs a lot of press releases that get minimal pickup. That’s typically what PR firms call a “full-service” campaign that we normally charge $25k+ a month for in normal times - although in these times, we are very flexible and it all backs up to how much news you have that we can message to be picked up by CoinDesk, CoinTelegraph, TechCrunch, Wired - and how creatively we can position you to be quoted in Reuters, Bloomberg and places that broader-based traders read. Some services we offer as an agency are time intensive - like ghostwriting opinion pieces for you like we regularly get for clients of ours in CoinDesk, CoinTelegraph, even TechCrunch and Forbes. On the other hand, a very cost-effective item is to have us looking on a daily basis to get you quoted on breaking news stories, e.g., this CoinTelegraph article uses our clients as the source of four of the article’s entire eleven quotes. We’ve had clients regularly quoted in Bloomberg, Reuters and other top-line publications through this process. Press releases should not be the only component of your PR go-to-market strategy, but it’s the most familiar to companies, so we start the conversation there.

You can either continue to use your current PR Newswire package or we can match the price and charge you $250 in ICX for the full North American circuit plus Internet. The remainder of the budget would be based on the hourly rates of our team; the typical person on the team bills around $250 (this includes senior staff in the average), so you’d get about 200 hours over the six months if you stayed with PR Newswire - or deduct $250 per release if you wanted to include some of the distribution originally proposed. We are happy to rewrite the proposal with more of this full-service PR agency language included.

If we can tweak this proposal to add more follow-up and fewer press releases, we can aim at an AVERAGE (it won’t happen every month and it depends on news) of 1-2 top-tier publications in crypto and finance, and we provide a coverage report that estimates views (not every publication shows views for each story).

Here are some examples of current and very recent clients - with much smaller market caps than ICX:

Presearch (498k views in about six months, including Inc., Observer, RT, TechCrunch, TheStreet and ZDNet)

Temtum (392k views in under six months, including Fox News and three stories in CoinTelegraph, and with CoinDesk pending)

Aeternity is in the CoinMarketCap 100 and we’ve worked with them on a project-by-project basis since their early 2017 ICO. This report is just for the past six months (1.1 mm views across 140 stories, including six from CoinTelegraph)

Hi team - Thanks for your detailed response and candor.

I’ve recently taken over the communication strategy for the project so I wanted to follow up on a couple of your points and expand on Bong’s questions.

We’ve recently put in some processes like those mentioned in your prior response. For example, I typically reach out to writers at the major crypto publications (Coindesk, TheBlock, Cointelegraph, Decrypt, Crypto Briefing, etc) on an embargoed basis for each campaign, gather feedback and find try to find angles to publish.

I’d say I have strong relationships with the folks at TheBlock and Cointelegraph and they hear out our pitches (at least since I took over this role). However, I’d say some publications are a bit more elusive. And definitely hit or miss depending on the content.

That said, we’ve had some success in recent periods TheBlock two months ago, Cointelegraph a few days ago and additional pickups at BTCManager, FXStreet, Bitcoin Exchange Guide, Finance Magnates, Yahoo Finance and a handful of others. Furthermore, we are incorporating other content strategies, incl youtube interviews, podcasts, and exchange AMAs to continue to get the word out.

All that said, helping us position content, prepare it, etc has a lot of value. But would you say the main value add in the current proposal is the additional relationships in the space with writers to potentially push more content into the Tier 1 category? And if so, is it possible to engage with you guys on a campaign-specific basis?

Thanks again! Stay safe and have a nice weekend.

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Ricky, Bong and Icon team:

First, Ricky, congratulations on the new role running communications internally for the Foundation.

Working with a PR agency at its very best is highly collaborative. We already have very deep relationships with all of the publications you mention, plus many more, including CoinDesk, and mainstream business and tech outlets such as Bloomberg, Reuters, TechCrunch and Wired. We can expand the relationships you have, as well as return you to the more powerful position of being the foundation spokesperson as opposed to the dual job of having to be spokesperson as well as negotiating the size and focus of the story.

Also, yes, if a goal is to push more of your content into Tier 1 publications, we can focus on that as a primary objective. First and foremost, this requires unearthing the most newsworthy angles of your vast trove of potential stories, as well as coordination of the internal approval process of the preferred messaging that we think can get the most attention and still be highly accurate. We also get a lot of incoming request for comments on stories being worked on by these top outlets, so we can start getting Icon in the news regularly to comment on topics these media are already writing about, as well as come up with new feature story ideas and help you craft thought leadership pieces (which is the best way to get a substantial article in CoinDesk, for example).

It’s not much extra effort to expand to additional crypto outlets above and beyond the ones you’ve already mentioned as well – and to get them to cover you more consistently. Regarding project basis, we don’t know exactly how much work each story will take, so a retainer backed by hours (which we regularly report on usage) is the best way to have a flexible budget for a few months and an easy renewal process so that we don’t have to spend a lot of time repeatedly going through this process of getting votes every month. A quarterly evaluation would seem to be the fairest to both parties. Please advise if this helps, if you have any added questions and/or next steps.

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Thanks again for your response. It’s appreciated! And it looks like this slipped through the cracks as far timing/getting back to you so for that I apologize. To answer your question more specifically, I’m interested in a PR partner acting more as a ‘strategic’ partner vs. a press release pitching/byline writer. As you know, our project is unique in that we have a lot of different stakeholders to potentially reach: potential enterprise clients, blockchain developers, crypto traders/enthusiasts, speculators, etc. And I think these demographics require different mediums. I think print is great, but I would argue it’s a low-impact outcome. And doesn’t necessarily translate into new users/clients or price increases etc. However, I think a multi-faceted approach could.

With that said, can you talk about your experience with top tier podcasts, TV (Cheddar, Bloomberg, etc), and influencers (crypto youtube / TA accounts)? And how a broader approach would look?

I also wanted to flag a new program we just initiated to bring talented representatives to the network. Pending your response above and overall appetite, this may be a good alternative for both parties as we’d love to support talented teams joining our ecosystem and provide them a platform to grow. Happy to walk you through the details separately if need be.

We have excellent contacts in all of those areas and only made the initial proposal around distribution because we thought it would be easier to explain to a voting public - we will amend our proposal or create a new one, whichever you recommend to be more effective.

Michael Terpin is in the process of setting up an ICON node as well and should have it active by the end of the weekend.

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Got it - looking forward to hearing a good news from your team.

Hi Ricky and Bongan,

I wanted to reach out to you both regarding the status of Transform Group’s PR Proposal for the ICON Foundation. Per your feedback, I think the best way to proceed would be for us to re-write the proposal to make our role that of a long term strategic partner.

We could essentially use our retainer slowly, on specific campaigns, with the primary objective being to push content into Tier 1 publications - with particular attention on Korean and Asian television opportunities (including US bureaus), as that was so successful for you once in the past.

Separately, Michael Terpin is in the process of finalizing a node to participate in the P-Rep Delegation Pilot Program, but it certainly plays a much different role than a coordinated PR campaign (the global impact of a successful PR campaign vs the individual influence of a P-Rep social media influence campaign).

We’re grateful for the ardent supporters that we have in the ICON community and sincerely hope that we are given the opportunity to partner with you.

Best regards,
David

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