Yes, you read that title right. Blockchain isn’t just associated with Bitcoin and altcoins anymore: it’s transforming the way every single industry out there operates and stores its data, public relations included. For people who aren’t familiar with the technology world, this word might be frightening, intimidating, or even discouraging. Fear not! Let’s “tech” down to business and clear it all up.
What is blockchain?
To put it in the simplest of terms, imagine a train locomotive pulling a bunch of train carts, each full of a variety of objects.
Each of train cart by itself would be a “block.” Similar to how train carts carry objects, blocks carry information that has been stored in them. While train carts are physical, blocks are entirely digital.
Now, when a bunch of train carts are put together and strung along, that gives us a full train. When a bunch of blocks are put together and strung together, we get what’s known as a “blockchain.”
While train carts can have the objects inside them changed, removed, or added to, information in blocks cannot be changed. Once the data is in a blockchain, it becomes a record for viewing and filing only. 100 percent permanent, with your only other option being to delete the entire block or blockchain.
Why would anyone want to use blockchains?
The main reason many businesses use blockchains is to have a much more efficient ledger. Data for a business is usually tracked by a third-person company, which can mean extra costs and possible human inaccuracies. With blockchains, businesses can record their data with incredible accuracy. Because the data is immutable, businesses also have less to worry about in terms of security or data changes.
Some businesses have also used blockchain as a proofer, meaning if someone uploads a file and it isn’t exactly like what’s inside a block that it’s being compared to, the file will not be accepted into the system. Using a blockchain as a proofer can also preserve the originality of a public file and prevent certain netizens from spreading false information successfully.
Finally, blockchains can prevent identity fraud and election rigging. Because of the need for exact proofing and the immutability of the data, hackers will have a hard time trying to steal identities because the blockchain system won’t verify him/her; for people who might have interest in rigging an election, voter results will be kept original and safe from change if they are stored in a blockchain.
Where does PR come into this?
For one thing, blockchains can be difficult for the average person to deal with, especially since it’s a buzzword, it’s pervasive, and it deals with technology, whose constant changing is draining or discouraging for many people. PR (and marketers, too) have the opportunity to take advantage of this and help businesses explain to their audiences in a casual vernacular how the technology works and why it’s needed. When Blockchain is being treated akin to Amazon when Amazon first disrupted brick-and-mortar stores, it’s mandatory for any business that wants to keep up to find great ways to explain a seemingly complicated recording process to people.
PR firms also store information about their clients into their systems, which can scare clients if the firm places little or “iffy” security on their systems. With blockchains, information cannot be altered, allowing clients to sleep better at night.
In addition to that, PR firms can use blockchains for proofing. PR firms can now secure the originality of their press releases, media advisories, and social media posts, as well as hold consistency of the content over all their platforms.
Finally, with blockchains, PR firms can keep better track of changes that they have made over time. For example, if they have a press release shared to multiple people, a ledger can record every single change that has been made, as well as by who and when. Google Docs is an excellent example of a program that already utilizes blockchains for this purpose.
That’s all there is to it! See? Not so bad. To find out more about PR and its relation to new technologies like blockchain, VR, and drones, please come to our second Summer School session this Thursday (June 28)! Head to bit.ly/moprtech to learn more about and RSVP for the event.