“More Than a Spokesperson: Public Relations in Web3”

**Disclaimer) The opinions expressed in this interview are those of the interviewer and do not represent the official statement of DeSpread.

Hello, I'm Eunji Cho at DeSpread. DeSpread is a company of “Degens” who are immersed in the Web3 industry. Each of our coworkers has a unique personality, but we share the same DNA: a genuine love for Web3. We work in a free-spirited atmosphere, but we’re all professionals in our respective fields.

Last time, We interviewed DongHyuk Kim, researcher for our 7th Coffee Chat with D's Friends, and this time, coming up is Jeehyun Ham(ZZoha), PR lead.

We talked about the importance of PR in Web3 and how this content, "Coffee Chat," came to be. The role of PR is even more important in Web3, where specialization is emphasized, so let's dive right in!

This time, we talked to PR lead Jeehyun Ham about the importance of specialized PR in Web3 and how this content, Coffee Chat, came to be. The role of PR is even more important in Web3, where specialization is emphasized, so let's get right to it!

Eunji: Could you please introduce yourself?

“I’m Jeehyun Ham, working as the PR lead at Despread.

In the Web3 industry,I go by the nickname ZZoha’. ZZoha is a combination of the words ‘ZZomanie’ and ‘hi’ referring to one of our domestic cats.

Because ZZomanie was quite ill before, I minted an NFT with the hope that, if anything were to go wrong, he would live on even within the blockchain. I chose to make this Web3 experience an integral part of my identity by adopting it as my nickname.”

Eunji: What are your current roles at DeSpread?

“As the PR lead at DeSpread, I am devising DeSpread's promotional strategy. I am working to address the shortcomings I observed about DeSpread before joining.

While DeSpread was renowned for its specialized support in promoting and marketing overseas projects in the Korean market, I felt there was a need for more promotion of the company itself, ‘DeSpread.’ Therefore, since joining, I have been actively involved in promoting the company internally. Additionally, recognizing the importance of expanding the company's visibility through traditional media, I am strengthening our network with not only crypto-specialized media but also economic and IT media outlets.

I am currently developing a long-term promotional strategy, and beyond that, I am also involved in supporting other tasks such as connecting with companies for potential client and partnership opportunities, and planning the B2G model for the research team.”

Eunji: I understand that you changed your role from a reporter to a PR professional. I'm curious about the reasons behind this career transition and the differences between the two roles!

“When considering journalism as a lifelong profession, I had many concerns about whether I had competitiveness as a reporter. The profession of a reporter is very attractive, and I have put in my best efforts while working as a reporter, which has yielded some achievements.

However, to enhance my career and competitiveness as a reporter, it seemed advantageous to transition to a major media outlet. Yet, the strict hierarchy within media organizations did not suit me.

During a downturn in the virtual asset market, I had a conversation with a senior colleague. We discussed whether the Web3 industry was sinking. In response, my senior said, ‘Why would we (reporters) sink together? We are in a position to observe from the outside.’ At that moment, I felt the need to enter the industry to better understand Web3. Additionally, I found it limiting to socialize with people in the industry due to the nature of the reporter profession.

The difference between a reporter and a PR team can be likened to ‘switching from a forward to a defender position.’ A reporter takes an attacking stance, criticizing specific issues, while the PR team plays the role of defending and mitigating those criticisms. My experience as an attacker has proven helpful. It enables me to anticipate potential issues from a reporter's perspective, allowing me to prepare for defense and improvements in advance. Through this, I have also established guidelines for risk management.”

Eunji: You were new to the Web3 industry when you were a reporter, how has your view of it changed from then to now?

“In a word, I think it has changed from dislike to like.

Before I started covering Web3, I was covering the traditional financial sector, including the Bank of Korea and state-owned banks, and I felt a lot of gaps between the two industries.

I started covering Web3 in 2018, and during that time, there were many scam projects. Instead of focusing on the technical capabilities of the projects, the foundations would only release press releases that could influence the price, such as 'listed on which exchange' or 'had an ICO.' This aspect seemed immature compared to the traditional financial industry.

I took a break from work in 2020 to think about the future, and I became interested in blockchain again, which I had been exposed to a little more than others. I worked as a guest writer for BlockinPress for a while and came across articles from overseas that financial institutions were starting to take an interest in Bitcoin. I realized that the market was changing from 2018.

I started covering the technology sector for CoinDesk Korea. Looking back, I realized that there was a lack of research on Web3 technology when I was covering it in 2018, so I started looking for reports from various Web3 companies and studied hard.

Compared to the past, the enforcement of the Specific Financial Information Act has eliminated a lot of exchange-level risks by prohibiting exchanges from issuing their own coins and mining cryptocurrency exchanges. Also, with the influx of institutional funds, cryptocurrency-related products are emerging. With the mention of products such as Bitcoin ETFs(Exchange Traded Funds), products that are accessible to investors familiar with the institutional system are slowly emerging. As such, the industry seems to have matured a lot.”

Eunji: Web3 has faced discrediting moments in the past, such as the Terra and FTX issues. Nevertheless, Is there a specific reason you transitioned from the media industry to enter this field?

“Actually, I'm not completely optimistic (about the industry), but I think I know a little bit more because I came in earlier than everyone else, and I wanted to use this as an opportunity to build my expertise.

Also, despite all the bad news in the past year, I've seen organizations and large corporations partnering with or investing in web3 companies, so I think it's become somewhat of a new industry.

Of course, this industry could go out of business, and if it does, I'll still consider it a life-changing experience.”

Eunji: Why did you choose DeSpread within Web3?

“Before joining Despread, I was offered an international project at the same time.

I was worried about the organizational culture more than the money, because if it was an international project, I would be working remotely and communicating in English, and I was worried about that. I've been in jobs where there was a strong sense of belonging, so I wanted a job where I could at least have face-to-face interaction with my colleagues in the office back home, but I also wanted to be in a place where there was a lot of horizontal communication. I've been happy with the organizational culture at DeSpread, and it's what I'm looking for.”

Eunji: What does the Web3 PR team do?

“The Web3 PR team is literally in charge of promotion. We handle tasks to ensure that our company or clients get exposure in the media at least once. We also engage in risk management for negative articles or rumors.

However, since Web3 is a new industry, there are many unfamiliar concepts compared to other industries, making us think about how to effectively appeal to reporters.”

Eunji: What do you consider the most important aspect and key virtue in the Web3 PR team's responsibilities?

“I believe that 'understanding the media' is the most crucial aspect, and this applies not only to Web3 but to all PR teams. It's essential for the PR team to not only issue press releases but also understand what kind of information the media wants, the desired headlines, and angles.
This aspect is something I can relate to better due to my previous experience as a reporter.

Additionally, it's important to save reporters time when they write press releases. If a press release is long and convoluted when it arrives via email, it might just get overlooked. When crafting press releases, it's crucial to keep them as neat and concise as possible to ensure they don't require significant effort when reporters handle them.”

Eunji: What are some of the challenges you've faced in your PR work?

“Since we are consulting for overseas projects, the most challenging part of our job is meeting the needs of our clients. Especially with overseas projects, they sometimes make unreasonable demands because they are not familiar with Korean media. We are in a position to mediate between overseas projects and the media, so we have to reflect their demands to a certain extent. At the same time, we have to cut out the parts that are unacceptable to the media.

As part of this process, we create guidelines on the extent to which we can manage risk and communicate them to overseas projects.”

Eunji: What are you focusing on communicating in DeSpread?

“DeSpread not only helps overseas projects settle in Korea, but also does research, development, etc. However, we have less exposure to non-consulting businesses, so we are focusing on making up for that.

Before joining, I was aware that DeSpread was involved in research. However, it wasn't the first company that came to mind for research. Upon closer inspection, I realized that DeSpread Research excels at reading trends and appealing to the public.

I also knew that DeSpread Labs, responsible for development, was participating in Aptos Validator, but I wasn't aware that they were actively working on a new software product.

We also aim to enhance DeSpread's media visibility. Currently, a search for DeSpread yields a significant focus on SEO, compared to the past when it primarily featured partnership-related content every three or four months.”

Eunji: I heard that the Coffee Chat(internal interview) process started after you joined the company. I'm curious about the background behind that!

“‘Coffee Chat’ is a content series created by DeSpread to showcase how committed the company is to Web3. Typically, internal interviews are crafted as content for recruitment purposes. However, DeSpread designed Coffee Chat to highlight the passion and expertise of individual employees in Web3 to potential partners. Given the nature of our company, which involves collaboration with various entities, it can also be seen as a means to enhance understanding and accessibility to DeSpread for potential partners.

The idea of conducting internal interviews emerged early in the onboarding process, and after several internal discussions, Coffee Chat was born. The decision to use the term Coffee Chat for a title reflects the desire to keep the series lighthearted, despite its substantive nature, through its professional content.”

Eunji: I understand that you are also serializing articles on ‘Brunch’ in addition to your main job. What prompted you to start Brunch?

“Around the time when I started Brunch, I was actively seeking opportunities to enhance my expertise in Web3 on a personal level. I was looking for a chance to build expertise through a side project, in addition to my main job. Originally, broadcasting was the means through which I intended to achieve this. However, the broadcasting work, where I served as a fixed panelist on Maeil Business TV for 8 months, suddenly came to an end. The time I used to spend preparing manuscripts and organizing guests on a weekly basis became available.

During this period, I thought of starting something consistent, and that's when the idea of serializing articles on Brunch came to mind. I initially began with articles about DAO (Decentralized Autonomous Organization), but currently, I am serializing content related to Web3 PR.”

Eunji: Do you have any advice for someone looking to get into Web3 public relations?

“When I was a reporter, I once met someone from the PR team, and they described the PR team as a role that may not be noticeable in the organization on a regular basis but becomes prominently visible when a seat needs to be filled.

In reality, the PR team is not a noticeable presence within the organization on a day-to-day basis. However, it shines when issues arise.

Previously, there was an article with a negative headline about another company. Unfortunately, at that time, the company didn't have a PR team, so there was no one to provide clarification or respond to the article. That's when I realized the importance of having a PR team in place.

Building on the insights from the previous comments by a PR team member, I believe that Web3 PR teams need to go further than traditional PR teams. This is because Web3 is a new industry, and most companies are startups, making them more noticeable with just a bit of effective promotion. In contrast, in traditional industries like Web2, even excellent PR may not instantly elevate the company's status. For instance, issuing a press release about a new smartphone from a large corporation may not necessarily enhance the company's reputation immediately.

To be effective in a Web3 PR role, one should have a genuine interest in Web3 projects, enjoy networking, and be proactive in engaging with the community. The goal is to ensure that the projects one promotes receive more exposure in the media and contribute to the activation of the domestic community.

In order to achieve this, it would be beneficial for someone in the PR role to not only focus on promoting but also take on a BD(Business Development) role, using their networking skills to arrange meetings for clients. This dual approach could contribute to personal growth more effectively than having a mindset solely focused on promotional activities as a member of the PR team.”

Eunji: Do you have any goals you want to achieve at DeSpread?

“I hope that my experience working at DeSpread leaves a distinct mark on my life. I aim to gain valuable experience as a Web3 PR team lead, contributing to the clarity of DeSpread's promotional strategies. Above all, I would like my contributions to be clearly evident in the company's growth.”

DeSpread’s Mission

DeSpread provides refined perspective for web 3 pioneers.