October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month, which is a big deal at Look Left. We work with some rather remarkable security solution providers who all help their customers solve a piece of the security puzzle. Our resident Look Left smarty-pants drew on their deep B2B security marketing and PR experience to share some of their best advice for how security solution providers can expand brand awareness and sharpen communication skills.
Have a strategy for how — and what — you pitch to security publications
Davida Dinerman, Vice President: The media does not tolerate vendors who finger-wag at a data breach. They demand unique insights based on research and experience, never-before-revealed threats, and solutions and learnings for readers. Understand the media’s appetite for specific opportunities and find ways to to stand out. Doing so will help you foster an excellent relationship with journalists over the long run.
Chris Poisson, Senior Media Strategist: PR pros outnumber journalists 7-to-1. There are thousands of cybersecurity firms, and seemingly a new breach or threat every day. Add that up, and it’s a recipe for inboxes to be spammed with garbage. Cybersecurity reporters complain that the commentary is rarely actual expert insight. It’s mostly thinly veiled marketing for the vendor’s product. When PR teams take a spray-and-pray approach with that commentary, it only damages the reputation of the PR team and the client.
Geena Pickering, Account Manager and Media Strategist: When pitching data or reports to the media on breaches or vulnerabilities, they do not always need the complete data set for coverage. One meaningful stat could go a long way with the media and could be used for months after the fact. In the fast-paced media landscape, sometimes the right topic, industry keywords and an excellent quick data point go further than lengthy reports.
Amy-Gabrielle Bartolac, Media Relations Strategist: Never underestimate the value of a subject line, especially when pitching during rapidly unfolding news about breaches or vulnerabilities. In a time crunch, writers may overlook stale or irrelevant information. Consider changing the subject line before questioning the content if your pitch isn't landing. Review what others discuss about the vulnerability and how they’re referencing it. Remember, the writer will never see the pitch if they don’t open the email.
Maximize security content with both insight and SEO optimization
David Sprague, Senior Content and Media Strategist: Whether it’s data privacy compliance, encryption challenges, cloud security, credentialing or an emerging challenge, your security content should help move readers toward a potential solution. Readers aren’t coming to your blog or reading your placed byline to hear about you—they need help solving a problem that you’re qualified to help them with. Their interest in your solutions will start after you establish the company as a trusted source of insight. A call to action that links to a solution page after a blog is fine, but let’s include cross-links to other helpful content.
Skylar Cohen, Digital Content Specialist: In recent years, high-profile breaches have prompted cybersecurity vendors to stake their search engine results page (SERP) claim by providing an SEO-optimized blog on the breach with a simple summary of events and a product-focused call to action — but this rarely goes well. These blogs typically rank poorly (if at all), and engagement statistics are poor if readers do see them.
Thankfully, cybersecurity companies are now focusing on providing more value to the reader as they respond to breaches and other events. This might include research statistics (either the company’s own or a valuable compendium of external research), actionable steps that do not end in a product endorsement, or talking points that can kickstart a productive conversation. Taking a higher-level approach also lends blogs more relevance over time, so their value doesn’t fade as soon as the news story evolves.
Have an approved data breach crisis plan in place
Hollie Smith, Content and Media Strategist: Let’s turn the tables a bit. What happens when a security company falls victim to a breach? While every situation must be analyzed for the ideal outcome, having no active PR or communications plan after a breach represents a potential disaster for brands—especially those in the security sector. Taking a “no comment” approach or sweeping the incident under the rug inevitably results in more significant consequences than facing the issue head-on.
Customers and journalists value transparency and a sense of responsibility in the information age. I’ve seen companies who buried breaches try to grapple with maintaining trust and loyalty when security issues resurface in the media. Disclosure is an obligation of brands, and we are seeing that successful communications management is happening rapidly. With trust being at the center of everything we do, I think there will be less avoidance of a public commitment to being honest about security issues and topics.
Want to chat about how to start or expand your security marketing and PR plan? Shoot us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.