In the ultra-competitive cybersecurity space, landing security coverage is often a primary PR goal – one that’s become more and more challenging to achieve in the last year. In fact, in 2020 alone, U.S. news companies laid off, furloughed or cut pay and hours for approximately 37,000 employees due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Odds are that the imbalance between the ranks of PR pros and journalists will continue to expand as the Department of Labor Statistics predicts an 11% decline in reporting positions through 2029 (while the growth rate for PR jobs remains above average at 7%).
Competition to earn the attention of journalists and meaningful coverage is fiercer than ever, which is especially true for organizations in the cybersecurity space. Analysts project the global cybersecurity market will grow to more than $366 billion by 2028, more than doubling its $153+ billion size in 2020. With major breaches emerging each week, new startups earning massive investments every year, and the ongoing pandemic forcing organizations of all sizes to rethink remote work and their defenses, security press have their hands full.
It’s never been more important for security companies to think bigger than traditional product announcements and prioritize a dynamic, layered approach to PR. Here are several best practices that help our security clients maintain a steady drumbeat of coverage in the market:
1. Deliver the Data – Security journalists are always hungry for the latest juicy data point or headline-worthy stat. Packaging up and pitching security market data (collected in customer surveys, directly through products or software, etc.) can go a long way toward catching their eye. Whether it’s an annual report, a series of monthly infographics or periodic company blog posts (the medium is up to you); the point is that releasing compelling data can help your organization earn security coverage. For example, since 2017 we’ve been helping WatchGuard Technologies announce its quarterly Internet Security Reports to showcase its threat intelligence and boost visibility in the cybersecurity market. In 2020, these reports generated more than 120 pieces of coverage in publications including CSO, Cyber Defense Magazine, Security Magazine, Inside Security, BetaNews, The CyberWire and many, many more.
2. Create Contributed Articles – Guest columns are an excellent way to build thought leadership in the security market, and they’re in high demand due to dwindling newsroom staff numbers. Devise and pitch article topics that are timely, educational, creative and even contrarian. Just be sure that you keep things product and company neutral (virtually all editorial guidelines are abundantly clear on this point). If an editor sees veiled attempts at promotional elements, there’s a good chance you can say goodbye to that opportunity (and maybe future ones too). If you’re looking for some inspiration – we run several high-volume contributed article programs for many of our security clients, securing placements in outlets such as Dark Reading, SC Magazine, Security Magazine, Cyber Defense Magazine, Help Net Security, Network Computing, ReadWrite, InformationWeek, The Next Web and more.
3. Remember Rapid Response Outreach – While it’s not a new tactic, newsjacking or rapid response outreach is one of the most effective tactics you can use to generate security coverage. Adding this into your PR program will strengthen relationships with key security reporters and help establish a steady cadence of coverage even in the absence of company news. For example, when the news hit that a joint law enforcement operation disabled the infamous Emotet botnet in January, we worked with subject matter experts (SMEs) at WatchGuard to craft a quote on this takedown’s unique elements. Pitching that quote netted WatchGuard more than 30 pieces of coverage globally in publications like DataBreachToday and BankInfoSecurity.
4. Make Use of Moments in Time – Annual holidays and observances can provide an excellent opportunity to earn media coverage if approached correctly. The good news is the calendar is chock-full of holidays that can be relevant in the security market. Developing and distributing well-timed quotes to press that cover these observances is a quick and easy way to generate thought leadership coverage. We’ve had a tremendous amount of success with this approach for things like International Data Privacy Day, Safer Internet Day, World Password Day, National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, New Year’s Day (annual cybersecurity security resolutions), and more.
5. Go From HARO to Hero – HARO (Help a Report Out), ProfNet and other similar media query services are time-honored PR tools and just as relevant for security companies today as they ever have been. Our teams typically identify and manage several high-quality security opportunities each week. Generating and submitting responses to these queries doesn’t require a massive time investment, but does result in coverage. It can even help you develop stronger relationships with new press contacts over time. That said, inclusion in the final article isn’t guaranteed. These reporters often receive hundreds of responses, so your responses must be not only unique and interesting, but fast.
6. Lay Claim to Local Media – Local media outreach can help security companies build hometown awareness and support recruitment efforts. Over the years, we’ve worked hard to establish our clients’ SMEs as the go-to sources. Local broadcast stations, tech publications and business outlets often need a homegrown interview subject to make national or global security news relevant for their audiences. For example, we regularly book WatchGuard’s SMEs for segments on local television stations such as Q13 FOX and KOMO following major security news – and receive incoming requests for interviews just as often. This helps our clients build local awareness and thought leadership, and the kind of brand recognition that supports ongoing hiring efforts over time.
7. Take Advantage of Tradeshows – It can be challenging to generate security coverage at industry-leading tradeshows like RSA and Black Hat, even if you have compelling news to share. Reporters in attendance often find their schedule full months in advance due to the sheer quantity of briefings needed to cover all the major news dropping. The best way to break through the buzz is to get creative. At RSA 2020, we helped WatchGuard earn 27 pieces of coverage through a variety of traditional and non-traditional tactics, including using branded pedicabs as a draw for experiential press interviews. You can read more about these efforts here. All that said, COVID-19 lockdowns have forced the conference industry to go remote, so you’ll need to find opportunities to stand out within virtual conferences. Stay tuned for an upcoming installment here on the blog for tips and tricks to win in the world of post-COVID conferences.
Vying for attention and security coverage can be a challenge. When built into a well-rounded PR program, the above best practices are effective tools for breaking through the noise. Together, they can help you achieve a steady flow of industry exposure that increases awareness and builds your brand. Curious how you can take your PR program to the next level? Let’s chat today.