Twenty-six years young – that’s how old the Black Hat conference turns when the show kicks off next week (August 5-10, 2023). Impressive display of staying power for a show that brings together some of the best cybersecurity professionals, researchers, and security enthusiasts from around the world. For those attending, it’s one of the years must attend events for exchanging knowledge, showcasing cutting-edge cyber research, discussing the latest trends across the field, and showcasing product (yes, I’ll be there). And who knows, maybe you’ll see another Barnaby Jack do something crazy.

Why attend?

1.     Knowledge – This is the expert’s show. That means you get treated to tons of research and findings on the latest threats and vulnerabilities. Plan ahead and share your own.

2.     Networking – There is networking galore at Black Hat. You can meet like-minded professionals and build valuable connections across the community. Want to really get weird, stay for Def Con.

3.     Learn – Don’t just want to listen? No problem, participate. There are tons of hands-on workshops and training sessions that enhance technical skills, allowing you to learn from renowned leaders.

4.     See New Tech – The conference features a diverse range of exhibitors, giving attendees a chance to explore and interact with emerging products from a variety of security vendors.

5.     Career Advancement – Looking to get that added cert or hunting for a new job (yes, there’s still a shortage of qualified sec pros)? Black Hat is a great place to do both. Improve your industry knowledge, earn a certification here or there, and broaden your prospects.

6.     Awareness and Preparedness – Cyber threats are advancing quickly. Understanding what cutting-edge techniques hackers are using (and how to defend against them) allows you to better protect your systems and mitigate risks.

If you’re a vendor and looking to get some PR juice from the show, you’re not alone. But what’s the PR playbook for Black Hat? Voxus has been helping cybersecurity clients get noticed at the show for decades. Here are some of my top pieces of advice:

·      Plan for this show early. Black Hat (like RSA) is a great opportunity to engage with press. But it’s highly competitive. That means you need rockstar news. If you can, manipulate your product roadmap, plan out some killer research, or prep a data report that you can premier at the show.

·      Pitching press at the show used to be something that happened in the two weeks prior to the show start date. But now, this has shifted, and press and analysts are booking earlier and earlier. When that first press/analyst list is released, be ready to unleash your PR team.

·      Be realistic about goals. This year’s press/analyst list had just over 100 contacts. Your story won’t be applicable to all of them. Cull down the list and do some research to identify what types of stories these folks embrace. They’re all overwhelmed with requests, so if you don’t have news or some super-unique trend angle to capitalize on, you won’t grab their attention.

·      This year more than ever, we’re getting responses back from outlets offering only paid opportunities. Some of these have great value, others don’t. Be diligent when evaluating them.

·      Everyone is going to be dropping news during the show. If you feel your news meets the “rockstar” standard, drop it during the show. If not, consider releasing a week or two before or after the show.

·      Dark Reading is owned by the same company that runs Black Hat. But, if you look on the press list you’ll see their staff is notably absent (this year there was one contributor listed). Research who covered the show last year (hint, there were more than 5 different journalists) and reach out. You’re welcome.

·      If you have a PR team member attending the show, send them out to hunt down some of the key press contacts. This will help them build relationships, and they can try to coerce the person back to your booth (but be sure you have a subject matter expert ready for the booth hand-off).

Speaking of getting weird, it wouldn’t be a Black Hat post if I didn’t include some of my favorite memes from years past. Enjoy…