6 Things Cybersecurity PR Pros Should Do To Stand Out

Global spending on cybersecurity products and services will exceed $1 trillion by 2021. The sector’s accelerated growth, however, makes it hard for companies to stand out. That means cybersecurity PR pros must be savvy, creative and tactical to ensure their companies are noticed by target audiences. 

In honor of Cybersecurity Awareness Month here are six ways to help providers stand out in the cybersecurity space.

Understand how you fit into the big picture

Like ad tech, cybersecurity is a crowded and highly segmented market full of vendors, services and enough acronyms to make your head spin. Knowing where a company fits into the ecosystem is essential to differentiation. Beyond the umbrella of cybersecurity, PR pros need to adopt a granular understanding of their focus and expertise. Are the company’s offerings geared toward consumers through products like antivirus and firewall solutions, or toward business and enterprise via security information and event management (SIEM) software suites? Does it excel in enterprise data security for the private sector or are government contracts the goal? The answers to these questions will dictate strategy and help PR specialists discern what storylines can achieve the visibility they need.

React to breaking news

PR teams must be tuned into what’s happening in the cybersecurity space every day. Sometimes there’s only a four-hour window to jump on a breaking story, so we need to be ready. From massive breaches and ransomware attacks, to election security issues and data privacy concerns, the sheer volume of stories makes news monitoring essential. Cybersecurity PR professionals should be following key contacts on social media, as well as subscribing to major newsletters like Politico’s Morning Cybersecurity or the Washington Post’s Cybersecurity 202. 

But, pick your battles

It’s self-defeating to hurl yourself at every story, however. PR teams should recognize that it’s impossible to be included in every type of news and should keep a fairly tight focus when offering subject-matter experts for comment. When it comes to reactive commentary, we base outreach on company specialty and the nature of the news. For example, a company specializing in enterprise IT security probably has no place commenting on data privacy surrounding government contact tracing. The pool of cybersecurity reporters is relatively finite, so PR pros should pick and choose the most relevant trending story and offer their source only to the most appropriate reporters to maximize return-on-effort. 

Know your media targets

Cybersecurity PR pros must be savvy enough to understand the nuances of media targets’ disciplines within the cybersecurity space. For example, there are multiple contacts at The Wall Street Journal that cover cybersecurity. Approaching any one of them without understanding what they cover will ensure your pitch is ignored. Study up. Follow key reporters on social media, read the trades and learn the differences between contacts that cover breaking data breaches or ransomware attacks and those that cover IT security management policies or white hacks and research reports. PRs who are aware of these differences will be more precise in their outreach efforts and maximize the potential for media visibility.

Diversify vertically

In an industry as crowded as cybersecurity, we are often competing against hundreds, if not thousands, of other brands and executives for thought leadership space. At times it’ll be more difficult to garner coverage depending on the story being told. But thanks to how many industries are affected by general cybersecurity issues, PR teams may gain advantage by diversifying their coverage options based on vertical sectors. These sectors may range from education, government and energy to financial services, healthcare and insurance. If an industry depends on the Internet to operate, it will undoubtedly face cybersecurity challenges. Attacking industry trade publications creates more coverage opportunities and allows PR pros to position their company in an outlet that can yield visibility among a new audience segment and even create a customer lead-gen opportunity down the line.

Use research and data to cut through the noise

Data and research can be highly effective for creating visibility for a cybersecurity brand, especially in a crowded category like antivirus and encryption software. Since there are hundreds of vendors in this segment vying for market share, the odds can be stacked against us from a media perspective. By either leveraging a company’s own research team or commissioning and white-labeling research from a third-party vendor, PR teams can gain an edge over competing brands in the battle for media mindshare. Cybersecurity reporting is inherently data-centric, which makes media in the space comparatively more primed to cover emerging industry research. Successful promotion of a report on a trending industry topic can result in high-impact coverage at scale and a big boost in brand visibility for the cybersecurity companies.

PR Tips For Cybersecurity Companies

It’s not just the U.S. government that’s feeling the brunt (and the public relations cost) of digital warfare. Cyber attacks are on the rise across the globe. There’s never been a greater demand for security services than today – and those services have to market themselves in a digital world.

From major corporations, to airlines and hospitals, data protection is paramount. In March, the health-care-related debt collector American Medical Collection Agency discovered it had been breached for over a year!

Data for millions of customers across multiple AMCA contractors like LabCorp had their information compromised. We’ve seen companies like British Airways and T-Mobile fall victim to extreme ransomware and cyber breaches in the past year, and the worst thing about it is that most companies are woefully unprepared to deal with the threat.

The prevalence of such attacks places a premium on cyber security, and those who provide critical security services can take advantage of the market’s growing demand. Building better public relations will impact that bottom line. When properly designed and executed a PR program can not only build awareness, but develop a lead flow. Everyone from KPMG to startup firms need to invest in digital advertising and smart public relations. 

PR tips for cybersecurity companies

Have a media rapid-response bureau

CEOs and industry leaders can position themselves as experts through a proactive response team. Having a protocol to respond quickly to breaking news and industry trends is key to gaining traction in a digital world. Executives can easily get their names and insights in the news by simply commenting on data breaches or other major stories. Soon they will start speaking at conferences, and opining on cyber sec topics in major publications. Having a team ready to scan the news and look for reactive opportunities is vital. Yet the window for responding to news opportunities is short — possibly as little as four hours — so, nimble companies will benefit most from a rapid-response program. 

Create marketable quarterly/weekly reports

Creating a deck of accomplishments, attacks prevented and other easily marketable wins is a great way to build awareness. Trade reports and other wonky publications are eager to showcase specific case studies. Highlighting tangible benefits of your service will prove your customers are happy. The media benefit of such studies is invaluable to a tech-specific business, but do not get lost in the weeds. Focus on the bottom line and the result of your product. Most security companies know to be ultra-cautious when it comes to mentioning clients; unfortunately, most of the case histories in this category are “blind,” which limits their usefulness.

Focus on the benefit, not the tech

Technical media and category analysts may be interested in drilling down into all aspects of your offering, but beware getting lost in the technology features. For most audiences it’s best to present your product in a “big picture” way that focuses on benefits rather than merely a collection of features. Scare tactics aren’t welcome, but it’s powerful to tell a story of why you’ve been successful, and what you can do to safeguard critical assets. 

Place a price tag on the risk

Security risks exist on many levels. The investment will be seen in context, and the benefits made more meaningful to those who sign the contracts when they understand how cyberrisk impacts the bottom line. It’s not just a matter of the disruption of operations, of course; there’s often a reputational impact that can linger for years.

Invest in user customization

Not all users are the same, so why should a cyber sec package be tailored to a one-size fits all approach? It’s important that companies offer multiple packages for customers to choose from – whether its for an individual, small business looking to scale or an already large company. Our client SecureAge has done this, offering three different versions of its APEX software. It also helps to adopt a more consultative relationship, because the risk of a breach or intrusion is always changing.