Essential Components of a PR Strategy for Cybersecurity
By Katrina Porter, account manager
The cybersecurity vendor landscape is extremely competitive and crowded, making it difficult for vendors to stand out. According to a report from McAfee, in 2018 there were more than 1,200 cyber security vendors with about three offerings each, meaning at least 3,600 offerings. And that was two years ago; the landscape has continued to expand.
Despite Gartner’s prediction for a decline in security spending, cybersecurity spending continues to grow. The increasingly steep competition makes public relations strategy extra important for cybersecurity vendors looking to keep from getting lost in the multitude.
How can vendors avoid getting lost in the market?
Most companies take a piecemeal approach to cybersecurity, competing in well-defined markets with slightly better products. This often spurs vendors to create new product categories as they struggle to differentiate themselves from competitors.
With this in mind, here are two rules of thumb we have found helpful as we shepherd our clients’ strategy:
- Do not category hop. Instead, stick to your category. With consistency in positioning and messaging, PR campaigns can help highlight the unique and differentiating features of your product within the category. Many vendors are not alone when they find that their solution(s) doesn’t quite fit into one domain. But from a PR perspective, nothing looks sketchier than a sudden switch in product categories.
- Firm up your messaging. This is where PR professionals shine. Showcasing industry expertise and leadership is what we do. PR teams like ours can work with your existing brand messaging or start from scratch to create the appropriate strategic narrative and positioning for your brand to avoid getting lost in the noise.
The three most important elements of a successful campaign
The first element of building a successful cybersecurity PR campaign is to establish thought leadership within your market. With a steady cadence of content in authoritative publications, you can grow the kind of influence that makes both your subject matter experts and your company go-to experts.
A second important element is maintaining a digital and social media presence—particularly on Twitter. Because security reporters and influencers are so active on Twitter (like Eduard Kovacs of SecurityWeek and freelancer Davey Winder, to name just a couple), social media listening helps us keep our finger on the pulse of problems like data breaches or vulnerabilities as they occur.
The third element is receiving third-party validation in the form of industry awards, analyst reports and customer/partnership relationships. Winning industry awards can help build your brand’s expertise, credibility and authority. Additionally, it’s an effective way to demonstrate and validate all the great work you’ve done with customers without disclosing their names to the public. Case studies and customer testimonials provide concrete examples of how your solutions are helping solve real problems. It’s one thing for you to tout the benefits of your solution; when someone else does, it brings a whole different level of meaning.
Working effectively with PR pros
We can’t state this enough – bringing your PR team into the fold early on is essential, especially if earning media coverage is one of your major goals. PR professionals have working relationships with reporters, and they know what will interest them. PR pros synthesize the needs and wants of reporters with the needs and wants of vendors’ media strategy, creating a mutually beneficial relationship.
Working with a PR team in this way will help to shape how stories are presented to the media and ensure a successful campaign. Establishing brand identity within the market results from how stories are framed in the media, which all stems from having a concise set of messaging as mentioned earlier.
Targeted media coverage – coverage in the publications that your potential customers and purchasing decision-makers are reading – that presents your brand and stories strategically also leads potential customers down the sales funnel. This can help fill some of the gaps left by the pandemic-induced absence of in-person sales methods.
One of our success stories in the security space was with a former client who produced encryption keys. We re-established the company’s brand recognition and positioned the CEO as a thought leader in banking security. We succeeded in our goal by educating the market via thought leadership articles and created a solid relationship with targeted press so the CEO became a go-to resource. Not to mention, we conducted a media tour to showcase the company’s solution to financial and security media. Our work with this client resulted in positive coverage with targeted top-tier media such as the Wall Street Journal and the CEO became an industry luminary that press kept coming back to for commentary.
Your strategic campaign partner
In a congested cybersecurity market, implementing an effective PR strategy can keep vendors from getting lost in the noise. Public relations firms can bring increased thought leadership, digital fluency and social media presence, analyst perspective and award/event opportunities and showcase third-party validation. Bringing a PR team into your company’s campaign early on can help your brand establish relationships with the media, too.