Taylor Swift once said, “I think I’ve seen this film before. And I didn’t like the ending.” Although she was referring to a treacherous relationship, these lyrics ring true for cybersecurity marketers as well. More specifically, the same tune begins to play each fall as marketing teams plan for Cybersecurity Awareness Month.
Created by CISA as, “a dedicated month for the public and private sectors to work together to raise awareness about the importance of cybersecurity,” there’s clearly great intention behind Cybersecurity Awareness Month. However, we know all too well that there can also be some pessimism. In our many years of cybersecurity marketing, we’ve seen how easy it is to lose sight of the valuable work that Cybersecurity Awareness Month accomplishes when lost in the day-to-day grind of securing digital spaces.
This October, we’re supporting CISA’s Secure Our World Cybersecurity Awareness Campaign by exploring the reasons behind the negativity in hopes to change the narrative around a crucial initiative—all without turning into the anti-hero.
Cybersecurity Awareness Month Hits Different for Cyber Defenders
Before we can understand how to make Cybersecurity Awareness Month more meaningful, we need to understand why so many security professionals look at it like death by a thousand cuts.
The reason is rather simple: The mission of the campaign is to raise awareness about the importance of cybersecurity. Yet, many organizations communicate about this importance to security professionals who are already highly aware. These experts are in the trenches and understand the industry’s complexities far deeper than any marketer ever could.
To avoid the cyber echo chamber, we should not be trying to sell security professionals on the importance of cybersecurity. That’s not what Cybersecurity Awareness Month is for. Instead, we must shift our focus and speak now to educate other groups like everyday consumers and small business owners who wouldn’t otherwise understand how highly critical cybersecurity is to their daily lives.
So how do we effectively do this? Here are some of our top tips:
1. Focus on impactful social media campaigns: Cybersecurity Awareness Month is designed to raise awareness around the importance of cybersecurity, and one of the best avenues to raise awareness on a widespread scale is social media. You should’ve said no to the standard pre-developed social media copy with accompanying hashtags. Instead, consider launching a relevant security-themed challenge and incentivize viewers to participate. If budgets permit, leverage a mainstream influencer to help you expand your audience to reach new consumers. In doing so, you can directly connect with users, increase your reach, and create a sense of community between your brand and potential/current followers.
2. Prime the public for free security trainings: Oftentimes, the only information that people receive about security threats comes in the form of mandatory, work-sponsored security awareness trainings. But what about the everyday technology users who don’t work in a job that offers these training sessions? And what about the employees who attended the sessions but didn’t retain the information? Leaving them out is just plain mean.
In order to educate the public around the importance of cybersecurity, you need to first help them understand why that education is important. Cybersecurity touches everything. Use your blog, social media platforms and even earned/paid media to break it down and help individuals understand the role it plays in the most important parts of their life. For example, explain how finances could be impacted by insecure online banking or how a family could be impacted by data privacy concerns. Once the foundational understanding is established, you can encourage the public to participate in training opportunities to hone their skills.
Pro tip: As budgets permit, find ways to incentivize the public to participate. A good giveaway can go a long way. Perhaps coveted tickets to a 12-time Grammy winning artist’s concert?
3. Work with and celebrate your customers: The vendor/customer dynamic in cybersecurity is a uniquely challenging one from a marketing perspective. As all security marketers know, we usually can not publicly name customers. However, Cybersecurity Awareness Month brings a new wave of ways for vendors and customers to work together. After all, it doesn’t take a press release or case study to promote the importance of cybersecurity to the public.
Arm your customers with helpful information and resources that can be shared throughout their customer base, especially if they cater to small and medium-sized businesses who are traditionally less-equipped to manage today’s security challenges. From custom fact sheets to online training portals, the possibilities are evermore. The best part? You’re empowering your customers while raising awareness for cybersecurity among new audiences.
Cybersecurity Awareness Month is here…are you ready for it? Check out our security practice to see how we can help.
Bonus: How many Taylor Swift song references did you catch in this blog? Comment below!