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In less than two weeks, thousands of security professionals will flood the halls of Mandalay Bay for Black Hat, all edging to stand out from the crowd and make a name for themselves. Yet, with the cybersecurity industry growing at an unprecedented pace, the task of rising above the noise remains a challenge. So how can marketers get beyond the event buzz and drive awareness among their key audiences? The solution is simple, yet daunting: bold, differentiated and effective storytelling.

In an effort to determine what’s been driving conversations over the past year, Merritt Group’s Security Practice conducted a media analysis to shine a spotlight on the key topics, reporters, publications, companies and shared content that have been top of mind to date and need to be navigated if you want find a way to cut through the noise. Curious what it takes to develop and tell a stand-out story that will grab headlines? Here are three key considerations:

1. Find Your Niche

It’s impossible to be everything to everyone. The volume of overall cybersecurity media/blog coverage has increased a whopping 352 percent over the past five years (24,975 placements from May 2018-May 2019 compared to 7,091 placements over the same period 2013-2014). Security vendors cannot – and should not – insert themselves into every conversation; there simply is not enough time in the day to chase every story. Instead, it’s critical that organizations focus efforts by finding their niche and identifying what topics/trends they can credibly own, and doubling-down on promoting that expertise.

2. Focus on Bold Storytelling

As they say, content is king, and nowhere is this truer than in the security industry, especially when it comes to noisy venues like Black Hat where every vendor is pushing their content. Standing out in a crowded marketplace means telling stories that matter and compel the audience to engage from the first word to the last. Organizations need to be bold and put a stake in the ground around a topic, and then back it up with an easy-to-consume package of facts and third-party validation. Provide a visual voyage and engage audiences with digital and interactive content that lifts the story off the written (web)page and sticks in the mind of your buyer well beyond the tradeshow floor. And above all, remember that nobody wants to feel “messaged” to. The brand voice must be authentic and not overpromise and underdeliver. Focus on storylines that tap into human, emotional connections and you’ll be able to break out from the pack and make a name for your company.

3. Broaden the Conversation

While Black Hat may be well-known as the technical security pro’s paradise, sharing information at the wrong level for your audience or getting stuck only in the weeds will hold you back. Focusing on the newest vulnerability or latest threat vector is all well and good, but in order to get beyond the security trade publications, security marketers need to broaden and uplevel the conversation to explain the business impact. 

In our research, a vast majority of the 20 most shared articles over the past year fell into two buckets: 1) politically charged conversations around election and national security and 2) breaches or vulnerabilities that had a significant impact for the everyday individual (i.e., Facebook leak, fake cancer scans created by malware, etc.). Not sure how to align your message to these narratives or hesitant to delve into more controversial topics? Hold an internal brainstorm and see what connections you can make or nuggets of intel you can dig up from the corners of the organization. Chances are someone within your company can provide valuable insight around broader topics/trends within the larger tech industry.

In an overcrowded industry and fast-paced media landscape, rising above the noise can seem near impossible, but the good news is that it doesn’t have to be. By perfecting your message and developing a compelling story that is impact-driven and focused on the big picture, getting beyond the buzz and making the most of Black Hat is a goal well within reach.

Struggling to have your voice heard at Black Hat? Download Merritt Group’s latest report “Want to Dominate the Buzz at Black Hat? Storytelling is Priority #1″ and learn more about our tried and true approach!

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