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When we rang in the New Year, the expectations for 2020 were high and the promise of a new decade was within our reach. No one predicted the pandemic that would befall our world during the first half of the year, and with it, the unprecedented challenges that would arise for us as PR and marketing professionals as we face drastically altered news cycles and shifting B2B buying behaviors. 

If there’s one thing we have learned from operating in the cybersecurity space for so long at Merritt Group, it’s that rapid change is the only constant—whether it’s a breaking exploit or marketing-redefining merger or acquisitions. Since we know this year has certainly thrown everyone for a loop, we thought we’d share some best practices and insights we’ve learned to help you successfully navigate the second half of this year.

Capitalize on events that are now online

For many of us, not traveling to Las Vegas in August is a foreign feeling. Black Hat is at the center of the cybersecurity industry, where reporters, PR pros, influencers and vendors connect to hear about the latest developments in threat research. Once news of Black Hat going virtual was released in May, it was bound to be just one of many in-person event cancellations for the year. Not long after, RSA Conference USA announced that it was moving its event from February to May 2021, underscoring the need to shift all physical events either to online or a later date for the foreseeable future.

The virtual event format poses a significant challenge to building in-person relationships, landing news coverage and closing sales. One way to adjust your marketing strategy maximize company visibility in this environment is to reach out to friendly security reporters to soft-sound how they are looking to cover the virtual event. This early insight will help you be more agile and determine whether you should press forward with that product launch or focus more on research-driven reports, for example.

Another avenue to raise company visibility around online events is with video. Black Hat and other events moving online, such as Microsoft Ignite and LiveWorx, offer sponsored opportunities where you can get your brand message in front of the captive audience. Publications are also increasingly holding live streams during events, so reach out to producers to see how you can line up your executive thought leaders as guests. Some paid venues to check out include Security Weekly’s Hacker Summer Camp, Cyber Security Summit Power Hour Series and SecurityWeek’s Virtual Security Events.

Shift budget to content development 

Merritt Group recently hosted a webinar with esteemed CMOs in the B2B and cyber technology realm to understand how organizations should shift their marketing priorities during the pandemic. A big takeaway was the importance of anticipating evolving customer needs by shifting event budgets into developing new content to help fill the in-person gaps and be used across channels—from PR to sales enablement. 

When it comes to content, it is all about having the right message and telling the right story to cybersecurity buyers being inundated right now. Data-driven content such as threat research related to the pandemic or remote work is unsurprisingly garnering particular interest from security trade reporters right now. Leveraging these findings in the form of a report or blog and communicating why it matters is a huge selling point in a pitch, and can be leveraged for multichannel lead generation campaigns that encompass derivate video, infographics, social posts and more. 

Hone in on media’s attention back to breaking news 

Providing value to cyber reporters is paramount in building relationships. In the cybersecurity PR world, it seems like there is a new breach or cyber research report released practically every day, and these stories are often ones that reporters want to tell. Understanding what interests them and what they might want to cover during the rest of 2020 is the key to success, and will allow you to offer reporters what they actually need as they shift from coverage around COVID back to “regular” breaking news and proactive stories. Think ahead to what the market will want to hear about next (especially as readers get COVID fatigue) such as election security, secure remote learning for students, proactive angles around major holidays and events.

It is also important to remember that reporters are people, too. They are going through a lot of the same struggles that we are, as outlets institute layoffs and cut costs. Keeping a pulse on their challenges and needs via email, Twitter or otherwise will go a long way in building trust and maintaining good relationships. 

This remains a tough and unsettled environment, but the need for cyber will, if anything, increases. Marketers can do plenty to help the industry reach decision makers. Driving results by understanding the media landscape, producing thought-provoking content and inserting clients into industry events is the blueprint to a promising second half of the year.

Interested in learning about other ways to navigate COVID-19 and the media and marketing landscapes? Check out Merritt Group’s free resources or download our report, “Marketing & Selling to the CISO: The 2020 Edition”. 

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