Cybersecurity PR efforts carry one big advantage: Cybersecurity makes the news every day.

A data breach. A major online service down. A new regulation or threat of a nation-state attack. There’s always a story brewing somewhere in the world of cybersecurity and infosec.

Then why don’t reporters return your emails?

Why does the media cover your competitors and not you?

What can you do to create interest and generate media results so that prospects know about you?

Often, PR efforts struggle because you aren’t giving the media what they really want. Another factor is distinguishing yourself from all the noise, a topic that came up a lot at Black Hat:


Here are three ways to revamp your content and your earned media strategy that can make you a go-to resource for reporters and help you stand out from the competition.

1. Create a survey journalists actually want to see

Everyone does surveys. Every day they inundate the media with percentages and findings that aren’t particularly surprising or interesting. Most surveys confirm one thing — that everyone needs to buy the products and/or services of the company that sponsored the survey.

Don’t fall for this trap. You can create impactful surveys that leave media salivating. Here’s how.

  • Comb your findings for the unexpected, counterintuitive, unusual, or all three. Sharing a survey that repeats common wisdom is a surefire way to make reporters instantly hit the delete key.
  • Bigger is better: Increase your sample size. The media want statistical validity and the credibility that comes from large sample sizes. If you only survey 500 people, your results will hardly be conclusive. Better to start at 1,000. More than that wins bonus points for credibility.
  • Stop believin’. Ask evidence-based questions instead. If your survey questions start with “Do you believe …,” you’re doing it wrong. To win media coverage, show reporters the evidence behind the questions, or ask for specific facts that can be based on more than just a “feeling.”
  • Partner with credible sources. Third parties, such as academic researchers, make the findings more newsworthy and citable.

The best surveys take time and cost money to pull off properly. But they are worth it in terms of great media coverage.

2. Make your year-end report worth reading

Ah, the annual year-end security report, issued in the waning months of the year by companies big and small. While the best reports create awareness and build relationships, not all reports are made equal. Here’s what the best ones do right.

  • Switch up the format. Go short and give readers digestible takeaways they can absorb in just a few minutes. Ditch the report format and instead tell a cybersecurity news story. Use short-form videos to deliver a series of predictions or takeaways.
  • Score yourself. Rather than simply reviewing the year and predicting what will happen in the coming months, grade your predictions from last year and explain what happened that made you right or wrong.
  • Focus. On verticals. On particular exploits. On particular regulations.
  • Present data that reporters can’t find anywhere else. Server logs. Actual threat data. Information from your own networks or monitoring tools. If you have internal data that can aid a reporter in uncovering a new threat or detailing a series of events, that cold, hard data is gold.

Most importantly, say something new — that’s why they call it news.


3. Send your spokespeople to media training boot camp

In cyber security, expertise means a lot. But so does the ability to deliver powerful and memorable sound bites on breaking or trending news while empathizing with the interviewer (without delivering a sales pitch!).

Choose your spokespeople based on the media you want. If you’re looking for the New York Times or CNN, you need someone who can talk at a 30,000-foot level about how an attack or topic impacts a business, family, or person. If you’re targeting the trades, you want someone who can get into the weeds and explain the precise technical details.

Train them around these principles:

  • Forget sales and lead gen. Media coverage is about leveraging third-party credibility to establish thought leadership. Don’t revert to sales speak.
  • Understand and follow the rules of engagement. A great interview is a bit like jiujitsu. A reporter comes at you from a position or angle. You need to be ready to take the barrage or use the momentum to deflect and disarm.
  • Media interviews don’t waste time, they leverage it. There’s no more powerful way to share and engage than in leveraging the reach and credibility of the media.
  • Charisma counts and can be learned. Even the most introverted techies can put their expertise to work educating and engaging with the media in a real and compelling manner.
  • Sound bites matter. The media love short, pitchy sound bites. Develop some for your spokespeople before each interview and you will dramatically increase the impact of your media coverage.

Some spokespeople are naturals at speaking to the media. But anyone can be trained through practice and preparation.

Better media coverage starts here

In the end, the most successful companies make themselves useful to journalists. They minimize any jargon, they bring something new and interesting to the table, and they create surveys, reports, and content that break the mold and give reporters something fresh and noteworthy.

Ultimately, your media strategy will depend on your goals. Get in touch for a more specific look at what you could be doing to increase media coverage.

This post is based on the Cybersecurity Media Update newsletters written by David Strom (@dstrom), Greg Matusky, and Mike Lizun.