Standing out in a sea of 400 of the world’s leading cyber security vendors and startups is no easy feat. Each year, more than 28,000 cyber professionals swarm to the RSA Conference North America to experience the latest and greatest of what the industry has to offer.
For emerging and even established cyber security vendors, few opportunities like RSA exist where so many existing and potential customers are accessible. PR and marketing planning for RSA begins months before the event itself, and can be expansive in nature – ranging from message development and creating innovative, dedicated landing pages to booking and providing on-site support for press and analyst briefings.
Capturing the attention of decision makers, press and analysts at RSA 2015 will be no easy feat. Reporters and analysts are bombarded with hundreds of briefing requests, often reserving 1×1 slots for familiar names with significant announcements to make. That said, success is possible and there are strategies that do work. Here are 5 tips for generating buzz and briefings at RSA 2015.
Don’t wait until RSA pitch to connect with reporters
Your firm may have relationships with some reporters and analysts, and lack them with others. Fair or not, reporters are going to pay more attention to emails from PR practitioners they know – particularly when it comes to sifting through 200-300 conference meeting requests. In one of his parting columns for Forbes, A Day In The Life Of A Tech Reporter’s Email Inbox, contributor J.J. Calao broke down one day’s worth of emails. Of the 34 PR story pitch emails that day, he responded to six of them – and he personally knew five of the six he responded to and did not respond to 29 pitches from publicists he didn’t know.
The point is this: many PR professionals worry about reaching out to reporters they don’t have strong relationships with before the RSA pitch – thinking it is better to wait until they have “big news” to get their attention. The problem is that your news probably isn’t as big as you think, and if you wait until the moment when a reporter is receiving the highest volume of pitches they get all year to try and break through, you will be out of luck.
Instead, find a way to get on the radar of influencers before the RSA pitch to make a connection. This could be as simple as tweeting the reporter in response to a recent article they have written, or alerting the reporter to new cyber security research. It is hard enough to try, in a single brief email or phone pitch, to explain what your company does and then explain any news announcement. Use a pre-RSA pitch strategy to expose the reporter or analyst to your brand and where you fit into the cyber security ecosystem. Then, the RSA pitch can cut right to the chase on news being announced.
Understand what to announce
There are reporters at RSA who will conceivably be interested in new products and writing product round-ups. But to pitch reporters who have, understandably, grown cynical about new product proclamations, it is very risky to have this be the anchor of your outreach strategy. At the same time, reporters are not interested in hearing your CEO’s “perspectives on top cyber threats” or “insights into the next vulnerability that will be exploited by cyber criminals.”
What reporters may be interested in is provocative new research your firm has conducted that supports any trend position you are staking out or that is being overlooked in the current cyber conversation; or customer case studies/customer-based research that attaches real-world examples to evolving trends. You can announce products at RSA, but the product story must fit into a broader narrative that is supported by data and/or customers.
Don’t go it alone
The limited amount of time reporters and analysts now have for 1×1 meetings at RSA borders on the comical, as the time windows have shrunk to as little as 15-20 minutes. I can’t even run through what I had for breakfast in 15 minutes let alone have a meaningful conversation that a reporter will remember at the end of a day full of 32 quarter-hour briefings.
Make the reporter’s life easier by killing two or three birds with one stone. Is your cyber security product part of a broader suite with partner solutions that a customer is using? If so, coordinate a single plan of attack with these partners that will add greater weight and simplify the story. Instead of a reporter getting a similar, overlapping pitch from three vendors, they get one tight, singular pitch that ties everything together. This approach is particularly valuable for emerging cyber brands that partner with a more established brand with established inroads to key reporters.
Working with partners, you can also set up landing pages in advance of RSA and direct influencers to key information on that site. This can whet the appetite of influencers and drive momentum into the conference.
Research Conference Product/Company Awards
RSA has meaningful award and innovation programs, such as the RSA Conference Innovation Sandbox Program, that offer a credibility check when communicating with customer decision makers, partners, press and analyst. These award deadlines are several weeks in advance of the conference and require the client to have sufficient advanced knowledge it will be announcing a new product at the show.
Engage on social if not in-person
For cyber security reporters and analysts you are not able to connect with in person at conferences, engage on Twitter to in advance of and during RSA to identify what is capturing their interest. Finding a key reporter at a large conference is akin to the proverbial needle in the haystack. You can increase your chances by following these influencers on Twitter, and perhaps one might post that they are headed into a particular panel session – thus shrinking that haystack considerably.
For everyone at RSA, there are also hundreds of others who want to attend but cannot for budget, schedule and myriad other reasons. Use your presence at RSA to deliver on-the-ground intel from sessions, themes, and demos, and promote that you will be doing this in advance of the Conference.