Cybersecurity professionals will tell you that the risks associated with a cyber incident go beyond the direct loss of data. It can involve the cost of an investigation into what happened, remediation, legal fees, and regulatory fines, among others.
This also brings indirect costs. Those can count the loss of trust among customers, a hit for the brand, company reputation, and potentially, revenue.
Security overlaps with risk management, and as businesses have become more reliant on the cloud and more products are sold with internet connections, there’s been a lot of discussion about the role the CMO has in cybersecurity. This goes beyond crisis communications. It can range from the technology tools marketing uses – to measures aimed at prevention and user education around the products sold.
So, I thought was interesting to see an experienced marketing and communications leader from the cybersecurity community, categorized the notion of brand under risk. That person is Brianna Caroll Boyle and she’s my guest for the 40th edition of the Off Script series.
1) What are some of the unique challenges in marketing and PR in the cybersecurity space?
BCB: While it can be challenging to get customers to go on the record and offer a testimonial for any company or product, cybersecurity offers a particularly unique challenge. Customers often fear that if they publicly support a particular product or service, they are putting a target on their own back, or even offering a fun challenge to a cybercriminal. The challenge for the marketer is to demonstrate to the customer the value of offering a testimonial.
2) In my observation, there seem to be many well-capitalized companies in cybersecurity, how can businesses stand out in the crowd?
BCB: Great question. Before a company can raise its profile, it needs to ensure it has a clear vision and a strong product. Marketing should work with the executive team to develop a compelling brand, define its position in the market, and most importantly, understand their target audience and aggressively go after them. Failure to understand the target buyer and their motivations is such a common mistake.
Another pitfall for small businesses to avoid is inconsistency with how they go to market, which generates confusion not only internally but also externally with buyers and partners. Once a company has crafted its brand, defined its target audience, and created its marketing strategy, it needs to execute clearly, consistently, and confidently.
3) You’ve worked both on the agency and the client side in PR. From your perspective, what has changed the most about PR over the course of your career?
BCB: Technology has made a massive impact on PR, and the importance of digital can’t be overstated. The 24-hour news cycle has changed the PR game and greatly upped the stakes. There has also been a massive change in the influence of web-based outlets. When I got out of school in 2001, for instance, few of my clients cared about mentions in online outlets. They wanted print coverage and would regularly frame and display significant coverage. Online influencers and bloggers were basically unheard of. Fast forward to 2019, and coverage earned online is king.
4) What hasn’t changed about PR?
BCB: While digital has changed “the how?” and when of PR, it hasn’t changed “the why?”. The tactics have evolved, but the strategy remains. Organizations need to carefully craft and manage their brand and reputation and understand the impact of corporate reputation to their bottom line.
5) Is there a value to PR and communications that you feel sometimes goes under-recognized by the business?
BCB: PR has a big impact on a company’s corporate brand and reputation, which can, of course, be positive or negative. PR is sometimes perceived as being distant from revenue, which is inaccurate. Positive PR builds interest and drives revenue – and negative PR can do the exact opposite.
With CMOs growing in influence, organizations are realizing more and more that their brand itself is a business risk to be understood and managed.
6) What can business leaders do to get more out of their PR and comms teams?
BCB: Business leaders should manage their communications teams the same way they do other teams, by establishing clear metrics and holding teams accountable to them. While communicators require creativity and freedom, they also need to be managed and measured against specific objectives.
7) Lightning round: please answer the following in just a word or a phrase:
- One app on your phone you can’t live without is… (BCB) Waze! (Also, Amazon but my husband may be reading this.)
- One publication or blog you read regularly is… (BCB) Wall Street Journal CMO Today.
- One profound business book you’d recommend reading is… (BCB) Orbiting the Giant Hairball: A Corporate Fool’s Guide to Surviving with Grace.
- If you weren’t doing what you do now, you’d be… (BCB) a veterinarian.
- If you suddenly got 10% more budget, you’d spend it on… (BCB) research-based thought leadership or customer testimonials.
- If you could have an all-expenses paid free pass to a single industry marketing event it would be… (BCB) I’ve heard great things about HubSpot’s INBOUND
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You can find more from Brianna Carroll Boyle on LinkedIn.
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