Predicting the end of the world doesn’t make enterprise sales

How to add urgency to your cybersecurity comms without being alarmist

If you’re in cyber, you’re in great company. The Cyber Research Databank counts more than 3,500 US cybersecurity vendors in the US alone. With the sheer volume of cyber companies, coupled with dominance of certain industry players in the media – think Darktrace, Crowdstrike and Microsoft – it can feel like an uphill battle to get noticed. And one common mistake that some cybersecurity companies then fall into is playing into the scare factor.

Now, don’t get me wrong – the cyber threat landscape and the potential attacks that we know can – and will – occur are scary. And this narrative sells to the media! Nothing makes a better story than predicting doomsday.

But does this sell to your target audience? Ask yourself whether predicting the end of the world will help you sell email security software or DevSecOps tools? In most instances, the answer will be no.

The end of the world as we know it doesn’t make enterprise sales. Instead, you need messaging and stories across your content marketing and PR that create urgency around your solution without being alarmist. But how can you do it?

Start with the problem you’re solving

What sells is the problem you are solving. When determining which stories you want to engage with and tell, always start with the challenges your solution overcomes. Sometimes this will be alarming – as a cyber vendor or service provider, your mission is to stop the very serious outcomes of cyberattacks, whether that be a data breach, disruption to services, reputational damage or fines. But focusing on the tangible concerns of your audience and coming from a point of credible expertise will help you show the alarming without being alarmist.

Engage with the right news

News hijacking is at the heart of any good cybersecurity PR programme. And if your PR team isn’t actively spotting and jumping on breaking news, I’d ask what they are doing. It’s a great opportunity to show your expertise and educate on issues while they’re in the public eye. But be careful about which stories you are jumping on. If it’s not an area where you have experience or authority, you’re at risk of ambulance chasing. This might drive up your coverage volume and Share of Voice, but it won’t improve your prospective or current customers’ understanding of your offering and how you can help them.

Explain the cyber risk of new technologies

Highlighting the cybersecurity risks of new technologies is a great way to tap into trending stories to create a new sense of urgency for your solution. The most recent example is the the monumental rise in interest around Generative AI over the past six months. Google Trends’ web search data for the term illustrates the current hype:

Google Trends search of Generative AI, April 2023

But to avoid being alarmist, try to make your explanation and advice as tangible as possible. For example, we saw security researchers explain how ChatGPT is capable of generating malicious code.

Another example I previously worked on with a client was highlighting the growing risk of steganography – where information is concealed in the pixels of images. We stegged an article written by the publication we were pitching into a “cyber stock image” to demonstrate how undetectable the threat of stegged malware in images is. This approach meant that the journalist and their audience could see the risk with their own eyes!

Humanise the impact of the cyberattack

Cybersecurity professionals are operating in a high pressure environment. Research we conducted with a client into the impact on cyber professionals in CNI found that more than half of British respondents reported that it had lead to low morale at work, with one third citing feelings of burnout.

Remember the need for your solution goes beyond preventing the attack. It’s how you can simplify or alleviate employees’ workload to make the risk more manageable. So, bring this forward in your communications. Talk about the human impact on cybersecurity professionals – whether that’s aligned to the problem you’re solving, unfolding news and events, or the risks relating to new technologies.

Speaking to the urgency in human terms will help you show that you don’t just understand the topic, but you understand the impact on your target audience. All without making it seem like the end of the world.

If you’d like help crafting balanced stories that will create urgency for your solution with your target audience, without appearing like an ambulance chaser, get in touch at [email protected].

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