Get the Most Out of RSA Conference 2016

Arguably the biggest show in cybersecurity, the RSA Conference drew 33,000 attendees last year.
Arguably the biggest show in cybersecurity, the RSA Conference drew 33,000 attendees last year.

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It seems hard to believe, but RSA Conference 2016 is less than six weeks away. Hosted in San Francisco from Feb. 29 to March 4, RSA is arguably the biggest show in the cybersecurity industry: During last year’s event, 33,000 attendees sat in on some 490 sessions, keynotes, tutorials and seminars – with more than 700 speakers.

At W2 Communications, we’ve helped our clients prepare for this annual conference for more than ten years. To ensure our clients get the most out of RSA, here are three best practices we’ve come up with:

Make news. By “news” here, we don’t mean product announcements. Press releases/pitches about the latest version of the “X” series no longer move the needle through most of the year, much less in the busy months leading up to RSA. Instead, reporters prefer to have research and new data to proactively rule coverage these days. That said, media professionals are getting increasingly wary of reports with vague methodology, unclear conclusions or insights that do not inform the end user. So your research must measure up to their expectations.

The takeaway: Impactful coverage requires strong research, true thought leadership or responsibly provocative conclusions which challenge traditional assumptions about security. It’s even more advantageous to tie these messages to other themes that shape news cycles leading up to and during RSA (such as the amount of capital flowing into security; the premium placed on CISOs’ decisions; and venturing ideas about how the industry can improve, etc.) This is not to say that our high-tech PR firm can’t land client placements with other news. But keep in mind the biggest “pop” goes to companies which feed the media something juicy.

Before you head out to RSA, you need to plan ahead -- months in advance.
Before you head out to RSA, you need to plan ahead — months in advance.

Plan ahead. Many companies assume that there’s always plenty of time to plan for RSA. But unless you started working on this last December, there isn’t. As a matter of fact, if you aren’t already developing your conference strategy, you’re behind. Reporters lock in their calendars approximately two weeks before the show – and are mainly concentrating on breaking news about three weeks out. So if you want us to help maximize interest, coverage and visibility, you must announce news by the end of January. This way, we can get it out in the clear and up for momentum discussions during RSA. Unfortunately, this isn’t a secret – it’s everyone else’s plan too.

Seek quality of connections – not quantity. RSA still presents an awesome opportunity to meet with journalists in person, establish relationships and position execs as resources for current and future media opportunities. After all, reporters are constantly looking for credible references, to broaden their contacts to call when news breaks and trends emerge.

The RSA conference used to be a numbers game – “How many meetings with reporters can we get?” But, over the last several years, we’ve seen journalists taking fewer and fewer scheduled meetings. Unless a client has a high media profile coming in to the conference due to recent impactful or controversial news, we need to offer the press something unique in terms of what we want to talk about. Perhaps a different perspective on age-old security struggles, or an executive with an interesting background to better inform their reporting. By focusing on “deeper” connections, you’ll get more out of your efforts in the long run.

Many of our clients are also looking at raising their profile through RSA events, parties or unique ideas. We can help you brainstorm new concepts and support these activities, as they can offer great exposure – not just reporters, but analysts, end users and other influencers as well. If you’d like to discuss how we can help you get the most out of major conferences in the future, then please do contact us.

Good luck and see you at the RSA Conference 2016!

Tony WelzTony Welz is principal and co-founder at W2 Communications.