A Postponed RSA – How to Pivot Your Communications Strategy

The RSA Conference for years served as one of the preeminent events for cybersecurity companies to showcase their latest innovations and improvements to a captive and educated audience.

By now you know that for the second year in a row RSA is needing to alter its plans. This year’s event is moving from early February to mid-June amid concerns about the spread of Covid-19.

The postponement brings with it not only the logistical challenges of attending an out-of-town conference, but also company communications and marketing efforts. Many firms plan their Q1 strategy around RSA in hopes of garnering the positive attention that will set the tone for the rest of the year. Obviously, a shift in the schedule – and one that comes just weeks away from the event – brings with it the need to pivot, and quickly.

The ongoing pandemic has forced many of us to become more agile in life and business. Our best-laid plans find themselves subject to constant disruption, enhancing the need to adapt on the fly and rethink the processes we relied on in the past.

That led me to this week’s topic: How can cybersecurity companies best pivot when something like a significant conference moves dates. While we’ll focus on RSA, this mindset applies to all marketing efforts.

Control What You Can Control

The corporate story you want to tell should always remain top of mind, regardless of what happens with an individual event or other disruption. Put more effort into building this narrative and supporting it with great customer stories, field observations, data-driven insights, and research initiatives that impact your customer community.

Over the years, companies often use large conferences like RSA to gain attention. Instead of simply trying to create buzz for the event, focus on how to gain visibility before and after the conference cycle. Even during RSA, brands found themselves fighting for attention among a finite group of reporters.

The rescheduled conference will now run concurrently with the Gartner Risk and Security Summit and a mere two months later we’ll have Black Hat. While each respective conference still has significant clout, cybersecurity firms’ marketing and communications teams must pivot and should no longer rely on an event-focused approach to raise brand visibility.

Best Practices for Your Pivot

Let’s look at some quick tips for companies who made big plans for RSA and what they can do today to adjust.

  • Keep announcements on track for February. You didn’t need an event to make a newsworthy announcement. Good stories will resonate regardless of when they happen. And if announcing at an event makes your release newsworthy, it’s time to rethink it. The goal is to grab attention and mindshare for a key announcement, and the best way a brand can do that is issuing it in a news cycle not influenced by the noise associated with a major event
  • Engage in new dialogues. Good executive thought leadership equates to constant engagement and industry dialogue participation. The front-loaded January and February schedule likely put executive thought leadership on the back burner. Now is a great time to start if you initially thought of slowing down thought leadership efforts until Q2.
  • With RSA delayed, there is now a coverage void. Take a risk like an advertorial campaign or a new research initiative that can stand out. Taking a calculated change can bring ample rewards when the conference season restarts. Trying things now can help guide your plan of action later on.

Be Agile

The journalist community covering cybersecurity issues continues to grow but also change. The Record by Recorded Future was a media platform we didn’t pay that much attention to just two years ago, that’s changed. Established big-media names like Nicole Perlroth have moved to different ventures (and away from places like The New York Times). Events like RSA will still play a role, but newer and smaller events will have greater meaning.

We may have allocated so much time to one event or put certain media outlets on a higher pedestal. That’s worked well in the past. However, we need to embrace change and stay agile with our storytelling, whom we tell our stories to and how we tell them. Firms need to up their storytelling games. The first step to doing that is through deeper collaboration between their marketing and communications team.

Need to Pivot?

If your company wants to discover new ways to grow your brand, reach out to W2 Communications. We can create a media and public relations strategy that aligns with your long-term goals and then execute on that plan.

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