PR Strategies to Drive Sales for Infosecurity Companies

In the course of meetings with potential clients, we’re often asked: “How is PR going to help us drive sales?” It’s an excellent question, especially when there are so many marketing activities all competing for budget.

The answer is simple. PR is all about building awareness, credibility and, ultimately, helping to drive sales leads. It starts with understanding what makes a company different, and how it should present itself to the market. It then contributes to shaping a company’s positioning and messaging relative to its competition.

Finally, PR should help a company to get closer to its overall business objectives: strengthening and promoting its brand in the marketplace, and selling more. Good PR is more than just getting companies mentioned in the IT, security and business media: it’s about getting powerful, persuasive coverage that creates a call to action for potential customers, and keeps existing customers sold. It’s also about creating compelling content that spins out from PR activity – such as surveys, white papers, videos, webinars and blogs – that inform, educate and engage the stakeholders involved in buying security solutions.

This white paper shows how you can ensure your company’s PR is focused on driving sales, and the strategies that help to create and support sales opportunities.

Getting noticed in a crowded marketplace

At InfoSecurity Europe 2018 in London, there were 400 exhibitors and 19,500+ information security professionals in attendance, ranging from global companies with eight-digit marketing budgets to fresh start-ups.

Each competing for attention, awareness and ultimately, sales; and each looking to use media exposure to help them achieve their goals. So what separates the Infosecurity companies that regularly get strong coverage in their target media from those that don’t?

How do they get to this key starting point that helps them to build awareness?

Journalists need understanding

It isn’t just a matter of budgets, or the number of press releases that a company issues in a month. The companies that get regular, positive media coverage are those that understand the needs of the journalists and publications they are targeting. Not only that, they also understand how to link their company’s news and stories to those needs, and make them relevant to current issues.

This is more than just the starting point for a successful PR strategy; it’s also the starting point for using PR to help drive sales. The main editorial focus of the top-tier IT and Infosecurity media (such as SC Magazine, Infosecurity Magazine, Computer Weekly, Computing, CIO.co.uk, Techworld and many others) is on how organisations can solve their IT challenges and problems, and managing their ever more complex IT estates better. It’s about demystifying complex topics for their readership, showing more efficient ways of doing things, and how organisations can use these methods to save time and money.

Pain points win PR prizes

So your company’s PR needs to reflect this, and demonstrate how your solutions can solve the problems that potential customers are experiencing. It needs to be aligned with your sales strategy and speak the same language as your sales people, to demonstrate your understanding of the issues your solutions address and ultimately, why customers
should buy your solutions and services rather than a competitors’.

Mind the gap between PR and sales

If your company’s PR programme isn’t fully aligned with your sales strategy, it isn’t working effectively for you. The press coverage your company gets might be occasionally useful when communicating with prospective customers, but it will not be truly complementing and supporting your sales efforts, meaning effort and resources are wasted. Let’s look at how to bridge the gap between PR and sales, and ensure that your media efforts are truly working to boost the bottom line.

Speaking the language of sales

The company’s sales and marketing teams should not need to spend time on educating the PR consultancy about their sector.

When starting a media relations programme, the PR team (both internal staff, and external PR agencies) need to get the input of the company’s head of sales to fully understand the customers’ pain points, and how the company’s solutions address them.

While this may seem obvious, it does require that the PR consultancy has in-depth experience in the client’s market, so that they can fully grasp the pain points, customer challenges and issues in the sector – and have meaningful input to help develop a PR strategy that will support the company’s sales drive.

The company’s sales and marketing teams should not need to spend time on educating the PR consultancy about their sector – nor on preparing content for the consultancy to use: both of these extend the time-to sale unnecessarily.

Armed with the knowledge from this initial briefing, the company and its PR team can start working together to develop the PR strategy that will directly target customers’ problems, and show how the company’s solutions address them.

So what are the most effective PR, media relations and content-related techniques and activities that Infosecurity companies can use to drive sales? Here, we will focus first on creating the hard-hitting ‘hero content’ that is at the heart of the PR strategy, and is used to power the various individual activities.

Build your hero content

What is hero content? It’s material that needs to convey your central sales message, the heart of what your company or solutions are about. It needs to focus on the key problems your solutions address, to show how it achieves this, and how it does this better than your competitors. Crucially, hero content also provides vital evidence to support your sales and PR efforts.

Hero content is usually a collection of informative resources. For example, if the PR campaign is to launch a new mobile security solution or service, the content could include:

A technical white paper focusing on the issues in protecting mobile devices and data, why traditional approaches have not fully addressed the security problems, and how your solution or service does so. The paper should be non-promotional, and should frame the issues and solutions as directly as possible. White papers are also powerful fuel for lead generation campaigns

An illustrative video – which captures the key concepts of your offering and demonstrates how it works.

Independent research or survey data – which provides evidence of the scale of the issue and identifies the market need. Ideally, this should be done with an independent research organisation as this adds credibility; however, surveys conducted in-house are also effective, providing the questions and findings are non-promotional. Surveys also provide excellent material to support white papers, and other key content

A how-to guide – which shows in general, nonspecialist business terms how the offering works, and the benefits it delivers

Endorsements from customers – or a case study from an early-stage user of the solution

The type of hero content you develop will depend on a number of factors, such as the type of solution or service; but it’s essential to articulate the main selling messages that separate your offering from your rivals’.

When you’ve done that, you’re ready to start delivering those messages to the media.

Want to know how to get results?
Call us today

Turning content into coverage

When approaching a journalist to set up a briefing meeting or offer a story, research or survey data points make for a compelling pitch.

So how do you start using your hero content to deliver your company or solution story to the media? The content should feed into all the material you plan to use with the press.

Punchier media pitches

When approaching a journalist to set up a briefing meeting or offer a story, research or survey data points make for a compelling pitch. For example, “Our research showed that 80% of all mobile devices in use in the UK are vulnerable to attack by new malware. Our solution is the only one to prevent these attacks across Android, iOS and Windows Mobile.”

If you can map your key sales messages to a strong media message, your pitching will prove much more effective. Make sure you use the research data during the briefings too: they add impact and credibility, as well as giving the journalist an easily-accessible hook they can hang the story around – making it easier for them, and giving you coverage with more impact.

Powerful news releases

New research findings are news in themselves, and also powerful supporting material for news releases on solutions or services, so use recent survey data whenever possible to support your story angles. Quotes and short testimonials from customers also provide strong evidence of the real-world benefits of solutions; a strong customer success story is a news story in its own right.

Thought leadership: opinions count

Bylined thought-leadership (or opinion) articles are now accepted by a broad range of media, from specialist Infosecurity titles, to top-level IT and business publications. The key requirements for an effective article that a target title will want to publish are simple: it should be non-promotional; it should address a key business or security issue; and it should offer an interesting take on the subject.

With the right ingredients, a single article can reach a wide audience: media sites such as SC Magazine or DarkReading often see articles being viewed and shared online upwards of 500 times in the course of a couple of days. That’s 500 people absorbing your key messages, and spreading that message wider.

Articles of this type can be spun out of your existing ‘hero content,’ for example from a white paper, or video. The article can and should include your survey data, to add relevance and impact.

Customer case studies

A customer willing to speak to the press, or have a testimonial published about their use of your solutions, is perhaps the most powerful tool for using with the media: the press simply cannot get enough stories about real-life user experiences, simply because they are relatively rare. So to make sure you get the maximum value from a customer story, there are two simple rules:

  • The real value of the story is the benefit the customer gets from your solution or service: try and obtain
    figures such as “we have saved X million pounds / X thousand man-hours as a result,” or “we can now do
    in 5 minutes what used to take us 2 days”
  • Focus on the customer’s business problem and how your solution helps-not just on your technology

Of analyst relations and social amplifications

Share and amplify with social media Industry analysts, such as Gartner, IDC, 451Research and many others, play a key role in IT purchasing, especially in the Infosecurity sector; analysts’ reports or recommendations can be key to a company being invited to tender for a project. As such, analysts should be included as a part of your outreach programme, using many of the same materials as you would use for contacting the media.

Analysts are also a trusted source for national and trade press journalists, looking for an objective and informed view of the market. If the analysts don’t know you then the press may not either.”

Your PR partner should be able to advise you which analysts are the right fit for your company or solution, and are therefore the most appropriate to contact to help spread your sales messages.

Share and amplify with social media

Media coverage is a great sales tool on its own: you can send links to articles to partners, prospects and existing customers. It’s also the most powerful content that can be shared on social media, because it represents independent endorsement of your sales messages.

It’s the perfect fuel for igniting social media outreach, especially across LinkedIn and Twitter, because connections can recommend and share the content to their peers and partners. This not only extends the reach and lifespan of the content, it adds the critical ‘word of mouth’ factor that is often the most persuasive in terms of driving purchasing decisions.

It’s well worth evaluating promoting key content such as white papers, videos, case studies and prominent feature articles published in top-tier media, as this further extends awareness.

Conclusion

To help drive your sales using PR, the key steps are:

Get your sales, marketing and PR teams together to ensure everyone fully understands your sales messages, the customers’ pain points, and how your company’s solutions address them.

Map out and develop the ‘hero content’ which crystallises those sales messages and forms the heart of your marketing and PR campaigns.

Develop press material from that hero content and ensure it conveys the key messages and proof points (whether customer endorsements, research data etc).

Make sure know the key analysts in the sector and keep them up to date on developments.

Share and amplify the content, and PR results, via social media.

To help ensure this process is effective and delivers the results you expect, ensure the PR consultancy you work with has in-depth experience of working in the Infosecurity sector, and is familiar with the sector’s technology, challenges  and issues.

This means they can have meaningful input in developing the PR strategy and content; and they will also have established relationships with key media, bloggers and influencers. They will know when and how to reach out to target media, and be able to translate marketing and tech-jargon into messages that are relevant and make sense to editors and journalists.

This way, the learning curve is minimised, and your campaign will be able to deliver quick results, with the PR company leading the strategic and tactical approaches – rather than relying on you to develop content and simply sending news releases to the media. This enables you to focus on converting that awareness and media interest into sales. If you would like to have an expert evaluation of your current profile and some PR ideas to drive sales please get in touch.