Industrial control systems (ICS) cybersecurity company, NexDefense, propelled into the national spotlight in December 2014, soon after securing the exclusive rights to commercialize a product originally developed in conjunction with the Department of Defense (DoD). While NexDefense’s product, named Sophia, specifically benefits critical infrastructure organizations, the company was poised for the inherent PR challenges stemming from its positioning within the noisy cybersecurity industry. To break through and separate the brand from the obfuscation, prognostication and sheer panic that often leads most cybersecurity headlines, NexDefense turned to ARPR for a media relations strategy with two primary objectives: 1) to educate audiences on the risks and threats to critical infrastructure, without using fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) and 2) to position company executives as the leading experts in ICS security.
As a means to achieve both objectives, ARPR implemented an aggressive media relations strategy that centered on proactive story pitching, current event ‘newsjacking’ and contributed article placement, in addition to targeted media engagement around company news. Every month ARPR coordinates with NexDefense on a theme, and then on multiple narratives and talking points to support each theme. This provides us the direction needed to position our pitches appropriately. Additionally, ARPR monitors the news cycle daily for opportunities to respond and add our opinion to stories making news. When opportunities arise, ARPR works with NexDefense on ‘rapid response’ talking points to use as news hooks. Simultaneously, ARPR coordinates with NexDefense’s many subject matter experts (SMEs) on story ideas and talking points for contributed articles in national, local, vertical and industry media. NexDefense’s SMEs, which ARPR helped define and cultivate, span all of the company’s primary verticals, as well as technical, organizational, and compliance topics. By having multiple SMEs, ARPR is able to pitch and secure multiple interviews, stories and bylines (ghostwritten by ARPR) per month, even in the absence of company news and success stories. Finally, ARPR frequently utilizes content, such as blogs, white papers, and use cases, as hooks to drive ink, often securing cross-publication of content. For example, ARPR will secure publication of blogs and sections of white papers to run as contributed articles.
The flexibility to meet the extraordinary demands of today’s 24/7 news cycle, the power of the company’s many SMEs, the avoidance of too much FUD in storytelling, and maintaining a consistent cadence of interesting, relevant and educational content have all contributed to NexDefense earning significant media within the very noisy cybersecurity industry. Since becoming an ARPR client in late Q3 2014, NexDefense has garnered just shy of 100 local, national and international media placements, while only issuing 10 press releases. Coverage has spanned influential national outlets such as Security Week, Homeland Security Today, Venturebeat, Business Insurance and Automation World. Among its key critical infrastructure verticals, articles and bylines have been published in trades such as POWER, Rigzone and International Water Dam & Construction, among many others. In addition, NexDefense executives now regularly contribute articles or are quoted in key publications such as REMOTE Magazine, Control Engineering and the Atlanta Business Chronicle. These media placements, along with the company’s social media profiles that ARPR uses to syndicate and share news, are frequently within the ‘Top 15’ referral sources to the NexDefense website and have also helped the company earn various awards as an emerging startup. Today, when ARPR pitches reporters on or about NexDefense, there is a positive reputation and perception that precedes the brand because of the agency’s collaboration to consistently #makenews.