What We Learned At Money20/20 2017

Courtesy Jefferson Graham

Setting up biometrics for payment verification at Money20/20. Photo courtesy of Jefferson Graham.

Biometrics, facial recognition and implanted chips were just some of the advancements in payments at this year’s Money20/20 conference. Trending topics included digital currencies and blockchain with supporters such as Steve Wozniak and skeptics like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Uber, with partners Barclays and Visa, released a credit card. Shopping experiences are changing with augmented reality glasses, iris authentication and advanced mobile payments. Check out some of our key takeaways from this event.

New Payments/Higher Adoption With Alternative Methods

  • Only 25% of US retailers offer contactless terminals accepting mobile payments and only 10% of consumers pay with mobile. Despite these low stats, tech companies are trying new methods.
  • Biometrics – Facial recognition can be safer and more reliable than a thumbprint. Users can sign in with their eyes, facial expressions and voice. Even traditional credit card companies are adopting this. Visa is offering biometrics for its mobile wallet, Visa Checkout and Mastercard are forgoing signatures post-purchases.
  • Finger – FingoPay, a finger scanner connected to your credit card can be used without a cell phone. “You become the wallet,” said Nick Dryden of FingoPay.
  • Implanted Chips – The Wisconsin company, Three Square Market, that implanted microchips in their employees last summer also made an appearance. No batteries, pins, or passwords are needed to make a payment.

Digital Currencies and Blockchain

  • Steve Wozniak thinks Bitcoin is better than both gold and the US dollar because it cannot be diluted. Bitcoin is more mathematical than gold because it’s regulated and “nobody can change mathematics.”
  • Both bitcoin and blockchain have the potential to help financial inclusion, but there have been questions if the technology is there yet. One reason is performance. No public blockchain can match the 1,000 or more transactions per second of real-time domestic payment systems.
  • Not everyone was skeptical of these new financial solutions. Christine Duhaime, founder of the Digital Finance Institute, a Canadian fintech think tank, was all for it. For countries, such as Afghanistan, where exchanging money is dangerous and financial services are limited, bitcoin can be a safer option.

“It allows access to capital for Joe Average on the street, said Christine Duhaime, founder of the Digital Finance Institute. “It could be a farmer, it could be a billionaire – it doesn’t matter. You skip the markets, you skip the infrastructure, you get access to capital.”

Uber’s Credit Card

  • Backed by Barclays bank, Uber’s new no fee credit card adds tracking and rewards directly into the Uber app. Rewards range from such as 4% percent back on dining, 3% on travel, 2% of online purchases and 1% cash back on other transactions.
  • So what’s the catch? Lack of consumer data privacy could be one. Uber has had past issues with tracking unaware customers’ locations with God View.
  • Starting November 2, Uber will give users the option to get the card right in-app or online.

Augmented Reality Shopping  

  • Mastercard showed fashionistas the future of retail complete with an AR-based shopping experience. Shoppers could see digital representations of products through ODG’s sleek smart glasses before purchase and learn about options that are not available in stores.
  • To pay for your new clothes and accessories, Qualcomm’s technology and iris authentication allows users to select a card from their Mastercard Masterpass-enabled wallet to pay. Items could be shipped either to stores or your home for pick-up.

9 Key Takeaways from Women In Tech Leadership Panel

Photo courtesy of The Expat Woman

14.1 percent of women in Silicon Valley hold executive leadership positions. For minority women, this is an even smaller percentage. In an area as culturally diverse as the Silicon Valley and the San Francisco Bay Area, equal representation is still a problem. The Expat Woman, an organization dedicated to promoting a global community of professional women, hosted a panel with female leaders from StubHub, Modsy, Workday and other leading tech companies. They voiced their thoughts about women in the workforce trends and offered helpful career advice. Here are some of their key takeaways:

Motivational Points We Expected to Hear  

  • Your career is your own race, and it’s a marathon. Don’t pull out of the race before you begin. Women typically do not apply for jobs they are not fully qualified for, but men do. Don’t give up even if you feel your background doesn’t check all the boxes.
  • Different cultures and family dynamics lead to other perspectives on leading and managing others.
  • Women are successful leaders because they are nurturing and active listeners.
  • Your brand is everything. If you don’t have one yet, create one.

A Fresh Take on Relevant Issues

  • Utilize your ability to be introspective. Ask yourself: Is work fulfilling for you? Are there opportunities for growth? If not, reconsider where you want to be.
  • Soft skills, including team building and collaboration, are just as important, if not more, than technical ones.
  • Anyone can be a mentor to someone else and provide value by inspiring others.
  • Social media is a borderless way of communication and a great tool for branding and connecting with others.
  • On Maternity leave: Although some SF Bay Area tech companies offer maternity leave, some of the panelists argued that it’s still not enough time. Flexible work arrangements can help working mothers re-enter the workforce and set them up for success.

Getting successful women to start a conversation about this issue is a good first step. This panel highlighted a lot of interesting perspectives and left the audience asking engaging questions about the future of the workplace. However, in order to see significant change, more allies are needed to push companies and attitudes to change.

What has been your experience regarding women in the tech workforce?

Highwire’s Official Black Hat 2017 Recap

After some time to reflect, here’s our recap of Black Hat 2017 in Las Vegas.

For two decades, the annual conference has been creating opportunities for like-minded security researchers, influencers and hackers to mix and mingle. Talented practitioners across the globe flock to Black Hat, jumping at the chance to show off their latest findings, research and hacking techniques. For this community, it’s all about street cred, and Black Hat prides itself as being the premier stage for the best and the brightest. This year proved no differently, and members from Highwire PR’s security practice had a front row seat on all the action. Here are the takeaways:

Black Hat is Evolving

In the world of cybersecurity, insight is key and, at times, absolutely critical. Navigating this dark and interconnected web is complicated, and for vendors working to develop the latest and greatest in threat protection, Black Hat certainly fits the bill. Highwire saw an increase in client presence beyond the typical, passive 20×20 booth set-up. Instead, our clients were actively looking to advance their knowledge, specialize their technique and better understand what their customers are facing. Black Hat has evolved into the catalyst for that learning. And the awareness is growing. Although hacker attendees still reign during this week, we’ve seen more and more clients’ C-Suite inquiring in curious and positive ways about the conference as a strategic investment.

WannaCry is Still Making Us…well, Wanna Cry

Rubbing elbows with more than 15,000 security professionals gave the Highwire team perspective into some of the year’s more notable cybersecurity breaches. We heard first-hand what attendees thought of the infamous “WannaCry” ransomware attack. Almost 50-percent of people we spoke to felt as though this particular headliner was the “most over-hyped security breach” over the past year. Interestingly enough however, a near identical percentage (46.8) felt as though WannaCry was the most serious breach over the past year.

These numbers left us wondering: How can a cyberattack so severe be considered overhyped at the same time? Perhaps this points to tensions between media and security researchers. While the damage may have been a serious one (WannaCry impacted over 230,000 computers across 150 countries), researchers could be concerned about about how the attack was portrayed from a technical perspective by the media. Those of us closely following that particular cycle will remember how important it was to sort through over-hyped speculations vs. actual facts.

Let’s Get Together

On the media front, we kept our spokespeople busy, whether it was an exchange with NBC’s Alyssa Newcomb on election hacking or a video Q&A on application security with CSO’s Fahmida Rashid. In total, our agency secured more than 80 media briefings for our clients, fostering new and existing relationships and giving them a platform to share their story. While Highwire we build relationships via phone and email for our clients, there really is not substitute for actual, 1:1 facetime with a journalist.

All in all, Black Hat was an important investment for us and our clients, and we’re already kicking things into gear for the next big show…which is RSA 2018 in 244 days. But hey, who’s counting?

Decoding Black Hat and DEF CON: A Visual Guide

Hackers descend on Las Vegas this month for Black Hat (July 22-27 at Mandalay Bay) and DEF CON (July 27-30 at Caesars Palace). Both events are opportunities to discuss the latest and greatest in IT security – whether it’s a new vulnerability discovered by threat researchers, or demoing a real-world hack, the Black Hat conference is gaining widespread popularity for today’s hacker.

The conference presents an opportunity for IT security pros looking for ways to protect their networks and gear, software and solutions vendors offering approaches to address security challenges, organizations recruiting talent, and reporters covering the scene, to all come together in one place.

The intensity of the discussions, the intent to recruit, and the concentration of security pros and researchers sharing best practices spotlights widespread networking activities. Often the trickiest part of the week is finding a quiet place to talk. Needless to say, there is a lot going on — thankfully, Highwire PR’s IT security practice offers a visual guide to the week, pointing out especially attractive networking venues, conference-organized activities and other promising social events.


Blackhat infographic map July 18 revised


It’s no surprise that security venues such as Black Hat, DEF CON, Security BSides and the RSA Conference (which took place earlier this year) continue to attract record numbers of attendees. Organizations and consumers are eager to learn about how to protect themselves and their peers given the seemingly endless inundation of IT attacks and data breaches.

Several Highwire PR members will be on site in Las Vegas during the week of Black Hat and DEF CON — supporting our clients and mingling with the press, all while keeping an ear to the ground on breaking news. Interested in our take on this year’s 2017 Black Hat and DEF CON – let us know!

Talking Tech in NYC

PR Lessons Learned from New York’s Top Media


This week Highwire co-hosted a panel with Norwest Venture Partners and Button featuring some of the top tech reporters in New York City. Moderated by Mike Dudas, co-founder of Button, Alex Konrad at Forbes, Ruth Reader at Fast Company, Polina Marinova at Fortune and Jason Del Rey at Recode shared their thoughts on the tech industry as well as tips and tricks for the PR pros pitching them.

From venting about pet peeves (research what they cover before pitching!) to naming tech’s next hot spot (keep your eyes on LA), they shared great insights for those of us in the tech PR business. Read on for some of the top takeaways:

It’s harder to get coverage as a startup.

A decade ago, unicorn tech startups abounded, investment money flowed freely into emerging businesses, and tech reporters could cover these companies in their early growth stages. Flash forward to today — capital is harder to come by, a few companies like Amazon dominate the industry, and many of those early unicorns have since failed. In the words of Alex Konrad, “the tech industry has been a victim of its own success.” As a result, the media covering this space have grown more skeptical of tech startups’ PR pitches on “innovation” and are more likely to trust and write about well-established businesses — who also guarantee more page clicks.  


Make sure your exclusive is meaningful.

For media, an exclusive offer means that the reporter has the one and only chance to cover a story. The offer of an exclusive interview with an executive or VC firm alone is not enticing. Consider how what you’re offering adds a unique perspective or angle to the story. As a litmus test, ask yourself if the exclusive access you’re offering will change the headline. If not, then it’s unlikely to help you get that story.

Keep the meat for the meeting.

Tech reporters are suckers for an interesting back story about a startup founder or exec, but they’re less interested if every other reporter knows that story too. Rather than mention this background in your pitch, save these details and let reporters discover them in a one-on-one meeting with your exec. They’ll be more inclined to cover the story if they’re the only ones who have it.

Don’t ruin a good relationship.

Whether you’re navigating a client controversy or pitching an embargoed announcement, remember that your relationships with reporters are delicate and important. PR agencies are hired for their ability to counsel clients, and in a crisis situation, it’s integral to give a client guidance on how a course of action can damage, or even destroy, a relationship with a reporter. When it comes to embargoed pitching, be aware of the competition between media outlets and make sure that all parties receiving embargoed news have the same embargo information. When one publication gets a jump on the news, other reporters are forced to have tough conversations with their editors. Don’t be the one to burn those bridges, because those reporters won’t forget.

Tech PR can be challenging, but hopefully, these lessons will make navigating the tech media landscape a smoother ride.

For anyone who was able to join us Tuesday evening, we’d love to hear your thoughts and takeaways. Feel free to share in the comments section below!

Why the Omnichannel Shopping Approach Will Prevail: Insights from Shoptalk 2017

jeff-sheldon-3232 (2)Jeff Bezos famously said, “the customer is always right.” Today’s customers are more connected, agile and willing to try a new site or way of shopping if it means they can get a better deal or experience.

At Shoptalk 2017 traditional retailers and e-commerce giants showed how they are adapting to appeal to today’s and tomorrow’s consumers.

Here are three trends that were on the top of the agenda at Shoptalk:

Brick-and-Mortar Retailers Stepping Up Their Game

Although physical stores are struggling, consumers still want the benefits that come with shopping in-person. Retailers have gotten the message: customers demand innovation and the “same old” won’t work. Kohl’s is trying smaller store formats instead of closing stores that are not performing well. For the time-crunched customer, Target is redesigning 600 suburban stores to include multiple entrances, self-checkout lanes, online order counters and groceries at the front for quick trips. Walmart is launching Store No. 8, a Silicon Valley tech incubator focused on retail innovations in robotics, augmented reality, machine learning and AI.

Shop with Your Voice Or Your Favorite Social Platform

After a trial with 20 brands, Instagram is opening its shopping feature to all fashion, apparel, jewelry and skincare brands using commerce platforms Shopify and BigCommerce. With more than 600 million active users and 5 million business profiles, Instagram could overtake Pinterest to become the leader in driving e-commerce on social platforms.

For those who still want to shop locally, no worries! Google Home’s new assistant feature can determine in-store availability of products with details like sizes and prices, as well as provide store hours and travel directions.

Even e-Commerce Has to Change

Although Amazon was the leading e-commerce retailer in 2016 with more than $79 million in U.S. sales, there is still room for improvement.

 The everything store is testing a brand registry to assure vendors that intellectual property will be protected and counterfeit goods will be prevented. Any brand can register its logo and other intellectual property with Amazon starting next month. With this brand registry, both customers and the company will be able to flag counterfeit items.

To compete with Amazon Prime and its one-day shipping, eBay’s new summer program will guarantee delivery on more than 20 million items in three days or less. If a package is late, buyers can either receive credit, a refund on shipping or return the item at no cost. eBay already has a counterfeit refund program in place. As long as the knockoff item is disposed of, the company will refund both the shipping and the item’s price.

Overall, Shoptalk gave us great insight into the future of shopping for online, in-store, in-app and everywhere else.

Reflecting on HIMSS 2017: 3 Key Trends from the Healthcare Industry’s Biggest Disruptors

HIMSS sign, courtesy of FierceHealthcare

Image courtesy of FierceHealthcare

It’s a pivotal time for the healthcare industry. Healthcare has a reputation for being slow to adopt technologies, but innovators in the industry are showing that they’re ready to turn to health IT strategies to disrupt the way our health system operates.


Some of the greatest minds in healthcare gathered at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society’s annual conference last month to discuss the latest innovations and trends driving this evolution in healthcare. The most prevalent topic at HIMSS this year was the influx of data, what to do with it and how to protect it. Here are a few takeaways from the conference and how we predict they will evolve:


AI and the New Cognitive Era

IBM CEO Ginni Rometty kicked off the show with a keynote on the potential of cognitive computing to unlock a new “golden age” in healthcare. Rometty suggested that artificial intelligence has the power to free clinicians to engage more deeply in their primary interests by doing much of the legwork for them.


Rometty’s take on the ability of AI to transform the healthcare industry was not surprising given the overwhelming hype of machine learning technologies, as well as IBM Watson Health’s research and development activities over the past two years. However IBM isn’t the only company with its eyes on AI.


While Rometty herself admitted that AI in healthcare is a bit of a “moonshot”, companies in the industry are already proving its impact. During the conference, M*Modal announced that its AI-based clinical documentation solutions enabled physicians to free up more than 2 million hours of their time that would have otherwise been spent documenting it. And Nuance revealed results that proved clinicians can save up to 45 percent on documentation time with a 30 percent drop in errors when using their solutions.


The Rise of the Empowered, Engaged Patient

Knowledge is power for patients, yet historically patients have been left in the dark regarding their health data. One argument frequently raised at the conference was that patients should be allowed access to their data, especially if it can help them track and manage a condition.


Physicians are beginning to place a larger emphasis on care in between visits. This empowers patients to become active participants in their own health and extend their care beyond the four walls of the hospital. Additionally, there are many digital health apps that already aim to provide consumers with the ability to collect and analyze their critical health data, ushering in a new generation of informed patients.


With the rise of telehealth platforms and advanced remote monitoring technologies, data collected at home is as accurate as data collected at the doctor’s office. However this concept is not yet widely accepted across the healthcare sector. This gap calls for a connected healthcare model where all of the different stakeholders can share data seamlessly across systems.


Cybersecurity Concerns

Not surprisingly, with all this data comes the added concern of how to keep it safe. In a presentation about making the right investment in security, Mac McMillan, co-founder and CEO of health data security and privacy company CynergisTek, discussed the overwhelming need for cybersecurity adoption in healthcare. The industry suffered a record 92 privacy breaches attributed to hacking in the first 11 months of 2016, which was a 64 percent increase from 2015.


This trend will continue as hackers become more savvy at breaching health system data centers. Healthcare organizations are on alert and spending accordingly. 90 percent of U.S. healthcare respondents feel vulnerable to data threats, which may explain why 81 percent of U.S. healthcare organizations and 76 percent of global healthcare organizations will increase information security spending in 2017, according to a study released at the conference by 451 Research and cybersecurity technology and services vendor Thales.


The healthcare industry is at a crossroads. While it faces the unique challenge of encouraging an open flow of health data between patients, providers and physicians, it also must remain mindful of how to keep that sensitive information out of the wrong hands. Healthcare is certainly a sector to keep your eyes on as it continues to stride toward system interoperability and a secure, seamless data exchange.

Join Us for Our Third Annual RSA Happy Hour and Christian Science Monitor’s Passcode Security Podcast

Mix and Mingle with Peers or Watch Live Panel Interviews with Security Luminaries

Cybersecurity has broken out of its shell and has hit center stage. Everyone is now aware of how important a matter it has become. Not only was it a major point of contention in recent political events, but it’s also become a threat to the internet’s viability. A successful attack can have wide-reaching and lasting real-world implications.

In this light, one of the biggest congregations of the top players in security will take place next week at this year’s RSA Conference. Industry luminaries will come together in San Francisco and discuss some of the hottest topics in the industry. We can expect this year to have some memorable moments.

For our own part, Highwire is hosting its third annual RSA Conference happy hour but this time with a twist. This year we are combining forces with Christian Science Monitor’s security vertical Passcode, as Sean Sposito, assistant director of content strategy, discusses hot-button items with some of our security clients. Particularly, there will be three sessions spanning the evening:

unnamed (3)

Panel Topic: Securing the Digital Enterprise

Date/Time: Wednesday, February 15 at 5:15 p.m. PST

Location: Natoma Cabana; 90 Natoma Street, San Francisco, CA (two blocks from the Moscone Center)

Panel Participant: Sumedh Thakar, chief product officer at Qualys

Livestream: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2IuPX5fBqjE


Panel Topic: Why are we Still Not Secure

Date/Time:  Wednesday, February 15 at 6:00 p.m. PST

Location: Natoma Cabana; 90 Natoma Street, San Francisco, CA (two blocks from the Moscone Center)

Panel Participants:

  • Jesse McKenna, director of product management at vArmour
  • Bil Harmer, senior director, officer of the CISO at Zscaler
  • Justin Fier, Director for Cyber Intelligence and Analysis at Darktrace

Livestream: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2IuPX5fBqjE


Panel Topic: The Professionalization of Ransomware

Date/Time:  Wednesday, February 15 at 6:35 p.m. PST

Location: Natoma Cabana; 90 Natoma Street, San Francisco, CA (two blocks from the Moscone Center)

Panel Participants:

  • Ziv Mador, VP of security research at Trustwave
  • Chris Wysopal, CTO and co-founder of Veracode
  • Jeremiah Grossman, Chief of Security Strategy at SentinelOne

Livestream: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2IuPX5fBqjE



Map Your RSA Conference Week

IT security is an industry based on electronics. Bits and bytes. Wires and routers.  Software code and containers. However, for one week each year, the thought leaders within this business existing “in the ether” congregate and concentrate within a few square miles in San Francisco.

The event that brings them together, RSA Conference, will be held just a few weeks from now. RSA is big. By its own estimates, the conference attracted 40,000 attendees in 2016. That’s the number of CISOs, CIOs, IT security pros, reporters, vendors, interested bystanders, and—yes—PR pros who registered for a badge to enter the Moscone Center during the event.

With that many IT security-minded people in a small area, a series of other events stake out ground near Moscone during the week, enticing those with their own programming. Some have become traditions—everyone knows about the Securosis Recovery Breakfast on Thursday morning, for example.

Your friends at Highwire PR have put together a map of the various events taking place during the week of RSA. Some are instructional, some are celebratory, and some are meant to be cocktail-laden. Per our map below, RSA is not one event, but rather at least 13. Feel free to let us know if we’ve missed one of your favorite events in the comments below. 


Also, make sure to stop by Highwire PR’s event too. It’s a reception on Wednesday, February 15, from 5 – 8:00 p.m. at Natoma Cabana, 90 Natoma Street. Our event is participatory; CSM Passcode, a key industry publication, will be on hand to host a podcast recording with several IT security leaders.

During the week, it will be hard to miss members of our IT security team across the show floor, as we staff meetings and drive PR efforts for our clients. See you there! 

CES 2017: Top Trends, Tips and Tricks

CES 2017

CES 2017 showed us that IoT, autonomous vehicles and artificial intelligence are still major conversation drivers.

What were the big trends of CES 2017? IoT, autonomous vehicles and artificial intelligence. This year we saw exciting advancements, especially in the IoT. And let’s not forget Alexa, the technology that stole everyone’s hearts. Here are some of the biggest trends we saw this year and the products behind them:

IoT Finally Connects the Dots

For the past few years, IoT devices have dominated the show floor at CES, but this is the first year we saw IoT products actually working together. A novel thought, no? This has always been the vision of IoT but instead of taking the next step in this “connected lifestyle” we’re trying to create, companies have crowded the market with new devices. The amount of integrations we saw with Alexa this year was a bit overwhelming, but it signals we might finally be going in the right direction. Yes, there are still hurdles to jump in IoT– particularly security and interoperability, but CES 2017 demonstrated we’re off to a good start.

Diversity Takes a Front Seat

Diversity has been a hot button topic in the tech space for years, with the criticism of low diversity growth hovering above companies from Google to Microsoft. But CES 2017 proved that we’re taking steps to combat this issue as an industry. A number of female-founded companies presented devices and gadgets geared towards women, including CEO Naomi Kelman of Willow, with a smart breast pump that slides into a nursing mother’s bra and allows for hands free pumping as well as Lea von Bidder of Ava and its fertility-tracking wristband.

The Consumer-Enterprise Crossover

The most impactful products — ones like standout star Amazon Alexa — will not solely be marketed or made for consumer-use, but will begin to offer enterprise use cases, as well. We saw this back in November, when Atlassian ecosystem partner, SoftServe, built out a function to allow Alexa to work with Atlassian’s HipChat platform. We will continue to see this trend as IoT evolves. After all, what worker doesn’t want a personal assistant?

Capturing the Media’s Attention

Whether you’re touting a veteran crowd pleaser or a break out star, the biggest obstacle at CES is getting in front of the right people. For companies attending the show this year, the timing was very difficult. Many members of the media arrived days before it started and left after the first day. But good news! The show dates are a week later: CES 2018 will be held January 9-12 (Tuesday to Friday), which gives us all an extra week to plan. With that in mind, we’ve put together a few tips for rising above the noise:


  • Start early: Start pitching press meetings and demos ahead of the show to shrink the competitive landscape. Press are grateful because they often find the show too large to see everything they want. The earlier you can get a product on a journalist’s radar, the better.
  • Pre-shows, pre-shows, pre-shows:  Pepcom, Showstoppers and CES Unveiled are simple solutions for presenting your product to press in an intimate venue. They quiet the noise of CES’s thirty-two thousand plus exhibitors and allow journalists to focus on your product.
  • Get on your feet: Don’t wait for journalists to find you. With over 170,000 attendees, most journalists can’t get through the entirety of CES, even in a full week’s time. You have to find them. Gather a portable version of your product and hit the aisles yourself!


Post co-authored by Stephanie Burke, Senior Account Executive, New York

Stephanie Burke is a senior account executive at Highwire PR. Stephanie supports corporate, consumer and enterprise technology clients, with an emphasis on campaign planning, media relations and events execution. From tech startups to today’s biggest brands, Stephanie supports and leads a variety of campaigns focused on building credibility and awareness of both products and brands.