What We’ve Learned About Privacy & Policy – Thanks to a Little Help From Our Friends

We had the pleasure of hosting a security panel in San Francisco last week, focusing on ‘Privacy and Policy in the Age of Disinformation.’ If you were able to attend, let us be the first to say that we appreciate you taking the time out of your busy schedule to do what is most imperative in this era of disinformation and distrust – learn more about the issue at hand. 

For those of you who were not in attendance, we were fortunate enough to have an expert group of panelists — including Joe Menn from Reuters, Michael Liedtke from The Associated Press, Seth Rosenblatt from The Parallax, and Shaun Nichols from The Register — shed some light on the matter.  Our panelists shared some of the ways they personally have been following along as these issues continue to grow worse entering into election season, a new era of data privacy legislation (via the California Consumer Privacy Act in early 2020), and as we continue through the ever-evolving age of social media.

The panel was moderated by our SVP and head of the Highwire security practice, Christine Elswick, who noted that, “As we head into an election year, questions are still swirling about where the balance is between privacy and security and our freedoms and safety.” Christine continued, “2016 was a rude awakening for Americans who were inserted in their first interaction with social media driven disinformation. But what has happened since, and what does the future look like?” Our expert panelists were there to break down many of these issues and more. 

What does ‘fake news’ mean in 2019?

The panel kicked off by diving straight into what constitutes ‘disinformation’ in this day and age. Joe Menn of Reuters explained that “Disinformation is intentionally false information whereas misinformation is accidental – such as when your grandma misremembers a story from her past”.

The panelists discussed ways to better identify disinformation and the role social media has played in perpetuating the dissemination of false messages. When highlighting how regulation of big tech has begun to factor into the conversation, Shaun Nichols of The Register warned, “We can’t get too focused on Google, Facebook, and big tech models because, if we’re only addressing one type of model, we are going to miss a whole bunch of others.”

Michael Liedtke of The Associated Press also chimed in on the effect disinformation has had on the consumer noting, “Average folks sitting at home are now more suspicious of the information they see online – which is a good thing. Identifying disinformation is not the same thing as stopping it.”

The panel then dove into some of the larger privacy concerns facing us everyday as consumers, writers, PR practitioners, tech enthusiasts, and more. “The problem is, partially, we don’t have a national standard on privacy, but we also don’t have an international standard for a lot of different things that have been around for far longer than digital privacy issues,” explained Seth Rosenblatt of The Parallax. 

When highlighting ways to level the playing field in cybersecurity and bring new perspectives to data privacy awareness in general, Joe Menn of Reuters noted, “I think one thing that would really help affect change in privacy is if there were more senior technology executives who were women. Because I think an extremely alarming percentage of women have been stalked…and women, because they’re frequently victimized in this way to an astonishing extent, are much more privacy-aware.” 

The group’s consensus at the conclusion of the event? There is still much that needs to be done in the world of data governance and data privacy legislation, but what is the best way to deal with the current state of data privacy and disinformation? Give more power to the consumers. Let the people decide if and how and when their data should be used. Only then can we restore democracy to data.

Interested in hearing more about how this panel came to be? Stay tuned for our upcoming blog post on how we created and leveraged digital assets to amplify awareness for the event.

Data, Data and More Data at Strata Data

Data is the lifeblood of an organization. Data is the new oil. Data should be treated as if it were water and not oil, in that it should be clean and accessible to everyone at a company. Regardless of what analogy you prefer to use, the simple truth of the matter is that data is a company’s most important and strategic asset.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

At Strata Data, dozens of vendors ranging from large publicly traded companies such as IBM and Cloudera to VC backed unicorns (Collibra) and new startups (Privacera) flocked to the Javits Center to showcase how they are enabling organizations to clean, organize, secure, govern, analyze and (insert every other action that I missed) data. While all of these vendors were busy trying to get the attention of the potential customers walking around the show floor, their respective communications teams had an equally challenging task of cutting through all of the noise generated at the show in order to breakthrough to relevant reporters. 

Some companies fared better than others – and I’d like to personally think that the clients Highwire had at the show did a great job – at securing meaningful interviews and coverage. But what does it take to achieve this outcome, especially at a show such as Strata Data which has such a narrow focus? Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Relationships Matter: The first time a reporter or influencer hears about your company (unless your organization is coming out of stealth mode) should not be when you are trying to get them to meet at a crowded conference. Relationships are built over time. Make sure to invest time in getting to know the reporters who are relevant to your space and ensure they have a firm grasp of what your company does. This make take a few interactions, but the investment will be worth as a reporter is more likely – although not a guarantee – to be receptive to a pitch around a conference if he or she knows who the company is. 
  • Compelling Content is King: What truly stands out for reporters are unique angles and stories. How is a customer actually using a product to drive real world results? What is this new technology or feature doing to help customers solve critical pain points? These are the stories that reporters care about, not that version 5.7-2 has a new GUI.
  • Announce Your News Early: One of the easiest ways to get in front of the news generated at any conference is to simply announce your news a few days to a week prior to the start of the show. This helps increase brand awareness and generate buzz prior to the show, gives your sales team some timely and relevant content to share with prospects to drive them to your booth and reporters may be less busy in the week before the show than at a show where they are hustling from meeting to meeting.

While a few companies I met with on the show floor cited a decrease in overall attendance from years prior, the quality of attendees was better. Strata Data might not be the largest conference, but it certainly remains one of the top data shows of the year. Does your company have plans on attending Strata Data in San Jose in March? If so, what approaches do you have plans on taking at the show? Share your thoughts with me via Twitter @JFerrary.

Privacy and Policy in the Age of Disinformation

As we head into an election year, privacy and policy are on the brain — and for good reason. Social media-driven disinformation was introduced in 2016 and over the years the industry has begun to navigate new roles for big tech and government, dissect privacy implications, and define a new era of journalism.

On October 17, Highwire will be hosting a media panel discussion on Privacy and Policy in the Age of Disinformation. Joining Highwire in the discussion will be leading cybersecurity, tech and policy journalists — including Reuters, Joseph Menn; Associated Press, Michael Liedtke; The Register, Shaun Nichols; and The Parallax’s Editor in Chief, Seth Rosenblatt — who will share insights on how disinformation campaigns are impacting society and business today, how their readers are responding, and their predictions for the future impact it will have on the security industry and journalism at large. The panel will be moderated by Highwire’s own Christine Elswick, Senior Vice President and head of our security practice. 

Here’s what the night will entail: 

  • 5:30 – 6:15: Networking and Cocktails
  • 6:15 – 7:15: Panel Discussion
  • 7:15 – 8:00: Networking and Cocktails

This panel will be held at Highwire Public Relations’ San Francisco office: 

727 Sansome Street, 1st floor

San Francisco, CA 94111 

This will be an engaging, interactive discussion that you won’t want to miss. We can’t wait to see you there! 

Interested in joining us? Register for free here

Let’s Talk about Techlash: Learnings on Bridging the Digital Disconnect from Advertising Week NYC

Advertising Week NYC has come and gone, and while the smell of popcorn has finally faded, some of the annual event’s biggest themes will be lingering for quite some time. Trust in tech was unsurprisingly a focal point, as the advertising industry continues to reel from negative headlines around consumer data and privacy, and braces itself for CCPA and other impending regulations. 

With that in mind, we listened in on a panel that spotlights new research from American Marketing Association (AMA) New York into the challenges presented by a growing resistance to technology and how marketers can work to address them. Called “Techlash is Here,” the conversation shined a light onto the disconnect between consumers’ privacy concerns and brands’ desire to reach their audiences with as much personalization as possible. Here are a few key takeaways from the study and dialogue — and what that means for tech.

Tackling techlash with transparency

Technology is all around us, playing a part in nearly everything we as consumers do. But in the U.S., many consumers are pushing back on tech’s ubiquity. AMA New York’s research found that in the next three years, many Americans will reduce their usage of social media and games. Facebook and Instagram use will level off by 2022, and Twitter, Snapchat and LinkedIn use is expected to decline. In spite of this, advertisers plan to invest even more into these channels. 

There’s a clear misunderstanding between marketers and consumers about the benefits and role of social platforms. Where marketers see opportunity, many consumers today see anxiety and risk. For marketers and advertisers to see a return on their social media investments, they will need to regain the trust of their audiences. They need to make a commitment to transparency in how, where and when they collect and use data, and put more control in consumers’ hands to monitor what they share. GDPR marked a shift in the regulatory tides, and a sea change is coming starting with CCPA in January. Marketers need to prepare themselves and have consumer sentiment on their side if they’re going to survive the storm. 

Tech skeptics on the rise

As anxiety about social media grows, so do wariness and skepticism around emerging technologies. More than 80 percent of Americans fear that fake accounts, falsehoods, hackers and bots will mislead consumers. No longer willing to blindly accept new technology for its promised benefits, consumers are boldly questioning what tech really offers and whether it might have damaging effects. Panelists called out smart speakers in particular as an innovation that U.S. consumers are growing resistant to, despite the utility of an always-on assistant. 

For technology companies to successfully deliver their future developments, they too will need to question their impact on the individuals they’re designed for. “There’s a need for people to come from humanities to question what is being built by companies like the one I work for, and ask how, if this gets into the wrong hands, will it be used,” said panelist Geoffrey Colon, Head of Brand Studio at Microsoft Advertising. “Someone needs to figure this out and say ‘We’re not about revenue. We’re about trust, privacy and consumer choice.’” 

Innovate with purpose

Consumer fears about the dangers and consequences of technology have been legitimized by major data leaks, hacks and scandals, but many marketers still fail to take them seriously — to their own detriment. Brands have an uphill battle to climb to convince users of their technology’s value, but it’s not an impossible task. 

Brands and tech companies need to put the customer front and center of their innovation efforts — and not just talk the talk — as they design and develop new tools. Innovation cannot just happen for innovation’s sake. It should serve a bigger purpose and be steered with a positive end goal in mind. As Viant CMO Jon Schulz aptly put it, “There’s a lot of innovation, but where is the consumer benefit?” 

This new era of techlash requires brands to think more critically about the purpose and benefits of technology. Will they step up to the challenge and regain consumers’ trust? Tell us what you think in the comments below. 

Highwire Honors Hispanic Heritage Month

Every year between September 15 and October 15 our nation honors Hispanic Heritage Month by celebrating the cultures, history, and contributions of our ancestors who are native to the Carribean, Mexico, Spain, and Central and South America. Notably, the mid-month timeline is important because it is the anniversary of the independence of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Mexico, Chile, and Belize also celebrate independence days within the heritage month time frame. 

Latinx cultural traditions, values, beliefs, aspirations and life pursuits are at the heart of the celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month. We invite you all to share in this special annual tribute by learning and celebrating the generations of Hispanic and Latinx Americans who have positively influenced and enriched our society. 

This year we asked our Highwire Walkers What does Hispanic Heritage month mean to you? and here’s what they had to say: 

Areli Quintana, Intern, Chicago: 

For me, Hispanic Heritage Month is a time to honor and celebrate those in my community and culture — from my family to activists. It is an opportunity to show appreciation for all the work they’ve done to elevate the Latinx community in the U.S. and educate those around me about it. It’s also a period where I can learn about the music and food from the Latinx communities I’m not a part of!

Fabiola Camacho, Account Manager, Chicago: 

Hispanic Heritage Month is not something I grew up celebrating or knowing about but as I became aware of its existence I’m glad it’s there. This month helps highlight that I’m not alone even when I may feel like it, and that there are Latinx folks everywhere and that they/we contribute to society in ways that can often be overlooked. It’s important to know that you don’t have to be exceptional to be worthy of occupying the space you’re in. 

Jazmin Eusebio, Account Associate, San Francisco: 

Hispanic Heritage Month is important to me because it gives me an opportunity to share more about my culture with the people around me. Anyone else who is first-generation can probably relate to having parents who took steps to ensure their children “fit in” as much as possible in a new setting. Being Mexican is at the core of who I am and I have been working to take steps to reclaim my culture throughout the years. I enjoy sharing details about my family’s traditions, our food, our history and about the pueblo in Jalisco where my parents grew up in. 

This month means a lot to me because it is an opportunity to open up all of these conversations. As much as I enjoy sharing, I also enjoy learning. No Hispanic/Latinx family is the same. We all have different histories, cultures, traditions and stories. Understanding this will help when trying to create campaigns that target this demographic. 

Cynthia, Office Experience Manager, New York: 

Being a Latina, born and raised in NY, it’s embedded in me, I wear all of my Puerto Rican-ness on my sleeve. My day to day is surrounded by salsa music, dancing, and aromatic foods like pasteles and arroz con guandules and its all in honor of my upbringing and my family who passed these traditions onto me. I take great pride in carrying these with me and teaching my son about our culture and all that comes with it. 

This time is also especially significant to me because it marks two years of Hurricane Maria’s devastation on the island. The months after Hurricane Maria left Puerto Rico in terrible devastation and took the lives of over 3,000 Americans. Sadly, there are still many towns that are no longer livable and desolate due to people fleeing for safety. I encourage everyone to take some time and read about the after-effects and how we can help the island get back on its feet. 

Andrea Torres, Senior Account Manager, Remote/Utah: 

Hispanic Heritage Month to me is a moment of pride and an opportunity to spotlight the richness and boldness of the Latinx community. Personally, it’s a chance to educate my daughter about her Peruvian culture. As a Peruvian immigrant, I am very proud of my country, its diversity, beauty, and culture. I’m honored to be part of a mix of people that gave the world the Incas, the world’s first brain surgeons and masonry masterminds that created Machu Picchu — if you haven’t gone, it’s a must! Or Gaston Acurio, an acclaimed Peruvian chef who through his celebration of all the traditions that make Peruvian food so delicious, has single-handedly turned Peruvian Gastronomy into a global destination.

Jackie Gruber, Intern, New York: 

As a Cuban American, Hispanic Heritage Month allows me to take pride in my culture and my family history. This month allows our nation to observe and celebrate diverse Hispanic cultures and their achievements.