High-Lights: Our Tech PR POV

COVID-19’s Impact on the Cyber Media with SDxCentral’s Jessica Hardcastle

I recently connected with tech reporter extraordinaire (and one of my personal favorite people to work with), Jessica Hardcastle, the managing editor of SDxCentral covering next-generation data centers, security, and software-defined storage. We chatted about what she’s been working on during COVID-19 and how the pandemic has shaped her coverage.

See below for a Q&A breakdown of our conversation (edited for clarity and conciseness):

Jill: What cybersecurity stories have you been working on outside of COVID-19-centered articles?

Jessica: I’ve been working on the usual trend pieces, and what’s next on the threat landscape. I also think between now and November election security is obviously going to be a big one.

Jill: How are you seeing COVID-10 shape the cyber media landscape?

Jessica: I think it’s shaping the media landscape in many of the same ways that it’s shaping the cybersecurity landscape overall: It’s basically expanding everything. The threat landscape is bigger (more threats and a larger attack surface) now that people are working from home, so that definitely expands the focus area of our coverage. Plus, in addition to COVID-19, there’s still all the usual stuff — product releases, non-COVID-related threats, reports, and trends — so as media we’re trying to balance it all. It’s a lot more work for us, but we realize it’s also a lot more work for the defenders.

Jill: How are you staying sane through the increased stress and pressures during COVID?

Jessica: Honestly, not very well. It’s a struggle every day and now that fully-remote first grade for my twins has started, it’s even harder. I think long walks and getting outside has really helped me over the last few months, but now the Santa Cruz fires [where Jessica is based] have ruined that one, too. Damn you, 2020!

Jill: On a hopefully more positive note, which of your recent articles are you most proud of?

Jessica: I’m proud of this election security story [around disinformation] and also this one [about how defenders have responded to increased cyber threats caused by the pandemic], which I think – or at least I hope – shows some of the human side of everything going on right now.

Jill: Finally — a silly one — what’s one fun fact about yourself?

Jessica: I can sing every word to every Billy Joel song ever written.

It’s clear from our conversation that for  PR and media, COVID-19 has increased the stress and pressure on top of traditional announcements and news of the day. It’s a lot. 

Shortly after our quick Q&A, Jessica shared this article from the New Yorker with me about all of the things we’ll do when the pandemic is ‘over.’ It popped into my inbox at the end of a particularly long day, breaking a smile into my tired eyes and driving home the point: We’re all in this together, and we could all damn well use a laugh. I’m grateful to work with people like Jessica who embrace this outlook. 

One day soon, we’ll all be back singing karaoke (maybe to a Billy Joel song?), but until then, those of us in PR need to think about how we can support our journalist buddies with thoughtful pitches and connecting them with resources who can comment on the most influential and critical topics of the time.

Like this Q&A? Read some of our other reporter interviews with Dark Reading’s Kelly Jackson Higgins and freelancer Alyssa Newcomb on the Highwire blog.