Reuters Reporter Joe Menn Shares Insight on Latest Book, “Cult of the Dead Cow”

The world of cybersecurity can often be a place of doom and gloom. That’s what Reuters reporter and author Joe Menn focused on in his 2010 book, Fatal System Error. The book is an attempt to get folks in Washington, the industry as a whole and everyday people to realize that cybersecurity is a major issue. Now, nearly 10 years later, his mission has come to fruition. The public, government and tech leaders have recognized cybersecurity as a matter of critical importance, and people at every level are looking for solutions to it. 

In this time of minor panic, Joe wanted to spotlight a group of hackers who are doing good. His latest book, Cult of the Dead Cow, was released in June and named one of Hudson Booksellers Best Books of 2019. It follows the story of the original hacktivism group –  and oldest group of computer hackers in U.S. history – through inception as a group of Texas kids with an interest in computers to the experienced hackers and technology professionals who testified in front of Congress.

Joe joined us in the Highwire San Francisco office to chat through his latest book and answer all of our burning questions. We’ll share some of the behind-the-scenes information he let us in on, but be careful – some spoilers ahead!

How do you get sources to open up and trust you?

One of the challenges of writing a book about hackers, especially ones with a sometimes dodgy past, is that they’re not typically over-sharers. In order to get information to write his book, Joe took significant care in building relationships with each of the folks he interviewed. He spent a lot of time hanging out with the Cult of the Dead Cow members and holding sessions that were completely off the record. “You can’t burn people,” he said, “or that will get around in seconds.” He tries to be as transparent as possible with his interviewees and make his intentions clear. Once you burn someone, he shared, you’re finished in that industry or beat.

How does writing longform differ from writing journalistically?

For his day job, which he is incredibly enthusiastic about, Joe works as a Reuters cybersecurity reporter. During the three-year process of writing Cult of the Dead Cow, he maintained a steady cadence of article output for Reuters all while conducting innumerable interviews, writing and editing the book. He shared that the primary differentiator in writing for news is that, in a book, readers want the third act already concluded and they don’t want the author to cause the third act outside of their work. 

For example, the result of his investigative reporting for Reuters can come in the form of company policy updates, leadership or staffing turnover and overall positive change. In a book, his readers expect that the final chapter, so to speak, will have already happened – they expect resolution. Despite enjoying the impact his work has on the cyber and tech industries, Joe’s goal when writing a full-length book is to provide the full story, start to finish, to give readers a colorful and accurate understanding of the events that took place. 

Key takeaways and interesting facts learned along the way

As a reporter, and overall interested party, Joe followed the Cult of the Dead Cow closely over the years. For a time, he even received their emailers, but there were still some things that were surprising to learn along his research gathering journey. He learned that the group’s most important way to build trust and community was through meeting in person, especially at HoHoCon. “Their mediums of communication changed from bulletins to email to Slack,” he said, “but the personal meetings have always been the most important.”

During his nascent information gathering period, the Cult of the Dead Cow members mentioned that they had a former member who was then in Congress. With his investigative research and powers of deduction, he was able to determine that Beto O’Rourke was the member in question, spoke with him for the book and published a Reuters article revealing his inclusion. This information was one of the biggest revelations and well kept secrets of the group. 

Cult of the Dead Cow’s legacy and future

The Cult of the Dead Cow has influenced hackers and activists since the 1980s, and they continue to do so today. The largest group of Cult of the Dead Cow members joined together for an in-person panel at DEF CON 27 moderated by Joe, and members have gone on to create successful careers in tech, such as Chris Wysopal, co-founder of VeracodeIn a time of political and social uncertainty, Joe has shown that there are still people out there fighting for good. Not only that, but they’re training and influencing the next generation to follow in their footsteps. Grab your copy of Cult of the Dead Cow to get more details from the horse’s (or cow’s) mouth.

An Introduction to Silicon Slopes

Image credit: Jaxon Lott, @cactuskace

Utah is home to some of the world’s best ski resorts, national parks and over the past 10 years, one of the fastest-growing technology scenes in the country. As a recent transplant to Salt Lake City, it’s been incredible to witness the region’s growth first hand. As I get familiar with my new home, the following is a look into the region’s biggest companies, its growth trajectory and the companies to watch.

Silicon Slopes by the Numbers

Image Source

From the end of the great recession in 2009, Utah has emerged as one of the best states in the nation for capital investment with venture capital in Utah companies growing by 450 percent, double the national growth rate. The number of deals per year has also more than doubled in that same time period. The past five years, for example, have resulted in a total deal flow of over $700 million each year on average, with 2014 and 2015 both hitting highs of over a billion. Today Utah has 50 venture capital firms, a number of which have supported some of the state’s (and tech industries) biggest deals including SAP’s acquisition of Qualtrics for $8 Billion at the end of 2018, and a number of public offerings including Pluralsight in March of 2018 and Health Catalyst’s recent July initial public offering

Examining the past few years of deal trends, 2019 looks to be no different following investments like business management software company Divvy picking up a $200 million Series C at the end of April, emerging biotechnology Recursion Pharmaceuticals securing a $121 million Series C in July and Weave, a developer of patient communications software, whose $70 million Series D round in October make it Utah’s next Unicorn.

It’s All About the People
As the tech ecosystem scales, fueled by the states business culture and by investments in B2B enterprise SaaS applications, fintech and healthcare IT, I can only imagine the opportunities that will arise for Silicon Slope startups especially with established brands like Adobe and companies to watch like Divvy and Qualtrics expanding their local footprints with massive new buildings. 

So what is drawing all this talent to the region and creating opportunities for companies to watch like Lucid Software, Bamboo HR, and Divvy? While some will surely point to Utah’s outdoor lifestyle, tech talent pool and supportive business environment with unlimited real estate, I think it’s the supportive community that is a big driver.  For example, Qualtrics announced a new massive office space, that will include a 40,000 square foot MIT of daycare facilities as a way to support its employees with families.

Looking towards the future, in this new state, surrounded by the values that so resemble Highwire’s sense of collaboration, balance and passion, I’m confident that I’ll fit right in and I’m excited to see where opportunities take me. 

Silicon Slopes, Highwire PR is here and open for business. Come meet me and principal Emily Borders at next year’s Silicon Slopes Tech Summit or drop us a line at

Giving Thanks the Highwire Way

At Highwire, we’re known for more than creating an impact with our client work. From donation matching to organized service events, Highwire Walkers have the opportunity to give back to our communities, organizations and causes that we’re passionate about. 

Earlier this year our “Social Impact” committee rebranded to “Highwire Helping Hands” to better reflect the hands-on volunteer work our team is passionate about doing. This year alone, our offices have organized more than five events with another five left in December.

On Halloween, the NYC office and I participated in our third annual afternoon of service volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House — a charity that provides free housing and meals to patients and families receiving critical treatments at hospitals far from home. We got our hands dirty and made spaghetti and homemade meatballs to the largest turn out to date, with hungry guests dressed up as animals, superheroes, and my personal favorite, the cast of Harry Potter. It’s always a rewarding highlight of the year.

Highwire also recently announced that we’re incorporating our dedication to service into our traditional PR work. We’ve teamed up with our global partners in the Brands2Life Global Network to drive awareness of our latest pro-bono client, Tree-Nation. The organization has more than 70 reforestation projects across the globe where they’ve planted more than 5 million trees. In a time that supporting our planet has never been more critical, I’m excited at this opportunity to bring to light the alarming impact that global warming has on our world’s natural ecosystem. 

But the work our team does goes beyond organized events as Highwire Walkers volunteer in their off time as well. Panama-based Alejandra D’Croz has made it her mission to help Adopta Panamá, a non-profit organization dedicated to finding good homes for dogs and cats, mostly stray and abandoned ones. She’s engaged in the entire organization from fundraising, adopting animals out and even regularly fostering puppies.

Nida Ilahi, senior talent strategist, also engages at her son’s school. From fundraising, field trips to finding ways to show appreciation to their amazing teachers, Ilahi believes small gestures can have a big impact on bringing value to the community.

While I have a lot to be thankful for in 2019, I’m forever grateful to work alongside colleagues and a company that supports and shares my passions. Share what you’re passionate about in the comments or tweet @HighwirePR and share what you’re thankful for.

Own It – Secure It – Protect It: How Highwire Puts Training into Practice

If you work in tech PR (or you’re a journalist) you’re all too familiar with National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM). Hopefully whoever you are or whatever you do for a living, you understand why this month of awareness is important and why we need to shed light on the proactive steps people can take to protect their information — whether that’s in the workplace or in their personal lives.

According to the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Careers and Studies (NICCS), NCSAM is “a collaborative effort between government and industry to raise awareness about the importance of cybersecurity and to ensure that all Americans have the resources they need to be safer and more secure online.” It should come as no surprise then, that the theme this year was “Own it – Secure it – Protect it,” with a strong focus on data privacy, IoT devices, e-commerce security, and social media

After all, the internet touches every aspect of our everyday lives. From the time we wake up to the time we go to bed we’re connected, whether it’s en route to the office, or scrolling through Instagram as our heads hit the pillow. It’s paramount (read: it’s our obligation) to take the necessary steps needed to #BeCyberSmart.

Own it. 

So, as cyber intrusions and phishing attempts become more sophisticated, it’s absolutely critical that employers and employees take actionable steps to secure and protect themselves — and their data — online and when using their connected devices. To put it simply: as hackers and their attacks become more prevalent, why shouldn’t our own preventative measures? 

Security attacks against small, privately owned businesses have been steadily increasing over the past year,” said Caroline Garrett, our San Francisco office manager.  These attacks can have a devastating impact on businesses, in fact, one study found that globally the average cost of a data breach was $3.86 million, a 6.4% increase over 2017. The same study found that data breaches are even more detrimental to SMBs, citing damages from a breach can be equivalent to the total value of a small business.

At Highwire, we are humble enough to recognize that we can always do more to safeguard company data, protect our employees, and train our staff to become stewards of their personal data while practicing good cybersecurity hygiene. That’s why we recently rolled out a series of interactive training modules that were mandatory by all Highwire employees, covering a wide range of topics and teaching employees everything from how to spot phishing scams and stay safe on public Wi-Fi, to protecting company information while traveling and creating unique, strong passwords. 

“These trainings go out at random times throughout the year,” said Garrett. “I find this important as it’s a constant refresher, rather than a long, laborious training that occurs twice a year. I want people to walk away with the knowledge to take to their clients, ensuring that they too are secure in their practices.”

Protect it. 

So how well did we fare? Our strongest category overall was the module “Work Safely Outside the Office,” with a 98 percent pass rate. The overall industry benchmark standard for these trainings is 77.9 percent, and the overall benchmark for our agency is 77.4 percent. But, we’re not stopping there.


In addition to the ongoing training modules, Highwire’s operations team also sent out fake phishing emails to show employees that these attacks are now so sophisticated, that emails may appear to be coming from someone within your company — like your accounting director or your boss– when they’re actually just a cyber criminal in disguise. Even if you feel like you have a strong sense of what a phishing attempt looks like, everyone needs to scrutinize these messages in order to determine what’s legitimate.

“I fell for the first one even after going through our internal training about what to watch out for,” said Tori Sabourin, senior digital manager at Highwire. “Falling for the fake phishing email was a wake-up call, so now I’m extra cautious when opening emails that look to be a bit out of the ordinary.”

Secure it. 

To continue to spread awareness around NCSAM and our training initiatives, Highwire’s Society committee hosted a “Cybersecurity Jeopardy” night across some of the Highwire offices. We wanted to take all of the great content from our trainings and have some friendly competition (because, why not?). 

And while this was the perfect excuse to share some champagne and cheese in honor of World Champagne Day, this really was about taking what we learned from the trainings and putting our knowledge to the test. Shout out to Lizzie, Jill, Amruta, Talia, Mariah, and Jazmin in the San Francisco office for winning and Robby, Jordana, Ben, and Tricia from our New York office! (Boston and Chicago – it’s your turn to strut your cybersecurity stuff!) 

What’s next for Highwire? We’ll continue to roll out mandatory training modules and security protocols that empower our employees to make smart, safe decisions online. Our mission in taking a proactive approach to cybersecurity at Highwire isn’t intended to disrupt our daily routines. Instead, it’s about practicing some easy-to-follow habits, like always being mindful of suspicious emails, keeping your computer software up to date, and changing your passwords on a regular basis. 

Want to learn more about Highwire’s cybersecurity practice? Contact us at or if you’re interested in a career at Highwire.

Digital Tips for Event Promotion

When it comes to planning an event for your company, designing and leveraging digital assets is one of the greatest opportunities for your business. Branding isn’t just throwing your logo on a graphic, sending out some tweets and crossing your fingers for high engagement. It comes down to the overall messaging and display.

We wanted to share some tips and tricks based on Highwire’s recent Security Panel, Privacy and Policy in the Age of Disinformation, and how it helped both our digital and design teams. Here’s our process:

  1. Think about the goals and objectives of the event itself. What are you trying to illustrate to your target audience, and how can you display that in your graphic? For example, the goals of Highwire’s Security Panel were to educate on the matter of Disinformation, and, of course, garner interest in attending from our target audience.
  2. Get educated on design. To non-designers, photo-editing, vectoring, masking, etc. may seem a little overwhelming. For beginners, it’s best to start by learning the principles of design – balance, emphasis, movement, pattern, repetition, proportion, rhythm, variety, and unity. Also, take into consideration color, typography, graphic elements and composition to help promote your event the best way possible while staying on brand. Finally, there are platforms out there that can help beginners get started with design. Free tools that could be great resources include Canva, Picmonkey, and Vectr.
  3. Plan it out. Having diversity throughout graphics is crucial in the promotion of the event as it keeps the information interesting, while also consistent and straightforward to the audience. Always include photos from the event to promote afterward on social channels.
  4. How are you going to promote this event with these graphics? Think about what social platforms resonate best with your target audience and when that audience will be online. You don’t want to post when no one will see it.

With these tips, you’ll be able to start designing and leveraging your digital assets to promote your event in the best possible way. For more information, contact Highwire’s Digital Studio at

HW Rapid Response Methodology: Looking to our friend RITA to stay on top of trending news

In the fast-paced, noisy world of cybersecurity, it can be difficult to be seen in the media at all, and even harder to elevate your brand as a thought leader in the space. However, our Highwire security practice has cracked the code to this issue through the creation of our rapid response method that is a key piece to our security program. 

This methodology’s success is mainly attributed to each account’s very targeted focus on news events that make the most sense to their business – and avoidance of ambulance chasing – however, there was one specific event that occurred in May 2017 that impacted all security accounts and showcased the true breadth and depth our rapid response program can have across a practice. It was the infamous WannaCry ransomware attack, which hit the globe, crippling businesses, government entities, and healthcare orgs, and our Highwire Cyber Squad was all over it, implementing our rapid response process, and successfully securing more than 40 original stories in top tier business outlets across 11 clients in a five day period, elevating execs as thought leaders on an issue impacting businesses across the globe, ultimately totaling daily coverage in the WSJ Cybersecurity Pro newsletter for five days, New York Times coverage, and two broadcast hits with NBC. 

The methodology behind this incident is a e focused rapid response programs that evolves around four pillars: Relevancy, Timeliness, Insight, and Action (also lovingly referred to as R.I.T.A.). Below we’ve included a breakdown of these four pillars and how they work together, creating a successful program. 


The first step in the rapid response method is relevancy. This ultimately means having a deep understanding of the industry and news cycles that surround it. For cybersecurity, major data breaches continuously grab headlines, but it’s important to know what type of breaches are getting the most coverage, who the audience is, and with that knowledge start to focus on opportunities to share thought leadership commentary around the stories that are most relevant to your organization and the visibility you’re hoping to garner from rapid response. 

When deciding which news stories make the most sense to garner visibility for your organization, it helps to think through the broader issues at hand and identify all points of impact. Thinking through the repercussions a particular story will have on businesses, consumers, and politics should guide the direction of your commentary to ensure it has the most impact. 


When creating the thought leadership commentary for a rapid response opportunity, the insight that is most valuable to reporters and readers offers a unique perspective. It can be easy to use a canned response, however, this commentary is less likely to be included in any stories, as it is less likely to be relevant to the news story or the audience reading it. 

Providing unique insight that looks beyond what is being shared in the articles already published can garner the most attention. Determine if you can you share knowledge about the future of the impact, additional victims not immediately thought of, or insight on similar breaches/research that will add more to the narrative that is already out there. Think through how your insight will stand out and be the most useful to those reading. 


While timeliness is the second step in the process, this pillar should always be top-of-mind throughout the entire rapid response process. If knowledgeable thought leadership commentary is shared after a news cycle has ended, reporters will no longer be interested and the opportunity will be lost. 

To get the most out of the time that goes into rapid response opportunities, it will work in your favor to establish and leverage relationships with media. Engage with them strategically when breaking news hits. Reach out to those reporters who would be most relevant to the story at hand to determine who might be covering and what deadlines they’re working towards. This will help establish yourself as a useful resource to these contacts, as well as ensure you’re not wasting anyone’s time by pitching thought leadership to a reporter who doesn’t cover that topic. 


As a final step, when creating thought leadership commentary, offer useful advice. How can other companies avoid a similar situation, or provide next steps that the victim of an attack should take? And finally, make sure the advice and action provided is vendor-neutral. Nothing will lose your thought leadership brand or be disregarded quicker than commentary that is just marketing jargon refurbished. 

Moving forward, we hope RITA will have a successful impact on your rapid response program, and if you’d like to ensure that the insight you put out takes a stand, is more than the current story, and paints a future picture, please feel free to contact our Highwire Cybersecurity Squad for more details.

World Heart Day 2019: Making a Difference around CVD

World Heart Day 2019, an awareness day led by the World Heart Federation, wrapped on Sunday, September 29, which aims to bring awareness around Cardiovascular Disease (CVD). More than 17,000,000 people die from the disease every year, and in the U.S. alone, nearly half of all adult Americans are diagnosed with it. World Heart Day’s 2019 objective was to have participants either acknowledge a “heart hero” or share a promise, either through an event or on social media, on how to live a longer, better, hearty healthy life. 

Two Highwire clients, HeartFlow and AliveCor, participated in this event and created campaigns on Twitter to showcase promises towards heart health. We’ve included details around these efforts below. 

  • HeartFlow, a digital health company uniquely positioned at the intersection of advanced artificial intelligence and healthcare to transform how heart disease is diagnosed and treated, showcased five promises from their employees on Twitter. These promises ranged from healthy eating habits to regular cardiovascular activities. HeartFlow and Highwire upleveled the message by creating a unique graphic showcasing employees making the World Heart Day symbol and social posts were scheduled throughout the day with the designated hashtag #WorldHeartDay. As a result, these posts received a total of 28 pieces of engagement. 

Tweet from HeartFlow around #WorldHeartDay

  • AliveCor, the leader in FDA-cleared consumer electrocardiogram technology, showcased their recent partnership with Olympic icon, Mark Spitz. He recently shared his Atrial Fibrillation (AFib) diagnosis and he’s using his story to promote heart health and showcase how KardiaMobile offers people an affordable, accurate ECG that they can use anytime, anywhere. Similar to HeartFlow, Mark shared his promise to spread heart health awareness by growing back his famous moustache to show support. Leading up to and on September 29, he shared his progress through video and pictures to update followers of his progress. These efforts resulted in 541 pieces of engagement in total. 

Tweet from Mark Spitz around #WorldHeartDay

We’re proud to support and amplify our clients message and to make a difference in the lives of those affected with CVD. Interested in learning how Highwire can help your company stand out in the busy digital health landscape ? Reach out to us at

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.

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

How to Experience The Energy of The Vibrant New England Tech Economy

This month’s Mass Technology Leadership Council (MTLC) event felt different. The group unveiled the finalists for the 2019 Technology Leadership Awards, and to be sure, the setting was similar to previous events of its type– a fantastically brilliant new office space in Boston’s transformed seaport (in this case at PTC’s new HQ). The food was similar– passed hors d’oeuvres including a quite tasty vegetarian Lo Mein. The speakers were familiar– including the emcee, MTLC’s president Tom Hopcroft. But it felt different. 

Mass Technology Leadership Council President & CEO Tom Hopcroft announces the sponsors for the association’s annual awards program during an event at PTC headquarters in Boston on September 10, 2019.

Typically these events do have a fair amount of energy. The room fills with entrepreneurs who are running on adrenaline and have typically spent an inordinate amount of time building their ideas. Or there are the networkers—those looking to land a gig with the next big thing. Or people like me in Boston technology PR, interested to see what’s emerging on the tech landscape (and whether their clients made the finalist list. Hint: They did, and congrats to Akamai and Markforged for being named in multiple categories!).

But this year, the excitement had a

different quality.

One area of personal fascination for me of late has been how we are all responding to the new world of distrust we live in. It wasn’t that long ago, that a few hot tech brands were poised to save the world. Today many consumers just hope they can protect their data, or not share it with reckless abandon. 

As a result, I think we kind of like seeing one another. For my clients, reporters are much more willing now to meet people. Sure—there’s always been the quick check in during industry events, but today, reporters and influencers are taking meetings in their offices, at coffee shops… even after work at restaurants. I have no evidence to prove this, but I think it’s because it makes a big difference to look at someone in the eye.

It could also be a renewed interest in people and their personalities. Not sure if you have heard, but even PR is going through a digital transformation. And it’s kind of cool. Highwire is offering new services, such as content and influencer marketing. We’re leveraging technology so that our understanding of clients and markets can impact marketing in other ways. And we’re harvesting data based on our work to see how it correlates to the rest of marketing.

But amidst all things digital, we are all still human. We all still want to interact with other individuals. It’s our personalities that make us interesting, right?

And it takes a whole bunch of different personalities to create an innovation economy. That fact was on display at the MTLC event. Presenters announcing the award finalists included leaders from tech companies, from organizations supporting them, and even from non-tech vendors (including an insurance broker). The New England tech economy is vibrant. The MTLC awards program includes categories for manufacturing, healthcare, education, finance and insurance, robotics, sales and marketing, and security.

Seeing how the industry has a profound impact on so many, and supports so much ideation in the region, is pretty mesmerizing.

Dare I say, the energy one draws from it is invigorating. In this rapidly digitized world we all live in, such moments are significant to the work we do.