High-Lights: Our Tech PR POV

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. 

Relevancy 

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. 

Insight 

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. 

Timeliness 

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. 

Action 

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.