Seven Legit Ways to Hit it Big in Vegas with Your Black Hat News

By Joe FranscellaJuly 21, 2016

This year, more than 250 vendors and security organizations are expected to exhibit at Black Hat — competition for news is going to be fierce. The situation becomes even more challenging when you take into consideration that security PR is a different game altogether.

Unlike many other technology categories, product news gets covered here and there, funding and out-of-stealth stories usually get shown some love, and if you have a compelling enough research report or survey, you might get some pick up. For the most part, though, security writers who move the needle are looking for attention-grabbing stories — those containing news about actual threats, victims, attackers and impact. If you are exhibiting at Black Hat this year and have this kind of story, you probably have a decent shot at being featured in a few stories. If you have this story plus a coveted briefing or keynote slot, you may even hit a jackpot of media opportunities.

But what about news you’d like to have covered during the show that doesn’t contain these elements, and what if you don’t have a stage opportunity? Don’t despair. There are ways to earn news coverage for content that isn’t necessarily “Black Hattish” or possess the aforementioned combination of newsy angles. Here are seven legit opportunities that can lead to content that can be circulated among customers, prospects, investors, board members and your company’s leaders:

1. CRN Slideshows: Have a milestone partnership or channel announcement you’d like to earn coverage for? If you have either, remember to reach out to CRN for inclusion in one of the many slide shows the publication posts to inform its readers about the latest happenings in the industry.

2. Network World Products of the Week Slideshows:
Have a new product or product enhancement to announce? This may not be the most compelling news to journalists attending the event, but don’t forget to let the Products of the Week Slideshow producers know about it.

3. Have a compelling research study or other findings to reveal? Journalists typically love facts and figures, so you may be in luck. Don’t, however, lead with your company’s products and services as the answer to the problems your company’s research reveals. When it comes to security writers, make sure you first clearly articulate how your data reveals an attack, threat, victim and impact. Let your data tell the story, then (and only then) provide information about how your company’s solutions can help.

4. Fortune Magazine’s Insiders Section: Have an interesting explanation on a leading privacy issue or security trend that impacts a specific employee or executive audience? Contributions that tell readers “how to,” “what this means,” and “what to avoid” are regularly posted there.

5. Broadcast Guest Slot: Have a solid, broadcast-ready opinion and charismatic spokesperson available? Don’t overlook local stations and affiliates. A call to their assignment desks could end up being just the nudge they need to include your spokesperson in a discussion about what’s happening at the show.

6. Current Event Opinions: Brexit, Hillary, Donald … Pokemon Go, anyone?
Have something security or privacy related to say about these hot topics or candidates? If it is substantial and adds value to journalists’ readers, chances are writers may listen.

7. Black Hat Daily Show News: In 2013, one of my former security clients, Venafi, produced a report chronicling “16 Years of Black Hat.” Not only did it get pick up in the media, but it also earned top billing in the actual Black Hat organization newsletter that circulated during the show among attendees, media and exhibitors. Don’t overlook a targeted pitch to this news source and don’t be afraid to get creative in your attempts to be included. You can read the Venafi piece here:

Finally, don’t forget to also conduct outreach to the many, many security journalists, analysts and bloggers who will be at the event. Inquire about what they plan to focus on during the show; you never know, your news might well be a fit, but you won’t know if you don’t ask.

Joe Franscella, a senior vice president managing several category-leading client accounts at Bhava, is a security enthusiast and an award-winning public relations strategist.