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Security PR: Standing Out at RSA Conference 2009

In their own words, the RSA Conference 2009 is the "premier information security event" and the "RSA Conference plays an integral role in educating and connecting security professionals across the globe." The show snapshot shares that over 17,000 people attended the San Francisco-based conference in 2008 and that this year they have over 275 security companies exhibiting. Finding a way to stand out amongst that crowd is not an easy undertaking.

Something you may not know, every year the RSA Conference is built around a different theme which highlights a significant historical example of information security. As reported on their website "in 2009, RSA celebrates the influence of Edgar Allan Poe. Poe was fascinated by cryptography, which he often treated in his journalism and fiction. He concealed anagrams and hidden messages in his own poems. His famous story – "The Gold Bug" – centers on the solution of a cipher, which turns out to be a map to hidden private treasure."

While the theme is probably lost on 99.9 percent of the attendees, Schwartz’s Security PR team encourages vendors to play into it. The theme was not arbitrarily selected — it was part of a thoughtful and strategic decision for the RSA conference coordinators. Like any business trying to attract, convert and keep customers, the RSA Conference event planners will be seeking ways to publicize the event to both attendees and vendors for next year, and will be on the show floor filming b-roll and talking with vendors who can advance their message. Any activity that spotlights your company’s booth will benefit company branding and drive traffic in the long run. This is also a recommendation that we provided to our clients who sought to lock-in speaking opportunities at the show – appeal to the conference decision makers by tying in Edgar Allen Poe theme as part of the call for papers proposal. (Worth noting, Schwartz clients are strongly represented in the speaking track, with executives from Qualys, Purewire, BeyondTrust and Cryptography Research among the many selected).
Additional recommendations include:
– Don’t announce big news at the show! As tempting as it is, there are too many players and too much "noise" to get the attention your company is due. Your efforts are better spent creatively attracting buyers as well as media and analysts to the booth with meaningful presentations and tools for which the IT buyers can take back to the office and use to develop a strong budget argument for your technology. They will appreciate you doing the legwork for them…
– Prepare for breaking news opportunities – thought leadership is a key component of Security PR, and the more prepared and well-versed you and your spokespeople are in security trends and threats, the more likely your company can have a presence within articles generated at the show. It also helps to define a repeatable mechanism for generating supporting data for security trends, reporters and bloggers appreciate the quantitative support for their stories. Pay attention to the topics discussed during keynote speeches, and without blatantly plugging your technology, find ways to creatively draw parallels to the security problems facing businesses today and the benefits your company’s offering brings.
– Invite your customers and prospects to your booth, even if you have to cover the cost of their travels, and ask them if they would be willing to speak with media and analysts, without the expectation of news articles. While the state of the media is such that they are charged by their editors to deliver articles that drive click-throughs, there are still a great handful of folks from the media who value the informational conversation with end-users on why certain technologies are on their must-have list for 2009 and beyond. The media will appreciate the low-pressure, end-user perspective and your prospects and customers will appreciate the opportunity to explore the show and have a voice in the discussion, even if anonymous
See you on the show floor!

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