IT Trade Organization Converts PR Driven Social Experiment Into 3,000 Downloads
The Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) is the voice of the information technology industry. As a leading nonprofit trade association for global IT professionals and organizations, CompTIA advances industry growth through educational programs, market research, networking events, professional certifications and public policy advocacy. In addition to its 2,000 member companies and 3,000 academic and training partners, CompTIA has issued nearly 2 million IT certifications.
CompTIA has cultivated a reputation as a trusted provider of training and certifications for IT professionals. But the organization faced two unique challenges as it prepared to launch Cyber Secure, a new cybersecurity training program for everyday employees:
CompTIA asked Walker Sands to spearhead an effort to raise awareness for the new program, and establish the organization as a reputable leader in both cybersecurity and training for non-IT personnel.
In essence, Walker Sands was tasked with developing and executing an integrated public relations program that would capture the attention of two new audiences in a very short period of time.
From the outset of the project, Walker Sands realized that CompTIA needed a creative campaign that would attract the attention of the cybersecurity community and demonstrate the need for HR and IT managers to conduct cybersecurity training for all personnel.
To maximize visibility with target audiences, the campaign would also need to coincide with National Cyber Security Awareness Month in October, just a few short months away.
In late August, Walker Sands designed a social experiment to test security practices in the workplace. The experiment called for the random distribution of 200 USB devices in public spaces across four U.S. cities: Chicago, San Francisco, Cleveland and Washington D.C.
Major components of the experiment included:
After analyzing the data, Walker Sands found that 17 percent of the USB devices were connected to workplace computers. Users’ willingness to insert unknown USBs into workplace devices uncovered serious security vulnerabilities because USB devices can run executable files and unleash malware programs that jeopardize data and system integrity.
“By coordinating the distribution of the USB devices in tech-friendly cities like San Francisco and Chicago, we were able to show that no workplace is safe from cybersecurity vulnerabilities,” said Will Kruisbrink, vice president at Walker Sands. “This created an opportunity for us to position CompTIA and it’s new offering as a practical security solution for HR and IT decision makers across a range of industries.”
The results of the experiment, along with findings from an IT security habit survey of 1,200 full-time employees, were compiled in a white paper and infographic, which Walker Sands then promoted to key media outlets and influencers in cybersecurity, IT, general business and HR. By timing media outreach with National Cyber Security Awareness Month, Walker Sands generated vertical and mainstream media exposure for CompTIA and shined a light on the demand for cybersecurity training in the workplace.
Walker Sands also developed a series of four videos about the experiment. The videos explained the rationale and results of the experiment, garnering the attention of key audiences and reinforcing CompTIA’s knowledge of cybersecurity issues.
Walker Sands’ work elevated CompTIA’s profile in the cybersecurity and HR communities, paving the way for a successful rollout of the organization’s Cyber Secure training program.
The team secured 115 placements for the campaign in October and November alone. In addition, coverage was secured in all four local markets where the social experiment was conducted. Placements included the Wall Street Journal, Fortune, NBC Chicago, ZDNet, NPR Radio, HR Magazine and CSO Magazine.
The placements garnered more than 53 million impressions and over 30,000 social media shares. The strong media relations efforts of the team drove meaningful traffic to CompTIA’s site, generating 2,430 white paper downloads and 570 infographic downloads. This provided CompTIA with a sales pipeline full of qualified leads prior to the Cyber Secure product launch in January.
“At CompTIA, we’re committed to meeting the IT needs of organizations around the world,” said Ann Batko, senior vice president of marketing at CompTIA. “By helping us quickly gain traction as a cybersecurity training resource, Walker Sands enabled us to expand into a new market through the successful launch of the Cyber Secure program.”
Walker Sands continues to serve as CompTIA’s PR agency of record and is actively involved in furthering the organization’s mission through a variety of integrated PR activities.