Leading cybersecurity provider SiteLock came to Walker Sands to increase brand awareness. Through a mix of strategic newsjacking and data-driven media outreach, Walker Sands exceeded initial coverage goals for SiteLock by more than 80% in the first year of the program. When SiteLock was acquired, Walker Sands evolved its PR strategy to meet the client’s new goals that placed emphasis on mainstream media coverage and feature articles. Through feature media outreach and a data campaign tied to the 2020 presidential election, the strategy landed SiteLock an additional 47 top-tier placements, including features in Entrepreneur and CBS News. Walker Sands secured a total of 450 placements for SiteLock, more than 20% of which were in top-tier outlets, during the two-year partnership.
Read the full project overview
While well-known in the security industry, SiteLock saw a need to increase brand awareness among small and mid-size business owners. A crowded cybersecurity space coupled with a lack of cybersecurity knowledge among these business owners meant SiteLock faced an uphill battle breaking through the noise. They needed an agency partner who could increase their brand awareness while effectively communicating the importance of cybersecurity to the media and growing businesses.
Through a comprehensive PR program, Walker Sands helped SiteLock achieve their goals by:
- Driving brand awareness through increased media coverage in mainstream business, tech, small business and IT channel publications
- Establishing SiteLock as a thought leader not only in website security, but also in the larger cybersecurity space through the promotion of company news and proprietary data, as well as placing commentary on breaking cybersecurity news
- Educating business owners and entrepreneurs on why website security is crucial to business success
To reach SiteLock’s target audiences, Walker Sands deployed a PR strategy featuring a steady cadence of thought leadership, newsjacking and data-driven media outreach. The team worked closely with SiteLock to break down their technical offerings in a way that not only the media, but also their readers, would understand – a key factor in being able to educate potential customers on the importance of cybersecurity preparation.
The PR strategy reached a turning point when SiteLock was acquired by a private equity firm whose leadership challenged the team to level-up the program beyond technology trade publications. Walker Sands quickly pivoted to meet the client’s revised goals by broadening SiteLock’s cybersecurity topic bench to secure more placements in mainstream media. After a year of securing great coverage and building a strong partnership together, SiteLock and Walker Sands were ready to push the program even further by going after the ultimate goal – a feature placement in a top-tier business outlet.
Feature Story Strategy
To secure a hard-earned feature, Walker Sands knew it would need to take a personalized approach and demonstrate to reporters why SiteLock’s message was worthy of a larger story. Walker Sands worked closely with SiteLock to identify an ideal storyline that would both align with SiteLock’s key messages and resonate with reporters at top-tier media outlets: the fact that no business is immune to cybersecurity threats. From there, the team identified the elements a reporter would need to tell that story, including third-party research, customer testimonials, visuals and executive interviews. Walker Sands then pitched the entire package to media to increase the likelihood of landing reporter interest.
Feature Story Highlight
The feature strategy proved successful when Walker Sands secured a top-tier feature placement in Entrepreneur. As a mainstream outlet with considerable reach into the small and mid-size business community, Entrepreneur was the ultimate way to reach SiteLock’s key target audiences. Citing SiteLock’s founder, customers and proprietary data, the article effectively communicated the importance of cybersecurity and highlighted SiteLock’s strong growth trajectory.
Cybersecurity Report Card
After securing the Entrepreneur feature for SiteLock, Walker Sands knew they had what it took to garner top-tier media interest and were ready to become even bolder with their media relations efforts.
With the 2020 presidential election sure to be a priority for newsrooms, Walker Sands was confident that tying a PR campaign to the election would generate significant media interest. To get SiteLock national exposure and bring the topic of cybersecurity into homes nationwide, Walker Sands set out to develop a research report that would answer the question: Who is the most cyber secure 2020 presidential candidate?
To answer this question, Walker Sands analyzed the top 12 candidates’ platforms and past policies, held qualitative research calls with friendly mainstream reporters to understand their needs, and conducted informational interviews with SiteLock’s research team to inform the technical aspects of the campaign. SiteLock also scanned each candidate’s website with its own Risk Assessment tool to collect information regarding cyber risks and evaluate the state of their campaign websites’ security.
Findings were packaged into the 2020 Cybersecurity Awareness Presidential Candidate Report Card, a media-friendly infographic that ranked each candidate’s cybersecurity awareness in a way that was understandable to all – in the form of letter grades.
To launch the campaign, Walker Sands developed a media strategy spanning three weeks that targeted mainstream business, politics, tech and broadcast media. Knowing they could increase the campaign’s success by tying it to a timely event, the team timed the campaign’s launch with the Democratic debate on October 15. Walker Sands began exclusive and embargo outreach one week in advance on October 8 to ensure the report card was top of mind on debate night.
Cybersecurity Report Card Highlight
As part of the team’s exclusive outreach, Walker Sands secured a feature segment with Dan Patterson, producer at CBS News. Bringing this opportunity to life was truly collaborative, and a Walker Sands team members went to New York City to record the segment with Dan in studio. The result was a four-minute segment featuring SiteLock’s name on screen for its duration that aired during the 5 p.m. evening news the day before the debate. Dan said the iron-clad methodology and jargon-free report card made this so successful for an audience as mainstream as CBS News.
Thanks to the strong partnership with Walker Sands, SiteLock was able to increase brand awareness in the media and exceed their coverage goals. In the first year alone, Walker Sands secured 259 media placements, 49 of which were in top-tier publications – exceeding SiteLock’s coverage goals by 80%.
When SiteLock’s goals shifted toward mainstream media and feature placements the following year, Walker Sands continued to exceed expectations with an additional 191 placements, including 47 top-tier and 10 feature placements – far exceeding SiteLock’s total placement goal by 133% and its feature goal by 250%. In addition to features in Entrepreneur and CBS, Walker Sands secured a wider array of feature coverage aligned to the cybersecurity report card, company data, announcements and thought leadership including:
- Newsweek: Andrew Yang, Joe Biden Come Up Short on Cybersecurity Despite Campaign Promises, Analysis Shows
- VentureBeat: Sitelock: Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker lead presidential candidates on cybersecurity awareness
- The Hill: Analysis: Warren and Booker most cyber-aware 2020 candidates
- DarkReading: Website Attack Attempts Rose by 69% in 2018
- MarketWatch: Beware of unsolicited packages after Amazon Prime Day — they could be part of a scam
- CO by U.S Chamber of Commerce: 3 Things to Do Immediately If Your Business Is the Victim of a Cyberattack
In total, Walker Sands’ two-year partnership with SiteLock resulted in 450 placements, 96 of which were in top-tier outlets. By building a strong level of trust with SiteLock from the beginning of the partnership, Walker Sands was able to push new limits and successfully evolve the PR program over time to grow alongside the client – helping to further establish SiteLock as a thought leader within the cybersecurity industry and beyond.