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Merritt Group Overcomes Cyber Marketing Challenges During COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed how the industry sells and markets cybersecurity to SMBs and enterprises. The selling talk track is now focused on remote work, in-person events have gone away, and sales lunches are no more. Michelle Schafer, SVP and Security Practice Lead at Merritt Group shared how the D.C. based integrated marketing and communications firm has overcome the challenges COVID-19 presented to the firm and its cyber clients.

"The world turned upside down right after RSA. When our cyber PR team returned home from the big event in San Francisco, we knew that the way we had been interacting with our Clients, reporters and other influencers had to adjust very quickly. With news swirling about a potential COVID exposure at RSA, and watching the stories unravel around the global outbreak and shutdown, our team re-evaluated the way we had been pitching reporters and communicating with them. One of the first steps we took was to audit the media landscape carefully in March and April to determine how security media were covering the news. We also reached out to our closest media contacts directly to check on them, ensure they were safe/healthy and to ask about upcoming trends, topics they were most interested in and see how we could help support this change.

Given the quick shift to remote work for everyone, we wanted to be ultra careful and considerate in how we approached them. We had to be mindful of the fact that some reporters are also parents juggling no childcare with full-time jobs. Our research revealed that most media were relying heavily on threat research related to COVID -- increases in phishing attacks and other scams were top of mind for them, in addition to remote work threats and breaking vulnerabilities. Week by week, we guided our cybersecurity clients in this direction to find unique opportunities to continue driving coverage, at an uncertain time. In addition, with all the cost cutting around events, we made recommendations to add paid media opportunities to our earned and owned media mix. That would help guarantee coverage along with thought leadership via byline articles that we placed in Dark Reading, SC Magazine, Cyber Defense Magazine, and more. With the pandemic came a shift in priorities for CISOs as well, so to guide marketers, Merritt Group developed its annual report, Marketing & Selling To The CISO, with this in mind.

All told, the cyber media landscape has been more difficult than in the past but there are ways to cut through all the COVID noise. In fact, Merritt Group blogged about this very topic and recommends that organizations: 

  1. Capitalize on virtual events. Black Hat 2020 was virtual and had over 20,000 attendees in August.

  2. Shift budget to contend development. Publications are still looking for excellent articles that offer valuable advice to readers. Implementing an owned content program can keep  your organization visible to your key audiences: customers, prospects, investors and more.

  3. Leverage breaking news. Reporters will always cover the “breach of the day” stories and this is an opportunity to put forward your best experts to help them with smart commentary they need for building stories."

For more information about Merritt Group's work with cybersecurity companies, please visit their website:



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