Cybersecurity Awareness Month Q&A

Dom Cook, Arctic Wolf

A ‘storyteller’ and communications professional fully adept at the theories and practices of internal and external communication and marketing communications, Dom has been working in the PR industry for over 30 years.

Dom’s a trained journalist who enjoys the challenge of a varied and demanding workload with a CV that features technology juggernauts Symantec, Cisco and CrowdStrike. Always open to new challenges and ideas, Dom’s current role as Director of Public Relations, EMEA at Arctic Wolf sees him responsible for running the EMEA PR programme, where he’s helping expand the business in the region.

What attracted you to cybersecurity as career path in comms?

“I had been working in technology PR for a time and, while interesting, I’m not a deeply technical person and so I found the discussions and tech jargon hard to follow at times. However, at Cisco I was exposed to the cut and thrust of cybersecurity – good vs bad – and it just clicked for me. I thought ‘that’s what I want to do’. At the heart of cybersecurity is the battle of the bad guys in the form of some nation states, terrorists, activists, criminal gangs, geeks vs. the cyber industry as well as governments, police forces and academia. What’s not to like? It has everything a good spy or disaster movie has, but this is all real. Very real.

“If you are interested in PR or comms, I can’t think of a better industry to be involved in for the professional challenge, people, and subject.”

What do you feel is the most significant change in cybersecurity comms since you entered the industry?

“It’s certainly been interesting! Today there are many more companies shouting for attention, often sounding very much the same. At the same time there are far fewer media outlets and even fewer journalists to pitch to. I think it’s a huge shame that today it’s so much harder to get journalists out of their offices and meet up with them to build long-term relationships.

“While I don’t necessarily miss press trips and tours, it was certainly a great way to build a relationship. Obviously, the move online has created a few opportunities for us in the comms side to be more creative and has certainly sped up the process considerably, but I do feel readers miss out when media simply don’t have the time to dig into a topic, to really understand it and know what is fluff and what is an actual story.”

Is there still a place for events and trade shows in 2023? If so, which one’s a can’t-miss in your calendar?

“As a comms and PR professional I’d say not. But we are just one part of the marketing mix, and many events and shows are still huge generators for leads and opportunities as well as brand awareness. However, few media seem to attend events anymore so as a comms tool they have limited value for me. That said it is nice to meet up with former colleagues and the odd reporter or two at events like InfoSec London, or Black Hat and RSA in the US.”

What’s your favourite campaign/activation from another cybersecurity company in the last year or two?

“If I’m honest I don’t pay a huge amount of attention on what other cyber firms are doing from a PR perspective. I watch their coverage, but activations have so many factors like how much budget they have; what intel they have etc. that it’s hard to compare. And in practice there are seldom any truly unique ideas! However, I am always interested in threat intel and insight experts are gathering from the dark web and other places. I just find this stuff fascinating and scary at the tactics and approaches the attackers are using.”

Cybersecurity is a famously crowded space – from a PR/marketing perspective, what makes a company stand out from the crowd?

“Having something interesting and informative to say. There is so much noise that I am a firm believer we need to work hard to give the readers, via journalists and media, something really interesting and informative. It can’t simply be a regurgitation of jargon and fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD).”

What’s been your biggest challenge?

“As I have become more senior in cybersecurity PR I have had to look for opportunities which continue to allow me to still do the job I love doing. I enjoy the campaign planning; meeting with media; building pitches and angles; writing content etc. and yet, often in larger organisations you are pushed into more management roles and don’t get your hands dirty. I am sure my agencies would want me to butt out sometimes, but I still love the planning and tactical discussions and seeing the results roll in at the end of it.”

What are your comms predictions for 2024?

“Somethings will change, somethings will not!

“I am not a great one for predictions and part of the joy for me of comms and PR is the very unpredictability of the job! My hope for 2024 is that we see fewer redundancies in the media and shutting of titles, and we once again see a stronger industry which serves the readers and viewers with great quality stories, but I suspect that’s unlikely to happen in 2024!”