Cybersecurity Awareness Month:

Julie Berriff, ESET

Julie graduated from Newcastle University with a 1st class hons degree in Economics, then, following a year in Asia, did a Masters in Cultural Management. Her 20-year career has followed a similarly diverse pattern…

Following a brief stint with BAFTA and a year in legal in the Middle East, she moved into the world of marketing where she’s worked at the Science Museum Group, English Heritage and the Continuum Group. Julie has now been UK Marketing Director with ESET for almost two years, focusing on the very different but exciting world of cybersecurity. Julies loves marketing and has a commercial head on creative shoulders; she loves the complex and conflicting mix of data and science overlaid laid with creativity that can yield fantastic results.

What attracted you to cybersecurity as a career path in comms?

“I think cybersecurity found me rather than the other way round. It wasn’t a sector I was actively pursuing. I didn’t think for one minute that, given my past 15-20 years of experience, I would end up working a) in Bournemouth or b) in cybersecurity.

“I believe a good marketeer can sell anything, so it’s culture and the people that are the most important thing for me. It was a very long hiring process to join ESET, but as I got under the skin of the organisation, I really bought into the people. Through every stage of the process, I met more and more genuinely interesting and lovely people, so I knew ESET was somewhere I wanted to work.

“I also learnt the ethos of the company is really sound; cybersecurity is essentially tech for good. It’s good versus evil. So, I bought into fighting the good fight as well, I suppose.”

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

“It is changing all the time. We have evolved into a digital-first society, and our use of technology is continuously increasing and changing. As our digital lives evolve, so does the threat landscape. Our products and services then, have to work harder to meet these new challenges, and our communications evolve in line with that.

“But there are some core threads that continue to remain through our comms work, and that is education. Particularly the education of young people. I think we’ll look back in 20 years’ time and go, ‘What did we allow our kids to do without any safeguarding measures in place?’. I’m still amazed people don’t protect themselves online, let alone their children. So, as far as my comms focus, it’s on education, it’s around safety.”

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

“Oh, I think there absolutely is still a need for it. I think as we become more digitally focused, there’s a counterbalance of having a real thirst and need for human contact. The live element of events and networking provides that. Whether we use them as the lead generation machines of the past is debatable, and I would probably argue not. But it’s good to be in a space where we know the community, that we’re in the room and having conversations.

“We will definitely be at Cyber UK, which will be in Birmingham in 2024 and is run by the NCSC. And, of course, our own ESET European Cybersecurity Day.”

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

“I have to give a big shout-out to Crowdstrike’s activation at Infosec, who literally bought everything, including the floor. It was everywhere and did a great job as far as brand awareness and brand positioning was concerned. I thought the activation was pretty bang on, and I think anybody who was there couldn’t leave without knowing who Crowdstrike is.”

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

“For ESET, we always want to take the line of integrity, honesty and trustworthiness. We never like to lean into buzzwords, fads or fearmongering. We are a trusted brand that has been around for a long time. Ultimately, it’s people who buy from us, and the people who know us, trust us and love us. And that trust is why they tend to stay with us for a long time.”

What’s been your biggest challenge?

“Taking the step into cybersecurity was a huge challenge for me. It was like learning a whole new language and how to communicate, not just a whole new product set. I spent the first six months focused on building the marketing team back up – we’re now a solid team of 16 – so that was a challenge but also the thing I’m most proud of.

“From a marketing perspective, we have a continued challenge around lead generation and what it looks like in the future because I would argue the old, classic ways of lead generation are gone. So that’s a challenge. Also what the future of marketing looks like as technology evolves and consumers and businesses become way more savvy.”