by David Kirkpatrick
A pain point almost all B2B content marketers face is leveraging internal subject matter experts to obtain material for engaging, useful and unique content to share with customers, prospects and people who are interested in the business area or field.
The knowledge and data points are there in operations, practitioners, analysts, developers and many other internal resources. The challenge is getting that information from the internal subject matter experts. Commtouch, an Israel-based global company that provides cloud-based Internet security services, wanted the company to become more visible in the media, and knew it had strong internal assets that could be leveraged for an outreach effort.
Rebecca Steinberg Herson, Vice President Marketing, Commtouch, explained the marketing challenge, "Commtouch’s business model is primarily as an OEM vendor, so our brand is very much behind the scenes."
She continued, "Most of our OEM partners -- companies like Google, Microsoft, Check Point Software and Rackspace -- do not necessarily highlight the fact that they are using Commtouch technology to power their Internet security offerings."
Fortunately for the company, it had a tremendous content asset in massive amounts of data from analyzing literally billions of cloud email, Web transactions and malware every day.
This case study looks at how Commtouch turned that raw data into content that positioned the company as an Internet security expert, and the process involved in getting that message in front of potential customers by driving media coverage.
Commtouch was very effective in using its internal subject matter experts to create valuable content to share.
Find out how Commtouch almost tripled its media coverage over two years by leveraging its internal assets with an effort that reached out to media, individual journalists and industry bloggers.
Herson understood the value of the company’s data and knew it could serve as the centerpiece of a public relations effort.
She said, "Hundreds of Internet security vendors are all vying for media coverage in the industry’s print and online publications and blogs."
Step #1. Analyze, and obtain access to, internal assets
The marketing team analyzed Commtouch’s assets from a PR perspective and realized employees, such as the chief technology officer, could be used for speaking opportunities or interviews with journalists, and events the company was participating in could be packaged and leveraged. Also, they saw the massive amount of daily data could be used to uncover security trends and issues.
"We realized that due to the nature of our cloud-based security technology, we see the trends in Internet security happening right under our nose," Herson stated. "We analyze billions of email messages and Web browsing sessions daily in Commtouch’s cloud. We figured that if we could package that in a way that made sense to journalists and bloggers, it would provide these writers and editors with valuable data they could use in their articles and help Commtouch build credibility as a source."
The asset analysis also included looking at what the security industry media was publishing and interested in so the company could create content that would help fill those journalists and bloggers’ needs, and make their job easier by providing objective data for them to use.
The marketing team knew the data would be very valuable, but it’s not something that Marketing typically dealt with or even had access to.
Commtouch’s internal analysts are focused on managing spam outbreaks, malware outbreaks and other Web threats. To open a dialog between the two functions, Marketing asked to attend some analyst staff meetings.
This opened a line of communication that led to the analysts actually providing data on security trends, and as Marketing became more familiar with analysts’ work, the team would ask for certain database queries to pull certain information out of the company’s data stream.
Step #2. Create the content
With a relationship established between Commtouch’s internal analysts and the marketing team, Marketing was able to begin creating and publishing quarterly trend reports
To put the report together, Herson said the team took the following steps:
- Spend several days interviewing in-house data analysts
- Identifying what data would be most newsworthy
- Also identifying what data would be of value to the company’s OEM partners, and more importantly, their partners’ end users
The reports included graphed data to show ongoing trends, and as many specific examples of particular threats as possible, such as screenshots of spam email messages or malicious websites.
After beginning the quarterly trend reports, Commtouch added blog posts with data similar to the trend report, publishing one to three posts a week that are pitched to industry journalists.
Step #3. Refine the process
"Over time, we have worked out a system with our internal analysts in which toward the end of the quarter, they know exactly which data points we need to receive, and by what date, to incorporate them into the report," said Herson.
She added, "From time to time, we also meet with them to determine if there was something new we might be able to incorporate or to challenge them to answer a particular marketing need with data they didn’t previously realize would be useful for us. We have trained these same internal analysts to identify newsworthy items that they might come across in their daily work, so now they notify the marketing team whenever they encounter something that might interest us, for example, a new Facebook phishing threat or scam."
To reinforce the relationship between the marketing team and the analysts even more, Marketing shares the media successes the analysts helped generate with them.
Over time, the process has developed into an informal service level agreement between the analysts and Marketing where the analysts know Marketing will be visiting them in the last couple of weeks of each quarter to discuss trending data points.
The analysts are even contributing to the process in new ways. For example, they provided the team with a tag cloud of all different subjects in spam over the course of one week.
Another analyst came up with a derivative that was distributed internally. Marketing posted it to the company blog and it was picked up by a security newsletter that Commtouch had never been featured in before, but always had an interest in getting into.
Step #4. Distribute the content
Creating the valuable industry content is a vital aspect of the effort, but that content is worthless unless it is effectively distributed.
Herson explained the process, "Each trend report is distilled down into a short press release
highlighting the key points of the report. In addition to broader wire distribution, our PR agency distributes the release on an individual, personalized basis to journalists and bloggers who cover Internet security."
She added, "In many cases, our agency follows up with phone calls or specific pitch emails. In some cases, the writer requests further clarification or wants to dive deep into a particular point, so we perform telephone interviews with them."
The press release was distributed through a wire service and sent to journalists pre-identified by the team.
Since Commtouch is a global company, the release was also translated into a number of languages including:
The idea of offering the press release in multiple languages is to make it very easy to repurpose for media in Commtouch’s target geographies.
Step #5. Utilize multiple channels
Once the quarterly trend report is distributed, the marketing team also spreads the content through multiple channels, including:
- SlideShare presentation with report highlights
- Co-branded versions for OEM partners
- Hand delivered by the CEO at meetings
- Email sent by sales reps
Herson explained the value of one of the additional channels, "We generate leads through SlideShare from people who wish to download the slides. In one case, a media website decided to embed our SlideShare presentation on their site, generating thousands of views for the trend report presentation."
Over two years of actively promoting the quarterly trend report content, Commtouch has seen strong results:
- Media coverage has increased 261%
- Twitter followers increased 50% in 2011
- RSS feed for the blog subscribers increased 60% in 2011
Commtouch came away from this effort with some key learnings that will inform future campaigns.
Herson said, "Try to be as quantitative as possible to catch media attention. Stories are always great, but the story needs to include hard figures, percentages, etc."
She added, "If you don’t have data, create some by running a survey. The first survey we did was with a third-party analyst, but more recently we started running them ourselves using Google Docs. It’s free, except for the effort required in getting the relevant audience to answer your questions. This usually requires some creativity and hard work."
Useful links related to this article
CommtouchK2 Global Communications
- Quarterly trend report
- Press release
- Press release in Chinese
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