It’s 2:21pm ET on Mother’s Day and my cell phone rings. It’s a reporter from the Associated Press asking if I have any experts that I can connect him with regarding the proliferation of the WannaCry ransomware attacks. And what can be expected when everyone returns to work on Monday morning.
I turn to my wife and kids and let them know I need to step aside from our Mother’s Day outing. We were at a shopping mall where the boys gave Mommy the option to pick out a gift of her choosing, followed by a late lunch.
I get to work. I know that I am not the only PR practitioner the AP is reaching out to. I know that for my clients to have a chance at being in the story…speed wins. But more importantly, based on the specific topic and the journalist’s audience, I know precisely which source matter experts to go to.
It’s 2:29pm ET and I send a note out to all of my colleagues across the Porter Novelli/Voce Communications Security Practice to let them know about the opportunity in play. While I have a sense for the best options for the journalist’s needs, I know my teammates can help expedite the process in getting ahold of our numerous client sources. We have an extremely collaborative process that continues to serve our clients (and the media) quite well.
It’s 2:33pm ET and I text one of my client’s security experts who I feel would be an ideal fit for this interview. He responds instantly and says he can speak with the reporter at 3:00pm ET. I immediately connect with the journalist and we lock in the time.
It’s 3:00pm ET and my security expert is on the phone with the journalist. I sit in a quiet corner of the mall while my wife and kids continue shopping.
It’s 3:19pm ET and we wrap up the interview. I see that my wife texted me to let me know they were seated in the restaurant across from where I was conducting the call. I sit down at the table and my seven year-old son says, “Daddy, you’re done already? That was fast.” He quickly followed it up by saying, “Can we get back to Mother’s Day now?” We did.
It’s 6:46pm ET and we have since returned home from the mall. I notice the story is out. I text a link to my client expert who is in the story. He replied, “Damn, that was quick.” I agreed.
The entire process from the moment the journalist reached out to me through the conclusion of the interview lasted less than one hour. On a Sunday. On Mother’s Day. That is the kind of pressure journalists who cover the security landscape are under these days. And our job in PR is to be there to support them when they need assistance with the right source matter experts.
Working in Security PR requires an edge-of-your-seat, never-ending sense of urgency. The bad guys don’t take holidays off. In fact, often times they exploit them.
Truly effective “rapid response” programs require speed, naturally, but the real success is achieved when PR teams and clients alike are on the same page in terms of how to handle the overall process at any given moment and providing the media with genuine source matter experts who won’t waste their time. When you are able to put together that type of winning formula, trust is built across all involved and everyone wins.
I wonder what the bad guys will have in store for us on Father’s Day. Whatever it is, the Porter Novelli Security Practice and its clients will be ready.