As part of my interviews for the Bora blog, I had the pleasure to chat with Liz Kelly about the challenges, opportunities, and best practices of cybersecurity marketing. Liz Kelly is the Social Program Manager at Thales Cloud Security and shares a vast experience in vendor side marketing. This blog is edited for clarity and brevity.
Can you introduce yourself and tell us what you do in Thales?
Liz: “My journey has been a bit of a strange one because I started in events, which is something that a lot of people do not know. I used to work on lots of different events, mainly in the defence sector. I worked quite happily in events and then moved on. And the reason that I got into tech is because my events career took me to Gartner, where I used to help run a large event that they do, called IT Symposium/Xpo.
Then the opportunity arose to go vendor side. I joined RSA Security to run their EMEA events program and I loved it from the minute I set foot in the door for RSA. It was such a great company to work for, and so after I’d been there six months, when the opportunity arose, I moved across into the marketing team. So that’s how my journey started.
After a break of a few years to raise my family, I returned to cybersecurity marketing, and this is where my Thales journey started, working agency side to run social media for SafeNet, which then became Gemalto, which then became Thales.
At Thales Cloud Protection and Licensing, I primarily look after their social program. This includes all the social media, our blog program, podcast program, and our customer reference program. So, anything that has a social element. It is a really interesting role. One of the really great things about it is getting to work with people across the entire global business – the product teams, the marketing teams, the leadership team. By it’s very global nature, it is not a nine to five role, and no two days are the same.”
What do you think is the purpose of cybersecurity marketing? Is it to promote products? Is it to educate people, or both?
Liz: “A bit of both, but I would say primarily it is to educate. Cybersecurity is a tough industry to be in because it is changing so quickly that you could work in it forever and still never keep up. But I think what we are trying to do is educate because it’s not a matter of if these attacks happen, it is a matter of when. So, educating end user businesses and consumers to be prepared and educating them that it might not be a one size fits all. You need to be holistic. You need to keep moving. The industry is fluid. Technology that you acquired years ago might not be relevant today. So, it’s definitely an educational piece, and we have a responsibility as marketers to educate and keep our clients, our potential clients up to date with the latest technology, with the latest threats.”
What is the biggest opportunity for cybersecurity marketers?
Liz: “I think the fact that cybersecurity is a constantly changing landscape. That’s an opportunity but can also be a challenge.
You just have to keep moving. We have to try and stay one step ahead of the bad actors and keep getting our messages out there. It does not matter what your industry is, or its size, or type. Cybersecurity is something everyone needs.”
If we were to highlight one challenge for cybersecurity marketing, what would that be?
Liz: “One of the challenges is getting your voice heard above all the others. Our ethos at Thales has always been to not create an element of fear – we do not want to scare people, we want to educate them. We at Thales couldn’t do what we do without our network of technology and channel partners, those relationships are so very important in cybersecurity marketing.
What are the new marketing tactics that you are using to overcome the challenges and profit from the opportunities?
Liz: “You have to have a complete mix of everything, you can’t just go into it with one size fits all approach. We have the pieces that I work on which I would say is the more educational piece, with our blog posts, reports, and podcasts, etc. We’ve also introduced a strong account-based marketing programme in a lot of the regions which is absolutely the way forward. Additionally, we’ve got customers that use various parts of our technology but not others – so how can we educate our existing customers on different products and services. It is such a multi-faceted approach in terms of how we approach our marketing planning.”
Can you share some tips and advice on how to improve content marketing strategies?
Liz: “My key tip is always making sure that you’re not just using your own company viewpoint. For a lot of our reports, we’ve either engaged an analyst, an academic or a research organisation, so that we have got the tangible figures and numbers to back up what we are saying in our content.
In any content marketing strategy, it is about being fluid, it’s about being flexible. It is about looking at what messages and data are relevant for each region or vertical and tailoring that content appropriately. It is so important to have a wide range of content to suit all audiences – it is not just the reports and whitepapers. it is also podcasts, videos etc that offer different perspectives.”
What type of cybersecurity marketing resources are you using?
Liz: “In my role, I spend a lot of time on social media, obviously, reading, reading, reading, reading! I follow a lot of industry experts, seeing what they are talking about, seeing what sort of events they’re attending. And obviously you follow Gartner, McKinsey, Forrester, and IDC and others, as well as technology partners and other leading industry players.
I think you also have to follow the news. Following news sources from around the world is beneficial because you get insights into what’s happening, what attacks are taking place, and where. For example, big events like the World Cup in Qatar later this year are always targets for cybercriminals.”
Five personal questions to get to know Liz Kelly a bit better (my favourite part of each interview).
Favourite kind of music or favourite artist: I am a bit of an 80s girl. I have always been a huge fan of Spandau Ballet.
Favourite book, not about tech or security: Not ashamed to admit at all, I am a massive Harry Potter fan!
Favourite food: Anything Thai. I love Thai food.
Favourite place for vacations: France. I used to live in the South of France, and I love it! So varied and so much to offer. Just a beautiful part of the world.
If you are not in the marketing business, what would you like to do? I would love to be a football commentator, it’s what I always wanted to be as a child. I love football so it would be my dream job!
Thank you, Liz Kelly, for an insightful and lively discussion.