The Value of Events to PR Professionals: Networking, Knowledge Building and Media Relations

July 26, 2022By Liam HodgsonInsights

Thankfully, 2022 seems to be the year that we have finally moved on from the COVID restrictions that we have endured over the past two years. With restrictions eased, large events such as business conferences and trade shows have been able to take place.

Last month, I was fortunate enough to attend Infosecurity Europe, or ‘Infosec’. This was my first time attending an in-person tech event since joining C8 in January. As a PR professional, it’s important to constantly absorb as much knowledge as possible so I was excited by the prospect of immersing myself in the world of information security. In this blog, I’ll share with you my experience of the event and overview some important takeaways.

The value of networking

Infosec was held from the 21st – 23rd of June which, unfortunately, happened to be the same week that we experienced the largest national rail strikes in 30 years. Expectedly, a reduced number of journalists were attending due to the disruption, yet C8 still managed to secure some fantastic 1-to-1 interviews with a select number of media. Given that Infosec is one of the largest cybersecurity events of the year, it also remained a great opportunity to network.

Networking is certainly one of the most important aspects of attending in-person events. Since starting in PR it has been clear that building strong connections is vital, with this repeatedly echoed in one of my recent PRCA training sessions. Creating these connections ensures you know exactly what the media are looking for, creating the best opportunity to gain coverage for your clients.

While there were fewer journalists attending Infosec this year, it still presented an opportunity to reach out to the press with interesting story angles and invitations to meet our clients. In turn, we secured some hugely valuable face-to-face briefings which provided a great foundation to build media relationships; our main objective when working within PR.

Away from the press, Infosec also provided a chance to meet clients, prospects and discover other interesting organisations within the industry. Meeting those I only knew from behind a screen was an interesting process; I found having a list of pre-prepared questions allowed me to gain insight into the varied cybersecurity organisations that were in attendance. The more discussions I had the more confident I felt, which was one of the greatest personal achievements that I took from the event.

Diving into the tech

Given that I’ve only been working in tech PR for six months, I was slightly apprehensive about being able to keep up with the technical conversations taking place and whether I’d be able to truly understand what was being discussed. I knew that it was to my benefit to listen and improve my knowledge of the cybersecurity industry. As soon as I walked into the exhibition, I realised that people are very approachable and very happy to discuss their technology in simplified terms if needed.

As my confidence grew and I approached various organisations that interested me, I gained a wealth of knowledge about the industry. From API security to threat intelligence, it was hugely valuable to attend the event. One of the best freebies that were on offer from the stands was a guide called “The Intelligence Handbook” which I am now reading.

Understanding the media

Through the recent events and training sessions that I have attended, I have gained a greater understanding of the media. The PRCA training that I attended focused on “Selling into the Media,” discussing pitching techniques, as well as how the media landscape has changed over the past few years and decades. It was interesting to hear the diverse ways that others approach the media. By attending this training with other PR consultants, it was interesting to learn about their individual pitching techniques, and what they found does and does not work.

By attending Infosec I was also able to see how journalists operate in person for the first time. Observing the press area and discussing with journalists where they would like to meet clients beforehand was all a brilliant experience alongside observing interviews in real-time.

My takeaways

Overall, Infosec provided a great opportunity to meet others that work in and around our industry. It was a fantastic way to further understand subjects that are of key interest and gave me the chance to learn more about the media, which is essential for developing as a PR professional.

With the worst of the pandemic seemingly over, large-scale events can hopefully take place continuously. I intend to attend as often as I can and will go with increased confidence and knowledge of what to expect as these are integral parts of the PR machine.