In the security industry, people often find their time consumed with outside threats: APT groups and ransomware for example. In reality, although those external groups can consume a lot of mindshare, one of the largest elements of friction in organizations comes from within (and cannot be handled with a series of clicks). What is this advanced, persistent, insider threat? Often, it’s the relationship between two fundamentally different teams: research and marketing.

There are numerous differences that make collaboration between these teams difficult, but the the root of the cause stems from the fact that researchers want to research. Being pulled away from their work for any reason, especially to help with marketing, can be a big ask, and can lead to departmental lines drawn in the sand.

This past weekend at DerbyCon V, I had the incredible opportunity to present on how these two groups can work together to produce great content and research. This idea is something I’ve observed during my time at OpenDNS, where we are fortunate to have teams that understand how to partner seamlessly — but that relationship wasn’t formed overnight. Through trial and error, we were able to establish a rapport that allows us to stay in sync.

This talk (slides below) focused first on one of those trials: our release of NLPRank (a new data model developed by OpenDNS researcher Jeremiah O’Connor), in march of this year, followed by a few best practices that could help research and marketing teams collaborate cohesively. Below are a few examples of how security professionals can make the most out of a relationship with the marketing side of the business:

Communication is key: Nothing is more important than keeping an open line of dialogue between teams. This communication allows your marketing team to know what cool things the research team has to share, when it’s coming down the line, and how best to create a plan of action to promote it.

Provide context: When writing, researchers often think of their audience as being other researchers. But when a marketing team is trying to share a story, they need to create a narrative and content that appeals to a wider group — adding context about how your research affects the big picture can speed the process along.

Do not fear the red line: In many cases, content may need to be edited before it can be shared publicly. It’s not personal and it’s not because marketers love oversimplify complex information — it’s because something didn’t fit. So remember not to take it personally.

Commit: When a story breaks and you’re finally getting coverage, the worst thing that can happen is for a researcher to bail: on interviews, on calls, on providing quotes and context. It strains relationships with reporters, managers, and teams. So if your research makes headlines, make some time to be available when the media and customer interest rolls in.

Be patient: As a researcher, you won’t always have the luxury of working with a technically proficient marketing team — especially one that knows as much about security as you do. If this knowledge gap is the case, be patient! It may take a few meetings, but a marketer’s ability to clearly and accurately explain your research can make or break any coverage you may get.

See the full presentation here:

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