Breaking into Fast-Paced Cybersecurity News Cycles: Q&A with Media Director Katie Garagozzo

From ransomware and phishing to disinformation campaigns on social media and election-related hacking, cybersecurity increasingly dominates the headlines. In the world of public relations, it’s also the fastest moving space to stay on top of, and one of the most impactful — affecting each and every one of us in our daily lives.  At Mission North, we recognized this trend early on and today cybersecurity — or “Trust,” as we call it — is one of our biggest and most high-profile practice groups. 

I recently spoke with Media Director Katie Garagozzo, who’s worked with companies in our Trust practice for more than eight years. In the following Q&A, she shares how she approaches fast-paced news cycles and how the industry has changed over the years.

What is the state of the media landscape for cybersecurity companies today?

The biggest challenge is cutting through the noise. There are now six PR people for every journalist, and more security experts than ever want to share their perspectives with media. We have to work with our clients to find the most useful data or context they can share to help journalists write more informed and relevant articles.

What is your No. 1 piece of advice for navigating this landscape?

Never send a piece of commentary that doesn’t add insight or depth to the news. Ask what perspective your client can share that no one else can. 

News cycles in this space are fast-moving and high-stakes. What is your philosophy on “rapid response” to breaking news such as a significant data breach?

My philosophy is to respond as often as it makes sense, as long as you do it well. “Doing it well” requires understanding the dynamics of breaking news, and appreciating that journalists are working to find a scoop or shed light on the evolving story. The key is knowing a client’s expertise so we can activate around opportunities where their background is a fit and let go of ones where it isn’t.

How can comms pros keep up with these news cycles?

To stay on top of breaking news, you need to have an eye on all the right channels. That includes Twitter, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) alerts, and sites like Wired, Motherboard, TechCrunch and Krebs on Security. 

If there’s more than one hack or other news event going on at the same time, how do you choose where to focus? And how do you juggle rapid response for multiple clients around one event?

It’s all about playing to your clients’ strengths. There may be crossover at times, but that’s the great part of being at an agency and having the support of a team. 

The most important thing is to consider what a news event means for the media. How will reporters cover multiple news stories in one day? Will the publication push out several stories in quick succession or publish a more in-depth piece? Tap your relationships with reporters to get them the information they’re looking for, and adapt to what you know their needs will be.

You’ve been with Mission North for eight years. What about the work do you find most engaging? 

Cybersecurity hooked me as soon as I joined. I saw stories about ingenuity and power, defense and offense, ethics and morality, conflict and resolution. I’m still excited by the consistency of change and the depth of the space. 

My ability to contribute to an evolving ecosystem with real-world impact keeps me engaged and curious. Today, cybersecurity is in the mainstream — it’s not only for the wonks and the people who like to geek out. Brands communicate much more about their security policies and protocols today, and the federal government is now addressing cybersecurity publicly. The sheer volume of cybersecurity news has risen, and so has the willingness of the private market to address nation-state cyber activity. 

How do you see the industry changing in the 2020s?

There are more avenues for cybersecurity storytelling than ever, and I predict we’ll see even more emerge. I’m optimistic that today’s cybersecurity reporting will bring accountability to public and private industries and spark positive change.

Are you fascinated by cybersecurity? Do you love a good communications challenge? Visit our careers page to read more about our team and see open positions in San Francisco, Brooklyn and Portland.