Muscling your way into to UK market from a base in California is a tough call. But with our help this network security systems provider achieved it in spectacular style.
“I can confidently say that Cohesive is one of the best agencies I have ever had the pleasure of working with.”
– Michelle Spolver, Chief Communications Officer
Founded in 2000, Fortinet is now a global leader in the field of network security, providing extremely innovative high performance platforms to carriers, data centres, enterprises, distributed offices and MSSPs. Their rapidly growing customer base now includes the majority of companies on the Fortune Global 100 list.
Even big names have to start somewhere
However, when the company entered the UK in 2003 it was starting from ground zero – they had no brand recognition, few channel partners and just a handful of staff. What’s more, they were entering a market that was already crowded with well-established players.
Getting the right message to the right people
The initial challenge was to create compelling stories and content that would capture the attention of the IT trade, channel and business media. The next stage was to use this awareness to develop a recognised brand and to build relationship with a growing number of channel partners.
Cohesive take charge of communications
Cohesive became closely involved with Fortinet’s UK and European marketing campaigns at a relatively early stage and soon took the lead in message development and story creation. This involved driving creative concepts, generating content, and executing lead generation activity. Before long we had assumed the mantle of global content originators, frequently called upon to produce thought leadership articles, product marketing support, strategic positioning projects and high-impact PR ideas to apply in the UK market and around the world.
A giant survey that makes the PR earth move
For the last four years this activity has included Fortinet’s annual security survey. This involves us polling decision makers in up to 20 international markets, then using the responses and data to create powerful content that is widely reported, quoted and shared around the world.
We begin with the end in mind
These surveys have to be meticulously planned. This is partly because they are complex and detailed. But it’s also because we are not gathering information for information’s sake, but collecting material that we can use for the maximum PR impact. We use the following process to achieve this:
- Research into prevailing global trends, mapping how these apply to Fortinet’s communications objectives and identifying opportunities to make the project a genuinely fresh and original contribution to the business/IT security debate
- Scoping survey respondent demographics and evaluating optimum third party survey partners
- Collecting feedback and input from senior journalists, and with PR counterparts throughout the global Fortinet organisation
- Producing a hypotheses-led concept of key themes and outcomes desired from the survey
- Engineering a questionnaire designed to maximise the potential for PR headlines
- Commissioning a survey partner with best blend of geographic and audience coverage; managing project to cost and budget; launching pilot and field studies
- Analysing research results to produce press release, infographic/s and survey report (both for PR and as marketing collateral)
- Developing strategy for global media outreach in top target publications, and executing this successfully for the UK market
Each year these surveys achieve impressive press coverage running into the thousands of articles. What’s more, it’s not just the quantity of articles but the quality of the publications running these stories that counts.
How we leveraged the BYOD issue to great effect
In 2012 we realised there was significant media appetite for Bring Your Own Device (BYOD). We therefore decided to seize this opportunity by coming at it from a novel and thought-provoking angle.
Rather than take the well-worn route of surveying IT decision makers we approached the next generation of business leaders and CIOs, the so-called ‘Generation Y’ of university educated, upwardly mobile 20-to-30 year olds. We asked them about their attitudes and behaviour with regard to security issues around using their own devices when accessing their employer’s network and data. The illuminating responses provided explosive content for countless articles, including this nugget in specialist SC Magazine.
And how we then built on this success
For the 2013 survey we returned to the same sample, charting the changes in opinions and behaviour across the year. This proved even more compelling than before, particularly for the mainstream business media.
The leading role we’ve played in message development and story creation has enabled Fortinet to captivate the UK and European market in a relatively short period of time. This in turn enabled them to achieve a successful NASDAQ IPO in 2009. Our collaboration continues!