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October 19, 2011

How We Brand Maryland the Epicenter for Cybersecurity

by Andrea Vernot

Almost two years have passed since Governor O’Malley unveiled his then nascent “CyberMaryland” strategy to position Maryland at the epicenter for cybersecurity innovation, opportunity and talent.

To the many designations October has come to represent in the US – Arts & Humanities, Breast Cancer Awareness and Italian-American Heritage  months – we can now add “Cybersecurity Awareness” to the litany of commemorations.  Started in 2004 by Department of Homeland Security in cooperation with the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) and the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center (MS-ISAC), this annual awareness event recognizes our globally interconnected world and promotes the technologies, talent and techniques needed to protect the nation’s digital infrastructure.

Here at the Maryland Department of Business & Economic Development, the designation also provided our communications shop with the perfect occasion to launch a new advertising campaign and to unveil a national outreach program.  While both are designed to communicate the State’s cybersecurity strengths, they are tailored to allow us to connect both virtually and literally with our customers in the spaces and places they convene.

Designed by the Baltimore-based creative agency TBC, the “CyberMaryland” advertising campaign debuted October 3 on WashingPost.com.  The media plan includes the San Francisco, Austin, Atlanta, Boston and San Antonio online business journals. Targeted online media includes CIO.org, CSO.org, TechRepublic, Government Security News and Digital Forensics Magazine.  Featuring a line-driven campaign designed to evoke HTML code, the three ads assert Maryland’s position as a cybersecurity leader with statements like “We’ve got the nation’s cybersecurity under lock and keystroke” and “We’re in the business of cyber breakthroughs.  Specifically stopping them.”  The ads will run through November and an expanded schedule debuts in Spring 2012.

As is true in many industries, our most effective marketing occurs face-to- face at specialized trade shows, events and conferences.  Connecting with potential customers and stakeholders at industry-centric gatherings such as RSA, InfoSec World and MilCom will be more effective and impactful when we unveil our new CyberMaryland exhibit this Friday at MDC3 in Baltimore.  Developed in conjunction with Baltimore’s Adler Display, the 10’x20’ display features life-size graphics of the cyber ad campaign, CyberMaryland logo and Lockheed Martin’s NexGen Cyber Innovation & Technology Center against a bold backdrop of silver, blue and white.

Advertising and trade shows are only two of the many marketing strategies we employ with and on behalf of our CyberMaryland partners to promote Maryland’s IT assets. Email marketing, social media promotion and news blogs (insert MDbizMedia) are valuable tools for reaching the programmers, developers, hackers and techies who make up the information assurance world. Earlier this Spring we launched our Twitter account – now 560 strong – @CyberMaryland and unveiled a “shared stakeholder” website.  A public-private communications council convened to provide direction and insight from the cyber community and Baltimore’s G1440 helped create this centralized cybersecurity portal – www.cybermaryland.org – to promote jobs, news, events and business opportunities.

If you’d like further information on the state’s business development marketing strategies or want to learn how your company can adopt CyberMaryland, feel free to contact me at avernot@choosemaryland.org.  Note CyberMaryland in the subject line and be sure to include your email.

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