Breaching the Conversation With Timely Research


In 2013, Edward Snowden, an IT contractor working with the NSA, stole a vast swath of state security secrets and leaked them to media, exposing a serious threat that most organizations faced and weren’t properly protecting against: insider threats. Sterling client Vormetric had a “data firewall” encryption solution that was essentially tailor-made to keep organizations safe from this type of attack. The clock was ticking – it was time for Vormetric to highlight how it could have stopped Edward Snowden.


Vormetric wanted to increase visibility around both its data-centric solutions, as well as its role as one of a handful of companies who could effectively stop insider threats such as those perpetrated by Edward Snowden. The company wanted to engage with publications that it hadn’t interacted with before, including business media and tier-1 trade press. Oftentimes, business and tier-1 trade journalists require customer participation in order to feature vendors in their stories. Since many Fortune 500 companies do not want to discuss their security measures or comment on data breaches, Vormetric struggled to garner attention in these publications.


Sterling recommended that Vormetric develop original research and participate in a multicity press tour to deliver that research, with a customer at each stop along the way. In an effort to make the research meaningful to the media, Sterling recommended that Vormetric tie its research closely to the insider threat to increase visibility.

A key part of Vormetric’s success was predicated on customer participation. Vormetric was able to secure agreement from Bob Bigman, former CISO of the CIA, to participate in one leg of the tour.

To target business and tier-1 trade media, Sterling worked with Vormetric, alongside the consulting firm Enterprise Strategy, to create an in-depth research report focusing on IT concerns around insider threats. The findings came from a study where 700 IT decision-makers were surveyed.

Prior to the tour, Sterling crafted and initiated a highly focused media plan that included:

  • Media outreach for three cities
  • Question development for survey, review of research, and final edits
  • Presentation preparation
  • FAQ preparation
  • Executive overview on media meetings
  • Press release development, drafting, and distribution
  • Concierge service (hotel reservations, dinner reservations with media, and creating and delivering press packets)


Sterling secured briefings with 18 media outlets (including Financial Times, Reuters, the Wall Street Journal, The Economist, and TechCrunch) and organized two media dinners where Vormetric had the opportunity to meet key media influencers face-to-face. The bulk of the briefings took place over a two-week period. Coverage included 25 unique articles, including the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, eWeek, CSO, ComputerWorld, Network World, Dark Reading, and SC Magazine.

“Sterling crafts compelling content because our account team members really ‘get’ what we do, how we do it, why it matters, and who should care,” said Alan Kessler, Vormetric CEO. “The draft copy I receive from them requires virtually no editing because the content is accurate, the positioning is strong, and the tone is pitch-perfect. That’s a first for me, and I’ve worked with agencies for a few decades now.”

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