Stephen O'Keeffe found that one of his technology clients, Riptech, was having trouble separating itself from the pack of internet security companies.
"Riptech was getting lost in the alphabet soup of internet security firms,
says O'Keeffe. "They needed a way to stand out and distinguish themselves."
The problem of operating in a competitive industry was compounded by the fact that Rip-tech's clients were often hesitant to sing the company's praises publicly because of the sensitive nature of internet security.
Mum clients and numerous competitors made it hard for Riptech to grab the spotlight.
O'Keeffe wanted to demonstrate that Riptech had a keen grasp on internet security issues, and was determined to prove that expertise to the media.
Although the company had gained some media attention during two computer virus outbreaks in October 2001, the firm wanted to be on the Rolodexes of technology journalists as a go-to company whenever information on web security was needed.
"We really wanted Riptech to distinguish itself as a thought leader on the topic of internet security,
The firm decided to conduct research on how security issues pertaining to the web had been covered in the press.
O'Keeffe and Riptech found that while computer security was on the radar screen of many journalists, analysts, and businesses, few organizations had developed reports to evaluate the state of internet safety. The firm also learned that the existing reports focused on survey data, while no reports had been based on confirmed attacks.
So with the help of company executives, O'Keeffe hatched the idea of having Riptech publish a report analyzing the state of internet security.
The report would be called the Internet Security Threat Report, and would be distributed to technology journalists via e-mail.
"We didn't want to produce a report that looked very flashy,
"We thought it best to publish an almost academic report. We wanted it to look and be reputable."
Riptech had recently developed the ability to identify and track major cyber attacks by analyzing unauthorized and malicious activity by cyber criminals. In June 2001, Riptech began work on its six-month-long study, which was designed to focus solely on confirmed attacks, and would try to be the first to quantify variables involved in cyber assaults. The survey measured such things as attack intensity, severity, and geographic sources.
The Internet Security Threat Report was first issued on January 28, 2002. O'Keeffe had provided select media members with an advanced report copy during the week of January 7.
Over the next two weeks, the firm engaged in an aggressive media campaign that targeted members of the local, national, and international print and broadcast media.
In this period, O'Keeffe arranged 14 media interviews with Riptech executives.
When Riptech published the report on January 28, O'Keeffe followed up with various reporters who had expressed interest during the previous two-and-a-half weeks. The firm also issued a mass e-mail to broadcast outlets.
According to O'Keeffe, the report earned Riptech over 118 media placements with outlets such as USAToday.com, Bloomberg News, CNN Headline News, The Jerusalem Post, LA Times, San Jose Mercury News, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and Reuters.
O'Keeffe hopes that such attention has placed Riptech on the road to becoming a media resource on the issue of internet security. But to ensure that, Riptech plans to publish the Internet Security Threat Report on a semiannual basis.
"The nature of the report provides continuing opportunities for Riptech,