Symantec names Justin Saia corporate comms chief

Part of Saia's role includes helping Symantec "own topics around cybersecurity."

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA: Symantec has hired Justin Saia as VP of corporate communications.

Based in Mountain View, California, Saia started in his position in mid-October.

He is developing and overseeing its integrated communications programs, focusing on elevating Symantec’s global brand and reinforcing its position in cybersecurity, he said. Social media, corporate enterprise products, technology, thought leadership, PR, mergers and acquisitions, and crisis all fall under Saia’s purview. He is reporting to Ellen Roeckl, VP of corporate marketing.

The company has about a dozen PR staffers overseeing their respective regions in EMEA, Asia-Pacific and Japan, North America, and South America, with a handful in its Mountain View headquarters. Saia has four direct reports.

Symantec’s AOR is Edelman, having worked with the agency on various assignments since 2009.

Saia said he wants Symantec to "own topics around cybersecurity," ranging from discussions about election security and other issues to more topical conversations, such as the Wannacry attack and GDPR rules in the E.U.

"For me, that means driving policy debates in Washington, D.C., and Brussels and driving thought leadership externally, whether in media with policymakers or influencers," he explained. "It means being top-of-mind for all things cyber as the go-to solution for everything cyber-related. We don’t want to be part of discussion; we want to lead the discussion."

The opportunities for Symantec to tell its leadership story dovetail with its research division, which studies the future of cybersecurity, creates technologies, and collaborates with academia on cybersecurity issues.

Symantec’s Security Technology and Response Team, which is comprised of a global team of engineers and virus hunters, keep the pulse of the threat landscape. Last year, Symantec launched its own startup accelerator, Symantec Ventures, providing capital and resources to entrepreneurs to encourage innovation.

"All of these areas are interesting jumping-off points to tell Symantec’s story, brand, and position as the thought leader in cybersecurity," Saia said.

However, Symantec also wants to emphasize its leadership position in the market through more practical means, namely by highlighting its products and features, such as its enterprise-facing global intelligence network and its consumer-facing Norton AntiVirus programs.

Symantec underwent several business model changes in 2016. The company demerged from Veritas Technologies, selling the data management business to The Carlyle Group for $5.3 billion. It also acquired identity theft protection company LifeLock for $2.3 billion.

Previously, Saia worked at political consultancy Matrix as COO and at FTI Consulting as a senior director. He has also worked at Nissan North America and BP America.

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