I have been a technical writer for 9 (actually slightly) years now. I started my freelance business back in 2009, where the main objective was to write about the world of Biometric Technology. To this day, I still write about this stuff, but not so much now, as I am trying to shift the focus of the business Cyber security.
My main niche has been long form content, especially in the way of composing and writing articles, and the books that have been published and that I continue to write.
Apart from obviously keeping the client happy, one of the key mantras I have learned is that in the world of tech writing, unless your audience are all a bunch of techno geeks, you have to break all of that tech speak down and bring it down to a level that literally any audience can understand.
At the moment, my client’s audiences are range mostly from the small business to individuals aspiring to get some sort of IT cert.
So, although the topics I write about are highly technical in nature, I have to dumb the content down by almost 99% so that it can be consumed by just anybody, even the senior citizens living in their senior residences. I learned this lesson the hard way. Even before 2009, I had another Biometrics based business that was focused primarily upon reselling hardware and software.
I tried all sort of marketing techniques, but none were really working all that great until somebody gave me the idea to start writing technical articles and start a blog site. The idea behind this, as this certain person told me, was to promote myself as a thought leader in the field.
So, I did just that, writing extremely technical articles, talking about all of these fancy mathematical algorithms, trying to show how sexy Biometrics is and what an intelligent guy I was (I got a severe ego check here at this point in time also). Heck, I was even dating at the time, and trying to impress and woo all of the women at the same time with all of these articles.
But, I struck out in two areas. First, the women I was dating really didn’t care about it at all (yea, they “oohed” and “ahhhed” a little bit) and that got me no where with a relationship; and secondly, all of the articles I submitted were turned down one by one and being severely criticized for the audiences that they were trying to serve. Then it dawned me finally.
Excuse my language here, but nobody really gave a crap about all of these fancy mathematical algorithms I was writing about, they wanted something simple to understand so that they could “consume” it and use it in their everyday lives. So, that is how learned the lesson to keep the technical language for the techno geeks, but for the rest of the world, bring it down to a level that they can understand and use.
The reason why I even bring this whole topic up is that today I came across an article which echoed my very same experiences. Apparently, a journalist by the name of Stewart Rogers (he can be found on Twitter @theRealSJR) has been attending the Cyber Week conference in Tel Aviv, Israel. Some of his initial findings are that everybody is great in speaking the techno jargon, but nobody can explain what it all means to the average consumer.
His direct quote: “The Cyber Week conference is in full swing in Tel Aviv, and if there is one thing I’ve noticed so far, it is this: Everyone in the cybersecurity industry is adept at explaining complex topics in complicated ways. That’s great when the room is full of cyber experts, but in speaking with startup after startup this week, I’m not getting a warm and fuzzy feeling that these vendors can explain what they do to a “regular” consumer (if there is such a thing).” (SOURCE: https://venturebeat.com/2018/06/20/cyber-week-shows-even-smart-people-need-help-understanding-cybersecurity/)
He drew this conclusion on the simple premise that Cyber security, at least at the present time, is a very lucrative market. Thus, it is important to keep the techno jargon the way it is so that only the handful that can understand all of this will pump in the large amounts of money that is needed for super sophisticated solutions if they were ever hit by a Cyber-attack.
But, where the main point of breakdown is that the majority of Cyber security customers are not this handful of very wealthy business and individuals; rather it is the average Joe like you and me, and the Mom and Pop stores of the world.
Stewart Rogers even mentioned in his article that some of the super smart techno geeks he has come across have also fallen prey to the most basic of Cyber-attacks. Heck, there was even one story shared as to how one C-Level of a leading Cyber security firm became a victim to a Lufthansa free airline tickets scam.
There was also even another story shared as to how the VP of a leading PR firm (GK, the name of the individual in question is Rachel Glaser) almost fell victim to a Netflix Phishing scam. The giveaway: The erroneous spelling in the sender’s email address. The Cyber security is staring to understand this, and thus, are taking much needed efforts to bring the techno jargon down to a level that the common folk can consume and make sense of.
An example of this has been the launch of a brand new educational portal, called “cyber.for. people”. The link is: http://cyberforpeople.com/. Its mission is simple: what threats to look for, the ways in which you can protect yourself, and how much you are at risk of a Cyber based attack. The fundamental premise: To educate and protect the public at large.
Another key reason why using high level techno jargon is so used heavily with Cyber security firms, apart from the financial aspect: To scare people, and to get them to eventually call them up for their services if they ever become a victim. But you know what?
That will only work so far. Yes, the average Joe more than likely will need the services of a Cyber security firm, but they also want to understand how to make use of the current information that is out there so that they don’t fall victim to begin with.
In the end, although the world of Cyber security is full of sexy technologies and gizmos like Biometrics, the bottom line is that the main gap between the Security professional and the average consumer is both the written and the spoken word. Meaning, no matter how you communicate your products/services, your knowledge, or even your good intentions, you must be able to communicate that to the average, every day citizen.
It is this population that will represent the biggest customer in the coming years, not the Fortune 100 companies that have money to flaunt around. And this is so true for people whom are aspiring to be Cyber security writers:
When you talk about a Data Packet being hacked into, screw all of the fancy techno jargon like Headers, Trailers, and CRC Checking algorithms. Explain to your audience how it will impact them and how they can use that to protect themselves in the future.
The mantra here is that you want to educate your audience so that they will be engaged, be proactive in their environments, and react to a suspicious event if they ever come across one. As this is so eloquently put by Ilan Dray, the founder of Cyber for People:
“In Israel, everybody knows that when you see a bag in the street, you call the police, and they will perform a controlled explosion on it. We don’t have that level of understanding or response for cybersecurity threats, and that’s what I’d like to achieve.” (SOURCE: https://venturebeat.com/2018/06/20/cyber-week-shows-even-smart-people-need-help-understanding-cybersecurity/)