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Shannon O'Dowd

Published on

April 10, 2019


cybersecurity, public relations

My biggest piece of advice for people starting a career in PR is simple: “say yes.” When I was offered my first job at a boutique PR firm in Washington, D.C. right out of college, I wanted to pursue a career in healthcare PR because I had minored in biology. This job, however, was in the company’s cybersecurity practice and, at the time, I had zero knowledge of the cybersecurity world, but I took the job thinking that I could get the PR experience and switch into another industry at a later date. Little did I know that “yes” was the catalyst that kicked off my incredibly rewarding career in cybersecurity PR.

At first, it was hard to grasp what it was my clients did—what is a vulnerability scanner? What is a man-in-the-middle attack? What is a Fancy Bear? I had to work hard to understand the landscape, but my hard work paid off. I read everything I could get my hands on about the industry: the news (top-tier, business and trade), my clients’ blogs, reports, announcements, etc., analyst reports and key reporters’ tweets.

Six months into my cybersecurity career, I was reading a client blog posts on the Blackmoon campaign targeting the National Foreign Trade Council ahead of President Trump’s meeting with President Xi in 2017, and suddenly it clicked that I completely understood what I was reading. I did a happy dance in my chair and confidently pitched my client’s story securing my first Reuters article (among other awesome top-tier hits).

Security Camera

When beginning your career, it takes time (and a lot of random acronym Google searches) to truly understand your clients and their industry, but that “Click Moment” will come and you will have worked hard for it.

That was also the day I realized how much I enjoyed working in cybersecurity. Now that cybersecurity touches almost everything in our lives, it feels as though I’m part of something bigger. Cyber attackers can infiltrate anything that connects to the internet, which in today’s world, that’s pretty much everything—do you really need a smart toothbrush?

After some time, I was looking for a new challenge and I said “yes” to a job at LEWIS in their Washington D.C. office and I haven’t looked back since.

Lit Up Laptop

My career has since taken off, I am now working with well-known, leading companies, owning projects, pitching amazing stories and meeting and building relationships with cybersecurity and tech reporters. On top of that, I’ve developed my professional skills and, as a result, I approach my work with more confidence. I love my job because I work with some of the most respected and intelligent people in the cybersecurity industry. My career is rewarding, and I am still learning new things every day, and I wouldn’t have had these opportunities without saying “yes.”

If you’re looking for a career opportunity to say “yes” to that is fascinating, fast paced and exciting, look no further than LEWIS’s cybersecurity practice. And if you’re looking to work in Washington, D.C., come join our growing team (and help us crack the office debate: who’s the better performer, Ariana Grande or Mariah Carey? Ariana, obviously!). View our open positions here!

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