Chair: Martin Gill

Panellists:
Mark Rowe – Editor, Professional Security Magazine
Claire Meyer – Managing Editor at Security Management, ASIS International
Andrea Berkoff – Editor and Web Content Manager, City Security Magazine

Key Points

Andrea Berkoff notes that while security officers is where people first recognise security personnel they do come into contact with security in lots of different ways, they see cctv, alarms, they will know about cyber crime, they experience scanners at airports. Some companies are reluctant to promote security referencing the need to protect clients’ confidentiality or data privacy but Andrea notes that terrorists avoid locales with strong security so there is merit in sharing details of positive stories. Moreover, awareness of the presence of good security attracts the best recruits, retains the best people and generates diversity. Newspapers though can’t be relied upon to promote good security, they know their target audience and security is rarely key. In any event the print media is in decline, not that she sees it as her role to work with national newspapers. Social media is more commonplace now and therein rests different opportunities. Andrea suggests the security sector should: 1. Implement a coherent campaign developed by PR professionals with clear objectives. 2. Promote role models. 3. Proactively improve the perception of the security sector with key audiences such as PR and insurance. 4. Professionalise.

Claire Meyer notes that different news outputs have different roles and hers is to help security personnel to do their job more professionally, focussing less on incidents that occur and more on the learnings for security that evolve from them. She explains that different elements or section of the (security) media have their own business models and aims and they are very different. Recognising that this inevitably leaves a promotional gap she sees that being filled by security associations. That can involve a partnership. You will hear Claire discuss the role of advertising and the need to manage any potential conflicts of interest that occur, and the need to make a clear distinction between articles based on advertising and other outputs. Accepting there is a need to get more input from the frontline Claire outlines some of the challenges here; that they are often protected by various levels of personnel so getting to them is often tricky.

Mark Rowe notes how things have changed in his career, the internet killed the media he joined, interest in the written word has collapsed. Mark focusses his statement on a story dating back to the 2017 terror attacks at London Bridge’s Borough Market, where terrorist marauders killed people and were eventually shot dead. There were a number of heroes from different agencies, one transport police officer was highly praised and so were members of the public. But Mark notes that there were many security people on duty that night who were heroic but not much was said, and he asks whether he should have done more. Similarly, he relates a tale where he attended an award ceremony where a hotel security officer was successful, and he was keen to report the matter but the hotel marketing department demanded there be no publicity; security was not something to promote. He agreed to follow their wishes but again questions whether he should have done. He does not see a role for himself in supporting national newspapers, nor other journalists, many of whom he feels are not committed to quality outputs and in any event, there are so many areas he is ‘continually spinning plates’.

At the end of the webinar the panel were asked for their thoughts on how the security sector could be better promoted, one strategic point each was requested. Claire felt the best way was for security professionals to share their stories themselves, and Andrea too encouraged security personnel in all areas, including those on the frontline, to discuss with others what they do. Mark pointed to the good work that is done in various departments and with various agencies of state that can be a different focal point. What is important is that we all do our bit and that we all have a role, journalists do not see it as their exclusive responsibility to relate how well security is doing.

Martin Gill
2nd December 2021