“What attracted us to this proposal was that it is dynamic in nature” – Marc Jepkes, Fortinet.
Fortinet is a global leader in broad, integrated and automated cyber security solutions. The company secures the largest enterprise, service provider, and government organizations around the world. Fortinet empowers its customers with intelligent, seamless protection across the expanding attack surface and the power to take on ever-increasing performance requirements of the borderless network. Fortinet ranks #1 in the most security appliances shipped worldwide, and more than 375,000 customers trust Fortinet to protect their businesses.
In 2016, Fortinet launched its Security Fabric architecture to deliver security features without compromise to address the most critical security challenges, whether in networked, application, cloud or mobile environments. Ensuring that enterprise customers can maximize their existing infrastructure and security investments, the Fortinet Security Fabric is designed to integrate with a vast ecosystem of third-party solution providers such as SentinelOne, Symantec, Cisco, Oracle and Nuage Networks.
“No business can thrive without partnerships”, says Marc Jepkes, Sales Manager Enterprise & Telco Netherlands at Fortinet. “That has always been self-evident to me, and that is the reason I sought trustworthy and long-lasting relationships, both in the sales channel and in public relations when I set out to launch Fortinet in the Benelux.”
Marc joined Fortinet in August of 2005 and was given the task to introduce Fortinet in the Benelux and lay the foundations for the Benelux sales & marketing organization. From a one-man operation in 2005, Jepkes quickly established an indirect sales channel and formed an enthusiastic and committed team, including leadership, in the Netherlands and Belgium. Fortinet realizes consistent annual growth of revenues and partners in the Benelux. Marc has succeeded in taking Fortinet from a relatively unknown IT Security vendor to a leading security solution provider in the Benelux markets.
Dynamic Proposal for Public Relations
In 2011, Jepkes sought a partner to help to create awareness of Fortinet and its products and services by bringing these to the interest of press and end users in the Benelux. He looked at several PR companies before choosing cyber security specialist Zeekhoe Communicatie. “Zeekhoe’s proposal outlined a program for PR activities that they intended to undertake for Fortinet”, says Jepkes. “What attracted us to this proposal was that it is dynamic in nature. All activities are adapted to real-time circumstances. Ongoing evaluation determines whether, and how, the strategy needs to be adjusted.”
Launching a new IT Security vendor requires communication on a regular basis. To achieve this, Zeekhoe Communicatie set up a PR Communication proposal to introduce Fortinet to the target audience within the region and to strengthen the market position of Fortinet, as well as the relations with channel partners and customers, through online, business and trade media in the Benelux.
Zeekhoe’s proposal is based on extensive knowledge of public relations, tight-knit relations with the security press and understanding the local culture and customs. For Fortinet this is important, as the company deliberately chooses not to work with global or pan-European PR organizations, but with local boutique agencies. “This assures close relations with partners who develop a high level of knowledge and dedication to protect our interests”, says Jepkes. “Communication lines are short, both between Fortinet and the agency, as between the agency and the target audience. Local knowledge means our communications are tailor made for these markets, thus achieving the optimum results for Fortinet.”
The proposal, and the fact that Zeekhoe Communicatie is a leading IT PR agency in the Benelux with a specialty in IT Security, led Jepkes to select it as its partner. “We have never regretted this decision”, says Jepkes, “For the last 12 years, Karianne Hoekstra of Zeekhoe Communicatie has continuously developed and executed a media plan that is comprised of a combination of expressions fitted to the large variety of journalist genres. Nowadays, we must reach our audience in ways beyond traditional PR and Zeekhoe has always combined Public Relations activities with Content Marketing. They produce advertorials, blogs, by-lined articles, and interviews. Most important for the Benelux market, they have written dozens of customer reference stories where our customers share the benefits they have achieved with Fortinet. Two years ago, Zeekhoe signaled the emerging popularity and importance of video. Since then, they have created a lot of video expressions of our vision, customers, partners, and events, that are a great success on trade shows and social media.”
One agency; three countries
The Benelux being an important region, Fortinet sought a partner who could manage activities in Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg as a one-stop-shop. “Zeekhoe made us aware that every country in the Benelux region requires a particular approach and a local agent. For Fortinet, managing three relatively small areas was a big ask. Fortunately, Zeekhoe Communicatie takes this off our hands as well. Thanks to their participation in the Code Red Security PR Network, they manage an independent partner in Belgium, who has specialists for both the Dutch and French regions and Luxembourg. We deal with one partner, but we have local agents working for us in every member state of the Benelux.”
As a local agency, Zeekhoe Communicatie knows what subjects are trending, and therefore are important for Fortinet to communicate about, and how to show the business benefits the Fortinet vision and portfolio brings to local boardrooms. “Zeekhoe was founded by former IT journalists, with a specialization in IT Security”, says Jepkes. “They have a keen ability to ‘translate’ the technical messaging of IT Security solutions to the business interest of non-technical management. They know how to communicate in an effective, appealing and open manner, resulting in excellent coverage and valuable in-depth interviews. For Fortinet, Zeekhoe Communicatie is a respected and trusted partner that combines service and accessibility of a small business with influence, drive and results of a large agency.”