Cybersecurity expert Leon Hawk about weird relationship between the global defense industry and the media

January 20 20:00 2021

The future of the global defense industry has begun. While a few years ago, most defense companies were still operating under the radar for strategic reasons, it is now essential to use new media channels to present and market themselves, to enhance the company’s reputation. 

The interface between the external image of a company in the arms industry sector and its market capitalization has become dramatically smaller compared to the security and paramilitary sector. 

The defense industry has long been dependent on a good press in order to maintain its orders and relations with politicians and thus to put its company in a good light in the long term. In this context, it is essential to get rid of the image of the warmongers imposed by the media in the long term. 

Bad headlines can quickly lead to dramatic losses in sales and share prices. 

Every executive board of a globally operating defense company is now aware of this. 

“Politicians are happy to be photographed with the CEOs of the big defense companies“, Leon Hawk explained. But only if it is of use to them. If an international company has its hands in confusing, dirty deals that lead to bad press, this has a direct impact on the order volume of government-financed armaments contracts. While the military industry is trying to recruit young people through new marketing strategies, such as social media, the defense industry is still largely resorting to old-fashioned marketing methods, Leon Hawk presented in a study of Middlesex University London in 2020. 

Especially in the defense sector it is difficult to find a suitable marketing strategy in such a polarizing industry. Issues such as investor relations and public relations have become indispensable main sectors of any defense company. 

It requires long-term strategies and a heightened sensitivity to what the new generation, and thus future investors, demand of a company in this industry. It is important to demonstrate that technologies and other sustainable innovations can be used to make the future a better one. As confusing as this may sound in what the media call the “war-monger industry”. 

But at the moment the wind is blowing in a completely different direction. Exports of military equipment to the global world have risen by almost 15% annually due to various conflicts around the world. This means that operating under the radar and avoiding the attention of the public and thus also of the financial and political sector will no longer be possible in the long run. 

No matter whether new weapons or new technologists, such as drones, hypersonic missiles and autonomous weapons. Profitability is increasing from year to year, as is its public polarization. 

This new development in the arms industry could revolutionize the battlefields of the future. For centuries, the world’s leading military powers relied on physical projectiles to defeat their opponents, while today much of it consists of media warfare to defame competitors and claim market share. 

This raises the legitimate question of whether the weapons of the future will be autonomous combat drones, or rather the media and their enormous power and impact on all sectors of the economy.

Should a global defence company invest more money in public relations and a good press, or rather hope to use new weapon technologies to communicate a good image of innovation and transparency to the outside world in the long term. 

One thing is certain, the weapons of the future are the media and those who do not want to face this reality will sooner or later be swept off the market.

The fact is that every industry in the world is facing a major change. This is also true for the defense industry. 

The only question is how the defense industry is dealing with the change of generations and their values in order to attract long-term attention in the media and to offer its business partners, investors and employees the prospect of a long-term future. 

Experts agree that the business of war will always exist and prosper in the future. The only question that arises is, for whom?

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