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Why mixed messages can improve security awareness

Why mixed messages can improve security awareness
If you’re trying to get the maximum benefit from your security awareness programs, and especially on a limited budget, it’s vital that you structure your messaging for your audience.


For most university security awareness programs, not unlike their corporate counterparts, awareness messaging tends to be the same for everyone. But a campus can be a complex environment with many different minds.

That’s why it’s so important and beneficial to tailor your messaging to your many different audiences. Every audience on your campus will have a different interpretation of their role and place there. And even grouping students together as one single audience is a missed opportunity.

For example, first semester freshmen will have a much different understanding and perception of security than seniors.

Some students will be immensely proud of their university and will want to help protect it – others will be completely indifferent. Or maybe even selfish.

For faculty and staff, they’ll likely be more concerned about things like job security, budgets, even the reputation of their employer, the university.

So they might be more inclined to pay attention to messaging that suggests that a costly security incident could have a direct impact on those budgets and that reputation.

That’s why you need to mix up your messages and make sure that there’s at least something in the mix that will connect with most of your campus.

An easy way to achieve that is to take a standard security awareness message, like password length and complexity, and then wrap it in audience-specific “why”.

This obviously works best when you’re sending out frequent security awareness messages, where you might have plenty of opportunities to mix things up. But if you’re using video as part of your training, a single short video can still incorporate a handful of wraps that will appeal to almost every audience.

Just like with any sales or marketing message, it all has to start in the writing, the script. Write for your audience.