Communicating data and physical security to employees is traditionally dry and, dare we say, a little dull. While it’s an important subject inside large organizations, let’s face it: the average employee merely glances over the information. How to get their attention: you have to be creative and that’s exactly what Seagate Technology has done.
As a leading provider of storage and hard drive solutions, perhaps no one knows better than Seagate the importance of keeping information safe and secure, which is why the internal communications team decided to come up with an engaging initiative to educate its 55,000 employees working in the United States, Asia and Europe.
Steve Pipe, Senior Manager, Internal Communications at Seagate Technology, recalls, “A year-and-a-half ago at our all-hands meeting, our CEO stood up and informed employees that we need to be careful with confidential, sensitive information about customers and our products. It wasn’t just the responsibility of Seagate’s legal or security teams, it’s up to all of us.”
That prompted Pipe and his Cupertino colleagues to reach out to companies like HP and Google to learn what other firms were doing in the area of information security education. The majority of companies rely on executive messaging, blogs, and email blasts to get the information across.
After a few brainstorming sessions, Pipe and the internal comms team came up with a creative solution: posters resembling blockbuster Hollywood movies – a channel that would work well with both wired and non-wired employees since many of Seagate’s staff work in manufacturing with limited computer access.
- “Our aim was to catch employees’ eyes in the hallways and break rooms so they could take notice of what we were doing,” he says.
Pipe and members of Seagate’s security, IT and legal teams work together to write the poster content. A Silicon Valley design agency, CatapultWorks, also contributes to the messaging and comes up with creative images with the look and feel of Hollywood movie posters. The Seagate team meets with the agency every other month to “give them a basis of what we are thinking and what’s top of mind with executives in the areas of information protection and e-security.” The agency then goes off to create concepts for the posters, which are then printed by another vendor.
“We create new posters every three months,” Pipe explains. “We’ve had posters that deal with e-security topics, such as guarding against malware and phishing attacks; we’ve also created posters informing employees about how to protect company assets and to promote Seagate’s confidential Ethics Helpline.”
To create awareness of the print initiative, Seagate executives blog about the poster themes, including a recent blog on malware, which educated staff about ways to guard against online security threats and how to protect computers from infection. Blogs are published on the Seagate employee intranet on a monthly basis and are written by the executives themselves; Pipe and his IC colleagues edit the content to fine-tune the flow. Email blasts, containing 2-3 teaser lines, lead employees to the blogs.
“People won’t look for these blogs unless we push them toward them,” Pipe acknowledges.
There are also short news stories on Seagate’s intranet to preview the latest batch of posters; images can be enlarged so employees can get the full effect.
Social media has been another theme of information protection at Seagate, according to Pipe. “Our ‘Unfriended’ poster exhibits what happens when employees reveal sensitive information online about Seagate products and the negative consequences that go with it, such as giving competitors a leg up on us. We let employees know that they can face disciplinary action for violating company policy about social media communications. Jeopardizing information is just a tweet away.”
In addition to social media, Pipe says, “Password protection is another theme we’ve been communicating. We try to give employees tips and information on strong and weak passwords and how that helps guard our confidential information.”
Moving beyond e-security
Seagate has also turned to posters to launch a successful campaign promoting ethics at the company. “Our ethics poster came about since some regions have employees who are reluctant to use our anonymous 24/7 ethics-reporting helpline,” Pipe says. “In some cases, employees are fearful of retaliation and punishment, so we designed posters with the messaging that no employee will be punished for acting on good faith and reporting something they believe to be true.”
Bribery in any form—whether it’s from a supplier or government official—is also not tolerated at Seagate, as explained in “The Long Goodbye” poster: “Bribery bought him time to grieve the things he lost.”
Communicating to global audiences
Pipe and his Seagate colleagues always ensure the movie themes will resonate with the company’s global workforce.
“We try to be as edgy as we can in a corporate environment. We can’t go too far, but we have some fun. We’re also aware that a theme our US employees will think is funny may not translate to other cultures. And if we’re using American slang, we rely on our team in Asia and Europe, for example, to say, ‘hey guys, people won’t get that in our country,’” Pipe points out.
Pipe works with Seagate’s IC team in Asia to translate every poster into Thai, Chinese, Korean and other languages before the posters are distributed to global sites. Messaging is also localized according to each location.
To play it safe, though, Pipe usually works with movie titles known worldwide.
“We did a play on “Fight Club” and “The Hunger Games” since they’re movies that many people around the world have seen,” he says. “On the whole, science fiction-themed or action film posters are quite popular with employees since the images are powerful and a good way for employees to absorb the information.”
Having the ‘write’ process
Dealing with limited space on posters, it’s no surprise Pipe and his team need to keep the writing as tight as possible.
“We love to write the posters, but we have to compose just four lines of text to reinforce our corporate messaging: a header, sub head and tag lines.
“When we began the poster campaign a year ago, the text was longer (6-7 lines), but now we’ve narrowed it down to four lines. Our aim is to capture the messages and boil them down to the nitty gritty,” Pipe explains.
He continues, “We want to make sure messages are fun and engaging, rather than heavy-handed. Our aim is to get employees talking.”
As executive sponsors of the poster project, Seagate’s General Legal Counsel and its Chief Information Officer approve the text before the posters go to print, as does the Director of Internal Communications and the Senior Vice President of HR.
The engaging, snappy format also applies to Seagate’s plasma screens, where posters are captured in the digital space.
“We have plasma screens at sites in the U.S. and Asia. We take jpeg images of the posters and create bullets to summarize the key messages for employees in break rooms,” Pipe says.
Despite the occasional software challenges associated with the plasma screens, Pipe feels they’re worth the hassle to ensure a visual, engaging tool like digital signage.
More detailed information and company examples of a particular theme are left to the executive blogs.
Feedback and measurement
Pipe admits he was “leery” about how the posters would be received by employees, but so far, they have reacted favorably to the innovative campaign.
“Some staff have asked for extra copies of the posters so they can put them in their cubicles,” Pipe says.
Numbers-wise, there aren’t any hard survey figures since Seagate hasn’t measured the poster campaign yet. However, if word-of-mouth is any indication, the initiative has been a big success.
“At our sites in the U.S., Europe and Asia, posters are everywhere. Employees are talking and providing feedback on which ones the like; they’re even contributing their own poster ideas,” Pipe comments.
Intranet comments are also helpful in gauging how employees like – or dislike – the latest posters. Two in particular – “Company Confidential” and “Tailgating” – garnered several noteworthy comments, including:
“This is a great way to reach employees without making them feel intimidated! Seagate needs more of this kind of friendly messaging! Kudos!”
“I like the posters – they are creative & funny. Okay – I know security is a serious matter! But I found humor in it and that makes it memorable. Good form of communicating.”
“A brilliant idea to get the message across. Once it arouses one’s interest, one tends to remember better.”
As for the next poster theme, employees will have to wait till January to view the next one. Pipe is hinting at a Western movie theme as a possibility, but right now, anything goes.