Shruti Kuppa

Understanding your audience is important to ensure the successful implementation of communications plans. By adapting products to the specific needs of your audience, you can better fill education gaps within that population.

One example of this strategy in action is how the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is using audience age to focus its cybersecurity outreach efforts.

Contrary to popular belief, older generations are less susceptible to cybersecurity risks than younger generations. Technology-proficient younger people pay less attention to online security threats than their less computer savvy, older counterparts.

Young people are more likely to use security work-arounds, access work information on their phones, and connect with strangers on social media, making them more susceptible to cyber risk. Older people are more cautious online largely due to their inexperience with new technology.

To address the different cybersecurity needs of each age demographic, DHS created an information portal called Stop. Think. Connect. that hosts easily accessible guides and other cybersecurity education resources. The website provides resources targeted at specific communities. This allows the user to find answers to their particular questions and DHS to tailor messaging based on each demographic’s risks.

For older Americans, the resource guides focus on Internet security basics. There is also an emphasis on continued technology literacy education. DHS has identified older generations as less risk-seeking on the Internet, and therefore published guides based on their needs, such as how to gain more confidence in computer skills.

Cybersecurity education for younger generations focuses on identifying malicious sites, and being cautious when giving personal information online. Young people tend to be more knowledgeable about using the Internet, so the resources did not need to include information on computer fundamentals.

With National Cyber Security Month approaching in October, DHS is trying to reach a wide set of Americans by releasing security best practice reminders across all types of media. I look forward to using the tips to improve my own cyber practices, and encourage my friends and family to do the same. With targeted materials based on risk factors, it will be easier to have a conversation across multiple generations.

This is just one example of how targeted messaging can help implement plans. At Nexight we specialize in communicating with diverse audiences. For more examples, check out some of our tips from a previous blog post on developing a robust communications plan.