In the wake of high-profile data breaches at Yahoo, Equifax and Facebook, and as more consumer products are internet-connected, protecting privacy is of paramount concern. VA had its own privacy watershed moment more than a decade ago, following the theft of an employee’s laptop containing the personal information of over 26 million Veterans. The incident transformed the way VA handles information. VA Privacy Service is charged with the vital responsibility of safeguarding Veterans’ and employees’ personally identifiable information across a department that employs more than 300,000 people and serves more than nine million Veterans.
- Analysis and research
- Campaign development
- Organizational change management
- Event management
- Social media strategy
- Quantitative analysis
VA Privacy Service provides advice, communications, education, recommendations and training on privacy-related matters to core staff, nearly 400 privacy officers, Veterans and their families, and stakeholders such as industry partners and Veterans service organizations. VA Privacy Service aims to become one of the most authoritative sources of privacy information and privacy best practices at VA, elsewhere in government and in the private sector.
Aptive is implementing a multifaceted, integrated communications campaign designed to elevate VA Privacy Service’s value, reach and impact among its audiences, and encourage the adoption and sustainment of best practices in privacy.
We built a research-based communications framework. Aptive conducted research to develop outreach and communications plans to define core audiences and the best ways to reach them. Central to this effort was modernizing branding for the service’s two signature campaigns — Privacy Builds Trust and Privacy Matters. We use these logos and associated messaging in all communications and marketing materials including blogs, briefings, e-cards, fact sheets, flyers, monthly newsletters, posters, privacy packets and social media posts. These 508-compliant materials deliver tools and bring greater visibility to VA Privacy Service among staff, VA employees, Veterans and their families.
We host learning events with thought leaders. Aptive manages a quarterly Privacy in Action Speaker Series, which convenes leaders in the field of privacy who share their expertise with the greater privacy community within and outside of VA. We research topics and recruit experts in the field, communicate and market the event, coordinate audiovisual services, schedule and manage studio time, oversee event-day logistics, and create and distribute post-event surveys. We capture lessons learned and refine tactics.
We partner to get our messages out. Additional partnership outreach involves seeking allies in the Veteran and privacy community who extend the reach of VA’s privacy messages. We work closely with the VA Privacy director in researching speaking opportunities and preparing her for outreach efforts with Veterans service organizations.
We measure the impact of our efforts. We assess these and other communications activities through regular focus groups that guide communications and marketing initiatives and ensure that messaging and recommendations are clear, useful and relevant.
More trust – We are succeeding in creating a culture of privacy awareness at VA. Surveys show a steady increase in the percentage of Veterans who trust VA, from 47 percent who said they trust VA in January 2016 to 70 percent who said they trust VA in October 2017.
More people attending events – Event attendance and interest continues to grow. 500 people attended a March 2020 event, up from the maximum attendance of 300 in the previous year. Demand for future privacy-related events is high.