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Last reviewed: June 2017

How to DIY an Information Security Awareness Video & Poster Contest

Conducting a student information security awareness video and poster contest (also called “Student Video Contest” or SVC) can be an excellent way for campus information security departments to highlight information security concerns to campus constituents. The purpose of this toolkit is to help institutions create and develop their own information security awareness video and poster contests.

In general, the process for conducting a contest for students includes:


  1. Develop your contest concept

    1. What do you hope to accomplish with the contest?

    2. How does it meet your information security awareness programmatic goals?

    3. What topics will your contest cover? (The more guidance you can provide, the better the contest entries!)

    4. Who is supporting the contest? (It could be one campus department, a cross-campus effort with multiple departments, or a regional effort supported by multiple institutions.)

    5. Who will be the primary point of contact?

  2. Be able to answer core questions about your proposed contest

    1. What is the schedule for the event?  

    2. When will it be announced?

    3. What are the entries (videos? posters? something else?)

    4. How will submissions be accepted?

      1. What tool(s) will be used to accept videos and/or posters?

      2. What contact information is needed from the participants and how is it capture/stored?  

    5. When are entries due? (and how are they submitted?)

      1. Be sure to give contest entrants plenty of time to create their content.  

      2. Consider how you might leverage the school year calendar to encourage content creation.

    6. When will winners be announced?

    7. Will there be prizes?

    8. What are the prizes?

  3. Secure management support for the contest

    1. Consider running contest rules and guidelines by campus legal counsel

    2. Reach out to faculty in relevant areas (marketing, teaching, media arts) to secure participation and support

  4. Consider sponsorship for prizes

    1. Contest entrants like prizes, especially where “bragging rights” or recognition may not be sufficient to motivate entries

    2. Can you secure sponsorship for cash prizes?

      1. Establish reasonable amounts for the top 1-3 cash prizes.

      2. Consider offering smaller prizes for 5-10 honorable mention winners (e.g., gift cards).

      3. Consult with the campus financial office to confirm whether W-9 Forms will be required for award recipients. Also determine if additional guidance about reporting cash prizes to the IRS should be provided to all contest participants.

    3. If you can’t offer cash prizes, what are the non-monetary prizes you can award?

  5. Understand staffing resources needed. Staff resources will be needed for the following activities:

    1. Planning (likely the information security awareness team, but could also include a program committee of interested others)

    2. Marketing (needed to market the event to students)

    3. Support during content creation/submission (will students need media help to finish their contest entries? If so, can you make any specialized expertise available? Will students need help submitting their contest entries via specialized software/tools/apps?)

    4. Judges (who will judge the contest entries?)

  6. Create rules and guidelines

    1. Who can participate? Are there age limits?

    2. How many items can one person or team submit?

    3. How long are the entries?

    4. What file formats must be used?

    5. What topics must be covered in the entries? (Content requirements)

      1. Required content: Branding for the institution’s IT/security program; licensing information

      2. Will you create or share a sample entry to show what is an appropriate entry for the contest?

    6. Any copyright/fair use items that you need to educate contestants about?

      1. Make sure that the contest entries allow the campus information security program to use the contest entries after the event. Consider asking students to agree to an appropriate Creative Commons license (e.g., BY-NC-SA 4.0).

    7. Who will preview submissions before judging begins?

    8. How will judging take place?

    9. Prizes

  7. Create documentation

    1. Contest entry form

    2. Website announcing contest and containing additional information, FAQs

    3. Sample advertising text

    4. Sample contest entry (if needed)

    5. Method of tracking submissions

    6. Method of tracking judging responses

    7. Sample text to announce winners

    8. Website to showcase entrants

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  1. Who are the judges?

  2. What is the judging process?

  3. What tool will be used to evaluate the submissions?

  4. Who will host the tool, upload submissions, and provide the final results?

  5. What is the judging rubric? (see below for suggestions)

  6. Be sure to notify the winners!


  1. Pre-launch advertising

    1. Approach faculty in relevant areas for support, let them know that you are running this project. Consider including their expertise on the project team.

    2. Consider creating a promo packet if you plan to enlist other departments or the local community in your advertising efforts. Promos might include:

      1. A step-by-step “How-To” guide describing how to promote the contest to students and faculty with sample messages

      2. Memos or sample e-mails announcing the contest and asking for support (one for faculty and one that’s more general)

      3. General announcements for newsletters or social media posts

      4. Flyer (one page) for printing and posting in suitable areas

      5. Contest logo, graphics, and memes for websites and social media

      6. Short (30-seconds or less) promo video about the contest

  2. Advertising at launch of contest and during content creation

    1. Advertise in venues that get to students

    2. Social media, campus web bulletin boards, LMS announcements

  3. Announcement and ongoing promotion

    1. Similar to marketing, announcement of winners needs to be made in student-visited venues

    2. How will you use the content entrants in an ongoing manner? Will you promote them throughout the year?

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Proposed Timeline

This timeline is purposefully generic, focusing on large milestones that must be completed to run a successful contest. All due dates in the timeline are based off of the date that winners will be announced (called “AD or “Announcement Date”). Once the Announcement Date is determined, a specific, date-driven timeline can be produced. The example provided below assumes that contest winners will be announced during National Cyber Security Awareness Month in October.



Step #


Target Dates (Generic)




Continue promoting and recognizing the winners and their work

AD + 2 months




Hold project team debrief

AD + 2 weeks




Announce winners





Notify winners

AD-2 weeks




Winners selected

AD-3 weeks




Second round of judging

  • Schedule conference calls to choose winners (if needed)

AD-3 weeks




First round of judging

AD-4 weeks




Entries due

AD-5 weeks




Finalize judging site/survey

AD-6 weeks




Launch contest

  • Plan and implement how contest will be promoted until entry due date

AD-5 months




Update draft contest/website content

AD-6 months




Secure sponsor; obtain prize commitments

AD-7 months




Hold recurring project team meetings





Hold project team kick-off conference call

  • Discuss lessons learned from the previous contest

  • Review/revise contest categories

  • Review/revise entry submission procedure

  • Review/revise video submission process

  • Review/revise marketing channels

  • Review/revise judging criteria

  • Review/revise judging process

  • Identify judges (outside project team)

AD-8 months




Identify project team chairs & members

  • Schedule recurring team meetings, every two weeks during planning phase, then at regular interviews following

AD-9 months


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Contest Guidelines (Sample Text)

Win cash, gain experience, and earn recognition with one short video or a poster! 

This institution is conducting its first contest in search of posters and short information security awareness videos developed by college students, for college students. The contest is sponsored (or supported) by x, y, and z. Winners will receive cash prizes. The posters and videos will be featured on the institution’s websites and social media pages, and may be used in campus security awareness campaigns. Winners will be notified by [date].

Submission Deadline: [Date]

Entry Requirements

Videos and posters must explain information security problems and specific actions college and university students can take to safeguard their computers, mobile devices, or personal information. Positive, action oriented messages are highly recommended and will be viewed favorably during the judging process. Please refer to the STOP. THINK. CONNECT. Editorial Style Guide for tips on the tone or feel of a message. Two categories of videos are being sought: videos of two minutes or less for use in training or instruction, and 30-second public service announcements (PSAs). Posters should be submitted separately.

Entry Guidelines

Contestant Guidelines

Contest participants must currently be enrolled in and actively attending a college or university.

  • An individual student or a group of students may submit a video and/or poster.

  • More than one video and/or poster submission is permissible.

  • Departmental sponsorship of a video and/or poster submission is not allowed.

  • Submissions must be made online (see the “Submit Your Entry” section for more details). Contestants will be asked to provide contact information and accept the Contest Clearance Authorization form via e-mail.

  • Contestants must be willing to make minor adjustments if deemed necessary and as specified based on feedback from the judges. In order to be eligible to receive the cash prizes, contestants must acknowledge and make the necessary corrections within 15 to 30 days of notification.

Video Production Guidelines

  • Professional (paid) assistance may not be used in production of the video and will be grounds for disqualification.

  • Faculty advisors may offer support by directing contestants to other students for assistance but cannot aid in the creative process.

  • Minimal credits (limited to 10 seconds) are allowed (but not required) at the end of the two minute or less videos.

  • Credits should not be included on 30-second PSAs.

  • Winning video submissions must be able to submit a word document (.doc) or text file (.txt) so that closed captions can be added.

  • Video submissions must meet certain technical requirements. For questions about the production guidelines, please e-mail us.

  • To coordinate with the Department of Homeland Security and NCSA STOP. THINK. CONNECT. campaign, videos should incorporate the “Stop. Think. Connect.” message in some way. For example, including the logo at the end of the video, showing the words somewhere in the video, or simply saying the phrase within the video. Please refer to the STOP. THINK. CONNECT. Editorial Style Guide for tips on the tone or feel of a message.

  • Video submissions should meet the following supported YouTube formats: WebM files; .MPEG4, 3GPP, and MOV files; .AVI, .MPEGPS, .WMV; or .FLV. Here is a list of some common formats that YouTube does NOT support: project files; MSWMM and WLMP; audio files (MP3, WAV, etc.); and image files (JPEG, PNG, etc.).

Poster Guidelines

  • Each poster entry must be original artwork by student(s) for a broad student audience. Professional assistance is not allowed and will disqualify any entry.

  • Digital resolution of each entry must be sufficient to be printed at a maximum of 24 inches (width) by 36 inches (height) without print scaling (minimum 300 dpi).

  • Students should leave 1.5 inches of white space at the bottom of the poster to allow for the addition of sponsor and/or institutional logos.

  • Electronic formats allowed: JPEG and PDF. File size should be no larger than 25MB. The artist is responsible for conversion to digital format.

  • To coordinate with the Department of Homeland Security and NCSA STOP. THINK. CONNECT. campaign, posters should incorporate the “Stop. Think. Connect.” message in some way. For example, including the logo somewhere in the body of the poster or in the slogan or messaging. Please refer to the STOP. THINK. CONNECT. Editorial Style Guide for tips on the tone or feel of a message.

Content Guidelines

  • Must use correct and consistent spelling, punctuation, grammar, and capitalization in all submissions.

  • Positive, action oriented messages are highly recommended and will be viewed favorably during the judging process. Please refer to the STOP. THINK. CONNECT. Editorial Style Guide for tips on the tone or feel of a message or visit the STOP. THINK. CONNECT. website.

  • May be about general security awareness or focus on one specific topic.

  • Must be generic (do not reference any specific college or university, applications, or vendors).

  • Must be in good taste and appropriate for multicultural college and university populations.

  • Must be appropriate for all institution types (needs to work for research universities, community colleges, and so forth).

  • Must address topics that will retain relevance for one to two years (avoid narrow technology-specific topics such as a specific threat, virus, and so forth).

  • Must be original and not infringe upon any copyright, trademark, or other proprietary right.

PLEASE NOTE: Video contest entries for public service announcements must be 30 seconds. The maximum video length for all other videos is two minutes.

Suggested Topics

Ideas for topics include, but are not limited, to:

  • Cloud security and considerations for sharing data

  • Computer security

  • Cybersafety; staying safe online

  • Malware and ransomware

  • Passwords and passphrases

  • Phishing or social engineering

  • Physical security

  • Privacy

  • Safeguarding data and personal information

  • Security of personally owned devices or mobile devices (BYOD)

  • Security risks of peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing

  • Wireless security

For more ideas and suggestions, consult the HEISC Information Security Guide where you'll find additional categories and topics.

How to Submit Your Video and/or Poster

To enter the contest, you will need to complete the online entry submission form. (Please note: The online submission form will be available later this year.)

Please make sure that your video and poster entries conform to the entry requirements and technical specifications. E-mail any questions about your submissions to [e-mail address].

If selected, your video will be shared on the institution's website and/or YouTube channel. (Winning videos and posters will also be shared on other social media sites (e.g., Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr). 


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Prizes (Sample Text)

Cash prizes will be awarded to the winners in each of the three categories (posters, training videos, and 30-second public service announcements).

Video Categories

  • The gold (first place) winners will receive $2,000.

  • The silver (second place) winners will receive $1,500.

  • The bronze (third place) winners will receive $1,000.

  • Honorable mention winners (up to 5 in each category) will receive a small prize -- e.g., Amazon gift card.

Poster Category

  • The gold (first place) winner will receive $1,500.

  • The silver (second place) winner will receive $1,000.

  • The bronze (third place) winner will receive $500.

  • Honorable mention winners (up to 5 in each category) will receive a small prize -- e.g., Amazon gift card.

PLEASE NOTE: Winners will be required to complete and return tax identification forms in order to receive a W-9 Form. Contest participants are advised that any cash prize over $600 must be reported as earnings to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and any taxes due are the sole responsibility of the award recipient.

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Judging Criteria/Rubric (Sample Text)

1) Creativity

  • Was there unexpected but effective use of design elements?

  • Did the message provide a new perspective?

2) Technical Quality (videos only)

  • Lighting

  • Sound

  • Editing

3) Content

  • Did the poster and/or video cover the appropriate topic(s)?

  • Did entrants use correct and consistent spelling, punctuation, grammar, and capitalization?

  • Did the submission incorporate the “Stop. Think. Connect.” message in some way?

  • Did the entrant use a positive, action oriented message?

  • Was the message communicated accurately?

  • Was the information conveyed of high quality?

  • Would this poster and/or video have a practical use for awareness education?

4) Overall Effectiveness of Delivery

  • Was there one key message, clearly stated?

  • How positive and persuasive was the message?

  • Did the entry include positive steps and actions people can take to protect themselves?

  • For videos: Is the viewer compelled to keep watching?

  • For posters: Is the entry impactful and attention-grabbing?

5) Comments [open field]

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