Bare Naked... Security Professionals?
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Bare Naked... Security Professionals?

The creative talents of the Walt & Company team generated a full-page feature story in Newsweek on the unique culture of SSH Communications Security, Inc., an Internet security company.

Paul Holmes

The creative talents of the Walt & Company team generated a full-page feature story in Newsweek on the unique culture of SSH Communications Security, Inc., an Internet security company.  The article focused on SSH, Inc.’s work culture, highlighting the eight-person Finnish sauna that employees use during work hours to help ease the stress and workload of startup life in Silicon Valley.  SSH, Inc., located in Palo Alto, Calif., is a subsidiary of SSH Communications Security Corp., in Helsinki, Finland.
 
THE CHALLENGE
 
At a time when many high-tech startups are closing their doors and at the very least, cutting back on posh company benefits, stories about company culture and “work/life balance” seem old-hat.  According to the Newsweek reporter, talking about benefits in Silicon Valley is “like telling jokes at a hanging.”  Granted, this was not a new story idea.  Many of the top business publications have written and rewritten stories on the dot-com boom and its ability to draw droves of people by offering a variety of benefits.  The challenge lied in presenting a story that hadn’t been told – the story needed to introduce something new to the benefits-at-work idea.  The sauna is quirky and unique, but numerous companies offer similar perks – exercise rooms and health club memberships have become passé.  The twist to this story that made it unique was that the sauna had a legitimate purpose and place in the company.  The workplace sauna is a tradition based on SSH’s Finnish heritage.  Saunas have long been a part of professional culture in Finland.  SSH wanted to bring this international culture to its U.S. subsidiary.
 
THE PITCH
 
Walt & Company created the following story idea and sent via e-mail to Adam Bryant, a senior writer covering workplace issues and employment trends.
 
Bare Naked…Security Professionals?
 
Can you imagine seeing a coworker wrapped in only a towel at work?  For members of the 24-person professional staff at SSH Communications Security, Inc., an Internet security company that sports an eight-person Finnish sauna at its new Palo Alto office, this is a daily occurrence.  The sauna introduces a new twist to this Silicon Valley company in an effort to make its Finnish employees feel more at home.  SSH’s U.S. employees have benefited from this Finnish tradition, and have found a new way to relax and reduce stress at the office.  In addition to this luxury, SSH also provides massages every Friday, free catered lunches everyday, snacks and Palm organizers to help keep everyone organized as they juggle the three separate time zones between Finland, Japan and the U.S. 
 
Come visit SSH’s office in Palo Alto to discuss this new work culture and how it aids in efficiency and company moral.  (SSH always keeps extra towels in stock for visitors).
 
The editor immediately responded with a phone call to gather more information.  The PR associate on the team had to “think on her feet” and convince Adam why SSH was worthy of Newsweek’s attention.  She explained the company’s heritage in great detail, and how Finnish traditions like on-site saunas improve company productivity and state-of-mind.  Adam then assigned the story to West Coast reporter Brad Stone who visited SSH and interviewed the company’s employees.  In the resulting article, Brad even referenced Walt & Company’s “slyly titled” PR idea, quoting excerpts from the e-mail pitch itself.  It’s not often that PR agencies see such powerful results directly attributed to their efforts.
 
RESULTS
 
With only 170 employees worldwide and 24 in the U.S., one of SSH’s goals is to rapidly recruit top professionals in the security industry.  The Newsweek story continues to bring in calls from potential employees, as well as serves as a sales tool because of the prestige associated with being featured in such a high profile magazine. 
 
Although respected in the relatively small circle of security encryption, SSH has not quite made a name for itself in the high-tech world.  The second goal was to create a larger image of the company, whose products are extremely technical and difficult for a general audience to comprehend.   Newsweek’s Enterprise Section was the perfect target to achieve both of these goals.
 
Momentum of the Program:
The Newsweek story captured the interest of CBS Marketwatch, which ran a national segment on work perks in Silicon Valley that ran this past Thanksgiving weekend.  SSH was profiled alongside Oracle and Google.com.  Local business publications San Jose Mercury News and Silicon Valley Business also covered the story based on the Newsweek profile.
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