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Content Creation

Handing over the keys and letting staff get behind the wheel

In an organization of more than 10,000 staff members, it can be incredibly challenging to create and curate relevant and fresh content for digital signs in staff breakrooms. Fielding content submissions and requests from the various workgroups (not to mention brainstorming new content ideas) might be possible with the support of a team, but let’s face it, I’m a one-woman show.

My goal was to help staff embrace and make use of our digital signs by removing barriers to their use. So we gave staff the keys and put them in the driver’s seat!

As a member of the marketing department, I felt this was risky. My creative director felt this was terrifying.

Here is a look at how we did it:

1. We handed over partial control of the playlist to staff. I still supplied corporate messages to a global playlist that went to all staff digital signs. But local playlists were also created so individual workgroups and departments could contribute to the playlist for the digital sign in their breakroom.

2. Limited access was the key. I won’t lie—I had fears of staff pushing random or inappropriate messages to all the staff digital signs. Our answer was to provide access for these users on a very limited basis. The only playlist they could contribute to was the one in their breakroom and there was no opportunity for them to alter the corporate messaging I was pushing out.

3. Training took place. Managers suggested staff who would be willing to create messages and maintain the playlist for their area. Before we handed over those keys I mentioned earlier, we had the selected staff attend a training session. The session walked them through the process to create and post their messages and gave them solid guidelines to follow.

4. Those guidelines included use of branded templates. In the eyes of my creative director, this was a must! We created a wide variety of PowerPoint templates that would assist staff in creating their messages. We had a template for everything— birthdays, save the date for staff meetings, potlucks—you name it, we created it. By having staff use our templates, we were guaranteed a basic level of branded display.

5. Some organizations may choose to put an approval process in place for the staff who create messages. The benefit is you can review all messages before they begin playing. The drawback is the review process takes time and can dramatically slow down the workflow. In the end, we opted to forgo the approval process. Instead, during their training, we shared with staff that playlists would be reviewed regularly.

We certainly learned some lessons along the way, but I’m proud to say our system is functioning according to plan. Individual workgroups use the digital sign in their department’s breakroom to communicate about new hires, performance metrics, upcoming potluck meals, and much more. That area-specific content locally displays along with my global playlist. Regular reviews of the individual playlists usually don’t turn up anything of concern. I say “usually” because there have been incidents. The last incident involved a photo of a shirtless Ryan Gosling, but we will save that story for a future blog post!

All in all, don’t be hesitant to hand over the keys to the digital signage playlist, as the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks!

Kim Dwyer has been in corporate communications at Nationwide Children’s Hospital since 2008 and has managed the hospital’s digital signage network since the first pilot installation in 2011. With various types of digital signs to communicate to patients, families, visitors, and staff, Kim oversees the creation of content and works closely with the Creative Services team to produce timely and effective messaging. As the hospital’s network of digital signs continues to grow, Kim is constantly looking for new opportunities to take hospital communication digital and to make digital messaging more effective and engaging. The most exciting part of going digital? Much less printing and no more elevator posters!

Reprinted with permission from Digital Signage Connections at

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