When Ascend Performance Materials decided to intro-duce digital signage for employee communication, they had a very clear objective. As a global manufacturer of nylon, plastics and synthetic fibers, they needed to reach all their employees, whether they were in offices, plants or control rooms. They chose The Marlin Company Electronic Communication Station (ECS) because it offered flexibility and ease of use for multiple locations and users.
Having a Plan
It began with a pilot with installations at headquarters in Houston and a plant in Chocolate Bayou. The goal was to benchmark the installation and training process to be used to roll out to four other plants. The process went so well that the rollout to the other four plants was initiated ahead of schedule.
From the start Ascend understood the importance of having a communications strategy. Consistent branding was critical. The screens would be branded Ascend Communication Stations (ACS). According to Marianne Cone, Director of Communications, “Prior to ACS, we used broadcast email. ACS and our company Intranet, iAscend, came on line around the same time. We use the two in a very integrated fashion to call attention, educate and call our employees to action.” The screens added visual impact and made it easy for Ascend to reach everyone at the company, site and unit level.
Their strategy consisted of:
- • Enlisting a team of champions from the 5 locations. They’d be responsible for creating and posting con-tent and promoting ACS.
- • Training everyone on the product prior to installation so that they would have great content ready to go the minute the screens were installed.
- • Creating a policy manual for ACS brand standards, located on the Intranet for easy access.
- • Creating branded templates making it easy to post pictures, captions and text.
- • Installing screens in high traffic areas such as break rooms, and hallways near kitchens and restrooms.
Solving the Content Challenge
One of the biggest challenges with digital signage is keep-ing the content fresh. Marlin supplies new workplace content each day, and makes it easy for users to create custom content. Monica Jackson, ICS Communications Manager, refers to herself as the steward of ACS. Her enthusiasm and commitment to the project is contagious. She pushes content from headquarters to all locations, working with ACS Administrators and Unit Leaders on the front line who add local content. The ACS team shares ideas.
“We have content strategy meetings. Everyone is very busy, but we hold each other accountable and share our ideas for new ways to use ACS. We want to keep it fun and fresh and keep people guessing about what is coming next. It’s about striking a balance of serious and light, business and personal.”
Here are some of the ways that Ascend keeps their content fresh:
- • Success stories for A2E, Ascend’s quality initiative. Describing successful projects with pictures and recognition.
- • Metrics tied to each location e.g., Control Rooms posting safety metrics, deliverables and production data.
- • Anniversaries, birthdays, baby pictures and community events
- • Celebrating awards such as Houston’s Healthiest Workplace
- • Posting metrics and safety messages in the Control rooms
- • Simplified metrics with captions to explain the context
- • Customer Spotlight stories
- • My Job Rocks, individual stories from Ascend employees
- • Repurposing content from the newsletter to ACS
- • Call to action initiatives such as Open Enrollment for Benefits and Wellness initiatives
Ascend surveyed their employees to get feedback on ACS. They really like seeing projects and success stories from other sites. It gives them a sense of the bigger picture and gets them thinking about what they might do differently. The most common request was for more screens.
According to Monica, “ACS has really helped us drive traffic to our Intranet. We post a high level message and send them to iAscend to learn more."
In reviewing the program, Marianne stated, “The thing we like most about ACS is the ability to reach people who do not work in front of a computer all day every day. And it gives us the opportunity to share local site information, company-wide. ACS makes it possible to reach a much larger segment of our population keeping more people better informed.”