Digital Signage: Where do you get your content? Part I

Creating digital signage content in the workplace that actually does the job. 

By Frank Kenna

OK, I think we’ve all got it by now; digital signage in the workplace is almost worthless without a steady diet of content.  It might be internal, i.e., company-generated material, or external feeds such as news, weather and sports to draw readership.  But whatever it’s going to be, it needs to reach a certain quality threshold if it’s to be effective, engaging – and legal.

So what is content?  A great explanation appeared recently in the LA Times by columnist Timothy Rutten.  He mapped out an interesting relationship between information, journalism and content.  He said, “Information is data arranged in an intelligible order. Journalism is information collected and analyzed in ways people actually can use. [What many websites] actually provide is “content,” which is what journalism becomes when it’s adulterated into a mere commodity.”

Unfortunately, many owners of digital signage systems actually mean journalism when they say content.  That is, they’re looking for information that will help them do their job better, whether that means managing people or selling products.  Just sourcing “content” doesn’t cut it, since that term covers such huge territory.

When people say they’re looking for content, they first need to define what it means to them.  For example, let’s examine what a company safety manager might need to do.  He’s charged with providing a safe workplace for his employees, and needs to get information in front of them that’s relevant to the potential dangers they face daily.  That’s his definition.  So to find content that’ll work, he needs to list what those dangers are, and then source information that will be relevant, which will turn out to be his “content.”

He might start with the National Safety Council, as they are a well-known and trusted source.  But they only have limited materials which aren’t in the correct format for his DS system.  So either he has to convert it to the right format, or look elsewhere.  That could mean moving down the ladder to the less well-known sources and less reliable info.  The problem now begins to get murky.  Who or what are these other sources?  What are their motivations for providing this content?  How are they getting paid for it?

These are important questions that I will explore in my next post.

September 19, 2011

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