Guest post: Vern Freedlander
If I hear someone say “content is king” one more time, I am going to scream.
There is nothing new about this statement. We all know content is important. It has driven the success of all media since our ancestors gathered around the fire to swap hunting stories, but for some reason in digital signage, content remains a bit of a low priority subject.
As an industry, we have successfully evolved to a point where software and hardware components are generally reliable, and provide all kinds of presentation possibilities. So why is the one element that makes or breaks a network still an afterthought for so many signage operators?
The problem has traditionally been that content is hard. It’s difficult to conceptualize, create and refresh. It sometimes takes a team of writers, designers, producers and strategists to figure out. It’s subjective and it’s hard to measure its effectiveness. But in many cases, and especially in corporate communications, the keepers of the brand clearly understand the importance of connecting content to specific business and communications objectives. This is the foundation of a content strategy.
If an operator chooses to run a bunch of random clips and data feeds with no purpose, or to simply avoid the screens going to black, that’s wallpaper. If an operator, instead, mindfully selects content based on specified editorial merits that when played together creates a sense of flow, brand and consistency aimed to meet a specific overarching goal, now that’s strategy. This elevates networks to a higher level. Viewers come to depend on the network as a credible source of information, they truly become engaged, and the network transforms into a vital and strategic communications asset.
It takes a solid business process to develop a content strategy and the sooner a strategy is agreed upon, the sooner all other technical, production and project details fall into place.
The development of a content strategy should be the first task undertaken when planning a network. It forces network operators to answer some difficult questions about what they hope the network will achieve and identifies the kind of content and presentation that will be required to meet those expectations.
It will also drive decisions about software and hardware and performance metrics. Most importantly, a well thought-out content strategy will not take the audience for granted, and will strive to serve them with content that is consistently relevant.
Next time you hear someone say, “content is king,” consider correcting them with, “actually, content strategy is king”.