5 tips for planning a signage strategy – number 4 is vital!

A picture of TrilbyTV Director Neil Emery chatting to a visitor at the BETT show

So you’ve decided to install digital signage into your school. This can be quite a daunting task but with our help it needn’t be! Like with many infrastructures and solutions that you implement into your school, there are many different variables. We’ve created a simple digital signage strategy that identifies five key areas that you should concentrate on. It’s enough to get you started but if you have any questions feel free to give us a shout here!

Before you start, consider your audience and objectives

The first factor that you need to consider before planning an effective digital signage strategy is why are you doing this? You need to establish who you are targeting and what do you want to achieve from the content that you will be sharing on the screens. Is it to enhance parental engagement and give a good impression of your school? Or perhaps your focus is helping staff with their CPD (Continuing Professional Development)? Overall you want to be creating a sense of community amongst your staff and parents, while giving students a feeling of belonging.

“Really think about the purpose of why you’re doing this. It shouldn’t be an add-on and it doesn’t want to be something that’s forgotten about. It needs to make a real impact, so think about why you’re doing it, how it’s going to enhance your school community and where to go from there.”

Richard Anderton, Enhancing Teaching and Learning through Technology Lead – Mere Green Primary

A picture of a schools Twitter feed on a digital signage screen in a corridor

1. Audit your tech and review your objectives

What technology do you already have in place? Remember, digital signage does not need to be expensive. Have you got screens in the school already… iPads, old disused iMacs stored away in cupboards? These are all perfectly usable digital signage screens,

“We’re using Amazon fire sticks but what has also really worked well is operating TrilbyTV on redundant iMacs. These are perfect for exhibiting students work at end of year shows.”

Carl Bayliss, Workshop manager – Norwich University of the Arts

Five considerations for digital signage

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Having technology around the same age, make and model is useful for set up, management and future-proofing. Once you have the tech in place you will probably want to remove the requirement for someone to be switching things on/off with remote controls. The technology that is running digital signage should be configured to switch on and off automatically. Timer plugs are a great way to do this if your TV screens don’t have a timer function… it’s also better for the environment too!

2. Planning screen locations and staff roles

Once you’ve worked out your objectives and who you are targeting, you then need to establish how you are going to reach your target audience. For students, which corridors get the most footfall and where your screens will be noticed? Where are students normally congregating and when may they have some longer ‘dwell’ time in front of a screen. Also, where is there a need; for example, are you constantly having to pin up lunch choices around the school or updating a chalkboard with the lunch menu? Why not have a Google Slide doc on your signage that can be easily updated by your Catering Manager.

A picture of a menu on a Google Slide at RGS Worcester

Another thing to consider is which departments are looking to promote extracurricular activities and events? Drama is a fantastic place to start with regular theatre events and dress rehearsals. They’re natural performers and will be more than happy to be on screen to gain a bigger audience. Showcasing work is another important factor, especially when you’re looking to show off your school… think about which departments will have that content ready to go, leading to a quick start. Remember, with TrilbyTV’s Unlimited Screen Licence, you won’t be charged for any additional screens, so go wild, the world’s your oyster!

3. Content Guidance

Leading on from planning, content is king! If you have your screens in the perfect location but the content is as engaging as a wet blanket, then your audience will simply switch off and just start ignoring it. We hear this a lot when people talk to us about signage aspirations…

“There’s been a screen in the Library for years that has been rarely used. Speaking to the librarian, now we have TrilbyTV, she’s already amazed by the feedback, with students stopping and looking at the screen for new information and content. We’ve put in the latest two tweets from our Twitter feeds which means the content is always staying fresh, it’s been a really promising start.”

Martin Willis, Leader of Digital Learning, the Edinburgh Academy.

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Keeping on-screen content fresh is vital – TrilbyTV’s social media feeds features are perfect for this but where else is content readily available? If you’re creating fantastic content on iPads then get it off the iPad and onto the screens! The education world is so technologically advanced, with so many different pieces of work being created through digital devices. With TrilbyTV you can share whatever you wish and our software is compatible with most formats, so the content that your students have created will be ready to upload and share. If you don’t have content that is readily available, think about what applications you already have, and is there an opportunity to use these to create this content?

A picture of the Adobe Spark Post login page, in TrilbyTV's guide to creating content for digital signage

With certain individuals in control, of course, you will need training, guidelines and moderation. Before this, you need to approach potential school staff to become effective digital signage leaders and get the buy-in,

“I started by looking at why a new user would want to get involved with TrilbyTV, what the benefits are to give somebody a reason to use it, to get the buy-in early on. I then moved on from that making it as simple, straightforward and useful as possible.

Nicki Maglione, Communications Manager at Shireland Collegiate Academy Trust

Thorns Mr Manny Kelay, Principal and Mr Rob Labrum standing in front of a Digital Signage screen at Shirelands MAT

If you don’t get the buy-in from staff then it is possible that you’ll have lots of blank screens or screens that are showcasing out-of-date content, so work hard to nail this. Remember, digital signage is a representation of your school as a brand.

It’s also wise to have a training and guidance document. Nicki created a handbook for stakeholders, it acts as a training manual and sets out the expectations for digital signage and how schools in the trust should be using it as well. Reference the real world of digital signage as people will have seen screens out and about, and talk about creating success.

You can view the Shireland Collegiate Academy Trust guidance document here.

Consider providing templates and resources for some content, have a folder in with assets such as logos that are the correct size and quality. A calendar of education focus points and events for the year including social media addresses will also drive staff to create and share captivating content that is pertinent to what is going on at the time.

As a starting point, stick up some post it notes with screen name/ location names and write what content will be shared and where. Remember, content needs to be engaging and more importantly relevant for the audience that will be viewing the screen.

4. Management & Ownership

We built TrilbyTV to solve a problem; screens were switched off at the schools we were visiting. Why… because the software installed was too complex. Our simple to use solution is made specifically for education and has enabled IT departments to move away from micromanaging the digital signage. This took away the headache of spending valuable time receiving content from staff resizing and uploading it onto a platform.

A picture of a member of staff in the staffroom by a digital signage screen

In turn, this opened the door to democratisation, giving other stakeholders control and ownership of the content that was shared on screens. (Director of Innovation at RGS Worcester, John Jones explains it in detail here). Moral of the story – don’t make life harder for yourself, identify those key educators and staff who can manage and take ownership of the screens,

“We needed to decide not only positioning but also establish who would be actually looking after them [the screens]. For example, the reception screen could be managed by the receptionist, the sixth form centre screen would be managed by the sixth form leadership team and so on… All of these screens have different individuals taking ownership, managing them and all are in complete control of them, so effectively the IT department doesn’t have to.”

John Jones, Director of Innovation – RGS Worcester

Guide to effective digital signage in education

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Ownership can be so different at every school but we’ve seen that putting in the steps above will provide the support and guidance needed for the people in charge. Digital signage leaders can go beyond staff. Students are incredibly well-versed with technology and although we might not like to admit it, often even more so than us! Mere Green School have school technology ambassadors in year six, why not share some of the on-screen responsibility with students and have digital signage ambassadors!

Make sure all of these stakeholders are part of the planning and setup. Otherwise, they might see it as extra work!

TrilbyTV Director Neil Emery wearing a trilby hat with Richard Anderson and other staff members from Mere Green Primary in front of a digital signage screen in the library

5. Training & Development

The TrilbyTV team, with over 30 years experience in education, has learned that training needs to be given a high priority, not just at the start, but as an ongoing developmental process. Our Customer Success Manager Tom, is constantly working with schools on ways to improve their digital signage (he is on hand to help you too!). Once you have the buy-in from staff and the guidance in place, it is really important to use this as a starting point, continue to train and develop staff skills and most importantly record this so it’s always available. Ideas and success can be documented and made available to all staff.

A picture of digital signge

Also, take a look around – whether that be on social media or actually physically seeing how other schools are achieving success with their digital signage, consider their experiences and see what’s working well for them. Also share your own insight, digital signage is about showing your school off, telling the world about the amazing work that you and your staff do.

Finally

Remember to schedule a time to revisit your plan and strategy and update where needed. Termly, twice yearly, or yearly? As is with all strategies, it’s an ongoing project and needs to be treated that way.

We hope that you’re now ready to #SwitchOnYourSignage! We have some fantastic resources including ‘The guide to effective digital signage in education’, which is completely free. TrilbyTV also offers a fully functioning 30 day free trial complete with demo, support, and enough time to see how it works. We’re always on call offering ongoing support and training to help you achieve success with your digital signage.

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