by Jerry Gale, Kreski Marketing, firstname.lastname@example.org
"Since we've installed our new digital signage system, we are hoping to see more families who came for Upward Basketball on Friday and Saturday return on Sunday for worship."
That's Blake Atwood, Director of Media and Communications at First Baptist Church Georgetown, TX explained how new technology is helping with a basic church mission. "Two challenges for any congregation are how to get non-church people to your doors and, once they are through the doors, how to get them to come back. Our Upward Basketball program is a perfect example. During Friday and Saturday nights, we have 900-1000 people walk onto our campus and only about 10-15% of those people are members." The new digital signage system, according to Atwood, has been a huge help in the effort to bring these non-members back on Sunday.
Prior to installing the signs, we were posting announcements and schedules on bulletin boards. The digital signage is much more visible and provides a much more welcoming environment.
The recent installation of a 65" Sharp LCD monitor and Tightrope Media Systems Solo 220 Player at the entrance of the gym has helped to make the games go smoother. The digital sign shows the daily schedule for the recreation center so kids and parents can find when and where their games start. Commenting on the digital signage, John Broekhuizen, League Director, says, "It gets pretty hectic around here especially on Saturday mornings when the youngest kids play. We split the gym in half so we have two games going with lots of parents and grandparents showing up to watch. The new digital signage automatically rotates the schedule so the most current games are at the top list. The parents have commented on how much easier it is to find the right location."
The campus for First Baptist Church Georgetown, a northern suburb of Austin, includes the Worship Center, three education buildings and the recreation center. Atwood explained that the digital sign at the entrance of the gym is one part of a larger digital signage system installed throughout the church campus. "We installed seven 52" LCD's and one 65" LCD at the entrances to the buildings. The 65" by the gym is installed vertically and shows the weekly schedule for the recreation center. The rest of the monitors are installed horizontally and show full-screen images that include our weekly news video, daily schedules and 10-15 announcements for upcoming events. Atwood added, "As nice as it is to have the monitor showing the rec center daily schedules, the more important images shown on the sign are the advertisements for the worship services on Sunday morning."
The Whitlock Group in Austin worked with First Baptist Church to design and install the digital signage system. Besides the monitor in the recreation center, Whitlock installed two monitors in the foyer of the Worship Center and additional monitors by the entrances to the educational buildings. Each monitor is equipped with built-in speakers. The monitors in the Foyer are especially important on Sunday morning because they prominently show announcements for events coming up during the week. They encourage the one-hour-a-week members to come back for more activities during the week."
Whitlock demonstrated several signage software alternatives to the church. Mike Kettering, a church member involved in evaluating the software, said "We saw demos of several software packages and the Tightrope Media Systems Carousel solution was clearly the easiest to use. We liked that Tightrope is a hardware and software solution so we could install a Tightrope player with each monitor and know that the software will work with the player. Plus, the players have a menu that allows the monitors to be automatically turned on and off each day to conserve energy."
A Carousel Solo 220 player is installed with each monitor along with a Carousel Wireless card so that Atwood can update the players from his computer through the churches wireless network. He typically updates each player once or twice a week.
Atwood concluded, "We have been extremely pleased with the digital signage. Prior to installing the signs, we were posting announcements and schedules on bulletin boards. The digital signage is much more visible and provides a much more welcoming environment. The staff at the church produces a high-quality video each week that we were just running on our website. Now we run it on our digital signs. Our communication effort is inviting more people back to the church either for Sunday Service or for week-day events."
First Baptist Church of Georgetown, www.fbcgt.org
Tightrope Media Systems, www.trms.com
Whitlock Group, www.whitlock.com