Content Planning Using the OASIS Model

EPISODE  131 | Guest: Debbie DeWitt, marketing communications manager for Visix

No communication strategy can be successful without a good plan in place. There are many models out there to choose from, but the OASIS model is a perfect fit for people who are responsible for managing digital signage and other internal communications platforms. By using the five pillars of OASIS, anyone can develop and maintain a comprehensive plan for creating content that’s sure to engage their audiences.

  • Learn what the five pillars of OASIS are
  • Hear the benefits of having a communications plan
  • Understand how SMART goals apply within this framework
  • Get concrete examples for each step
  • Explore ways to tailor OASIS to your specific context and needs

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Get more advice for digital signage managers in our Communications Planning Masterclass Guide


Derek DeWitt: Picture a world where your messages flow effortlessly, resonating with your audience on multiple levels and forging connections that stand the test of time. That’s precisely what we’re delving into today as we unpack the dynamic OASIS model, and explore how it can elevate your digital signage content and communications campaigns. This is how to get your shaker maker to go supersonic, some might say, so that you can roll with it and turn your communications into a wonderwall that is a champagne supernova.

Debbie DeWitt: That’s awesome!

Derek DeWitt: It’s a lot of Oasis references there, and I don’t even particularly like them. But to walk through the five pillars of OASIS and give us some practical tips, I’m here with Debbie DeWitt, marketing communications manager for Visix. Hi, Deb.

Debbie DeWitt: Hi, Derek. And I do like Oasis.

Derek DeWitt: Well, there you go. Deb’s gonna go let it all out. And of course, we wanna say don’t go away, but listen to this episode of Digital Signage Done Right. You can also follow along with a transcript on the Visix website. You can subscribe and you can even review us, which would be awfully nice, especially on IMDB.

So, as we’ve said many, many, many times, you need a good communications plan in place before you even start designing your digital signage content.

Debbie DeWitt: That’s right. It’s pretty basic advice, I think, but a lot of the people we deal with who are tasked with managing digital signage aren’t necessarily trained in communications strategy.

Derek DeWitt: And usually they have another job, a full-time job, besides this.

Debbie DeWitt: Yeah, absolutely. So, sometimes people get caught up, we see, like in this wheel of just like churn out that content, get something on screen, and they wind up not working from a plan, and it kind of hurts the audience.

Derek DeWitt: Since it’s the beginning of a new year, it’s kind of the perfect time to get such a plan together.

Debbie DeWitt: Yes, it is! January’s the perfect time for planning. And there are lots of frameworks out there you can use, but today I want to concentrate on the OASIS model.

Derek DeWitt: All right. Let’s see if this one fits your style. So, what is the OASIS model?

Debbie DeWitt: So, OASIS is just a series of steps to help you plan your communications or your campaigns, and in our case, your digital signage content. The goal is to give you a consistent model, you know, that you can use over time across all of your communications.

Derek DeWitt: Where does it come from? Who created this model?

Debbie DeWitt: It was created by the UK’s Government Communications Service, and we’ll actually link out to their site in the transcript, so you can go to the source. And I couldn’t find the full origin story online, but I know it’s been around since at least 2014.

Derek DeWitt: So obviously OASIS, it’s all caps, it’s an acronym. What does it stand for?

Debbie DeWitt: Well, the five pillars or steps you need to create a campaign using OASIS are Objectives…

Derek DeWitt: O

Debbie DeWitt: …Audience and insight…

Derek DeWitt: A

Debbie DeWitt: …Strategy or ideas…

Derek DeWitt: S

Debbie DeWitt: …Implementation…

Derek DeWitt: I

Debbie DeWitt: …and Scoring and evaluation.

Derek DeWitt: S. Though three of those are doing double work, so I think…

Debbie DeWitt: It’s a bit of a cheat, right?

Derek DeWitt: They kinda had to squeeze that into their…

Debbie DeWitt: But then again, if you look back at those things, it doesn’t really flow off the tongue as an acronym. So, I get why they went OASIS.

Derek DeWitt: Right, sure. All right. So, let’s delve into each of these five pillars. The first one in the OASIS model is to define your project Objectives.

Debbie DeWitt: Yes. And your objectives should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.

Derek DeWitt: Which is another acronym, known as SMART goals.

Debbie DeWitt: Oh, yes. Be warned. There are several nested acronyms within acronyms in this framework.

Derek DeWitt: It’s like those Russian dolls.

Debbie DeWitt: Yeah.

Derek DeWitt: So, let’s step through SMART real quick before we continue with this “objectives”. But this is S-M-A-R-T.

Debbie DeWitt: Right. So S is Specific, which is pretty self-explanatory, I think. Don’t just say, I want this campaign to increase engagement. Say instead something like, I want this campaign to increase attendance at this event, or I wanna get more people to sign up for benefits in the first week. Be specific.

Derek DeWitt: Right, right. The M is Measurable. That’s a big one.

Debbie DeWitt: Mm-hmm

Derek DeWitt: Again, we always stress the importance of calls to action that you can measure. So, like using a URL or short URL or a QR code to send people to, I don’t know, an event ticket outlet or benefit signup form or something, allows you to pretty easily track the analytics to see how many hits you got from that specific call to action.

Debbie DeWitt: Yeah. And even more specific, that URL or QR that leads to a URL should only be used in this campaign. And in addition to that, if you use the same one in emails, posters, on your digital signs, you won’t know where your traffic came from.

Derek DeWitt: Right.

Debbie DeWitt: So the next two, A and R, are Achievable and Relevant. This is also pretty simple. It means don’t set goals you can’t possibly meet, and make sure they’re relevant to your organization within the larger business strategy. And I know, this seems like really common sense.

Derek DeWitt: Our goal is to take over the world!

Debbie DeWitt: Actually, that is my goal, so…. But no, it’s possible. And especially when you look at, if you’ve got goals being set by maybe people who are outside of the team that has to achieve them. That happens a lot. Unfortunately, it does. It’s like, we need you to do this by this time. You gotta be able to push back and go, that’s not achievable.

Derek DeWitt: Right.

Debbie DeWitt: Or, and look at it and go, that’s not relevant within say, our SWOT analysis, or our big strategy that we all worked out, you know, a couple of months ago. This does not apply to that.

Derek DeWitt: Right. And then the T in SMART means Time-bound, which is kind of a huh, what does that mean? But it just means put a timeframe on the campaign. Don’t try and do this for something that you’re showing like on your digital signs every day, forever. But, you know, if it’s, if it makes sense, have some kind of a timeframe for something to happen, how long it’s gonna run and when it should end.

Debbie DeWitt: Yeah. I mean, your event schedule is gonna be on your screens at all times, but we always say, you know, we really don’t recommend you schedule anything for always, at least in our AxisTV Signage Suite software. So put that timeframe in there.

If you have to run something, you know, it’s some continuous thing, like a recycling program or something that is continuous, at least try maybe changing up that call to action, that URL, that QR, so you can say, well, the results for this month or this quarter are specific.

Defining objectives using the SMART model, basically, are supposed to help you focus your efforts. You know, your objectives should be numerical whenever possible. You want to quantify things when you can and focus on outcomes instead of output.

Derek DeWitt: Right. Knowing that you got 1000 people to visit your benefits signup form, that’s not success. Getting 1000 people to submit the form is.

Debbie DeWitt: Right. And if you actually had 1000 visits, but only 500 signed up, you can take a look at that form and say, what do we need to do differently to get those results, those outcomes.

Derek DeWitt: Right. Right. So, the first step in OASIS is objectives, and your objectives should be SMART. The second step or pillar of the OASIS model is to identify project Audiences and insights.

Debbie DeWitt: Right. This is one of those where they use two words instead of one, but they’re very related. I mean, we always talk about your audience is everything. Is it internal? Is it external? And you have to know their demographics and preferences to get them to engage and really connect with your messaging.

Derek DeWitt: And you might have multiple audiences, like if you’re a university campus, you have students, you have faculty, you have staff, which is not the same thing as faculty, and then you have the general public; all very different groups of people.

Debbie DeWitt: Yeah. And you need to have different audience insights and personas for each of those groups. And you may even have subgroups within those groups. Each audience is gonna have different needs and expectations. So, you have to think about this early in the planning stages.

Derek DeWitt: So, that’s the audience part of that step. But the subheading of that is also insights, but we’re not counting the I in the acronym. What do they mean by insights into your audience?

Debbie DeWitt: Insights are getting specific in your questions about your audience. Who is the content or campaign aimed at? You know, do you just need to inform them about something, are you trying to motivate them to act or change their behavior? What are the barriers to meeting your objectives with that audience? It’s really about just getting a full understanding of your audience and how you’re gonna move them to that desired outcome.

Derek DeWitt: Yeah. And I’d say accessibility and DEI are also something to think about during this stage. Are you being inclusive? Not because “that’s what you’re supposed to do today”, but because being inclusive means more people are going to be engaged, and you’re probably going to have more people doing whatever it is you want them to do.

Debbie DeWitt: Absolutely. You always have to make sure you’re not favoring one audience or demographic over another unless that’s the target of that campaign.

Derek DeWitt: Right, exactly. Yeah. Okay. So that’s the O and the A. The first S is develop communications Strategies and ideas.

Debbie DeWitt: And ideas in parentheses; that’s another one of those where they doubled up.

Derek DeWitt: Yeah.

Debbie DeWitt: But in general, this is figuring out the right communication method, you know, or medium. Is it meetings, is it emails, is it web and social? Is it digital signage?

Derek DeWitt: Or is it all of them?

Debbie DeWitt: Yeah. Or you might just have a mix of just a few of those. But in terms of digital signage content, it can also mean figuring out the best type of media to present that communication. You know, is it a video, is it a data visualization, is it a series of messages with some cute mascot you’ve come up with, you know? This is where you figure out your messaging copy, your design and your scheduling,

Derek DeWitt: And you could test or, or even pilot some of the content in advance before you launch it organization-wide just to test its effectiveness and tweak.

Debbie DeWitt: Yeah. And you just wanna make sure whatever you do ties back to those SMART objectives and your audience insights.

Derek DeWitt: Okay. The I in OASIS, the fourth pillar, is Implement the communication plan.

Debbie DeWitt: Execute, execute, execute.

Derek DeWitt: You sound like a Dalek.

Debbie DeWitt: Execute! Yeah. This is where you need to execute your plan, actually put it into motion. Get your communications and campaigns onto your screens. You know, make sure your content plan properly allocates resources and sets out timelines for delivery. So, resources could be graphic designers, communications people, marketing people checking your copy.

Derek DeWitt: IT.

Debbie DeWitt: Yeah, IT. You know, going out and setting those timelines we already talked about as part of your SMART goals. And you definitely wanna stick to the schedule you determined in the strategy step,

Derek DeWitt: Right. If you change things during the time that you’re running the experiment, you can’t measure what you set out to measure if you change parameters halfway through.

Debbie DeWitt: Exactly. You’ve gotta go apples to apples. You know, it’s the law of troubleshooting, change one thing at a time. So, we’re not saying you can’t be flexible and react to feedback, which we’re gonna talk about a little more next. You wanna monitor the effectiveness of your content.

But I will say you should really review and refresh your plan after each of these five stages. Not just here, not after you put it out. You wanna take a look at it because each step or pillar is going to inform, probably, both the ones coming after it and before it.

Derek DeWitt: Okay. And the last S, the final pillar of the OASIS model is Scoring and evaluation. Meaning measuring the success of the communication or content plan; how’d you do?

Debbie DeWitt: Yeah. It’s essential you get feedback for the scoring and evaluation phase. You can use those success measures you set up. Like we were talking about form submissions, or, you know, event tickets, I think was our other example. You wanna use those to put together quantifiable data for progress against your objectives, progress to goals.

And in addition to those data sets or analytics, if you’re using web or whatever, you wanna do some informal surveys to get some softer audience feedback. Once you have all of that, you can analyze the data and comments, and identify the areas you need to improve and any changes you need to make, whether it be for this campaign or a future one.

And also, be sure (this is my big one), be sure you share the results with all the team members, so you can get different perspectives. Don’t just do a knee jerk reaction and say, it didn’t work, change everything; or it didn’t work, tell graphic design to try some new design. Get everybody back in the room. Maybe you’ll find out your goal needs to be adjusted. Or it’s just one little aspect, like we said, maybe don’t put a URL on that message, put a QR tag, you know. Something like that.

Derek DeWitt: And again, and this just can’t be stressed enough, this is not a one-time thing. Deb’s kind of alluded to this; this is a process, an ongoing process. The OASIS model already has a sort of evaluation component baked into it. And then at the end of all five steps or pillars, you need to reevaluate again, adjust, and then do it again.

Debbie DeWitt: Yeah. I mean, OASIS is a framework where you wanna outline everything you need, but the big focus is on monitor and adjust constantly. And for digital signage managers, you know, you can create a quick OASIS framework for each campaign you’re doing. Or you could do it for a content group, like, let me think, student summer school communications or whatever.

Derek DeWitt: Sure, yeah. Which would be totally different than top of the semester, opening of the semester communications.

Debbie DeWitt: Right. You know, don’t get overwhelmed. Don’t think, oh, okay, I have to do this plan for everything I’m gonna do this year. No. It could be month by month. You know, it can be campaign by campaign. It’s just, again, it’s a framework that lets you focus in on what’s important. And realistically, you’ll need to rework the written plan a lot as you learn what works and what doesn’t.

Derek DeWitt: Right. And each time you learn something about a plan and make adjustments, it’ll help you be more efficient in planning out the next one.

Debbie DeWitt: Yeah. That’s why I actually would recommend you start small. I would recommend doing this for one campaign. ‘Cause as we said, there are a lot of models out there, there are a lot of communications plan tips and frameworks you can use. OASIS might work for you, it might not. It depends on your organization and what you’re trying to achieve. So I would start small, maybe do this with a campaign, see if it works for you. And then once you’ve really got the hang of it, you could then expand.

Derek DeWitt: Right. So, to recap the five steps or pillars of the OASIS framework are: Objectives – what are you trying to do; Audience – who are you trying to do it for and some insight into them; Strategy – ideas on how you’re gonna do it; Implementation – doing it and then testing, so, doing it maybe small scale, giving a test and tweaking; and then Scoring, evaluating how it all went and adjusting again.

Debbie DeWitt: ROI.

Derek DeWitt: Yeah. Basically, yeah.

Debbie DeWitt: I think we’ve mentioned this once or twice.

Derek DeWitt: I think ROI might’ve been mentioned. Just go up into the search bar on the Visix website and type it in and you’ll probably get a hit or two.

Debbie DeWitt: More than you wanted.

Derek DeWitt: Yeah, right.

Debbie DeWitt: More than you knew was possible.

Derek DeWitt: Right. So, there you have it. A pretty comprehensive overview of the OASIS model with a practical framework to improve your digital signage content thrown into the mix. By following these five steps, you can create a communications plan that addresses both your own objectives and your audience’s needs. And you will learn very quickly that the two things are completely interrelated. Or at least they should be.

Debbie DeWitt: Oh, every time. Audience first.

Derek DeWitt: Yeah.

Debbie DeWitt: Another thing I did wanna say is we do have a communications guide specifically for digital signage managers. OASIS is not in there; I need to update that. But there are some other basic communications planning tips in there that you could also look at.

Derek DeWitt: More acronyms?

Debbie DeWitt: There must be. I’m sure there must be.

Derek DeWitt: I bet SMART is in there.

Debbie DeWitt: SMART probably is, yeah.

Derek DeWitt: All right. Thanks, Debbie DeWitt, marketing communications manager for Visix for talking to me about the OASIS framework for content planning. Thanks, Debbie.

Debbie DeWitt: You’re welcome, Derek.