Media Award Announced.

Paula Mahony, left, marketing expert at Words@Work, project manager Lou Christen, and VNA business development director Lisa Fuller with the 2011 Media Award winning slide show.

SEPTEMBER 15, 2011

When Paula Mahony, marketing expert at Words@Work, comes up with what she calls one of her “harebrained schemes,” you never know where it can take you. Today it took us to the Hilton Garden Inn in Freeport, where one of her “schemes” was honored with the 2011 Media Award by the Home Care & Hospice Alliance of Maine.

The award went to a slide show called “Ask for VNA” that Paula and I produced for VNA Home Health & Hospice, based in South Portland. The project started when Paula casually approached me and asked if it was possible to put words on pictures. I said, yes, you could create text layers on digital images. She then asked me if I knew anything about digital picture frames. I had purchased one for myself about three years ago, but wasn’t up on what models were currently available. My curiosity piqued, I wondered why she wanted to know.

Paula had been doing market research for VNA and had found that patients didn’t know what services were provided by the agency or that they could ask for these services when they were at their doctors’ offices. She was looking for a cost-effective, clever way to educate the public and thought that if patients could see a short slide show while waiting in their doctors’ reception rooms, the message would be delivered directly to the people who could most benefit from it. It occurred to her that digital picture frames could fit in with the décor of most offices and could be placed on end tables or hung on walls. They would be visible, yet unobtrusive. She wasn’t sure, though, whether the vision she had in her head would translate well in reality. The challenge was to use existing client photographs to carry a verbal message in a way that would be easily readable and understandable.

So how did Kathleen Kelly Photo help Words@Work produce an effective message for VNA? We started by creating a small demo, using three images provided by VNA and a rough draft of the text provided by Words@Work and playing it for the client on my digital frame. When VNA saw what Paula had in mind, they gave us the go-ahead for the project and asked us to have it ready to debut for an open house celebrating the 90th anniversary of the Visiting Nurses Association.

I was tasked with researching current makers and models of digital frames and getting comparisons of prices and features. I looked for a frame that could render high image quality at a moderate price. Due to time and budget constraints, we weren’t able to go out and photograph fresh images, so Lisa Fuller, business development director at VNA, selected more photos from pictures nurses had taken in the field showing patient care and acquired additional stock images. I edited the images to make sure that all had similar file size, resolution, and proper color balance and selected fonts for the text display. Paula amended the text, and she, Lisa, and I conferred to determine which words and phrases needed to stand out on the screen. The client also wanted the “Ask for VNA” logo, designed by Judy Paolini of TPDA, to be displayed several times during the slide show. After a second demo, I suggested that we repurpose several of the portraits that I had photographed of a number of the staff two months earlier for the VNA website to be layered with the logo. I reduced the opacity of the portraits so that the logo would pop more on the screen, and now the words were backed up by warm, smiling faces of caregivers. After the third demo, I rebuilt the slides with new typefaces for the text and scanned a vintage photo of one of the nurses from the 1950s to incorporate into the show. With all revisions complete, I loaded the digital slides onto memory cards for all of the frames and set the slide show to play in continuous mode.

After the slide show debuted for the staff and board of VNA, the digital picture frames were placed in a half dozen primary care physicians’ offices in the greater Portland area. Ms. Fuller says that they have been well received and that offices are requesting even larger frames (we are using 8×10 inch now) in the future. VNA plans to expand their reach with slide shows that will target specific services, such as physical therapy or wound care, to be placed in specialists’ offices. I’ve posted a version of the slide show on YouTube that plays with a music track, but the show that runs continually in reception rooms plays without sound.

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