Blog | July 17, 2013

The Grande Dame of Digital Signage: An interview with Margot Myers

Margot MyersThere is one rule to abide by when given the opportunity to speak with the grande dame of any domain: accept graciously and listen diligently. That was my experience, anyway, when engaging in conversation with Margot Myers, the Director of Global Marketing and Communications at Platt Retail Institute, a consulting and research firm that focuses on the use of technology to impact the customer experience. Mid-conversation, I learned that there is another important edict to follow when speaking with anyone, including the grand dame herself. “Don’t be afraid to ask for help when it comes to something you don’t know,” she said. So I played by the rules; listened and asked many questions.
Margot possesses an inherent devotion to media that has been sated throughout her entire career path. She saw herself in video production at the mere age of fourteen and attended Northwestern University as a Radio-TV-Film major. Margot worked as a deputy press secretary for a U.S. Senator, fulfilling radio production and Senate TV studio tasks among other duties. She then moved to the United States Postal Service, where she managed internal communications among 800,000 employees in 32,000 locations and oversaw the transition from paper to electronic communications, including the Postal Vision television network.
The network was installed in the mid-90s, before the term “digital signage” existed (at the time it was referred to as “business television”) and consisted of a centrally managed system with playlists and basic digital signage components. “It was pretty technologically Stone Age compared to today’s standards,” laughed Margot, recalling the banks of modems calling and uploading new content to PCs. In 2002, Margot moved to the USPS Retail Marketing department where, ironically, she pulled the plug on an expensive digital signage pilot project that was started yet not maintained. This spurred Margot’s interest in the industry and resulted in her introduction to Steven Keith Platt at a digital signage conference that took place with GlobalShop in 2003. Later that year, Margot finalized plans to deploy a new digital signage pilot known as the “Post Office Channel.”
Months after the initiala sites were installed and measurements completed, Steven and Margot worked together to study the results of the test at the USPS, demonstrating the network’s ability to increase revenue and customer satisfaction, decrease perceived wait time in line and transition customers from the full-service counter to automated means that were less expensive to operate. One of Margot’s proudest experiences was co-authoring and publishing a working paper through the Platt Retail Institute about the Channel, as it “contributed to the advancement of the industry from a fledgling phase,” said Margot. “I was often thanked for the information shared because it helped companies make sense of how to set objectives and test metrics to determine if digital signage was the right approach to meet their business goals.”
Despite its success, the Post Office Channel never made it beyond the pilot phase. Margot’s work and passion for the industry motivated her to leave the USPS in 2009 for PRI where she now manages marketing and communications activities and spends her time working with clients, teaching and speaking. “I’ve watched the industry change from the early years where it wasn’t unusual for me to sit at a table and be the only woman, to the present day where different niches and needs in the industry call for females with specific skill sets – and I’m really glad to see this,” said Margot. “I hope that every time an industry veteran presents on a panel or writes in a publication, she sets a positive example for other women in the field.”
Given Margot’s track record for driving the industry by sharing her vision and research, I asked Margot to call upon her inner seer to predict the future of digital signage. “I think we have already moved into an omni-channel marketing universe and that this will carry the industry forward,” she answered. “PRI recently released a research article on this topic (summarized here), which looks at the desire of brands, be they retailers, restaurants, hotels or universities, to provide a consistent and seamless customer experience that has the same look and feel however it may be touched.”
“We have some work to do because there are a lot of silos and disconnects in digital signage. These networks cannot stand by themselves; they need to be integrated with all other aspects of communications that companies are using to impact their customers’ experience.”
Margot Myers – grande dame, innovator, teacher, director, advisory board member for the Digital Signage Expo and Customer Engagement Technology World trade shows, member of the Digital Screenmedia Association and Digital Signage Federation, the list goes on.
About Margot
Margot Myers is the Director of Global Marketing & Communications at the Platt Retail Institute. She manages strategic marketing and communications programs and serves as the managing editor for PRI’s publications and website. She also develops education programs and participates in PRI consulting and research projects.
Myers completed a 31-year career in federal government serving as Manager, Retail In-Store Programs for the U.S. Postal Service.  She joined the Retail Marketing group after 18 years working in postal Public Affairs and Communications. In Retail Marketing, her primary responsibility was managing the messaging and point-of-purchase materials displayed in more than 32,000 Post Offices.
An early adopter of using technology to enhance communications, she installed and managed an employee-facing communications network in the mid-’90s in more than 600 postal facilities. In 2004, she deployed and tested The Post Office Channel, a digital signage network designed to communicate with customers in postal retail lobbies.
Myers is a member of the Advisory Boards for Customer Engagement Technology World, Digital Signage Expo, and the Digital Screenmedia Association, where she currently serves on the Executive Committee as the DSA Secretary. She also is a member of the Digital Signage Federation where she co-chairs the DSF Education Standards Subcommittee and serves on the Research Committee.