The NC Recre8'er - is the Blog for NC Recreation and Parks Professionals. We will feature posts from NCRPA members and staff about all the latest news, insights and tips in our field and around the state. Topics will include but are not limited to: Health and Wellness, Outdoor Recreation, Athletics, Advocacy, Aquatics, Therapeutic Recreation, Special Events, Marketing, Parks and Greenways, Cultural Resources and more! If you are interested in being a guest blogger please contact Matt at NCRPA Matt@ncrpa.net or 919-832-5868.
The opinions of The NC Recre8'er (NCRPA) blog contributors don't necessarily reflect the editorial position of North Carolina Recreation and Park Association as a whole.
Posted By Andrew Lance, Parks and Recreation Manager, Lexington,
Thursday, October 11, 2018
Small Town Department, Big Time Marketing
All of us have faced the dilemma, how do I get my stuff out there? How do I connect with the people in my community? I know I have awesome programs and events, why don’t people come to them? Awareness in your city or town can be a big problem, especially if you are a smaller department. Budgets can be tight, time is valuable, and the staff just don’t have the resources to effectively run a major marketing campaign, right? WRONG! As young professionals, we have lived our entire professional career with social media, and understand the power that it has. The best part is, it’s FREE, and all you have to do is take the time to work it.
When I came to Lexington 2 years ago, we had a social media presence, but it was very disjointed - no voice, no vision, and needed help. People were there, and wanted to hear from us, but we had to make time to engage them. In the past 2 years, we have grown our likes from 1300 to 3000+ in a city of only 17,000 (shameless plug – give us a like! www.facebook.com/colparksandrec). There is no secret formula, but here are some tips and tricks to help you improve your social media presence.
Take advantage of free stuff. Need cool photos to use? Pixabay and Unsplash are two FREE stock photo sites that have high quality pictures. Want to make professional looking posts? Try Canva, a FREE site that gives you all kinds of social media templates for posts, covers, etc. and more. Need more ideas? Check out Hubspot for marketing ideas and links. Go on NRPA Connect and the NCRPA YPN group on Facebook and ask questions of other people in the field, there are tons of free resources out there.
Post videos. Videos will show up more in news feeds these days, so try and post videos when possible. At an event or program? Go live, and show off the cool things you are doing!
Be personal. This doesn’t mean post as yourself on the department website. People want to see family and friends, so share photos of participants and people enjoying your programs and events. Little Johnny playing at camp will have much more engagement than a picture of a flyer for summer camp.
Schedule in advance. Grab a calendar, check out what you have coming up, and then go ahead and schedule your content for the week. Boom, your Facebook week is done.
Use your insights tab. See when your audience is online, look at the engagement for your post types, and understand what the audience demographics are. You can then use this information to tailor your content.
Promote engagement. Ask for comments, pictures, gifs, etc. Interaction help drives your reach, and the more you have, the more people you can reach and impact.
Schedule events. Have a cool event coming up? Make an event on Facebook, then share it. Making an event is so much better than just a post, because it shows up for other people in the “Events you may like” and Happening near you” sections.
Show off your facilities! Parks and rec centers are cool, and sometimes people don’t realize all that your community has to offer. We did a #FallParkSpotlight, and every Wednesday highlighted a different park, and people told us they were introduced to parks they never knew were there!
Share relevant local content. Cool stuff happening in your community? Share that on your page. It shows you care, and encourages other people to share your stuff in return (be sure you can/should share things before you do)
This may seem like a lot, so take a few steps at a time. Start with a plan, and work to integrate different pieces as you feel comfortable. By no means is this a comprehensive list, I am learning more and tinkering with the page constantly. The amount of time it takes now to manage our Facebook page is drastically less than what it used to be, but guess what? The interaction and reach we have is so much better now, and we have seen a tangible impact on registration, awareness, and community sentiment. At the end of the day, isn’t that what it is all about?
About the Author
Andrew Lance is the Parks and Recreation Manager for the City of Lexington. Recreation has been his passion since an early age, especially sports, but he realized early on that he would not grow up to be a professional athlete. Instead, he decided to stick with what he loved, and see the enjoyment others get from being active, playing, and learning. He attended and graduated from the University of South Carolina with a degree in Sports Management. After school he worked for private sports facilities in Virginia Beach and Downingtown, PA prior to moving to Lexington. Andrew is married with two young boys, and enjoys following Tottenham Hotspur, Carolina Panthers, Atlanta Braves, and the Gamecocks among others, and playing sports whenever he can. Connect with Andrew on LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com/in/andrewlance1), Facebook (www.facebook.com/andrew.lance.016) or reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kendrick Mayes, Garner and Jay Tryon, Indian Trail discuss the 2014 NRPA Annual Conference in the above video blog interview from NRPA.
Viva Las Vegas! This year, the National Recreation and Park Association will celebrate their 50th Anniversary in the exciting city of Las Vegas. For students and young professionals, this year is not only memorable for the significance of the association celebrating 50 years, but also because of the location. However, with limited department funds how can a young professional ensure that they are able to attend NRPA Congress? #Scholarships! That’s right, applying for scholarships through NRPA and NCRPA can help you partially or even completely fund your trip. As a first-time attendee and young professional at the 2014 NRPA Congress in Charlotte, North Carolina, I was fortunate to receive the National Recreation and Park Association Student Scholarship and the National Recreation and Park Association Ethnic Minority Society Scholarship which fully covered my conference registration, travel, lodging and meals.
As the Marketing and Events Coordinator for the Garner Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Department I used a portion of my scholarships to attend the pre-congress workshop Brand+Aid Marketing Institute. Attending this session has helped tremendously with my professional development because I was able to sharpen my current marketing skills and also implement new techniques on the job to make the department better.
Before I attended the NRPA Congress, I remember reading an article at North Carolina Central University written by Ms. Tiffany Johnson from the DC Department of Parks and Recreation about the importance of networking and doing your research before attending Congress. I’m glad she wrote the article because in order to be successful at Congress you definitely need a game plan. The game plan should include options on which sessions you plan to attend, which networking events you plan to sit in on and also what you would like to gain from attending. Before I left for Congress, my Town of Garner business cards had not arrived yet, so I got creative in printing my own cards to pass out after sessions. This proved to be a wise decision, because the worst thing that can happen to a young professional is for them to attend a great session, ask questions, interact with the speakers and the moment comes to exchange contact information and the young professional does not have any business cards.
Along with my NRPA scholarships , I was also able to receive the North Carolina Recreation and Park Scholarship Foundation Fletcher Graduate Scholarship. I used the funds to towards covering additional educational expenses in my journey as a young parks and recreation leader here in NC. I strongly encourage my fellow young professionals to apply for the various scholarships that are available. This money is dedicated to helping professionals ( LIKE YOU!) to continue their education so they can advance in the field. Even if you feel like your resume or your community involvement doesn't compare to someone else, you would be surprised at how many people miss out on scholarships all because they did not take the initiative to apply.
Additionally, I would encourage all young professionals to consider getting involved with networking opportunities, whether it’s a group here in our state with NCRPA or nationally with the NRPA Young Professional Network, NRPA Ethnic Minority Society Network, the NRPA Administrators Network. By doing this, not only do they stay current on receiving scholarships, but they are also in the know about opportunities within the field.
Looking for opportunities to attend the NRPA Congress in Las Vegas? Here are some options: http://buff.ly/1bEQ5cZ
As parks and recreation professionals we are asked to fill many roles and be ready to change to better serve our communities at a moment’s notice. When it comes to marketing our parks, programs and events the scope of responsibilities can vary greatly. Sometimes our marketing and social media is coordinated by a dedicated marketing team, sometimes it’s a department director and other times it might be a programmer. If you are managing your departments’ social you have a variety of things to think about; when to post, what to post, and sometimes even how to post. Often these questions can be answered by asking our peers, reading various blogs and reviewing what industry leaders are doing. At NCRPA I use Buffer to help me manage and coordinate our social content. (Buffer is an app that helps you manage and monitor social media accounts.) In addition to being one of my favorite media management tools, Buffer does a good job of sharing research and tips on how to be a more proficient social media manager in an ever changing landscape. To get you started, check out this great blog and infographic from Buffer on posting frequency. https://blog.bufferapp.com/how-often-post-social-media
Don’t forget that if you are looking to take your marketing and social media to the next level you can join NCRPA at the 2015 Marketing Summit on April 14th in Durham, NC. http://www.ncrpa.net/event/Marketing
Stay tuned to the NC’Recre8’er blog all this month and April for more tips and tricks for marketing as parks and recreation professionals!
Posted By Dale Smith, 2015 NCRPA President.,
Wednesday, December 10, 2014
Updated: Wednesday, December 10, 2014
“You cannot grow unless you are willing to change. You will never improve yourself if you cling to what used to be” - Leon Brown
I am an avid reader now that I am retired and regularly save different quotes that are meaningful and inspire me to be better. That is exactly what Leon Brown’s quote does for me when I think about the future of our Association. Whether it is apparent or not, NCRPA is at a crossroads and it is time to evolve or lose our relevance. Associations across the country along with ours are facing challenges that have diminished the effectiveness of Associations overall, however it is our goal to understand this climate and prepare NCRPA for the future.
Over the past few years, NCRPA has both adopted a Strategic Plan and worked with Pro’s Consulting to develop a Membership and Marketing Plan (Project Supercharged!). After careful review of each plan and much discussion by the Executive Board, we have determined that the first step in this process is to review our structure. Dr. Joy James, Associate Professor in Recreation Management, at Appalachian State University will chair a committee of 9 professionals that represent our diverse membership. This committee will review the Association’s structure to make sure that we have a sustainable working model for the future. They have been given a great deal of information to review and are charged to provide a recommendation to the Executive Board by April 2015.
As this committee works diligently to understand the climate associations must operate in and makes suggestions for viable change, committee members will be blogging about their progress. These blog posts will help keep YOU the association members informed and engaged in this important venture that will eventually lay the ground work for the future of our organization.