Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Maximize the Press for Success; How to Broadcast the Benefits of Parks and Recreation

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Maximize the Press for Success; How to Broadcast the Benefits of Parks and Recreation

Article excerpt

How to Broadcast the Benefits of Parks and Recreation

It's 8 a.m. on a Monday. Your voice mail reports that you already have two messages. One is from your city manager and the other from a less-than-supportive commissioner. Both tell you that they saw the story about your department on last night's news. You panic. You just came back from vacation and haven't seen the local news in a week. Now that you think about it, you didn't even check the messages on your answering machine at home. What could have happened? Did someone get hurt in one of your parks? Did an angry patron call the consumer affairs reporter? Was there gang violence at the pool? Just as you feel yourself break into a sweat, your phone rings. You brace yourself for the worst... "Congratulations!" shouts the voice of your favorite senior volunteer through the receiver. "It seems like those newspeople finally understand all the great work you and your staff do! You must have been thrilled to see the fantastic coverage of the teen center." After admitting you missed the news, you find out that last night's story was not a disaster, but one that brilliantly highlighted the positive impact the youth center has had on the lives of several formerly troubled teens--one of whom is now an intern at the local television station.

Are You a Media Cynic?

Do you regard the media as a sabotaging foe or as your best-connected friend? Are you disappointed because media focus seems to always be on law enforcement, education, and social service agencies instead of equally important park and recreation programs? Do you wish the media would cover your events and programs as front-page features rather than buried calendar listings?

No question about it--the media can make or break an organization. The power of publicity lies in public trust that information is objective and fair. Advertising, on the other hand, is paid-for space, causing consumer wariness. The press reaches, influences, and provides information to every member of our fast-paced, high-tech society--man or woman, rich or poor, young or old.

Boost Credibility

Favorable media coverage can greatly boost your agency's credibility. Innovative park and recreation agencies are learning to aggressively maximize media impact by engaging in well-constructed, sometimes simple, publicity campaigns.

Positive media publicity is also a great way to get decision makers on your side of the fence. Your politicians, city council, mayor, commissioners and board of directors are dependent upon constituent support. Constituent support is oftentimes paralleled by media coverage. People can be swayed by their favorite publication, television, or radio show. Today's taxpayer is admittedly influenced by his or her favorite anchor person, columnist, or talk-show host.

Positive publicity is also a great way to boost staff morale and instill pride.

Everyone likes to work for an organization or department that is positively represented on the television, radio, and in the newspaper.

Sponsors and donors will also be very interested in your publicity success. Sponsors want to know what they will get in exchange for dollars or in-kind donations. Your successful publicity track record will convince them that you can help create name recognition, new customers, credibility, and positive public opinion.

It's Time to Broadcast Benefits of Parks and Recreation

The mission of the National Recreation and Park Association's Benefits of Parks and Recreation movement is to improve the way the public receives park and recreation programs. Professionals need to tell a benefits-based story to their staff, decision makers, customers, and the public at-large. "Reaching the public is a difficult task," admits June Dudas, assistant to the director at the San Diego Park and Recreation Department. "Like most departments, large and small, we don't have the money to engage in a full-blown advertising campaign. …

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