Why Parks and Recreation Should Care About Marketing

For parks and recreation professionals, community engagement is vital to achieving goals and building upon long-term success, but what is the best way to communicate with your citizens? While traditional channels of in-person meetings, printed flyers, and even email newsletters are tried-and-true methods of reaching the people in your community, there are ways to increase your reach through modern marketing tactics:

  • Identify your community’s needs and the best strategies to meet them
  • Increase in-person and virtual event attendance
  • Recruit new employees
  • Celebrate your team

Marketing for parks and recreation is unique since you are advertising experiences instead of physical items. These types of things do not sell themselves, and with the internet continuing to change how we connect, there is no better time for your agency to create a marketing strategy to reach your target audience.

Social Media

With nearly 5 billion social media users, there is no doubt majority of your residents are on a social platform. Social media may not be the first thought in parks professionals’ minds, but it has a lot of benefits when properly utilized. Not only is social media an inexpensive way to promote your community’s activities, but with the proper tools, it will not add much time to your existing processes and workflows.

Example of Promotional Activities:

  • Summer Camps- Even in the off-season, parks and recreation should still post on social media to build awareness. Once the summer season starts approaching, they should run a campaign with a hashtag (ex: #summercamp or #summerfun). A campaign will help get more people to register while spreading the word about the camp.
  • Pickleball Tournament- With any event, it is best to start spreading the word on social media about 6-8 weeks before the event date. Doing so helps attendees keep their schedules clear- making for a better turnout. Depending on the number of followers your page has, continue posting about the tournament 1-3 times a week to ensure your entire audience is aware.
  • Parks and Recreation Committee Meetings- If you can share live or archived videos of public parks and recreation committee meetings, share the links on social media to remind citizens about the meeting. Sharing the video link also may tempt residents to attend future committee meetings.
  • New Job Postings- When posting a job on social media, make sure you share the link to either your recreation’s career page or a link to the specific job posting. Sharing the link lets those interested learn more about the job description and your organization. Some may even leave a comment referring someone to the posting.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO lets search engines, like Google, easily find your content- making it rank higher. Residents can search events easier when parks and recreations follow SEO, but what keywords should you use, and how do you rank high?

  • Geomodified Keywords- These keywords list a specific location:
    – Philadelphia facility rentals
    – Louisville bench memorial program
    – Tampa adult volleyball league
    Search engines know to keep other locations out of the search with modified keywords- so those who search are in your recreation’s proximity.
  • Answer Common Questions- We all have at some point Googled common questions, but how do you know what questions your residents have? Ask your team what questions they get asked by residents the most frequently, and then take a look to see which webpage answers those questions. You may need to update your page but doing so will drive more traffic to your site.
  • Keep Your Website Updated: Search engines prefer websites that are updated. You should refresh your content at least once a month for search engines to know your site is working.
Email Marketing (Newsletters)

Many parks and recreation departments send out weekly or monthly newsletters via email to the people in their community who opt-in to receive these communications. These newsletters take time and effort to put together, and it can be disheartening for your team to see poor results month-over-month, typically measured via click-through rates or the total amount of subscribers.

Newsletters can include a wide variety of content:

  • Meeting Minutes- Recreations can either outline or provide a recording of their most recent meeting. With meeting minutes, those unable to attend can see what decisions were made that may impact them.
  • Project Updates-  Note any updates to any projects currently being worked on at any of your facilities. Don’t be afraid to be detailed since it helps keeps residents engaged.
  • Planned Maintenance-  List the date and time of when the maintenance is occurring, as well as who they can contact if they have any questions or concerns.
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