Even though most people consider services offered by their local Parks and Recreation agency a valuable community asset, there is no denying that low engagement has led to diminishing participation. This combined with increasingly lower funding over the years poses certain challenges that threaten the long-term wellbeing of Parks and Rec agencies.
The time to address these challenges is now. With technological advancements, the concept of smart cities has become too imminent to ignore. In this article, you will find recommendations that Parks and Rec agencies can adopt both online and offline to become “smarter” organizations.
Optimize your website
One of the first and most effective ways to improve engagement is to have an optimized website. Such websites not only look better, but they adapt to the device a person uses, be it desktop, tablet or mobile. A more responsive website means it loads faster, people spend more time browsing your content, and eventually, your website ranks higher in search results.
Roughly half the North Americans (55% Canadians, 48% Americans) are unaware that Parks and Rec agencies offer online booking services. Imagine the impact optimized websites can have on that statistic!
Create new content regularly
Having an optimized website is the first step to improving your online visibility. The next step is to create new content to deliver information to the community in a timely manner. When done regularly, this can help your Parks and Rec agency gain top-of-mind awareness in the minds of its residents.
You can also audit your current website content to ensure everything is easy to find and share. This exercise provides an opportunity to review and update outdated things such that they remain relevant.
Leverage social media
Creating new content is pointless if nobody knows it exists. Leverage your social media presence to share the content you create with your online community. If done right, you can use this strategy to improve your online engagement and eventually even get your residents to be more involved in your community.
Take financial planning seriously
Low engagement combined with a lack of funding can have severe repercussions on the economic health of Parks and Rec agencies and the community at large. Being more proactive with your finances can help you be more adaptable to changing circumstances. Even though profit may not be your main motive, a Parks and Rec agency is still a business. By trying to create more efficient cost recovery processes and resource allocation, your organization can become more robust and less dependent on funding.
Manage change - don't resist it
Change is inevitable. Those species that didn’t evolve eventually became extinct. The only way for Parks and Rec agencies to thrive is to evolve. As communities become increasingly tech savvy, so too must the organizations that serve them. Find ways to enforce new process and manage change at a pace that is feasible for your organization. Slowly but surely, make your way to becoming a smart city.
The health and sustainability of Parks and Rec agencies plays an instrumental role in the prosperity of the communities they serve. Robust Parks and Rec agencies beget well-maintained municipalities. Such municipalities help create demand and an influx of citizens which in turn begets booming local economies. Isn’t that a future worth changing for?