Your website and/or Facebook page are where people will get most of their news about your group and the project.
Standalone websites are better than Facebook pages for sharing the URL and maintaining creative control, but they are also more complicated, expensive to maintain, and difficult to drive traffic to. A Facebook page is an absolute minimum, but most serious advocacy groups have both.
Unless the site welcomes a positive, active, and constructive conversation, people will tend to forget that it exists. Frequent updates can help remind people to check back. When things are slow it can be difficult to find things to share with your visitors. These are good opportunities to lift from other skatepark advocacy groups. For example, you can publish an item from the FAQ section of the Tony Hawk Foundation website, or republish an article from Skaters for Public Skateparks.
The best content outline for your site (for both websites and Facebook pages) provides easy access to the kinds of reasons why someone would visit. These reasons are most likely:
- To get info on an upcoming meeting
- To learn more about the project’s goals
- To read a brief project history
- To contact the group
- To offer their support or become involved
- To learn more about skateboarding and skateparks (facts and external links)
Tonally, your website should be factual and compelling. Intersperse statistics (include your sources) with pictures of skateboarders. And remember, it’s less about skateparks than it is about skateboarders. Don’t forget to include regional information. The website will draw people from all over the nation, and farther, so sharing information about your town is great. Also, local readers will like to see your website express a degree of local pride.
Avoid these mistakes:
- Using the page to publish cool skateboarding videos
- Not including contact information
- Not including the city and state where your skatepark is being planned
- Not asking for help with particular things
- Publishing opinion pieces or news items with typos and misspelled words
- Allowing for crass language
- Bashing other members or groups within your community
- Permitting the broadcasting of dissenting opinion
(The site is not the place for public arguments about the merits of the skatepark. This is the “pro-community, pro-positivity, pro-skatepark” site. People with negative, dismissive ideas and antagonistic skatepark opponents can make their own websites, if they like.)
- Leaving the page stagnant for weeks at a time
Skateboarding and video production are common partners. It isn’t difficult for most advocates to find people in the core group eager to make a “public service announcement” that talks about the need for and benefits of a skatepark. The finished PSA can exist on YouTube and be promoted by your website and Facebook page.
Your skatepark PSA should be positive, encouraging, and tell a sincere, personal story. You can include some top-line statistics if it supports the claims made in the video, but you should avoid “pouring it on.” Simple, direct, and to-the-point will win more people over and provide them with just enough information to talk to their neighbors and friends about the park in a helpful way.
Your video should be less than 3 minutes long, but the shorter, the better. If you include a title intro, it should be less than 15 seconds. Write and follow a concise outline so that the video has structure and feels organized.
Below is an example of a PSA produced by the Tony Hawk Foundation. This is a product of professional skills and tools, but it shows some of the best techniques for creating a compelling message. Notice that there is information about the community, testimonials from a diverse group of people, and what is ultimately a positive message. A video like this for your community would conclude with information about how to get involved or offer your support.