Communicating to your core group, your steering committee, your supporters and volunteers, and to the general public can seem like a gigantic task. Thankfully you have lots of great tools to help you manage it.
For general communication to the public and your supporters, nothing beats Facebook.
Facebook is terrible for resolving disagreements or addressing controversial topics. As a result, Facebook is good for talking about design ideas and not very good for arguing about where it should go, whether BMX should be allowed, or whether it should be mostly bowls or mostly street terrain.
Make sure your Facebook project page is public and open for everyone. If you have nothing to share about the local skatepark effort, you can share stories from other skatepark advocacy groups and ask your supporters for their ideas. When you work on creating and sharing engaging stories about skateboarding and skateparks, the likes will follow.
Communicating within your core group and steering committee can be handled any number of ways. Some groups are known to use project-based communication apps, (e.g., Slack), but that requires a download and some learning. Most people have email or at least a cell phone. All are viable places to share information between scheduled meetings. Meeting regularly on the same day of the week at the same time and location is the best way to keep your core group meetings simple. Constantly changing the time, location, and frequency is a headache and you’ll quickly see people drop out because they can’t keep track of all the changes.
If a volunteer wants to create an independent website for the skatepark, that should be encouraged. Websites often cost money, require volunteer time to manage, and need to be promoted. Facebook is often the expedient alternative. WordPress, Squarespace and Wix are often used to create independent skatepark project websites. If you plan on maintaining an online presence after the skatepark is open — perhaps you’ll use it to promote events at the skatepark, for example — you may want to invest the time and energy into creating an independent website.
Google also provides a number of free administrative and communication tools that can help with organization (Gmail, Google Docs and Calendar). In general, Google provides better tools for most of your project-management needs than Facebook, but Facebook provides your audience. Most skatepark advocacy groups use a host tools to store and share data and information. Tutorials for those tools is available online.
There are a number of email services that you might look at if your contact lists start becoming unmanageable. These are commonly known as customer-relations management, or CRM. Mailchimp and Constant Contact are two examples.
Here are some ideas for content:
- A brief review of your project goals (“build a new community skatepark!”)
- Recent advances or accomplishments of the project
- Recap of any recent activities
- Special thanks to exceptional people
- List of specific ways to support the project
- Upcoming opportunities to get involved
- Announcement of upcoming meetings or events
- Contact information and ways to get more information
Big events that you hope to see lots of people at will need more than just an appearance on your wall or website. For those special “public” events, create a Facebook event and promote it heavily on social media. It’s good to post with increasing frequency up to the day of the event though you can promote your event with whatever frequency you feel is best.
As you continue to share information, you’ll begin to see public exciting for the skatepark rise.