There are many tools that parks and recreation organizations can utilize, to better engage with their communities. The more people utilize their systems, the more impact park organizations can make on the well-being of their cities.
One initiative that should be utilized more often is an ambassador program. Ambassador programs are a mutually beneficial agreement – usually between a brand or organization and an individual. The benefit for the organization is increased exposure, through the influencer’s channels and brand positioning. The benefit for the influencer is the value of the agreement, whether that’s free drop-in classes to your parks programming, products, money, or an ad campaign. Some influencers may even benefit from being showcased, as it legitimizes their brand. Here are some of the things to think about, when creating your own community ambassadors program for your park system.
Determine your Goals
To really nail down your community ambassadors program, you’ll have to figure out what you’re looking to improve on. Demographics will play a role, as different influencers will attract guests that are in-line with their own interests. Some parks and rec organizations may want to promote certain aspects of their programming that they’re trying to grow or a new innovative program or class they want to share.
Next, figure out what kind of response you are looking for. Are you trying to create long-term brand awareness, to benefit the organization, or are you looking to attract more guests to a particular event? These are the kinds of questions you’ll want to ask yourself, to better understand what it is you’re looking for. As a final note, don’t worry about your conversion rates, at the beginning; ambassador programs take some time to really show results so your immediate response won’t be the groundswell you want to eventually receive.
Create a Program
First, create the structure of your program. What are you going to offer your potential ambassadors? For your initial ambassador program, you will likely want to first approach those who are already active in your community and who already enjoy your organizations work. They can be enticed much more easily, at no or low cost, allowing you to save your budget for future endeavors. The better your existing relationship, the more likely they are to want to get involved at the onset.
For some influencers, a free membership to your gym or a parks pass to national parks will be enough, while others may desire monetary compensation. Return on investment is important here but it can be very difficult to calculate, due to the lack of knowing where your leads are coming from. An ambassador may have influenced someone to join your community center as a member – after seeing an Instagram post of a local fitness influencer – and you may never know.
If you are creating a program where ambassadors are pushing to your digital properties, make use of remarketing tools, Facebook pixels, cookies and other tools, to better track this traffic. Looking at your goals will give you direction on to how your structure and systems will best attract and track the thought leaders and advocates that you’re looking for.
Influence with Health
At the end of the day, parks and recreation organizations are looking to improve their communities’ well-being. Health is a large part of this and attracting health and fitness influencers is a no-brainer, for parks and rec organizations. Finding notable people who already frequent your parks programs are perfect for your community ambassadors program but this isn’t always easy or possible. Explore social networks, to find health influencers with a following that is complimentary to that of your organization; sharing values and philosophies is key to making sure the partnership works for everyone involved.
Another avenue to explore for participants in your community ambassadors program is the people who are not directly in health and wellness but are in complimentary pursuits, careers or passions. For example, a local chef might really enjoy yoga programming to balance their stressful culinary lifestyle. A local clothing designer may find inspiration by taking pottery classes at your parks and recreation organization. Showcasing talented people in your community who have a following helps you reach new people, while boosting their brand for being someone who being showcased.