Story Time

Regardless of how large or small your budget is you should never miss an opportunity to get your story out. First, you must never lose sight of who your most important customers are.

The most important customer base is those who make budget decisions on your operations. In our case those folks are the elected officials who make our annual budgeting decisions.

In your situation these VIP customers may be a board of directors or the department or division head of your agency. Make sure that you tell your story in a way that will resonate with each and every one of these VIPs. To do this the story must be told often and in as many different contexts as possible. In short, tell your story in a language that each decision maker will understand. Some ideas:

E-mail and voice blasts to all of the members and participants of all of your programs. Make sure that your VIPs are included.

Direct mail to current and past participants. Make sure that the direct mail pieces are targeted to the interests of the addressee. Send all of your VIPs every piece and be sure to give them credit in each piece for the program or event.

Letters from parents and children in support and praise of the event or program. We set up kiosks at each event with laptops so that participants can register their support and/or concerns on the spot. This goes directly to our VIPs.

Plaques and memorabilia for each of the VIPs' office walls and offices. This is so little in cost compared to the general good will it generates with the decision makers.

If your community is diverse as ours is, tell your story in multiple languages. Don't forget to give praise and credit to the VIPs for funding and supporting your events and programs.

Satisfaction surveys at each event and post program. Share this with your decision makers.

Cost per unit comparisons, such as the following:

Think About This…

In Orange County it costs about $5,000 to arrest one juvenile offender. It costs $30,000 to incarcerate that offender for one year after conviction. If that money was available to the Parks and Recreation Department we could:

Take a child swimming twice a week for 16 weeks, and

Give him four visits to the zoo, and

Enroll her in 30 community center programs, and

Visit the nature center four times, and

Let her play league softball for a season, and

Participate every day in an after school program, and

Visit the museum of science and history three time, and

Give him give him two weeks of tennis lessons, and

A six month basketball league, and

Teach her to swim, and

Enroll in an eight week summer day camp, and

Play soccer eight hours per week for 40 weeks

After which we would return to you $33,211 and one much healthier, happier kid.