With all the talk about the economy, communication is going to be especially important in 2009. Many of you are dealing with reduced budgets. Others didn’t receive the increases that were so necessary. Some of you are working with reduced staff, and then there are those who are given more responsibilities or more fields to care for with no increase in resources. First of all, you still have to provide safe playing surfaces. Your next responsibility is playability. And, of course, you’re expected to accomplish all this while also making the fields look good.
In order to do the best with what you have you are going to have to continually and effectively communicate what you are doing and why. Your bosses, field users and the general public are not going to accept excuses, but they may pay attention to well-communicated reasons.
As you lay out your plans for the season, think about what you can say to others that will help them understand why you are doing what you do. Look at it from their perspective. What would they want to know? What really interests them? How can you explain things in terms they’ll understand?
After you have laid out the answers to these questions, and some others you may think of, determine how you are going to get that information out. You might want to consider some type of newsletter that goes out to constituents. It could be a single page with bullet points addressing important details. It could be more detailed. It could be sent by mail, e-mail or handed out at events. It could be a periodically produced newsletter that goes out on a schedule. You might want to communicate through a Web site. It is helpful to make some acquaintances in the news media. Provide them with information from your perspective before they jump on a story that is negative to your program and doesn’t present the facts from your standpoint.
No matter how well you plan, situations may occur that could give the perception that there are problems with a field. It could be weather related, overuse or even vandalism. Whatever the issue, lay out in easily understood terms what happened and what you are doing about it.
The better you communicate what you do and why you are doing it, the more you are going to be understood and appreciated. Take these opportunities and challenges to educate and more people will realize that, with all the things you have to deal with, those fields are really in pretty good shape. With good communication, you’ll be doing your part to let the general public know who sports field managers are, what they have to deal with, some solutions found, and your importance to the game.
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