It's time to start recruiting people you trust to help you implement all your plans. Your PR Team members will help you write media materials, contact reporters, design banners and flyers, and plan a festive post-build celebration. Keep in mind that each of these tasks requires very different skills - for example, someone who writes well may not feel comfortable speaking to the media, and vice versa. A wide variety of skills will make your team stronger. Team members should also be positive and energetic, and they should have a strong belief in the project. Aim for three to five regular volunteers, and be sure to reach out to diverse segments of the community.
The next step is to propose a regular schedule for PR team meetings. This may be something to discuss when recruiting your members. How often would you like to meet? Where and for how long? Do your volunteers have potential scheduling conflicts? Do they need childcare? Does anyone have long vacations planned? Be thoughtful and considerate toward your team members' other commitments; they'll thank you for it!
Holding your first team meeting
Once you have team goals, a plan, and a few loyal volunteers recruited, it's time to get down to work. A first meeting sets the tone for your entire project, so try to be professional, organized and energetic. Show up on time, prepare a clear meeting agenda, and set a time limit for each item. Oh, and don't forget about the fun! Remind your team of the joys of play and they'll carry that energy back to the community. Here are some topics that you might want to address at your first PR Team meeting:
- Personal introductions
- Review the playspace project
Discuss the overall project vision, the history of the project, and the community-build model. Emphasize the potential for a spirited, broad-based community effort!
- Review your team's goals and strategies
How does your team fit into the big picture? What does the PR team do? How do you plan to rally community support and obtain positive media coverage? What help do other teams need from you? Discuss your team's strategies, timeline and budget
- Brainstorm community resources and personal connections
It's not what you know, it's who you know! Ask people on your team whether they have friends, relatives, co-workers or neighbors who can offer a particular skill or media contact. You may be surprised at the response!
- Discuss talking points
Talking about the project is job one. Whether chatting over coffee or giving a media interview, all of your team members should be sharing the same message! Get everyone's input, and try to choose at least three or four good points.
- Delegate team tasks
Do your team members have different interests, skills and schedules? Of course they do! Whenever you can, assign a whole task to someone with a special skill in that area; you'll give each person a chance to shine while making your job a lot easier. Here's one way to break up the PR team tasks:
- Writing all press releases, advisories, fact sheets, letters and op-ed pieces
- Initiating and maintaining relationships with local reporters and editors
- Giving interviews and making public appearances
- Designing promotional flyers, banners and posters
- Managing donor and volunteer appreciation: ribbon-cutting ceremony, thank you's, etc.
- Negotiating prices and partnerships with printers, advertisers, stores, etc.
- Note: If long commitments are a problem for your team, consider dividing the project according to concrete events such as Design Day, the build, fundraisers, etc. Each person would be responsible for all the promotion and media coverage of a single event.
- Set specific goals for your next meeting
How will your team measure its progress? Are there any tasks that need immediate action? Before you go, agree on a time for your next meeting and create specific deadlines for each volunteer's tasks.
Budget and timeline
Because you're not responsible for any fundraising, you'll need to talk to your co-chair(s) and fundraising captain about the budget for your team. Overhead costs such as printing, advertising and t-shirts should have been figured into the overall project budget, but it's up to you to determine your team's needs, allocate funds, and price out materials in your area. Use this worksheet to get your money matters in order, and use this to create a timeline.
Tips and progress
As a project leader, you simply can't do everything alone. That's why you have team members! A large part of your job will be to motivate, instruct, advise and help others as they implement your plan. Remember that delegating responsibility usually enhances a project, because jobs get done by people who have a special skill in that area. It also helps everyone practice their management skills and get more out of the project. This, in turn, will improve performance and make for a truly "community-built" playspace.
Being a productive leader also means keeping meetings on track and managing time wisely! Hone your team captain skills with these simple tips:
- Delegate complete jobs rather than portioning out small tasks. Team members aren't there to do your "busy work"! If you put your trust in them, they'll rise to the occasion and give you a more creative, thoughtful response.
- Clarify the job before delegating. Make very clear your expectations, the task's importance, the deadline, who can help, and how this task fits into the big picture.
- Give help when requested. And not before then! It's important to step back, resist the urge to micromanage, and let your team members do their work. (But always be there in a pinch.)
- Listen. Repeat what you've heard to make sure you understood. Pay attention to non-verbal behavior (gestures, posture, tone of voice). Put yourself in your team members' shoes.
- Take notes. At every meeting, it's important to record what was accomplished, what new goals or deadlines were set, and who said what.
- Set an agenda, and agree upon meeting procedures. What topics will be discussed? Who will speak and in what order? Having fair and consistent "ground rules" will keep people focused during lengthy meetings.
- Set time limits. Meetings tend to go on until someone stops them. Let people know how much time they have to speak, and stick to it.
First, use this checklist of large tasks here. Check in with your team on a regular basis and constantly evaluate your success, adjusting your strategy as you find out what works. It's also not too late to come up with new ideas! Energize your troops with fresh brainstorming sessions and attention-getting stunts. Here are a few questions to gauge your progress:
Review of early goals
- Has your team produced the necessary flyers, posters and banners for volunteer recruitment, fundraisers and children's activities? Where did you post them? Did they attract attention?
- Have you produced necessary media materials (e.g. fact sheet, press releases, public service announcement, etc.)?
- Have you contacted all local media outlets: print, radio and television? What were the results?
- Have you established relationships with local reporters?
- Has your team been successful in getting media coverage for the project? Why or why not?
- If you've received coverage, has it communicated the message you'd hoped?
- How might you modify your strategy and/or your message?
- Do you have a plan for ensuring coverage of the build?
- How many people in your community know about the project?
- How do you think you could double that number?
- Have people been showing up for fundraisers and children's activities? Why or why not?
- Have you worked with local businesses to help get the word out?
- Do local organizations have the information they need to get their staff and/or members involved?
Donor recognition/the ribbon-cutting ceremony
- Do you have a current list of all project donors (both cash and in-kind donations)?
- Have you invited special guests/performers to the ribbon-cutting ceremony? (Note: VIPs will need plenty of time to mark their calendars!)
- Will you be printing special invitations or programs for the ceremony?
- How will you ensure public recognition of donors?
- Are your team members still excited about the build?
- Do they need a break or a special reward? (Keep reminding them of the important work they're doing!)