Positioning Your Agency
The term positioning is gaining prominence in parks and recreation because of the research of Dr. John L. Crompton from Texas A&M University’s department of recreation, parks, and tourism sciences. According to Crompton, positioning is the process of fostering a desired state of the park and recreation agency in the minds of citizens and elected officials relative to their perception of other services that are the field’s competitors for public money (Crompton, 2007). Positioning your park and recreation agency requires that you understand, provide, and highlight the work you do that is important to policy makers and constituents. This strategy is necessary because of the fierce competition for tax money among other public services, such as police, fire, planning, public works, health and welfare services, and redevelopment. We, as park and recreation professionals, must recognize this fierce competition and articulate the outcomes associated with our services, programs, and parks in language that conveys that the entire community benefits from these expenditures rather than only the individual who registers for a class, uses a recreation facility, attends an event in a park, or lives by a park. For instance, the mission of parks and recreation as defined in the VIP Action Plan addresses broader community-wide issues:
- Promoting health and wellness
- Protecting environmental resources
- Facilitating community problem solving
- Strengthening safety and security
Historically park and recreation providers have focused on the public benefits of parks and recreation, particularly in making budget presentations and in doing community outreach. Private outcomes also can be accrued from park and recreation services that might not be promoted as widely as the public benefits, yet they have a place in communicating the benefits of park and recreation services. This does not imply an "either-or" nature to the benefits; it is simply an acknowledgment that park and recreation providers must be able to articulate both the private and public benefits to a variety of audiences, including the policy makers, community organizations, the general public, and even the agency’s own staff.
Table 2.1 displays the differing private and public outcomes of park and recreation services.