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It goes without saying COVID-19 has shaken everyone’s confidence. Community rec organizations are unsure if they’ll get shut down again or how long they’ll be able to outlast pandemic-induced financial struggles, while many members feel nervous about the safety and cleanliness of their local community rec centers.

To help alleviate members’ concerns, it’s imperative to have the right communication measures in place that clearly and honestly convey what’s going on at your facility.

“We want everyone to know what is going on,” said Todd Rockoff, the president and CEO of the Tucson JCC in Tucson, Arizona. “The more open we can be, the less people are going to think we’re hiding something or there’s something they should be worried about.”

There have been rare cases at the Tucson J of a staff member being in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. In the spirit of total transparency, the Rockoff and his team have shared that information with members.

Rockoff has even hosted a number of public Zoom calls in which members can join to ask questions, voice concerns and give feedback. “We want to be out there often so people know we’re concerned about our community, and know their input, advice and reactions are important to us,” he shared. “We can learn along with them.”

Another effective and fun communication measure is making an occasional how-to video to demonstrate new operational changes, such as new guidelines for entering the building, check-in processes or class registration.

“Doing how-to videos upon reopening was great for us,” said Art Krueger, the director of The Wave Aquatic and Fitness Center in Whitefish, Montana. “We roleplayed what it would be like to get out of the vehicle to get in the facility, and how to use the facility with all the equipment spaced. It was one of our more popular marketing efforts.”

The videos don’t have to be perfect either — even filming a 30-second video on your phone demonstrating someone going from their car to a workout class is better than nothing. Just make a consistent, genuine effort to share the information members need, and they’ll respond.

However, you should be careful not to overdo it. If members are seeing too many emails, social media posts and videos from you, important information could get lost in the shuffle.

“We don’t want people to get lost in the communication train,” said Chris Tointon, the president and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Omaha in Omaha, Nebraska. “We’re using proactive communication only when we make a change to something.”

The Omaha Y’s communication measures include daily updates for members, but they make sure to primarily include pertinent information. They want members to be informed, but not overwhelmed.

Between consistent email updates, social media posts and how-to videos, having the right communication measures in place can put members more at ease and get them back through your doors.

Bobby Dyer

Bobby is the former editor of Community Rec Magazine.

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