The Park District of Forest Park will soon have a full-time Communication and Marketing Manager. Adam Cumbee, who was hired for the new position, starts on Jan. 13.
The decision to recruit and hire a Communication and Marketing Manager arose from the need to have someone officially dedicated to communications and public relations for the park district, said Jackie Iovinelli, executive director of the park district.
“We want the best communication as possible with the residents of Forest Park,” Iovinelli said. “We want information about the park district getting to them from all angles.”
Rachel Entler has been in charge of marketing and communication for the park while also serving as the full-time recreation manager.
“She has really been doing two full-time jobs,” said Iovinelli. “We needed to separate the functions.” Entler will continue in her role as recreation supervisor.
Cumbee brings with him qualities Iovinelli says the park was looking for: park district experience, strong social media knowledge and a solid business background. He has spent the last four and a half years working in marketing and social media for the Des Plaines Park District. He has also worked with a marketing firm, handling social media for clients whose businesses ranged from politics to restaurants to recreation. And, prior to that, he worked in sports broadcasting and marketing for a minor league hockey team.
Working with the Des Plaines Park District, said Cumbee, has given him insight into the workings of a park district and what it needs to thrive from a marketing point of view.
“Working in marketing and social media for the Des Plaines Park District has helped me build a great foundation in understanding the world of parks and recreation, which I can bring with me to this new position at the Park District of Forest Park,” said Cumbee.
Cumbee, who has lived in Oak Park since July, says he loves Forest Park. That, plus the great reputation of Iovinelli, who some of his Des Plaines Park District coworkers know, solidified his decision to apply.
“I’m really excited to work with the staff,” said Cumbee. “I got to meet them during the interview process, and I can tell they love what they do and believe in what they do not only individually, but also as a team, which just gets me even more fired up about the position. It’s an opportunity to join a great team and help make a difference in the community.”
Cumbee’s goals for the district are “to help continue to develop a strong connection between the community and the Park District of Forest Park.” The programs offered by the district and the “awesome facilities,” he said, are things he wants to make sure all residents know about.
“We’re going to be very active on social media, and I want our pages to be a place for the community to come together for not only news and information but also fun and conversation,” said Cumbee.
Cumbee’s passion for sports compelled his interest in the position, but also drives his hobbies.
“You can always find me talking about sports,” said Cumbee, who writes about the Chicago Blackhawks for TheHockeyWriters.com. He also plays men’s league baseball during the spring, summer and fall. Other hobbies include music, creative writing and stand-up comedy.
Iovinelli said that over the past few years, park districts have been recognizing the need for better marketing and communications. For a long time, she said, it was sort of an after-thought; the recreation staff would put together brochures and hand them out to residents.
Now, though, with the obvious impact and importance of social media, park districts have begun to understand the necessity of strong communication and marketing in terms of program enrollment and community engagement.
The process of finding Cumbee, who will be making $40,000 a year, involved an ad through the Illinois Parks and Recreation website, as well as advertising on the park district website. Resumes were given to the business manager, who removed all personal information from them before giving them to Iovinelli.
“I wanted to see the applicants’ qualifications without knowing who they were,” said Iovinelli. She interviewed five candidates, then chose two to meet the staff in a second round of interviews.
“It was important to see how the candidates fit in with the group,” Iovinelli said.
Iovinelli is excited about what having a full-time marketing and communication manager will mean for the park district.
“It’s going to be a game changer,” said Iovinelli. “With his business background and social media experience, he’s going to help us take the park district to the next level.”