Condo Media - January 2013 - (Page 26)

ASKED & ANSWERED Building a Better Newsletter If You Write it, Will They Read it? Q A QUESTION: We produce a monthly newsletter, but no one reads it. Some board members say it’s a waste of time and effort — not to mention money. Is there anything we can do to make owners read the newsletter, or should we just give it up entirely? ANSWER: Let’s start with this underlying principle: “You can lead a horse to water ... ” but you can’t force owners to read your community’s newsletter or anything else, for that matter. However, you can create a newsletter that owners want to read, and that should be your goal. Achieving it is probably easier, less complicated and less expensive than you assume. Your newsletter doesn’t have to be elaborate; it just has to be informative and interesting. If the newsletter isn’t relevant and useful to them, owners won’t feel they need to read it; and if it isn’t interesting, they won’t want to. As a starting point, why not ask owners, informally (by talking to them randomly) or more formally, in a community-wide survey, why they aren’t reading the newsletter and what they would like it to include. That will give the board a baseline for discussing how to revamp the publication. Association newsletters vary in style and content, depending on the personalities of the communities and the needs of owners. But the following general advice may be helpful: • Focus on content. You will want to include some or all of the following: • A calendar of events — upcoming board meetings, social events, etc. • Board decisions • Committee activities and reports • Community activities • Reminders — of payments due, pool opening or closing, holiday decorations • Announcements — of new rules (planned or enacted), dues increases and special assessments, planned maintenance or construction work, volunteer opportunities • Security advisories • Home maintenance and safety tips • Use the newsletter as a vehicle for showcasing the contributions of volunteers — board members, committee members and others — who contribute time, energy and ideas benefiting the community. • Discuss issues that affect owners. If the board is considering a special assessment, the newsletter is a good vehicle for explaining why it is needed and what it will entail, and for addressing owners’ questions about it. If the newsletter regularly provides valuable information, owners will read it and come to rely on it. • Tell owners about their neighbors. Interview the retiree who’s writing a book or the resident who traveled to Kenya; introduce new residents, congratulate the couple celebrating an anniversary. Human-interest articles such as these can help to build community, as well as interest in the publication. • Pay attention to the design — it should be clean, attractive and readable, but it shouldn’t be overly fussy. Use graphics and photos if you can, to increase readability and visual interest. • Keep the tone positive. If every issue of the newsletter is dominated by complaints, people won’t read it — or, worse still, they will read it and be influenced by the negativity. You can discuss problems and concerns, but use the newsletter to explain and to inform, not to harangue. • Produce the newsletter in different formats (print, as well as electronic), if possible, to allow for varied preferences, and make sure owners know the newsletter exists. Place copies (if in paper form) near mailboxes, in lobbies, meeting rooms and other high-traffic areas; post the current edition on bulletin boards; post the electronic version on the website; insert reminders to “read the current issue” in email communications. • Produce the newsletter consistently. It will be hard to sustain readership if publication is erratic and unpredictable. • Ask periodically for feedback; welcome and implement constructive suggestions. This will keep the newsletter fresh and responsive to changing interests and changing needs in the community. CM 26 CONDO MEDIA • JANUARY 2013

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Condo Media - January 2013

Condo Media - January 2013
Contents
From the CED’s Desk
President’s Message
CAI News
CAI Regional News
Asked & Answered
Homeowner’s Corner
Insurance
Vendor Spotlight
Legal
Maintenance
Communications
Industry Perspective
Self-Managed Association Boards
Classified Service Directory
Advertisers Index

Condo Media - January 2013

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