6 tips for an HOA newsletter your residents will actually read
Most HOAs produce a newsletter for residents. Obviously, you need to inform homeowners about important issues and HOA actions, but your efforts can easily be ignored or dismissed by the very people who need the information most.
If this sounds like a familiar lament, you’re not alone. Here are six tips for an HOA newsletter your residents will actually read.
1. Decide the purpose of your newsletter
This is a rule that could apply to any organization or company. Effective communication is rooted in “purpose.” So, ask yourselves: Why are we producing a newsletter? Perhaps your governing documents or policies and procedures “require” you to put out a newsletter, but you need to determine a reason beyond that.
Will your newsletter only be geared toward apprising residents about board matters? Will it inform residents about issues that require their input or votes? Do you want the newsletter to bring people together so you can form a true “community”?
Once you know the purpose of your newsletter, you will have a better idea of what to include in each issue.
2. Speak to your audience
Successful communication lies in knowing your audience. In this case, the audience is your residents. Think about the people in your community. Who are they?
The residents in a retirement village are different from those in a high-rise condominium filled with single working professionals or couples. And they’re both different from a family-oriented gated community.
Consider these questions:
- What are the demographics? (age, financial status, family status, retired/working, etc.)
- What is the personality of your community?
- What are their interests and needs?
- What do they care about?
- What issues are related to the location of your community?
“To develop readable stories, the newsletter writer must consider the four elements of readership: the demographics of the association membership, the configuration of the community, the overall location, and the history of governance,” according to Echo.
3. Include unique and relevant content
Content is key to a successful newsletter. Every place is different, so focus on things that showcase the unique aspects of your community and location.
Highlight unique activities or amenities. You can also showcase the people of your community. Maybe someone just got married or had a baby? Perhaps a resident won a distinguished award? Perhaps a resident’s son or daughter just got into Harvard?
News like this can help create neighbors rather than individuals who happen to live near each other.
Your content should also be relevant and newsworthy. For instance, residents in a hurricane or earthquake zone will appreciate news that can help them during a natural disaster.
You can also inform residents about new vendors, services or community projects that affect their lives. Are you building a new pool? Updating the fitness center? Adding a dog park?
Highlight these items in your newsletters.
4. Think beyond print
A print newsletter is fine, but you can also create an online version. There are many email services that will send a digital newsletter to everyone on your list for free, and a digital world gives you the opportunity to add different types of content.
You can include online polls, links to informative articles (like how to prepare for Hurricane Season), and upload important forms and documents your residents need.
An online newsletter is especially helpful for communicating with residents who are seasonal or even international.
5. Encourage resident participation
The newsletter should not focus exclusively on the board, nor should it only include opinions of the board. Make your residents part of the newsletter. You can include “letters to the editor” or dissenting opinions, especially relating to key association issues.
6. Remember to KISS (Keep It Simple Sweetie)
People lead busy lives and most don’t have the time (or desire) to read a lengthy newsletter. Of course you want to explain important issues, but keep some things in mind:
- Be brief
- Be direct
- Use simple, easy-to-understand language
- Avoid technical or legal terms your residents won’t understand
Producing an HOA newsletter is a challenge, but these six tips will help you handle the task.VendorSmart can help you hire and manage vendors who provide services for your community. We offer a number of services, from vetting to risk management and compliance management. Contact us to get started