With the holidays approaching, a newsletter is a great way to keep the community informed of upcoming events. However, equally important, is a communication tool that offers information and updates to all homeowners.
With many owners having online access and email, a newsletter can be easily sent as an attachment, within the body of an email or even mailed to each owner to ensure that news is going out on a regular basis. There are a variety of styles of newsletters used, but there are a few basic things that should be included in the newsletter, regardless of the format selected.
One of the most often omitted articles are the current values of the individual units within the community. People are interested in the not only how well the organization is being operated, but how does that translate into the value of their particular home. Be sure to always note the recent sales prices within the community and let people know how many units are currently on the market and how many have recently sold as an indication to the dollar amount the home is worth in today’s market.
Another commonly omitted article is the “Who To Call” section. The board members may chose to have their names listed with or without a phone number and email. Aside from the obvious board members, resident or site manager, and the managing agent’s contact information, tell residents how to get in touch with the common utility companies, the insurance agent, the exterminator and the commonly used plumbers and electricians. Many times, owners are in need of these types of services and an easy reference saves them time and often money.
Be sure to note any community events planned or in the planning stages, so those interested can get involved. If the community does a newsletter near the holidays, which is strongly suggested, be sure to note when additional refuse pickups are scheduled and where the nearest recycling/refuse centers are for the Christmas tree disposal or spring cleaning item removal.
Tell owners when the meetings are scheduled, so even if they can’t attend, they know when to expect a reply to a recent design request or when to look for information on the budget or annual meeting. If the association has a website, you should list these dates on the website also.
Registration reminders are always a good idea and perhaps once a year, the actual registration form should be mailed with the newsletter to allow residents to update their information while it is fresh in their minds when they get the newsletter. If you have a number of design requests, it is a good time to also send out the form for use (perhaps in the spring edition prior to all the requests for A/C installation).
Does the association have a resident, general or site manager? If so, they should always include a Manager’s Corner in the newsletter. They can note any specific projects that are upcoming or share commonly asked questions or frequent house rule violations. It may help cut back on the number of citations issued on a monthly site inspection.
Does the community have a problem with parking? Be sure you list the name and phone number of the towing company! It will save the Answering Service a few calls at 5am or in the middle of the night when a friend of a resident comes out and finds his car is gone!
If you have a large enough community, you may want to offer ad space for resident’s to note a tutoring service, babysitting, items for sale or moving sales. They may want to call and let you know about a new baby or an engagement or a class reunion. Be sure that whenever their phone number or name is used, they know about it in advance and they have agreed to allow that information to be printed. If a member of the community receives a special award or accolade, do a short feature on them to share that happy news with their friends and neighbors!
If there is a volunteer in the community that writes the newsletter, be sure someone from the board gets a peek at it before hundreds of copies are printed and sent. Have the board appoint a member to chair the Newsletter Committee to ensure that news is accurate before the information is disseminated among the residents. If the association’s managing agent is writing the articles, or the RM has been appointed the task, it is still a good idea to have a member of the board bless the contents before association funds are expended to reproduce and mail the newsletter. Better to have a couple pairs of eyes to review the copy just in case it was getting late and typos were made.
Be sure to have a great deal of white space on the pages and use a number of cartoons, clip art and actual pictures when you can to highlight residents in the community or share a recent event that has taken place. Personalize the news so that residents get something of value out of the articles and learn a bit more about the on-goings of the community. You want them to actually read the newsletter when it comes to their door! Be sure it is filled with good information, good contacts and interesting news.
Stacey Tokairin, CMCA, AMS, PCAM
Chief Operating Officer