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Building A Community Through the HOA Newsletter

9-22-2012

Homeowner association newsletters are a great way to enlighten, inform, remind and encourage. Inviting the membership to HOA events and meetings helps neighbors meet neighbors. Frequent reminders of important rules or architectural policies helps build a friendlier and more harmonious community. Recognizing volunteer efforts encourages others to step up. Newsletters needn’t be long and involved, just relevant. The more you do it, the easier it gets. Here are some tips to make your newsletters pure gold:

Focus on Building Community. Get HOA members to become participants rather than observers. Offer opportunities to do that on committees and social events.

Understand Your Audience. How old are they? What is their financial status? How do they like to spend their time? Find out by getting feedback from your readers with a questionnaire.

Inspire Your Readers. Make sure events, activities and volunteer opportunities are well publicized. Create headlines to grab the reader's attention.

Be Consistent in Layout and Content. If you have a "Rules & Regs Corner" which highlights a particular HOA rule or policy, publish it in every issue. Always include current board and management contact information (mail, email and phone).

Dash the Draft. Write the rough draft as quickly as possible and then go back to polish and flesh out the details.

Archive Your Newsletters and Articles. Many articles bear repeating and as time passes will have new eyes that see them for the first time. Repeat seasonal reminders. Create folders on your computer for the months you publish your newsletter and put article files in the months they fit best. In time, you can build a reservoir of content to draw upon that will make newsletter writing much simpler and quicker.

Lead With Your Strong Suit. Put the most important information up front. Organize the strongest points of an article before you write it.

Keep Articles Short. If an article is long or complicated, readers will move on. If there is simply too much good content to abbreviate, break the article into several articles.

Give Credit & Contact Information. Include the newsletter committee, writer and editor names and contact information. This rewards volunteers and encourages others to step up.

Be Positive & Uplifting. While criticism has its place, too much of it is a downer and chases most readers away. Strive for the positive. Be upbeat.

Proofread. Editing is a rewording experience. Carefully review your work for grammatical and spelling mistakes or get a detailed oriented person to do it for you. Make sure your facts are straight.

Reprint with Permission. Search the internet for content that would be of interest to your readers. If you find an article that includes author and contact information, be sure to get permission before reprinting and give credit where credit is due.

Have Fun With It. Give them a giggle or two. The internet is full of jokes, puns and cartoons.

Publish Pictures. Folks love to see themselves in the paper. Share event pictures, photos of board members, the manager, committee members and other volunteers.

PDF It. Programs like Adobe Acrobat make it possible to convert word processing and newsletter programs into Portable Document Format (PDF) which can be posted on the HOA website or emailed to those that do email. PDF was designed with HOAs in mind. Using it can save thousands of dollars in printing, supplies and postage each year plus countless processing hours each year required of paper newsletters. Get Advertisers. If your HOA is large enough and newsletter regular, it may attract advertisers like real estate agents, insurance agents, painters and remodelers and help pay for itself.

Newsletters are a wonderful way to bind your community together in a custom way. Keep your homeowner association in the know with timely and relevant newsletters at least four times a year. Build community through communication.

Written by Richard Thompson, Realty Times


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