Good communication with association residents contributes more to peace and harmony than just about anything else the board does. Especially in large communities, communications and a communications committee should be high priorities.
The communications committee advises and assists the board by, for example, developing a communications plan, setting standards for newsletter and website production, recommending topics or writing articles for the newsletter or moderating a community list serve. This committee might also develop contributor guidelines and publish schedules, update directories, produce a resident handbook or conduct resident surveys. Another important role for the communications committee is setting editorial and advertising policies. For example, policies might address such issues as:
- What content is acceptable? Will letters to the editor, editorials or opinion pieces be accepted?
- Who will decide what gets published in each issue—editor, committee, the board?
- Will the association sell advertising?
- What types of ads are acceptable?
This committee should evaluate the best means of communication for the community. Effective channels of communication include association newsletters, websites, blogs, suggestion boxes and calendars of events.
Some associations even produce community news programs to inform their residents. The form the board eventually chooses will depend on the association’s intent, audience and budget. A good vehicle for association communication will have a high cost-to-benefit ratio and will communicate important information.
Many associations use the association newsletter or website (or both) to advertise social events, post meeting notices, welcome newcomers, print local news, list emergency numbers and recognize volunteers. To produce a newsletter or website, the committee must:
1. Define a purpose. What do you want to accomplish—broad understanding, action, education?
2. Select an appropriate format. Will your newsletter be printed or delivered electronically?
3. Make it relevant. Not everything has to be news. Articles explaining why reserves or rules are necessary are just as valuable.
4. Write clearly and design for readability.
5. Edit and proofread carefully.
6. Be professional. Select a quality printer or web designer.
7. Distribute to members.
8. Gather feedback.
9. Evaluate feedback.
Strong communications—whether through a newsletter, website or other means—will build morale, enhance teamwork and inspire community spirit.