Written by Richard Thompson
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 good news:
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.
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 that you publish the 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. Organize the strongest points of an article before you write it. Put the most important information up front.
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 as well as board and management contact information.
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. (For an archive of over 1800 HOA related articles sorted by subject, see www.Regenesis.net Article Archive.)
Have Fun With It. Give them a giggle or two. The internet is full of jokes, puns and cartoons.
Include Pictures. Folks love to see themselves in the paper. Share event pictures, photos of board members, the manager, committee members, new residents and volunteers.
PDF It. Programs like Adobe Acrobat make it possible to convert newsletters 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 since it can save printing, supplies and postage costs plus countless hours required to process paper newsletters.
Get Advertisers. If your HOA is large and newsletter distribution monthly, it may attract advertisers like real estate agents, insurance agents, painters, remodelers, etc. and help pay for itself.
Newsletters are a wonderful way to bind your HOA in a custom way. Keep your residents and owners in the know at least four times a year. No news is bad news.