Create the Right Strategy for Developing a Community Newsletter

Posted on Monday May 30, 2016 |

As a member of your condo corporation’s board, there’s no doubt that you’re full of ideas about how to better your community. Events. Enhancements. New experiences. But how do you let your residents know about all of it?
 
Your answer: a community newsletter. But it’s not quite as simple as that.
 
Quality newsletters – the kind that actually get read, that is – take thought, foresight and a lot of planning. It should be informative, entertaining, and cost effective, all at once. And bringing those three facets together is no small task.
 
So to help you get started, we’ve put together a few tips.
 
1. Talk first.
The cardinal rule for any communication: know your audience. That means you’ll need to reach out to your residents before you begin. Ask them what kind of information they’d like to see. You may be surprised – beyond important updates, residents may request fun elements like word search puzzles or contests. You can get more ideas from a friend or colleague who sits on a board or who has a role in townhome management or condominium management.

2. Pick your format.
You’ll also need to nail down how you want your communication to be distributed. Is it a print newsletter or an electronic publication? Printed copies are more costly to produce, even if you’re running them off informally on your office printer. An emailed pdf or blog will incur fewer production costs, but you’ll have to be aware of the technological requirements.
 
3. Consider frequency.
Most newsletters come out on a monthly, bimonthly or quarterly basis. What works best for your community will be partially based on how much you have to say, but you’ll want to consider your budget, too. You want to strike a balance between the greatest frequency and a production calendar you can afford. That will result in the ideal combination of an informed audience and a reasonable cost.
 
4. Budget it in.
The numbers might shape everything for you. After considering production costs – like electronic vs. printed – along with your audience size and frequency of publication you’ll have a clearer picture of budget. For the print route, get estimates from printers at different quantities and using different grades of paper. Don’t forget postage. Most likely, you’ll be using volunteers or residents for services like writing and design. Online distribution will require a little legwork for finding the cost of design templates or blog platforms. Remember that you’re not only considering the money required, but also the time it will take to have your team put the newsletter together.
 
5. Know the law when it comes to electronic distribution.
Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation, or CASL, provides some pretty clear guidelines when it comes to receiving emails from corporations. Your residents will have to opt in to receive the newsletter in their inboxes, and you’ll want to include a clear mechanism for people to unsubscribe at any time. Check with your attorney to make sure you’re fully compliant, or work with an experienced community manager.  
 
6. Make your dream team.
Nobody can create a great newsletter on their own. And it’s best if you can use the resources of your own community – it’ll save you money, and it will keep residents invested in your condominium corporation. Try forming a Newsletter Committee to help find the talent you need to put everything together. You probably have great graphic designers and writers right in your own community. Make sure you find a good proofreader, too – typos and grammatical errors never look good.
 
7. Get feedback.
You’ll never know your newsletter is a success unless you build in a way to get reader feedback. Try things like polls, contests and invitations to discussions – online or in person. After all, communication is a two-way street, and it’s best if you think of your newsletter of half of a conversation rather than a bulletin to be broadcast. After awhile, you’ll come to find that your residents depend on your newsletter and come to look forward to it.
 
A great neighbourhood newsletter will do wonders for your condo corporation. Just follow these steps and you’ll be on your way to developing a publication that is both informative and entertaining! For more information on how to create a great community newsletter and other communications, contact FirstService Residential.

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