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Download Our Guide on Improving Your Board Communication During Covid-19

The rapid evolution of coronavirus (COVID-19) information disseminated from national and international health organization made it clear that boards need to update their residents about health and safety guidelines relatively quickly to help support their own well-being.

Developing a comprehensive HOA communications strategy will help your board members and management team inform the community in a timely manner.

Read on to learn how to develop a comprehensive communication strategy for your association.

Choose Your Team

Before you get started developing a communications strategy surrounding COVID-19, it’s important to have the right team in place. This team can be made up of members of the board, volunteers from the building, or you can choose to hire them. Your team should include the following roles:

  • Researcher: The news surrounding COVID-19 moves quickly and it’s imperative that the information you’re giving residents is accurate, up to date and relevant. Have someone on your team who monitors reliable health organization sites alert the rest of the team when any important news breaks.
  • Writer: Just as important as the information you’re disseminating to residents is the quality of the writing in any communication. Typos and grammatical errors undermine the credibility of your communication. Well-written communications should be grammatically correct and clearly communicate the information collected. Your writer and researcher can be the same person.
  • Editor: No matter how good your writer is, it’s important to have a second set of eyes on anything your board sends to residents. No one is perfect, and an editor is there to pick up any inadvertent mistakes that the writer may have made when putting the email together. The writer and editor should always be two different people.
  • Graphic Designer: Good design is an essential part of any communication strategy. You could be communicating vital information on a variety of platforms, but if residents don’t take notice or have a hard time reading the content due to design, your communication may fall on deaf ears. Make sure the graphic designer is comfortable working in both print and digital media.

Other possible roles of the communication team are a webmaster, social media manager, and videographer, which can be performed by just a couple of people. Make sure whoever you use has the requisite skill sets for the role.

Start with a Goal

A good HOA communication strategy should be focused around one central goal. This goal will form the foundation of any communication that you send out or post around your community. As you’re creating a strategy surrounding the coronavirus, the goal of your strategy can be something as simple as “Keeping our residents informed of the latest reliable coronavirus updates as they relate to our community.”

Once you have your goal, whenever you’re developing content within this strategy, you can always come back to this goal and ask your team whether the content helps achieve this goal. If it does, then proceed as usual. If it doesn’t, then table that content until a time when it is relevant to the goal.

Identify Your Audiences

It may seem obvious that your audience is your residents but look past that when identifying specific audiences. Different audiences require different methods of communication, from the way you communicate the information to the way the information is sent.

Develop your audience through basic demographics: age, gender, marital status, household income, etc. and if you have the information available, which will help you form a more sophisticated definition of your audience. The following are some examples of audience types:

  • Single, 30-something women who earn over $70K
  • Married, Gen X Fathers
  • Women who use the community amenities more than twice a week
  • Retired couples who frequently attended community events before the coronavirus pandemic.

Try to define at least 2 audiences for your community (it’s likely you have much more than 2 but keep it simple to start) and list the best times and communication platforms for each audience.

Select Your Communication Media

How you communicate is just as important as what you communicate. Different people process information better on some platforms better than others, so it’s important to ensure your communication efforts surrounding the coronavirus span several different types of media to give all residents the opportunity to see and receive the information.

Common communication media includes:

  • Email service provider
  • Social media
  • Community website
  • Resident portal
  • Text/SMS messaging
  • Automated or personal phone calls
  • Print materials

Not all these media are required. It’s best that your community uses more than one to reach a variety of audiences, which is why the identification of your audiences is important.

By looking at the type of audiences you have in your community, you’ll be able to get a better idea of the right media mix to use to reach the most residents in your community.

After identifying your audiences, you may decide you don’t need to make phone calls or have no need for a Facebook group to inform homeowners in your community. This will save you time and keep you focused on the media that has the most impact.

Create a Calendar

Information surrounding the coronavirus updates quickly and news may change from week to week, but your team should still create a communication calendar to help organize what will be communicated when and which media will be involved.

Organize your communication calendar by week and identify 1 to 2 topics you would like to communicate to residents that week. This could be news surrounding reopening amenities, cleaning procedures in the common areas, or new social distancing guidelines for staff and residents.

Limit the amount of information you communicate each week to ensure that residents are receiving focused communication covering those 1 or 2 pieces of news. As stated above, news surrounding COVID-19 moves quickly, so build a little wiggle room into the communication calendar to address any urgent updates to residents.

However, some boards may share too much information too quickly and it’s easy to inadvertently include information that is inaccurate or outdated. Before sharing any breaking news, make sure the researcher on the communication team verifies the information.

Stay Consistent with Your Existing HOA Communications Policy

Your community likely already has an HOA communication policy in place when sending information out to residents. When creating any alerts or updates to the residents surrounding COVID-19, ensure that what you’re developing stays true to the policy created before the pandemic began.

Ultimately, the best practices outlined above will assist in developing just about any HOA communication strategy, but it’s exceptionally important right now as your residents need to be continually updated about the coronavirus and its effect on the community.

Want to learn more about effectively communicating to your residents? Download our guide, How to Improve Communication in Your Community: A Recipe for Association Success, for more details.

Wednesday July 15, 2020