Condo buildings are like miniature ecosystems. Though residents follow the same rules and share the same amenities, they often lead very different lives. Some people are always on the go, others are almost always at home. Some like to be social and get to know the people on their floor, others may not know who their neighbours are. With such a large and diverse group of people, it can be hard to build community in condos. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. Keep reading to learn how something as simple as a newsletter can help to bring your residents together.
Why a sense of community matters
Communities share common goals and values. Condos that have successfully built a positive community culture tend to have a lower turnover rate, due to happier residents. People who are a part of these communities feel safe, welcome, and part of something that is worth their time and energy.
Moreover, when you demonstrate that you care about residents’ well-being, they are more likely to care about what happens to the association. That means they will make a concerted effort to attend meetings, vote, voice issues and share ideas. They will do their part to maintain their unit and common elements. And they may even take time to check up on others who need extra help every now and then.
Conversely, people who live in buildings that lack a sense of community are more likely to move out if they find something cheaper. They are less likely to look out for their neighbours and will show less interest in what’s going on in the building.
To build and maintain a community, boards and property managers need to be as transparent with residents as possible. They should strive to create and foster relationships based on honesty and respect. They should encourage residents to be involved and share their ideas, and they should do what they can to make the condo a nice place to live.
This process takes time and persistence; establishing regular communication is an excellent first step.
How newsletters help to create stronger condo communities
Newsletters have been around forever, but there’s a reason why condos continue to produce them. When done well, newsletters help to keep residents informed and engaged. They are simple but effective forms of communication that improve connectedness.
At the very least, newsletters help residents keep up with notices, rules, projects and events. But they can also encourage participation, generate feedback, and put a spotlight on community members.
Digital newsletters vs. print newsletters
It seems that everything has gone digital. Newsletters are no exception. Online newsletters are an excellent option because they are easier to create and distribute than physical newsletters. Furthermore, you don’t have to print or mail digital newsletters, which reduces costs for the corporation. You can also provide your readers with more information by adding links instead of sending them text-heavy newsletters that they won’t read.
There are quite a few options to consider if you’re looking for a program to help you produce digital newsletters.
- Use a simple Word template and send newsletters out using our Announcements feature
- Create and send newsletters through Mailchimp
- Explore Benchmark
- Work smarter with Constant Contact
If your condo is small, or if the community is older, print newsletters might be the way to go. Just make sure you do more than send out a bland black and white document. If it looks boring, residents aren’t going to read it. Consider branding newsletters with the condo’s logo so that it stands out from junk mail.
What to include
Ideally, your newsletter will be 2-3 pages long. That includes photos. You can customize it any way you’d like, but if you’re stuck on what to write about, these categories should give you some ideas.
An introduction and summary
Introduce the main items that will be covered in the newsletter. This is your chance to hook your residents and entice them to keep reading.
A note from the president or board
Allow board members to share an important message or update that the majority of readers will care about.
News, notices, policies and reminders
Devote a section to sharing information about new policies, condo rules, upcoming meetings, due dates, etc. If you found that the building had to deal with a recurring issue during the past couple of weeks or months, such as smoking in units, you could bring up the issue here and remind readers of the building’s smoking policy. This is not the place to scold or shame residents, but it is okay to encourage rule compliance.
The key thing that differentiates your community from other communities is the people. Create a section to introduce new staff, committee members, or even residents who have celebrated or done something special. This can help spark relationships between residents and staff. And, people get excited about seeing themselves in a publication, even if it’s only a community newsletter.
People like seeing themselves in publications, almost as much as they like seeing their article or editorial in publications. If you’ve got the time, you could accept regular guest submissions from residents. They may bond more easily over shared experiences and stories.
From a logistical standpoint, give writers a deadline of approximately two weeks before the publication date. You will need time to request edits and make changes.
If your condo community is largely responsible for maintaining their units, give them some tips, such as how to fix a leaky faucet or change the air filter. They may end up saving some money by following your advice.
You probably haven’t taken many event photos this year due to Covid-19, but once things return to normal, you can include photos from past events, before and after project photos, and even pet photos if that fits the culture of the condo.
More people are working from home due to the pandemic, and this change may be permanent. As a result, the utility bill has gone up. Newsletters can be a smart place to share tips on how to save energy and other resources.
Who’s writing this?
Before committing to a newsletter, you will need to ensure that there are people available to write and edit the periodical on a monthly or quarterly basis. You could assemble a committee to do the heavy lifting, or have the board look after the newsletter if they are willing to take on that responsibility.
Tips to make your newsletter more readable
You don’t want to devote time and energy to a newsletter that no one reads. Apply some of these tips to make your condo newsletter more attractive.
t look nice
Looks do matter when creating a newsletter. Avoid using a template that is too generic or drab. Change up the typeface, colour, size, and spacing where appropriate. Make sure the different elements work together and are esthetically pleasing.
It’s a good idea to repeat some visual elements to give the condo newsletter a distinct look. For example, make sure the condo’s logo is always the same size, and stick to the corporation’s colour scheme.
Designing in colour is ideal, but if you are printing out your newsletters and can only afford to print in black and white, make sure to use boxes, borders or different fonts to make the newsletter more appealing.
Share the big news right away
Put the most important information first. People have short attention spans; don’t expect them to see an important announcement on the last page. Most readers won’t look at the entire newsletter.
Get to the point
Keep articles short and to the point. Remember, if you’re sharing an online newsletter, you can always include links to provide more information on an issue or topic. The newsletter should be short (2-3 pages), concise, and easy to read.
Give credit to the author
Writers want credit for their work. If you do take guest submissions, include the writer’s byline at the top of their submission. This will make them happy, and it also builds credibility. Other residents will know where the information they are reading came from, and this may encourage them to share their ideas with the community. Don’t forget to let readers know how or where they can submit articles.
People like consistency, which is why it is a good idea to send out the newsletter at around the same time. A quarterly newsletter may be enough for your condo. Just make sure that if you released the first newsletter on the first Friday in January, the next one comes out on the first Friday in April.
The condo newsletter remains one of the best approaches to building and maintaining communications and community. It is a proactive approach to informing residents about issues and events that will impact them. A newsletter that caters to the community’s needs and interests shows that the board and management care about the well-being of residents. That sort of thoughtful effort can lead to happier, more vibrant communities, lower turnover rates, and more engaged people.
Download our free condo newsletter template