Does your HOA have something newsworthy to share? It almost certainly does, and circulating a newsletter can be one effective way to get important news and information to owners and residents.
Many HOAs already have a monthly or quarterly newsletter, but some have found that their readers don’t take the time to look at the newsletter. That’s frustrating for the people who spent time and energy creating the publication. Plus, printing out a regular newsletter costs money. If no one is reading them, financial resources are being wasted.
If your HOA is having this problem, perhaps it’s time to make some changes.
What to include in an HOA newsletter
Your HOA newsletter needs to be interesting to your readers. An extension or summary of the minutes of the last board meeting or a lengthy article about HOA rules and regulations isn’t going to appeal to your audience. Keep this in mind – if you don’t want to read about it, chances are good no one else will, either.
The publication should highlight a variety of events, issues, and even feature a couple of members.
Date, issue and volume number
Make sure to date and number each issue. This helps the committee responsible for publishing the newsletter stay organized, and lets members know that they are reading the most current issue of the newsletter.
A summary of what the newsletter will cover
Highlight the main items that will be covered in the newsletter. This is your opportunity to hook your readers and persuade them to read through the entire newsletter.
A note from the president or board
Give board members the opportunity to share one or two important things with residents. If there aren’t any key issues that need to be mentioned, the president or vice president can extend a friendly message to readers.
Include an FAQ section on the front page of each newsletter to address common questions that are asked by owners and residents. Consider designing the FAQ section as a side panel on the front page to make it highly visible. By doing this, residents will know key information such as when the next HOA meeting is taking place, when the trash is being collected, or where they can find HOA documents.
Events taking place outside of the community
Mention the events that are coming up in the HOA, as well as in the city or town. People like to know what’s going on. Sharing community events can encourage them to participate and become more engaged.
If your HOA community is largely responsible for maintaining their own appliances, give them some tips, such as how to fix a leaking faucet or care for their oven. They may even end up saving some money by following your advice.
If possible, as a contractor or service provider to share information (one or two bullet points via email will do) that most people would not know.
Newsletters can be a smart place to share tips on how to save energy and other resources. If the information you’re sharing is interesting and helpful, more owners will read the newsletter.
Photos are important because they attract attention and help tell stories without words. People like to look at pictures, and most would rather do that than read a story.
Where appropriate, you can also include charts, graphs, and diagrams to present financial information or HOA statistics. Make sure to include a caption so readers understand how the photo or diagram relates to the story.
News about your members
HOA newsletters don’t have to be all about business. You can share news about community members, including an engagement or wedding, retirement, or some other big milestone. People like to read about other people.
News from your members
When community members can participate in the process of writing the newsletter, they’ll be excited to read it. Encourage regular submission from members to get fresh content and boost readership.
A summary of the newsletter at the end
It’s always a good idea to summarize what the newsletter covered. If you happen to know what will be in the next newsletter, you can include that information as well.
The names and positions of board members should be included in all newsletters to lend credibility to the publication and give members the information they need should they have to speak with anyone from the board. The name and contact information for the association manager should also be included in each issue, if applicable.
Exclude any rumors, disputes that have occurred between association members, and anything that would embarrass or shame a member. Keep the newsletter free of drama.
Be cautious if you’re considering including advertisements. Ads may help increase revenue, but you should retain all control over all advertisements and ensure they align with community values.
Publishing a printed newsletter
HOAs may decide to stick with printed newsletters, but the envelope or newsletter fold must be attractive. Otherwise, residents will toss it. If the newsletter uses a familiar brand or logo, like one belonging to the HOA or management company, the envelope will more likely be opened.
The newsletter should be short (1-3 pages), well written, and easy to read. People have short attention spans and don’t want to read a novel.
Design matters when it comes to printed newsletters. Avoid using the same elements everywhere (don’t use the same font for everything). Change up the typeface, color, size, line thickness, shape, and spacing where appropriate. Make sure the different elements work together and are esthetically pleasing.
Do repeat some visual elements to give the HOA newsletter a distinct look. For instance, try using the same logo and stick to the same color scheme.
Printing in color is ideal, but if you can only afford to print in black and white, make sure to use boxes, borders or a few different fonts to make the newsletter more visually appealing.
From a logistical standpoint, give writers and contributors a deadline of approximately two weeks before the publication date. There needs to be time for the newsletter committee to request edits and make changes, and no one wants to be scrambling before a deadline.
Finally, consider adding an insert to the newsletter for upcoming HOA events or a change made to a bylaw. Even if the reader doesn’t look at the newsletter, they will notice the extra page.
Publishing an online newsletter
Online newsletters are an excellent option. They are easier to publish and can save HOAs money because there is no need to print hundreds of copies of the newsletter. Furthermore, you can provide your readers with more information by adding links to documents that members frequently request, links to all the forms your members frequently use, and links to events.
Committees can opt to use a simple template that can be customized in Word. Attach the document to email, or a property management platform with an announcement feature.
Software systems can make the distribution process much simpler. For example, it is possible to save the newsletter as a PDF or Word document and attach it to an online announcement that can be scheduled to go out at any time.
Design is still important when creating an online newsletter, and the same design principles used in creating print newsletters should be applied to online newsletters.
Deadlines for article submissions also matter, regardless of how a publication is being distributed, but it’s much easier to make last-minute changes when newsletters don’t need to be printed and handed out.
Additional newsletter tips
Appoint a lead writer and an editor
The newsletter committee does not have to include any board members, but make sure that there is a designated writer and editor to get the job done.
Don’t hide big news
Put the most important information first. People have short attention spans; don’t expect them to see important news on the last page. Residents might not get to it.
Get to the point
Keep articles short and to the point. Remember, if you’re sharing an online newsletter, you can always add links to provide more information on an issue or topic.
Give credit to the author
Writers want credit for their work. Including their byline at the top of their submission will not only make them happy, but it also builds credibility. Readers know where the information is coming from when they can see who wrote the article.
Brand your newsletter
Use colors that are associated with your HOA and include your logo at the top of every newsletter. Make sure to include the association’s name and address at the end of each newsletter along with other important contact information.
Send out the newsletter at the same time. People like consistency. A quarterly newsletter may be enough for your HOA. Just make if you released the first newsletter at the beginning of January, the next one comes out at the beginning of April.
HOA newsletters can be an excellent communication tool for all association members. But in order for them to be effective, you must write to your audience so that they will want to read the newsletter that you are sharing.
Download our free newsletter template