Good communication is a fundamental part of operating any kind of organization. But what makes communication “good?”
Whether you are planning to communicate with other board members or reach out to every resident in the community, your communication strategy should:
- be consistent
- be open to feedback
- incorporate a variety of mediums
Developing a strategy helps your message reach your audience – your neighbors within the community. It also makes it easier for them to respond.
Using a variety of communication methods increases your chances of promptly reaching everyone in your condominium, homeowner (HOA), or townhome association.
Below are six ways to communicate within your community association.
1. Bulletin board/display screen. A conventional bulletin board or digital display screen in the lobby is a good way to advertise upcoming events. However, this should never be the only mode of communicating events and updates to residents.
Even if the display is placed in a convenient location, most residents won’t check it every day and could miss out on information.
2. Email updates/Newsletters. Email updates and newsletters are a great way to make sure each member of the association is receiving all the information they need.
The subject lines of your emails should be direct and specific. The content should be brief and convey key information.
While emails should get straight to the point, newsletters are a way to combine essential information with fun and engaging content including:
- Resident spotlights
- Local dining suggestions
- Holiday decorating contests
- Gardening tips
3. Social media. If you choose to make an account for your association on any kind of social media platforms (ex. FaceBook, Instagram, Twitter), everyone with access to the account must agree on a policy.
Social media policies should include guidelines for how often to post, how to choose photos to post, and how to appropriately respond to negative comments and spam.
It is imperative that the community association proactively work with their legal counsel to draft a social media policy that provides guidance and protects the board from significant legal consequences including:
Any of these can lead to issues can have repercussions involving liability and/or litigation.
4. Community app. Board members looking for engagement can also encourage residents to use a community app. These apps may appeal to residents who would like to discuss association events and issues with neighbors but don’t use social media.
These apps typically have various features including controlled access (i.e. only association residents). Nevertheless, a Board member/s should be assigned to:
- administer posting information
- approve/deny posts
- manage comments
- respond to messages
- remove prohibited content
5. Website. Your community may already have a website. But are you using it to its full potential? A website can be used to:
- keep association documents (ex. bylaws, declaration) and allow the board and/or property manager to make updates when necessary
- collect assessments
- submit maintenance requests
- amenity management (ex. gym or pool access)
However you utilize the association’s website, always take security into account. Incorporating a password-protected website page for resident access and managing software updates are just a few security measures. If precautions are not taken, association members may be subject to unauthorized access to their data.
6. Community meetings. Bring home and unit owners together for community-wide meetings in a conference room or clubhouse. If the association requires a larger meeting space, check with local fire stations of libraries to reserve a room.
When it isn’t possible to meet in person, go virtual! Software like Zoom and GoToMeeting allow everyone to meet remotely and have a discussion of association matters.
Whether you’re meeting in-person or virtually, consistent meeting reminders make for well-attended meetings. Allow for proper notice of an upcoming meeting so home and unit owners can plan to participate.
Access to technology makes it tempting to try many forms of communication to ensure your message gets across. But you don’t want to overwhelm your fellow neighbors.
Take the size of your community into consideration when making decisions about how many channels of communication to use, and don’t underestimate the importance of personal outreach!
Sending a welcome letter or committee to greet new can help new owners feel like a part of the community. Board member and property managers should also request feedback from your residents and respond so that they know their concerns have been heard.
If your condominium, homeowner (HOA), or townhome association has questions regarding your current communication strategy, social media policy, or is interested in adopting a policy, do not hesitate to contact our firm by calling 855-537-0500 or visit www.ksnlaw.com.
Since 1983, KSN has been a legal resource for condominium, homeowner, and townhome associations. Additionally, we represent clients in real estate transactions, collections, landlord/tenant issues, and property tax appeals. We have four office locations, serving hundreds of clients and thousands of communities throughout Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin. Our attorneys are also licensed in Arizona, Florida, and Missouri.
This article is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only as well as to give you general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By reading this article you understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and the article author. This article should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state. © 2021 Kovitz Shifrin Nesbit, A Professional Corporation.