There is more than a verbal tie between the words common, community and communication.” When philosopher and educator John Dewey wrote this, I doubt he had common-interest communities in mind, but perhaps nowhere is his observation more appropriate. Good communication promotes informed decision making and educates residents-two elements association’s success. In fact, my guess is that just about any problem in a community association can be traced to a complete or partial lack of communication.
What then constitutes good communication? The first element is a strong awareness on the part of boards and managers of its importance. Once that’s in place, communications are good when each constituency has a voice (and each an ear!); when each audience is reached often and in many ways (after all, the medium very nearly is the message these days); when communication goes in more than one direction and when everyone is included.
We all think newsletters when we talk about community association communication–and rightfully so. Make publishing a newsletter a high priority regardless of limitations. Expense isn’t a viable excuse now that newsletters can be sent by e-mail and posted on websites.
Technology has made communicating a national pastime. The question is no longer “do you have e-mail or Web access,” but “can you get it on your phone?” The number of community associations without a website is dwindling steadily, while the number of service providers developing and hosting community sites is increasing. All of this is as it should be, considering how dynamic and efficient communications technology has become, and that access gets easier and less expensive every day. Make technology a priority for your association if you’re committed to good communications.
Town meetings, open forums, informal gatherings and social events are also key elements in the formula because they’re dynamic. Technology is a powerful tool, but equally important are opportunities for residents, boards and managers to get together and connect with each other.
Make a commitment to communication. Publish, announce, meet, listen, write, speak or post. Decide how often you should communicate, and then do a little more. It’s a sure-fire way to reduce problems and promote understanding. John Dewey would be so proud.
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