Resident communication is a critical part of directing and managing a condominium corporation. And while disseminating information to a diverse and (at times) mercurial audience can be challenging at best, many common condo management issues (e.g., noise, pets, short-term rental, etc.) can be proactively dealt with when an audience is reached regularly.
Traditionally, condominiums have relied on various communication tools such as bulletin boards, phone calls, and email. As technologies evolve, however, many are also adding digital displays to their communication toolbox – especially when located in highly-trafficked areas.
There’s a reason the expression “content is king” is popular in the communication space. Content is the most crucial aspect of all; it must grab and keep an audience’s attention. Uploading a Word document or PDF file to a digital display is not likely to get residents’ attention any more than its predecessor the cork bulletin board did. Therefore, condo communication needs a fresh approach – something that gets people’s attention, buy-in, and action to achieve and maintain a healthy condo corporation.
Here are five devices to use to make condo notices that pop:
Catching the attention of condo residents can be challenging, so a little drama can go a long way. Try to shake things up a bit from the usual. For example, a four-paragraph notice asking residents to slow down in the parking garage is not nearly as compelling as a more dramatic approach.
Getting a message across about the importance of following the rules without sounding bossy or rude can be challenging – especially when the intended audience is only a portion of the condominium resident population. Using humour can highlight an issue without alienating a population segment.
Usually reserved for condos with significant issues, a “shame” campaign shines a light on problems that need a quick and effective resolution. Things like littering on the property and tossing items from balconies are not only bad for the property’s curb appeal and value, they can be outright dangerous and injure someone. This approach requires board members who are confident in their evaluation of the issue and are willing to stand by the decision to bring it to light. The timing of the campaign run is important too. Shame campaigns are typically quite short but often produce sweet results.
Traditionally, condo residents have been subjected to notices that announce upcoming events or attempt to convey rules in a manner not designed to capture attention. Word documents or PDF files are hauled out of a file, the date is changed, and the message is slapped up on a display to share with residents.
This makes sense given the fact most property managers are not trained copywriters or graphic designers. Imagine the attention, then, when a notice gets posted that’s totally outside the box.
No matter the message, and regardless of the design skills of the property manager, the main way to get the audience’s attention is to keep the message brief. Whether it’s about window washing, heating changeovers, or other upcoming events, the date and time are often all that most residents need or care to know. Including the name of the contractor or explaining the mechanics of an HVAC system are not relevant to the average audience, and those that really want to know will likely seek it out if needed.
A visually decluttered notice on an elevator display means it can be seen and absorbed in four seconds or less, and that’s the kind of message that’s key to keeping everyone in the loop.
Making a statement
Drama, humour, shame, creativity, and brevity are all useful when it comes to crafting notices for condo residents. Use them wisely and well, and you’ll discover what great communication can do in a condominium in regards to lowering costs on utilities, tidying up the property, and even shortening AGMs and board meetings as residents become more knowledgeable. And in the end, that’s just good condo business.
Sue Langlois is Founder and CEO of DigiNotice Inc.