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Subject: Who writes newsletter ? Board or PM?
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KatharinaW
(Pennsylvania)

Posts:50


08/11/2019 11:16 AM  
So the first time in a year we finally went out a newsletter to everyone. I wrote the newsletter and sent it around to the others on the board for comments and changes. Most didn’t reply at all - others said it’s fine.

After sending the newsletter to everyone - some neighbors apparently went to one on the board and felt they were insulted by a sentence or two in the newsletter. Ugh.

Now he claims the newsletter should be written by the PM - not the board members. The way it was prior with the old PM.

I disagree as I feel it should have The personal touch by the board. Also the prior newsletters never gave me anything as far as actual information or a feeling for how the board looks at things.

What are your thoughts? Who writes the newsletter?
MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:8762


08/11/2019 12:16 PM  
The HOA writes it typically. Not sure why a PM would.

Former HOA President
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:6712


08/11/2019 12:48 PM  
Our PM writes the newsletter, but there's always a "president's Message." It just as easily could be "Nots form the Board," or some other title. An Owner also contributes a monthly calendar of nearby events. We have a monthly "Movie Night," and that member of our Social committee promotes the firm in the News. Lately, the PM has has our building engineer (High rise) write a column of hints about caring for our condos.

The PM also writes a column of news about our HOA.

Editing the News is in our contract with our PM. In th distant past, we've had owners edit the News, but there always has been a column from the board or prez.

In my opinion, you want the board to vote on who edits the News. If you want to be the editor, place that on an agenda and make your case.

It's a very important vehicle for encouraging owners to feel a sense of community and to educate residents say, about rules, reminders, etc.

Btw, can you, without revealing any names, etc., tell us what "insulted" a couple of residents???
KatharinaW
(Pennsylvania)

Posts:50


08/11/2019 1:05 PM  
Kerry, if only I knew what was insulting... The board member claiming to have heard this from neighbors, does not give examples.

Now another one states, that the wife of a former board member complained about the mentioning of the past year communication not being fully there in the past year (which is true - to be exact, there was NONE except for the annual meeting) and we didn’t have any board member changes within the last year... So it was not meant for anyone formerly on th board.

Additionally I did convince the board to send out a free subvert through survey monkey earlier in the summer and “lack of communication” was one of the most often mentioned comments... Soo.. are we offending someone, simply wants to be offended or shall we ignore the homeowners and say “we are communication champions!”

SO frustrating... so to vent like this...
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:8877


08/11/2019 1:43 PM  
I am not a big fan of newsletters unless they are 100% factual/informational. They can easily slip into he said, she said, they said, etc.
MarkM19
(Texas)

Posts:459


08/11/2019 1:55 PM  
Katharina,
If your goal is to not offend anyone you probably need to adjust your goals. The world we live in today is full of people looking for things to be offended by.

Our PMs have written the weekly Friday updates for the 2 years I have lived in Texas. We have had 3 managers in this timeframe. Each one has completely different writing styles as you might expect. The worst manager wrote the best newsletter. Some just go through the motions. In my opinion the newsletter should be a time to point out the positive things that are happening in your HOA. Remind people where they need improvement and try to end on a happy note.

Our board which I am the president is going to send out a note from the board. We have worked on a few renditions and as you can expect it is hard to get five people who are all of the same mind. Okay it is impossible and it also is not healthy if you ever did get five people that agreed on everything. Some times you just have to put it out and be prepared for the critics to have their way with it.
SheliaH
(Indiana)

Posts:2763


08/11/2019 1:58 PM  
Someone (\wife of the former board member) sounds jealous. She's honked off that you noted there hadn't been enough communication, although the homeowners said there needs to be more communication. Ignore her.

As for your colleague who says he/she HEARD people were upset about a sentence in the newsletter, but won't give you an example - I would ignore him too. If or when he/she ever becomes more specific, you can address it. That said, I suspect the former owner's wife's complaint and the unknown neighbors are related.

In the meantime, the property manager doesn't need to write the thing, and even if you went that route, the board still needs to review and approve the copy. If they still want you to write it, continue to send the draft to everyone for review. Give a deadline - if no one objects, publish it. If they still object, it's OK to tell them to find someone else to write it. Some people love being critical, but not lift a finger to do anything to help fix the problems.

JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:8877


08/11/2019 2:31 PM  
Some years back we had a dissenting owner who took it upon himself to write a very negative newsletter criticising the Declarant and the then appointed BOD of which I was on. After two newsletters he was invited to be on the appointed BOD to see how we operated. He soon started signing a different tune. The newsletter became positive but after a few more editions he dropped it due to health reasons and also dropped off the BOD. No one ever took it over.

Once or twice a year the BOD will produce a Letter from the President catching people up to date on things and asking for things like please paint your mailboxes, please water your grass regularly, etc. We mail it to each owner.
KatharinaW
(Pennsylvania)

Posts:50


08/11/2019 3:12 PM  
Sheila, that’s the point. The newsletter strictly talks about what happened in the last year. Not 5-10
Years ago when he was on the board. And you are correct. By now he came back and mentioned that’s what he had heard as well.

This newsletter was sent out in agreement with the entire board. Whether they read it or not - is not the point. Saying now that one or two people may have felt insulted, while myself and two others on the board hear nothing but positive feedback is back paddling and not standing up to what we as a group agreed upon.

I feel this is only an indicator of further underlying issues. Like it or not but When we as a board make a decision I stand behind it officially. Cause the board should stand together.
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:6712


08/11/2019 3:25 PM  
Oh, it sounds like the board already voted on you as editor, Katharina? If so, just go ahead and write it as often as makes sense. I do agree getting feedback from the rest of the directors is very wise. You also might like such feedback from your PM.

I believe PA requires only one open board meeting a year, is that correct? If so, and that's your board's practice, no wonder owners feel communication is weak. If you can persuade the board to have more open meetings, the newsletter is even more important.
NpS
(Pennsylvania)

Posts:3913


08/11/2019 4:05 PM  
Posted By KerryL1 on 08/11/2019 3:25 PM
Oh, it sounds like the board already voted on you as editor, Katharina? If so, just go ahead and write it as often as makes sense. I do agree getting feedback from the rest of the directors is very wise. You also might like such feedback from your PM.

I believe PA requires only one open board meeting a year, is that correct? If so, and that's your board's practice, no wonder owners feel communication is weak. If you can persuade the board to have more open meetings, the newsletter is even more important.

Correct. PA is not an open meeting state. That means - No requirement to publish meeting dates or agendas. No requirement to invite homeowners. Only the Annual Meeting of homeowners is required.

There are pros and cons to this arrangement that I won't go into. We offer an open invitation - Any homeowner or resident who wants to attend a BOD meeting will be invited to the next meeting.

When we have something important to say, we communicate via email (or hand-delivery to those who don't have email). We probably send around 50 community-wide emails each year. Always targeted to a single topic.

If any homeowner has an objection or concern, it must be in writing. Otherwise, we ignore it (unless it's a health or safety issue).

At first, there were various complaints about the way we were communicating things. It took over a year for this "new" system to settle in and become the accepted standard for our community. One of the hardest things was getting the BOD members to chill out. Some didn't like hearing anything negative from homeowners. They got over it, but only after we started getting better than 95% approval ratings on the surveys we did.

The worst enemy is often other BOD members and prior BOD members who had a "better" way. Not that they were effective - They weren't. But they didn't get anyone bothering them about the way things used to be.

Whatever you decide, stick with it. See if you can get your BOD to require things to be in writing. Give yourself the time you need to get your message across in the best manner for you personally. Remind them that you're the one putting in the time to make a great newsletter for the community.




Sikubali jukumu. Read all posts at your own risk.
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:8877


08/11/2019 4:19 PM  
We only allow our owners to communicate with us via a yourhoabaod(at)gmail.com. Each BOD Member has access to this Email address so we all see what was said. Took us almost two years to get our owners to stop calling the PM, Emailing to BOD Members Email, calling BOD Members, etc. and even now we get a few that still do it. We have also instructed the PM to not answer any Emails from owners but to forward them to the BOD.
KatharinaW
(Pennsylvania)

Posts:50


08/11/2019 5:50 PM  
Posted By NpS on 08/11/2019 4:05 PM
Posted By KerryL1 on 08/11/2019 3:25 PM
Oh, it sounds like the board already voted on you as editor, Katharina? If so, just go ahead and write it as often as makes sense. I do agree getting feedback from the rest of the directors is very wise. You also might like such feedback from your PM.

I believe PA requires only one open board meeting a year, is that correct? If so, and that's your board's practice, no wonder owners feel communication is weak. If you can persuade the board to have more open meetings, the newsletter is even more important.

Correct. PA is not an open meeting state. That means - No requirement to publish meeting dates or agendas. No requirement to invite homeowners. Only the Annual Meeting of homeowners is required.

There are pros and cons to this arrangement that I won't go into. We offer an open invitation - Any homeowner or resident who wants to attend a BOD meeting will be invited to the next meeting.

When we have something important to say, we communicate via email (or hand-delivery to those who don't have email). We probably send around 50 community-wide emails each year. Always targeted to a single topic.

If any homeowner has an objection or concern, it must be in writing. Otherwise, we ignore it (unless it's a health or safety issue).

At first, there were various complaints about the way we were communicating things. It took over a year for this "new" system to settle in and become the accepted standard for our community. One of the hardest things was getting the BOD members to chill out. Some didn't like hearing anything negative from homeowners. They got over it, but only after we started getting better than 95% approval ratings on the surveys we did.

The worst enemy is often other BOD members and prior BOD members who had a "better" way. Not that they were effective - They weren't. But they didn't get anyone bothering them about the way things used to be.

Whatever you decide, stick with it. See if you can get your BOD to require things to be in writing. Give yourself the time you need to get your message across in the best manner for you personally. Remind them that you're the one putting in the time to make a great newsletter for the community.


How did you get the board to agree on the approach to only have in writing concerns matter???





KerryL1
(California)

Posts:6712


08/11/2019 6:03 PM  
Katherina, this is a question for NpS, right? "How did you get the board to agree on the approach to only have in writing concerns matter???"

The communication sent out by NpS's board to owners sounds really good!

Along with our monthly newsletter and her monthly column, our PM usually sends out a weekly email updates to all Owners and to tenants too if they've agreed to get these emails.
KatharinaW
(Pennsylvania)

Posts:50


08/11/2019 6:25 PM  
Hi Kerry, yes that was a question to NpS

But also wow - you all seem to have quite the communications going on. I’m impressed. I can’t get the other board members to reply to anything board related. Let alone a weekly communication.

Great take aways. Thanks everyone!
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:6712


08/11/2019 7:22 PM  
But what do you think the Board should do? How should it reply?

I menat to add that I didn't understand your question to NpS.
KatharinaW
(Pennsylvania)

Posts:50


08/11/2019 8:55 PM  
Oh sorry. I meant to ask him how he got the other board members to agree to the approach to ask homeowners to voice their concerns in writing only and to ignore otherwise.

I’m not sure but what you mean. I would have wished to have them be more informative about it rather than scraping the newsletter by the HOA just because of one or two negative comments by typical complainers. And I’m disappointed that we the board seem to not be able to stand up for each other
NpS
(Pennsylvania)

Posts:3913


08/11/2019 9:15 PM  
Posted By KatharinaW on 08/11/2019 5:50 PM
How did you get the board to agree on the approach to only have in writing concerns matter???


IMO, your first step should be to make sure that your BOD understands your vision for what you want the newsletter to be. That the newsletter is part of a broader objective of improving communications. Start with one person. Get your message across. If you know your people, you'll know who you should be working on.

On a tactical level, we set our systems up so that every incoming email is automatically forwarded to every BOD member. We promoted the fact to both the BOD and to the owners that people should speak to the entire BOD if they want to get their message across. They shouldn't be wasting our time and we'll try not to waste theirs.

And we responded to each of those emails. Once the owners came to realize that the BOD was actually listening to what they had to say, things started to improve.

Sikubali jukumu. Read all posts at your own risk.
KatharinaW
(Pennsylvania)

Posts:50


08/12/2019 7:10 AM  
Thanks a lot for taking the time to write this. I’ll definitely sit down and write out a plan so I have it in front of me.
NpS
(Pennsylvania)

Posts:3913


08/12/2019 9:04 AM  
Posted By KatharinaW on 08/12/2019 7:10 AM
Thanks a lot for taking the time to write this. I’ll definitely sit down and write out a plan so I have it in front of me.


Best of luck. Re your original question, I hope you've answered that for yourself.

Sikubali jukumu. Read all posts at your own risk.
KatharinaW
(Pennsylvania)

Posts:50


08/12/2019 9:28 AM  
Thanks. I think I didn’t change my mind that the communication should come from the board.
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:6712


08/12/2019 9:48 AM  
NpS's methods work well at his self-managed (I think!) HOA. but I'm wondering, Katharina, how you'll adjust those methods to take into account your property manager?

Is the PM onsite? If so, every day? What are the PM's duties according to your contract? Have you read the contract?

We have a fill-time onsite PM, who has an assistant. No owner or renter is supposed to communicate directly with the board or any director (except at monthly open board meetings). We're all supposed to communicate through the PM.
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:8877


08/12/2019 10:11 AM  
Kerry raises some interesting points. When a BOD hires a PM there is a list of services the PM is able to and/or will provide. If you did not contract for something it could well be an optional charge. As an example. On site inspections by our PM was an optional charge and one we did not opt for.

I doubt our PM would take on publishing a newsletter for an HOA, as he does not have the resources. Duplicate and mail one we send them, yes as an additional charge. Create it, no.
KatharinaW
(Pennsylvania)

Posts:50


08/12/2019 10:21 AM  
Points very well taken.

We do have a PM, but not onsite. He shows up to the monthly bod meetings and the annual meetings. He also is the PoC for the residents. While NpS way says the communication goes through the port. I am sure we can do something similar where the communication should go through the PM and not to one board member in between dog walks. If it is to be considered by the board that is.

Our contract with them states “maintaining the records concerning the management, incl but not limited to ..... newsletter.... either available it’s office or property”

Now the question is - what does “maintain” mean. Store? Send out? Create? All of the above?

The PM has been cc’d on the back and forth emails of the members about the newsletter - but hasn’t been asked anything so didn’t reply.
StacyH
(Georgia)

Posts:16


08/13/2019 9:14 AM  
Someone on the Board has always written ours. I write it & the send it to the rest of the Board for suggestions/revision. The PM sends it via e-blast.
BarbaraT1
(Texas)

Posts:245


08/13/2019 9:47 AM  
I am a manager and I write the newsletter. Nobody else is willing to contribute, so if I didn't write it, we wouldn't have one. I ask for contributions all the time.
EdC5
(Florida)

Posts:114


08/16/2019 5:37 AM  
In the communities I've managed, the newsletter was put together by a group of residents. There was usually a member of the board in the group, but not always. Neither the board nor I (as the PM) approved what went into the newsletter.

Edward J Cooke, CMCA, LCAM
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