The annual general meeting (AGM) at a condo corporation is a big deal. It’s the one time of year when the board of directors meets with the rest of the residents, explains what went on in the past year, answers questions, possibly elects some new members and, if all goes well, ends with all participants feeling satisfied and secure in the knowledge that their investment is in good hands. Keeping residents informed and educated about all facets of life in their condominium is the best way to save time, save money, and increase property value.
Does that sound familiar? If not, it should. The problem is, although the AGM is so important, many condo residents seem to be either unaware of its existence, or indifferent to its impact. This can be changed! It’s possible to run an AGM worthy of the minute taker’s time and see an informed and responsible constituency of condo residents come forth to participate. All it takes is a little thought and effort to campaign for the desired result.
The first step in any communication campaign is to set goals. In the case of the AGM, usually the goal is simply to get seats in the chairs. Think like an advertiser. What will convince the resident to “buy what you’re selling”? In other words, why should they spend a couple of hours of their time at the AGM instead of somewhere else? This information is critical and, unfortunately, is almost always overlooked by condo boards and their busy management teams.
Start by making a list of reasons for residents to attend:
1. It’s your biggest investment — take care of it and have a say.
2. Come out and meet your neighbours.
3. It’s expensive to reschedule an AGM if quorum is not met.
4. If you have any questions, now is the time to ask them.
5. Your vote counts!
In addition, consider offering some definitions for words such as quorum and proxy. It’s important not to assume that the audience is familiar with all terms. Last but certainly not least, be sure to share the date and time of the AGM. This entire group of content can now be referred to as “the AGM campaign”.
With this list of what the message is, the next thing to do is decide how to say it.
In condos, the usual methods of communication are email and/or text messaging, notice board, door-to-door and, for the social media crowd, even Twitter is an option.
Then comes the content itself. If the condominium has a digital notice board that includes a content manager/service provider, use this as a starting point. The AGM “ads” designed for the digital notice boards can often be slightly modified and used as a PDF or image file to be included in the manager’s email blast. That means the email will be less text-laden and focus instead on visuals, which have a much better impact. (Not to mention it’s less work for the manager!) Tip: Keep messages in the series similar but with differently coloured backgrounds so that the audience will recognize the theme.
Post a notice for residents to save the date as many as three months out. On a digital board, this can stay up for a week or two, depending on what else the condominium has running. Just like a wedding, ask residents to save the date, then wait until it gets closer to show time to run the actual campaign.
In the three weeks leading up to the AGM, the campaign should kick into high gear. Select a notice to post on bulletin boards, and switch it up with a different one every few days. Run the entire digital notice board campaign ads in equal rotation.
Email a new campaign notice every couple of days. To get a higher email open rate, embed an image rather than including it as an attachment that requires the audience to take a further step. Email is great to remind residents of the date and time of the AGM.
Aside from the original “save the date” email, send out an AGM reminder notice (complete with the location, date and time) three days before, one day before, two hours before, and 15 minutes before. Schedule this well in advance to avoid having to worry about it later.
Social media pundits claim that, statistically, the best times to tweet are 8 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. Simply tweet each item three times a day. It’s possible to use a scheduling tool such as Hootsuite to help with this.
If possible, keep a copy of all notices on the condominium’s website, and then provide a link to the site where residents can go to get more information. Also consider linking to other sources of info. For example, the Canadian Condominium Institute – Toronto (CCI-T) has a video on their website about why residents should attend their AGM. This is a great way to further engage the condominium’s audience.
After the AGM is over, it’s important to post the results of any elections, update residents on decisions and other business, and thank all who attended, either in person or by proxy. The number one thing that residents want to know is what’s going on, so be sure to feed their curiosity. Keep them in the loop and coming back for more at next year’s AGM.
Sue Langlois is the founder/CEO of Diginotice, a digital notice board communication service. Sue was recently elected to the CCI-Toronto board of directors and serves on the communication committees for both CCI-Toronto and CCI-National. She contributed the Communications chapter of CCI-T’s Board of Directors’ Tips, Tools and Techniques. Sue can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.