Leisure World of Maryland in Silver Springs, MD was named Communicator of the Year in the Community Association of the Year Contest. They are managed by Leisure World of Maryland Corporation. This is the essay submitted with the community’s application.
By Ken Muir
Communication in Leisure World, as in many communities, occurs on three levels—corporate, community, and inter-personal. I believe that it has improved at all three levels over the seven years I have resided here.
As a member of the Leisure World Community Corporation (LWCC) board of directors in 2018, I presented a paper entitled “Proposed Leisure World Communication Plan.” It stated, “2018 is an era of instant communication…Aside from Robocalls which are used only occasionally and usually for emergencies, Leisure World’s sole source of information to residents is its twice-monthly newspaper, the Leisure World News. Leisure World can do better in 2018.” And it has!
We now have a corporate director of communication and a staff of professional journalists managing the News and other communication channels. They provide news and event trailers on the two internal TV channels, both internal and external websites, robocalls for emergency situations, weekly email news updates from the community manager, as well as various outreach efforts to potential new residents. Although some accuse the News of being a tool of management, those comments are less frequent with a professional communication staff.
The News reports actions of the LWCC board, feature articles, scores of columns about clubs and other community activities contributed by members, and paid advertising. On a Thoughts and Opinions page, edited by members of Communication Advisory Committee, residents are invited to share comments and concerns about the community.
At our condominium, and many others, there are email news groups, bulletin boards, elevator-posted notices, and monthly newsletters that communicate important news for the community, including planned social functions (prior to the pandemic), agendas for and actions of the board of directors and advisory committees, financial and building information, as well as reports from the property manager. Many condominium presidents have a monthly newsletter column, frequently used to explain corporate as well as community issues and board actions.
Presidents often encourage residents to call or write about issues of concern to the condominium. Maryland condominium law gives residents the opportunity to communicate with others in the same ways that the building management and board does, as well as at Open Forums at both corporate and community board and advisory committee meetings. As in any community, there is an active resident grapevine.
A community survey, conducted by Leisure World’s Special Strategic Planning Committee in summer 2019, asked about residents’ sources of communication. In response to where residents get information about Leisure World news and events, 62% said Leisure World News; 50% Mutual Newsletters; 21% Bulletin Boards; 37% Word of Mouth; and 12% Leisure World website. Asked how often residents read Leisure World News, 63% reported they read all or most of every issue; with only 3% saying “Not at all.”