Volume 22, Issue Number 2, Winter 2016
Purchasing/Living in a Condominium

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Caustic Communication

Can It Work in Your Condo?

By Sue Langlois | Other articles by Sue Langlois

More and more condominiums have adopted digital signage as a critical part of improving overall communications at their property. A captive audience and the ability to remotely change notices make them a handy tool indeed.

Now that the market has adopted the technology, the strategic planning can begin in earnest. I call this the fun part, and it means carefully planning, creating and executing the creative content so that it has the most impact, so that you can realize a return on your communication hardware investment.

I have long been a proponent of watching the "tone" used when crafting notices for a condominium audience. Residents should always be treated with respect, and educated about aspects of condo life rather than berated for not following the rules. However, that is not to say that your content can't be creative when it comes to delivering the message.

An excellent example of this occurred at one of our west end condominium clients. A big issue for them was residents tossing all sorts of items from their balcony. The thoughtless acts of disrespect caused extra work for the superintendent, lowered morale and displayed a total lack of pride of ownership/rentership. After consulting with the board of directors and determining the audience demographics, our creative team went to work. What they came up with was a list of the top five items chucked off the balconies, presented in a rather shocking display that was quickly dubbed "the shame campaign".

The board loved it and were committed to using the campaign's shock factor to get resident attention focused on this important issue. The result? "A one hundred percent change in behaviour, practically overnight", reported board director Jon. "Not only did people stop throwing things, the entire building took on a more polished atmosphere as our superintendent was able to concentrate on tasks other than cleaning up the grounds. Residents displayed a better attitude overall." That's not to say it was easy. Jon and his board made a commitment to the campaign and they stuck to it. When it first appeared on the digital screens in elevators, there were some who responded in shock and decried its presence. But when the board and management team explained its necessity, the benefit of its message and the positive impact it would have on property values, everyone got onside.

Caustic communications can definitely have a positive impact but it is worth noting that aside from the creative itself, the planning and execution of such a campaign is also highly critical to its success. The target audience is key (I wouldn't run this for just any audience) and the "airtime" should be carefully gauged for maximum impact without being overdone. Also, the creative was designed to provide shock, then logic and finally escalation to pride of ownership/rentership.

Caustic, perhaps. Effective? You bet.

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Winter 2016
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