Most LWers believe communication channels are open but there’s room for improvement
AND THE SURVEY SAID
by Ruth Osborn
In a GRF communications survey conducted in May, a majority of residents said the frequency of communication with the GRF is “just the right amount” and their No. 1 channel for community news is the LW Weekly.
Among the 500 residents who responded, most are satisfied with communication channels, but the results and comments also highlighted areas that can be improved, including more news about GRF Board topics and more frequent project updates.
Residents completed the survey online or submitted print copies to the News. The survey results will help staff to make decisions about content to include in the newspaper as COVID-19 restrictions dissipate, more businesses open and events resume.
Everyone who filled out the survey that included his or her name was entered into a raffle for two $25 gift certificates. The winners, chosen by Google’s Random Number Generator, were Karen Schaffer of Mutual 10 and William Miller of Mutual 3.
In 2020, after public health orders shut down LW facilities and canceled events, the News reduced its weekly page count from an average of 32 to 24 and introduced two pages of games and puzzles, recipes, hobby to-do features, photo pages and special columns. The survey responses help staff devise useful and satisfying post-pandemic content.
Here’s a closer look at some of the survey results: GRF COMMUNICATIONS Meeting Attendance— Most residents, 76 percent, don’t attend GRF board or committee meetings of any kind—in person, via Zoom or livestream.
But several comments noted that livestreamed board and committee meetings helped people stay informed and supported continuing remote meetings. One person suggested Zoom meetings be archived.
Preferred Channels— Most residents, 69 percent, say the GRF communicates just frequently enough, and 78 percent like LW Live email communications. A whopping 94 percent use the LW Weekly print edition to receive community news, followed by lwsb.com, at 38 percent.
A significant number of residents also get news from social media sites like Facebook, 23 percent and NextDoor, 30 percent;as well as friends and neighbors, 54 percent.
LW WEEKLY Most Read— The front page, letters to the editor, security reports, and news about community projects and events ranked at the top of reader interest. The front page ranked the highest, with 64 percent of readers saying they read it all the time. Many respondents were encouraging, like this person who wrote: “Thanks for doing a good job under difficult conditions this past year. It’s not easy trying to accommodate the demands of a bunch of people with different opinions and expectations.”
Topics Generating High Interest— Readers find entertainment schedules (Amphitheater shows, movies, excursions), followed by GRF Board actions and Seal Beach news, most interesting. Many comments supported having routine security reports.
Of General Interest— Twothirds of the newspaper’s current content is read at least occasionally, according to survey responses. Based on rankings, feature articles on residents, HCC and medical news, plus safety, scam and senior services are of general interest.
Least Interesting— Receiving the highest number of responses for least interesting were legislation/ advocacy stories, recycling, sports and religion.
Puzzles and Games— Only 5 percent of respondents ranked puzzles and games as the most interesting part of the paper, but 35 percent ranked them in the top five. Several residents noted that they do puzzles at least sometimes. One person wrote: “I like puzzles, but they need some changes. For example, the crossword is so big, it gets boring, and it’s got so much stuff in it that you don’t know and have to Google.”
Print is Popular— LWers like the print edition of the paper. One comment noted that it’s easier to read print on paper than online. Still, about 38 percent read the news online at least sometimes. Residents used the comment section to express their support for the print edition, with several of these coming from surveys filled out online. One person wrote: “Present weekly newspaper content is satisfactory.”( Note: There is no plan for ending the print version of the newspaper.) What’s Missing— Generally, survey takers said they enjoy the LW Weekly as it is, but there’s room for improvement. One person wrote: “I enjoy it, but a little more care could be taken with misinformation; usually, it’s very good. Keep up the good work!” Lots of comments were encouraging and complimentary, not only for the paper, but also for GRF Recreation: “Recreation has done a fabulous job (with food trucks, COVID-19 communications, etc.).”
Many residents had ideas for things they would like to see in the paper. Some of those ideas include: more transparency; more reporting about GRF and Mutual projects and governance; Q& A columns for new residents, a monthly column from the GRF executive director explaining ongoing projects; and weekly security columns.
One writer noted: “My major problem with communication here is that maintenance activities, emergencies, etc., are not communicated accurately and directly with shareholders who are affected. There are too many ‘correction’ notices after the initial notification on LW Live.”
• Suggestions for Improvement— We also received lots of suggestions for improvement, not only in the paper but also regarding LW at large.
•More art structured art classes, more news about residents and clubs, less outside news.
•Enlarge the print for easier reading.
•Improve GRF policies online. The GRF Recreaction website only allows printing of three pages.
• Have a Mutual column of current issues. After all, most shareholders only care about their Mutuals.
• Everything now seems to be 90 percent GRF, just my humble opinion.
• Stop using a font that looks like cursive writing, where the letters are connected. It’s difficult to read for people with poor vision, and it’s also difficult to read for people whose primary language uses a different alphabet than English.
•This year has shown us that more transparency is needed and more communication. There have been a lot of improvements in this area. Maybe a video could be made and shared on lwsb.com.
• Don’t be afraid to give voice to shareholders who aren’t positive toward the GRF. Perhaps the shareholders’ concerns are based on bad information or rumors that need to be shared for correction by the staff.
• Find ways to constantly cut increasing costs. I signed up for a garden to help reduce food costs, but due to much stealing and an excessive annual rental fee, I have had to drop out of the Mini Farm club.
• There should be a Q& A forum online. All Zoom links should be clickable. Live meetings should be accessible through Facebook notice.
• More food trucks!
• Expand coverage of state and local issues that impact seniors and their surrounding communities.
• A full contact page of GRF employees, so residents know who to call for what.
• When I first moved here I used LWSB.com to see calendar and club information, phone numbers and contacts were routinely incorrect, needs to be updated regularly.
• Local restaurant information and deals.
There was much more feedback that staff will use to improve GRF communication channels, including the LW Weekly.
The staff thanks LW residents for their participation.
Your input is invaluable as we begin shaping and redesigning newspaper content in an effort to be as useful and user-friendly as possible in our post-pandemic world.
Raffle winners are William Miller and Karen Schaffer. They were chosen at random and awarded $25 gift certificates. LW Weekly staff thanks all survey participants for their honest evaluations and will use the information to shape content and improve communication channels as the community emerges from a 16-month shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.