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Put Your Best Foot Forward: How Small Societies Get Noticed - FGS Wiki

Put Your Best Foot Forward: How Small Societies Get Noticed


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[[Category:Strategies for Societies]][[Category:Broglin, Jana Sloan]][[Category:Publicity]]
  
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 +
== INTRODUCTION ==
 +
 +
“You only have one chance to make a good
 +
impression.” Remember hearing that phrase?
 +
Apply that thought to a genealogical society.
 +
What do potential members think about your
 +
society? What do they see when looking at the
 +
newsletter for the first time? How do they view
 +
the society after attending their first meeting?
 +
What image is gleaned when they visit the
 +
society’s web site?
 +
 +
 +
== THE NEWSLETTER ==
 +
 +
The newsletter might be the first
 +
time someone “meets” your
 +
society. It should be thoughtfully
 +
designed so as to be pleasing to
 +
the eye. Headlines should
 +
capture the reader’s attention. Articles should be
 +
interesting and informative and the author’s
 +
name clearly stated. Features, columns, or
 +
sections that appear regularly could include
 +
some biographical information about the writer.
 +
The content needs to be informative and useful
 +
and should address issues of importance to the
 +
reader.
 +
 +
Many small societies publish stunning
 +
newsletters. They know that the time and effort
 +
required to create great pages is often not much
 +
more than what is expended on plain ones. Here
 +
are some easy changes that could turn a
 +
satisfactory society newsletter into an award-winning publication:
 +
<ul>
 +
<l>Have an attractive banner stating the name of
 +
the newsletter, the name of the society and its
 +
location, and the volume and issue numbers.
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<l>Have a footer on each page that gives the
 +
newsletter name, volume and issue numbers,
 +
and page number.
 +
<l>Add a table of contents to draw the reader
 +
into the rest of the newsletter.
 +
<l>Include helpful information on the same page
 +
in each issue (this page is usually called the
 +
masthead): editor’s name and how to contact,
 +
the names of associates (who help with
 +
proofing or mailing), and publishing
 +
deadlines.
 +
<l>Publish details about the society: the area
 +
served, the meeting dates and location, the
 +
workshop or seminar date (as soon as it is
 +
known) and dues and instructions for joining.
 +
If the society has a library tell where it is
 +
located.
 +
<l>Show officers’ names and contact
 +
information, the society address, and the Web
 +
site address if applicable.
 +
<l>Don’t forget to include a list of the
 +
society’s publications, prices, and the
 +
address for purchasing the items.
 +
</ul>
 +
 +
Society members who do not live in the area
 +
depend on the society newsletter to furnish
 +
information. Ideas for items to be published may
 +
be announcements of indexes or transcripts the
 +
society or others have published, a discussion of
 +
helpful Web sites for those with internet access,
 +
articles about families by society members,
 +
pioneer obituaries, pedigree charts, additions to
 +
the society library, program schedule for the
 +
year, and new member listings with name,
 +
address, e-mail address.
 +
 +
Two more popular features are listings of
 +
surnames being researched by members and
 +
queries. Even with the advent of the Internet,
 +
surnames and queries should be included.
 +
Articles about the county or area served by the
 +
society are also needed in the newsletter. If your
 +
society does not have a quarterly, consider
 +
previously unpublished records, be they court,
 +
or diaries. Keep in mind, however, that most
 +
readers and repositories consider newsletters to
 +
contain current information. They tend not to
 +
retain newsletters as they would a quarterly or
 +
semi-annual magazine.
 +
 +
Do consider the appearance of the newsletter. Is
 +
the type used easy-to-read? Do format and
 +
layout reflect care and an eye for detail? Do
 +
graphics enhance the appearance of the
 +
newsletter? Are grammar, spelling, and
 +
terminology accurate and consistent throughout
 +
the newsletter?
 +
 +
 +
== MEETINGS ==
 +
 +
Meetings are another way to impress a
 +
prospective member. Speakers are not necessary
 +
at all meetings, but it is a great way to inform
 +
the members and guests about genealogical and
 +
historical research.
 +
 +
Some meetings may be geared to only
 +
genealogists. These meetings may stress
 +
methodology, teaching how to find information.
 +
Methodology lectures can include (but are not
 +
limited to) probate records, land records,
 +
organizing genealogical material, citing sources,
 +
abstracting records, using the federal population
 +
census, military records, genealogical computer
 +
software, and newspaper research.
 +
 +
Other meetings may be broader based to appeal
 +
to the general public. These topics may include
 +
tours of the historical society, photo
 +
preservation, family-owned businesses, trains,
 +
post offices, historical costumes, history of
 +
different religious denominations found in the
 +
area, Civil War or other re-enactors, cemetery
 +
preservation, and the variety of architecture
 +
found in the towns and cities within the area.
 +
Even when informal, meetings should be
 +
handled professionally. Each attendee should
 +
receive a printed agenda when they arrive. This
 +
tells them what to expect and identifies officers
 +
and speakers. Announcements that do not
 +
require public mention may be printed on the
 +
back of the agenda. Name tags for members and
 +
specially marked “Hello” tags for the guests are
 +
a nice touch.
 +
 +
Guests should be made to feel comfortable so
 +
that they want to return. Attendees should be
 +
greeted when entering the meeting. An official
 +
recognition from the podium of the guests with
 +
a “tell us what families you are searching” will
 +
make the guest feel welcome and may establish
 +
contact with society members researching the
 +
same families.
 +
 +
 +
== LOOKING GOOD ==
 +
 +
One way in which prospective members
 +
evaluate an organization is by the demeanor and
 +
dress of the officers. Officers gathered in a
 +
circle for official business is fine during premeeting moments. But doing so as attendees are
 +
entering the room can make folks feel they are
 +
intruding. Instead, officers should speak briefly
 +
to everyone in a warm and friendly manner to
 +
create a favorable first impression.
 +
 +
The dress code need not be formal. “Business
 +
casual” is probably the most appropriate. In
 +
some settings, jeans are fine as long as they are
 +
considered “dress jeans” and not the ones used
 +
for gardening. Dressy sweatshirts and sweaters
 +
can look nice, too, but slogans such as “This
 +
Group Rocks” may be viewed as unbecoming
 +
and not in accord with the mission of the
 +
organization.
 +
 +
Some of the “don’t wears” include extremely
 +
tight stretchy pants, rubber “flip-flops,” cut-offs,
 +
bandannas, and anything that is stained or dirty.
 +
Of course, exceptions might be made if the
 +
meeting follows clean-up day at the cemetery or
 +
courthouse attic!
 +
 +
 +
== THE WEB SITE ==
 +
 +
Web sites are another “best foot
 +
forward” a prospective member
 +
might see. Folks surf the Web
 +
for sites with ties to ancestral
 +
homelands. What makes a
 +
society’s site eye-catching?
 +
What content would make a future member
 +
want to join a society?
 +
 +
A site should be easy to navigate. Even the
 +
Internet novice should be able to find
 +
information on a web site. Instructions of any
 +
kind should be kept simple and clear.
 +
Properly designed and placed navigation buttons
 +
or links should be used to help browsers find
 +
exactly what they seek. Local societies may
 +
have links to archival centers, historical
 +
societies, surrounding county societies, and also
 +
libraries.
 +
 +
Content should be carefully considered.
 +
Organizations find their web site is a wonderful
 +
place to publicize society events, projects,
 +
publications for sale, queries, and general
 +
information about the area, whether it is a
 +
county or city.
 +
 +
Guest books and “hit counters” are also a
 +
helpful tool on the site. Guest books can allow
 +
“surfers” to comment about the site and ask
 +
questions regarding the society.
 +
 +
Make sure that information is kept current. Sites
 +
that list meeting dates and speaker subjects must
 +
be up-to-date. It does not reflect well on a
 +
society to have old contact information or news
 +
about publications that are no longer available.
 +
FGS member societies can take advantage of a free Internet
 +
listing at Society Hall, a web site sponsored by
 +
FGS at http://www.fgs.org/cstm_societyHall.php. Society Hall lists
 +
members and non-member societies and indexes
 +
them by name and geographic area. This can be
 +
a substitute for society that does not have its
 +
own web site yet, or can serve as a link to a
 +
society’s existing site.
 +
 +
 +
== PUBLICITY ==
 +
 +
Another society “best foot” is publicity. Are
 +
television, radio stations, and print media being
 +
used to announce society activities? Here are
 +
some ways to increase the possibility of your
 +
project, meeting, or event being publicized in
 +
print or on a local radio or television network.
 +
<ul>
 +
<li>Ask the media’s news or local events director
 +
for tips on what kinds of announcements get
 +
printed or aired.
 +
<li>Ask what form they prefer to receive these
 +
items in: as a story, as bullets on a single page, or as a single paragraph with
 +
photographs.
 +
<li>Determine the most suitable method for
 +
submission: e-mail, regular mail, or delivered
 +
in person.
 +
<li>Study what does get accepted, you will soon
 +
recognize the styles and angles that almost
 +
guarantee your news will reach the public.
 +
<li>Be sure all submissions carry the full society
 +
name, address, time, date, and place of
 +
meetings, names of officers or key volunteers
 +
who reside in the area, and contact people
 +
who can be reached day or evening.
 +
<li>Send news items, called "press releases," to
 +
all area media: including those located in
 +
adjacent counties as well as nearby towns.
 +
<li>Invite the local cable channel to send a
 +
reporter and a camera crew to a special
 +
meeting or seminar. They are most likely to
 +
do this if the theme or presentation is about
 +
area history or local people.
 +
 +
 +
== SUMMARY ==
 +
 +
Newsletters, meetings, officers, web sites, and
 +
publicity should be designed to make a good
 +
impression. Remember, there may be only one
 +
chance to put your best foot forward!

Revision as of 20:36, 14 August 2013

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