Friday, August 23, 2019

Rootstech Takeaways: Easy Digital Newsletters

February 18, 2011 by  
Filed under genealogy

From Rootstech 2011 Photos

Gen Societies Take Heed

Rootstech 2011 had many excellent concurrent sessions.  My next few blog posts will be the “Takeaways” of several sessions I attended.

Pat Richley-Ericson (DearMyrtle) gave an excellent session on Easy Digital Newsletters that will be of interest to genealogical societies and any organization who is still using traditional print methods to get the message out to their members.  Even those writing a family newsletter might consider going digital.

DearMyrtle writes a regular blog column and is a highly respected long time genealogist.

Why Switch to Digital

There are lots of reasons to switch.  The traditional print newsletters cost money in paper and bulk mailing costs. Man power is considerable with several volunteers involved in putting together a newsletter.  Colour printing is also expensive.

Myrt had two solutions

Solution 1. Create an easily downloadable file in the form of the .pdf

Why PDF? This just makes sense to me and Myrt covered the reasons why.

  • You can have a higher page limit.
  • THE LINKS CAN BE CLICKABLE – this is a big plus
  • Every word is searchable.
  • Snowbirds and other travelers can get their copy electronically.
  • Cost savings

I prefer electronic newsletters for all of the reasons above, not to mention less paper coming into the house.

TIP: Save as PDF/A (archival mode) – will deal with all of the  different fonts

Solution 2. Use your Blog as your Gen Society newsletter location

Yep, publish your newsletter for free on your Gen society newsletter?  Whoa, you might say…isn’t this a benefit that only members should get?   Myrt challenged us to change our thinking .

Why Blog?

  • no email list maintenance
  • no web site cost
  • Higher unlimited pages
  • clickable links
  • every word searchable
  • Blog is found in search engine, which in turn pulls people to your website and gains members.

Myrt recommend  as easier for beginning genealogists and for the tools they use.

Myrt challenged us to change the way we are thinking about gaining members.

Being on the web can bring more members to your organization and it can SAVE money.

THE money saved could be spent on getting in MORE SPEAKERS.

She even suggested that by going digital gen societies could do away with the cost of membership (especially if they have a free place to meet, such as a library).

Imagine.  Free membership in your genealogical society!

The discussion and questions at the end of the session was great.

Q:  One person asked what about the members that aren’t on the web. Aren’t we excluding them by going digital?

A:  An audience member said their society had gone completely digital.

For the 3 members that still wanted a print copy her society offered to print a newsletter for the cost of $15 or you could get it online for FREE.

I can’t remember if I heard the following suggestion in Myrt’s session or the FGS luncheon with Curt Witcher (more on his talk in another post).

As harsh as it might sound, It was suggested that we can’t keep doing things the old way for the benefit of the few members who might not be on the web. Declining membership is an issue.

There is a whole world of potential members that we could be meeting on their turf.

On the web.

With digital information.

Who want information NOW.

Not mailed out 3 or 4 times a year in a print publication.

We need to meet the needs of the majority and we need to use the latest technologies to capture their attention.


Thanks Myrt for a great session.


6 Responses to “Rootstech Takeaways: Easy Digital Newsletters”
  1. Geniaus says:

    Thanks for the informative report, Joan.
    There were so many excellent sessions – wish I could have cloned myself and attended more than one in each timeslot.
    Geniaus´s last [type] ..Anywhere Anytime Genealogy

  2. Thanks, Joan, you and Myrt are right. Societies that refuse to go digital will find themselves without future members. I do disagree about too harsh of a stance towards members who are not online. Since it is a diminishing number, why not go the extra mile for the members who have been our longest supporters? What is important is for a society to know the particulars. With a membership of over 1000, the California Genealogical Society has fewer than 40 members without email. We print and snail mail our electronic newsletter to them each month. At the same time, we successfully shepherded the vast majority of our members into the digital age.
    Kathryn Doyle´s last [type] ..The California Genealogical Society and FamilySearch on YouTube

  3. Hi Kathryn,
    Thanks for your comments. The California Genealogical Society are leaders in the digital world of gen socieites online and I like your kindler gentler approach. Gen Societies are learning new ways to grow and move forward.


  4. Taneya says:

    Thanks for the report Joan. I completely agree that more needs to happen with digital publishing for genealogy societies and DearMyrtle made some excellent points! I’ve added a link to your blog post from the RootsTech 2011 wiki page on the FamilySearch Research Wiki.

  5. Hi Taneya,
    Thanks for the comments and for adding the link to my blog post. I enjoyed this conference very much and enjoy sharing what I learned with everyone.


  6. Ginger Smith says:

    I just wanted to make a comment about using PDF. You cannot search the content of the PDF from within the search feature of the website, so I upload our newsletter as both an html page and a PDF to our website. The PDF is nice for people who prefer to print the newsletter. The journal is currently in the members only section, so searching via the website is not an issue. I actually have it saved on and embedded on the website with a PDF option to download ( does not allow for users to download private documents).
    Ginger Smith´s last [type] ..Random Ramblings

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