Rootstech Takeaways: Easy Digital Newsletters

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.