Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Presentation by Curt Witcher

The San Mateo CountyGenealogical Society had a seminar on Saturday, November 2 featuring CurtWitcher of the Allen County Public Library.  Sadly, I have a tough time getting away on Saturdays and so I was unable to attend.  But on Friday, November 1, Curt did a very small selective presentation on the future of genealogical societies.  The San Mateo County Genealogical Society offered up a seat to my local genealogical society (Livermore-AmadorGenealogical Society) and I was able to attend on their behalf! 

It was wonderful.  I nodded all afternoon in agreement.  The title was, “Re-Think, Re-Boot, Re-Connect: It’s a New World!”  Mr. Witcher talked about doing an Environmental Scan—look around at other entities like schools, businesses, libraries, etc.  See what they are doing.  Browse the internet for new and interesting ideas.  Often at board meetings, we hear about how “those people” are using technology.  But “those people” are “MOST people.”  We are the outliers.  The number of people doing genealogy is into the 60-80 million, but our societies are declining.

We need to re-think what we provide.  We need to take pride in the journey and the experience.  Curt talked about 21sters, defined as those who came to genealogy in the 21st century.  We complain that they want instant results, but that is “just how it is.”  We need to work with that.  We need to “tune our radar" and engage individuals who are not in our space. 

We need to go where they are.  Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Blogs, Tumblr, Snapchat (I felt old, as I don’t know how Tumblr and Snapchat would work for genealogical societies.  But then I at least knew what they were… barely).  Our websites should be interactive with streaming video and dynamic.  Societies get paralyzed by over-analysis.  We use the “ready, aim, aim, aim, aim, aim, oops- target moved” philosophy. 

Our customers and prospective customers need to see us as RELEVANT, ENGAGING, FUN, and WORTH IT.  Do they? 

Tomorrow I’ll post my own thoughts.  Today was a thankful post to the San Mateo County Genealogical Society and Curt Witcher for the opportunity to sit with others and hear some hard truths making it understood that we need to make some changes in our “industry.”

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