Friday, December 9, 2011

Help Build the History/Genealogy Momentum

Fireplace in the Dwight-Derby House
I came across an interesting article online this morning.  It turns out the Medfield Patch in Medfield, Massachusetts has a weekly column to help keep town residents up to date on historical happenings.  The column gives news about the Medfield Historical Society, The historic Dwight-Derby House and the Vine Lake Preservation Trust which oversees historic Vine Lake Cemetery.

Some folks in the town of Medfield actively developed a relationship with their local Patch editor.  Now they have the regular weekly column.

Wouldn't it be great to see this sort of column in every local Patch?  Perhaps there is an edition covering your area?

Patch provides online community-specific news in the United States in California, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, PennsylvaniaRhode Island, South Carolina, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, North Carolina.

Start building relationships with the Patch folks and get local history/genealogy events covered on a regular basis. No Patch in your area?  Try finding a local news outlet that has an online presence.

Show them that Local History and Genealogy is Interesting!

Before contacting your local Patch or news editor make a list of all the interesting genealogical and historical events that are happening. Think beyond your specific organization and present a picture of all the historical activity in the area.  Include national items that are gaining momentum such as the television program Who Do You Think You Are? and upcoming the PBS miniseries Finding Your Roots.

Don't give all your information to the editor right away.  Use the drip method.  Get in the habit of contacting the editor every week with two or three tidbits.  After a few weeks email the editor and offer to meet them for coffee or show them some of the local sites.  For instance, you could say, "Did you know there is an historic town pound in Millis? I'd be happy to show it to you."

In this way you'll be able to establish rapport.  After the meeting and your continued demonstration as a good source for the editor, make your pitch for a weekly column.  Tell them you will send them event items each week that they can include in the column.

Don't take all the work on yourself.  Ask the editor to contact the folks at the other historical and genealogical organizations directly for their info.  The editor will build his/her local network and you will encourage the community to become more involved in preserving local history.

Photo Credit: Photo by Marian Pierre-Louis

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