[Editor's note: the following information about Season 2 of Who Do You Think You Are? was received from Ancestry.com. There are many ways in which genealogical societies can use this event to increase membership as well as to expand services to current members.]
Beginning in February, NBC will air the second season of the hit show “Who Do You Think You Are?” During the first season, millions of viewers tuned in each week to watch celebrities uncover their family history, and the United States saw a renewed interest in genealogy not seen since the days of Roots. It’s likely that growing interest in tracing heritage will continue to increase.
“Who Do You Think You Are?” creates excitement around genealogy by showing the types of stories and discoveries people can make about their ancestors — ultimately leading viewers to begin thinking about their own family history. Since the show does not delve into the how-tos of research, newcomers are looking for guidance.
The genealogy community is uniquely positioned to be on the front lines of this growth. The new season of “Who Do You Think You Are?” offers libraries, societies and more a unique opportunity to reach out to their local community – the more people in the area who watch the show, the more potential clients a genealogist may have.
Here are several ideas to spread the word about “Who Do You Think You Are? and to leverage the show’s popularity to grow society memberships, client lists and the interest in family history in your community:
- Host a workshop for beginners. The show will interest people in genealogy; now experts can teach them how to find their own family stories. Last season, several genealogy societies across the country reported standing-room-only attendance at beginners’ workshops – and some classes were popular enough to merit repeat performances.
- Contact your local media. The show’s popularity offers you a chance to talk to local newspapers and TV stations about how people can get started and especially how professional genealogists can help. You might consider offering to research the family history of a local news anchor and offer him/her their own “Who Do You Think You Are?” mini-experience. Or if you belong to a society, you could invite media to a society event as the San Antonio Genealogical and Historical Society did last season: “Our local NBC affiliate, WOAI-TV, not only publicized our event, they filmed our Library and gave us a live interview on the 5:00 & 6:00 pm news.”
- Encourage clients or society members to spread the word and invite their friends. Who better to promote the TV show, your event, and your services than your clients and society members, who are already passionate about family history and already have a network of friends and family? Urge your clients or members to post links to your event and the “Who Do You Think You Are?” season 1 videos on their Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, websites or blogs.
- Prepare getting started materials for beginners. Create a 1-page “Getting Started in Family History” guide that you can pass out to potential clients or that beginners can pick up at your event. Also consider posting the same getting-started info on your website, blog or Facebook page.
- Brainstorm more ideas with your fellow genealogist friends and society members. You know your community best. So why not brainstorm with your genealogist friends on how you can increase your local community’s interest in “Who Do You Think You Are?” and best benefit from that increased interest.
All in all, “Who Do You Think You Are?” continues to present the genealogy community with a golden opportunity to revolutionize, reshape, and redefine family history as a whole. It’s an opportunity to grow and strengthen societies, to infuse our industry with younger audiences who can become the next generation of family historians, and to educate the public about what family history is and how to successfully research their heritage.
So promote your local genealogy community, bring in new members – and don’t forget to spread the word about “Who Do You Think You Are?” Fridays on NBC beginning February 4.