For Immediate Release:
17 April 2012, Richmond, Virginia
The Genealogical Alliance for Reciprocal Benefit (GARB) is a concept developed by Michael Elwood Pollock, a charter member of the Association of Professional Genealogists (world's largest group of genealogy professionals), 1997-1998 honoree in Marquis' Who's Who in the South & Southwest, and regular contributor to the Learn from Experts series at Archives.com, that attempts to take advantage of various recent dynamics, including social media and the growth of coupon advertising on both television and the internet, to fill a void felt by both the professional genealogical community and the genealogical consumer, that the end of Expert Connect by Ancestry.com created.
GARB will be a significant departure from its competition in that:
1) it will engage in advertising on behalf of its members in media that has heretofore been inaccessible to most individuals
and small companies either due to expense or the unwillingness of venue to work with genealogists, if not both;
2) its advertising will include television;
3) it will offer a wide range of services, wider than most of its competitors, and services that few, if any, of its
competitors provide, such as book publishers, "ghost writing", photo restoration (no one as yet on board) and other services yet to be determined; &
4) for most services offered, there will be only one provider, though there are some additional distinctions.
For the client, GARB will be a 1-stop shopping center for all things genealogical, and a client will be offered a "taste" if
what it is like to work with some of the best and brightest professionals, persons such as Kirill Tchashin (Moscow, Russia), Kim Melchior (Scandinavia), Debbie Hooper (Delaware), and Michael Elwood Pollock (Virginia), in the field at a substantial initial discount.
For its members, GARB will not allow a "bidding" process that often saw a project going to the lowest estimate rather than
the individual best suited to the project that characterized Expert Connect and still characterizes other like services. Our specialists will either be based in the geographic area in which they specialize or have a proven network of subcontractor that minimizes the need for potentially expensive travel to access records that are not available in Salt Lake, Fort Wayne and other notable "hot beds" of research, as well as the likelihood that a specific resource would not be known to the specialist or some in his/her network. GARB will not require as Expert Connect did, that a member continue to do business through it, with any client GARB provides to the member.
What, then, will GARB require of its members?
First, unless granted a special dispensation for which a formal application must be made, a member will be required to
provide the clients it brings to the member an initial $100 of goods &/or services that will be sold in the form of a coupon
that will be advertised on television, via e-mail broadcasts and the internet which a client purchases for $50. The member
will receive $25 of that purchase price and our advertiser will receive the other $25. The services must represent at least
2 hours, meaning for those charging more than $50 an hour, the value of the services provided must actually exceed $100, while those charging less with provide an additional amount of time equal to $100 of billing at their standard rate. This is because the advertising will emphasize a 50% discount and any deviation from the same in subsequent work a member does for the client could be seen as a breech of promise that could result in not just ill will, but an inability of GARB to continue to work with one or more of its advertisers.
Second, a member must have an active website that allows e-commerce.
Finally, a member must "buy in" at $25 and pay an annual renewal in the same amount, those payments going to defray expenses in the setup and operation of a common website which will be the means by which a client selects the services of a specific member.
GARB does not guarantee that a member will receive business, but a member does not pay the $25 to the advertiser until and unless selected by a client. GARB does not guarantee that a member will be hired to do additional research by any given client, but there is a reasonable expectation that the member will get repeat business from a GARB client and that repeat business can be at either the member's standard terms or terms negotiated between the member and a client, with, as stipulated earlier, no money due either GARB or its advertisers. Where else can you advertise at terms as reasonable as these? If you know of any place, please let GARB know so we can add the same to the services it offers to its members.
While individual members can certainly conduct the same kind of campaign on their own, such campaigns would likely be
strictly local and result in most business being turned down because the needs are either outside of the member's expertise or require access to resources at an additional expense that would result in losing money. A regional or national campaign could bring in more "acceptable" business, but could still result in significant business that must be turned down. By having a network of specialists and not limiting our advertising to local or regional markets, we can expect to bring in business that will see all specialists receiving work and little need to turn down business.
Any additional questions will hopefully be answered in the discussions in both the APG & GARB groups at LinkedIn where the initial focus on both developing and refining the concept, as well as recruiting participants has been centered, recognizing that many of the genealogy professionals it targets are already on LinkedIn. Though it is not yet active, GARB has its own website, www.GARBGroup.info, and a discussion board on Gmail to which you will be given access upon joining GARB. Ultimately, there should be no need for a participant to belong to LinkedIn, but until www.GARBGroup.info is fully operational, LinkedIn will be the primary source of information about GARB and its members.
Even this early, our "stable" is quite impressive, both in the reputations of those involved, and the geographic specialties
covered, including Hawaii and Russia! Some of our specialists are excited enough to recruit others. Leslie Lawson in Oregon is responsible for recruiting both Diane Rapaport in Massachusetts and Cathi Desmarais in Vermont, and Cathi in turn is responsible for recruiting Harriet "Hart Hoffman in Hawaii!
Our goal is to have a specialist for every state in the United States and for every country of the world and we are well on
our way. If you have an interest in belonging to Genealogical Alliance for Reciprocal Benefit and believe you have the
necessary qualifications, you can express your interest in one or more of the following ways:
1) post a comment stating you would like to join to the "Idea for Expert Connect Substitute, part 1" in the Association of
Professional Genealogist forum at LinkedIn (to do so, you will need to have at least a free account at LinkedIn and be
admitted to the APG forum there);
2) apply for membership in the GARB forum (also requires a free account at LinkedIn); or
3) send a personal message to GARB founder Michael Elwood Pollock at GenealogyPro@RicVa.net.
A recommendation from an existing member will certainly help and please note that you may need either to "post" your resume to your LinkedIn profile or to include a copy in the message sent to GenealogyPro@RicVa.net if you are not already a member of LinkedIn or the Association of Professional Genealogists (paid APG membership is not required, but is strongly encouraged and GARB will observe the APG Code of Conduct).