Working with the Media
The media can be a very useful tool in the recovery of a missing person by spreading the word and making people familiar with the missing person’s face. However, your family and the missing person may also become vulnerable to public scrutiny and privacy invasion. Here are some tips:
- Develop a press kit. Write out the information you want disclosed, such as a physical description of the missing person and circumstances surrounding the disappearance. Verify this information with law enforcement and missing person assistance agencies such as JWRC. Remember to include a photo and/or video of the missing person.
- Contact local media. Send your press kit to TV stations, radio stations, newspapers and online news sources. Police may have to initiate the request, but you or your spokesperson will be responsible for maintaining contact and keeping attention on the story.
- Hold a press conference. Let the media know when and where you will be speaking. Have at least 20 photos of the missing person ready to give to the media. Be aware of reporters’ deadlines to get the story aired the same day; the earlier you get the information to them, the better.
- Stick to the facts. Disregard speculation or unfounded rumors; you will carry more credibility this way. Focus on the family, the missing person, the volunteer efforts and the emotional issues involved.
- Demand respect. You do not have to answer any questions that make you feel uncomfortable or victimized. If a reporter behaves inappropriately or reports inaccurately, report to that person’s supervisor.
- Organize awareness events. Volunteers can organize events to keep the story in the public eye. Some ideas include a student march, radio stations playing the missing person’s favorite song, Facebook pages and distribution of buttons and T-shirts with the missing person’s name and photo.