Not every missing child case is quickly resolved, so one should prepare a long-term plan with the dual goals of keeping the case in the public eye and moving the investigation forward. The sooner this plan is formulated, the sooner you will be able to focus on the necessary steps to ensure full implementation.
Most of us get news from one of three sources: television, radio and print media. As each one of these powerful communication tools is unique it is in your best interest to understand how to play to their individual strengths.
Since it is limited by severe time constraints local television news coverage tends to focus on headlines. However, television is visually driven, so encourage television participation by including visually stimulating events at least once a week. Tap your volunteer base for individuals who can help you plan fundraising activities around Harley Davidson motorcycle runs, classic car rallies or music concerts.
Radio serves and entertains a huge mobile audience that expects useful and immediate information. By getting local businesses involved in your recovery activities your can leverage free publicity by promoting donated goods or services. You can create a very strong human-interest angle by holding weekly press conferences where the families of other local missing children implore the public to get involved and not to give up hope. This very effective strategy serves as a constant reminder that no one is immune from victimization.
Newspapers offer depth and analysis so it is always good to include information that will provide gravitas to the case. Anecdotal information about the missing child, statistical information about the missing children’s issue or fact-based theories that are not slanderous all assist newspaper reporters to create compelling copy.
None of this will work if you don’t inform the media of your intentions on a regular basis. Therefore, it is incumbent on you or a representative to secure the assignment desk fax numbers of all local television stations, radio stations and newspapers. Distribute press releases (link to template press release) at least one day prior to the event so that they can schedule coverage.
However you decide to pursue media coverage remember that you are pursuing three distinct but interlocked goals. Number one, media is providing you with a way to talk directly to your missing child so use the opportunity to remind the child that you love him or her and that you are doing everything in your power to affect a recovery. Number two, this is also an opportunity to ask the kidnapper to return the child to the family that loves and desperately prays for their safe recovery. Finally, you are giving the public an opportunity to get to know what your child looks like and who they are. Do not squander your opportunities because as the case extends over time they become fewer and far between.
Map your Six Week Battle Plan on a large, erasable grid calendar and methodically follow your timelines. Focus on at least three events throughout the week that will draw media coverage to your case and understand that you will be successful if even one event accomplishes that goal. Space your events out so that they are evenly divided throughout the week. Schedule high profile events like celebrity appearances, motorcycle runs, or concerts to occur on the weekend. The six-week plan is a template that can be extended or modified as is necessary.
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