The media is an important resource in raising awareness about your loved one’s disappearance.

Each type of media can reach different audiences.  Even one type of media can have different audiences.  For example, each newspaper published in the same city may have different readers.

Television, radio, print media, the Internet and Social Media can all be used to reach out to the public for help.

Speak with police first

Before contacting the media, talk to the police officer or detective handling your case. This is important because:

  • You may have to wait to make a public appeal if the investigation is criminal in nature.
  • The police may have a media relations officer who can help connect you with reporters.
  • You may want to ask the officer or detective to participate in a news story.
  • There may be information that police need to keep private in order to protect the integrity of the investigation.

Preparing information

Before contacting the media, prepare a poster or write-up that gives a physical description, recent photos and some detail about your loved one’s disappearance.  Also, have phone numbers for police and Crime Stoppers on hand.

In some cases, the family may feel that they must provide a way for people to contact them.  Rather than provide personal contact information, create a dedicated email account or Facebook page to use.

Do not give out any information that could anger, endanger, or embarrass you or your loved ones.

Contacting the media

When contacting the media be sure to do the following:

  • Speak with the news editor of different media outlets and ask if they will cover your loved one’s story.
  • Select a family member or close friend to act as a spokesperson and have them give interviews.  Make sure that they are comfortable dealing with the media and understands the message that you want related.  Having a personal connection to the missing person will have a greater effect.
  • Create a poster or write-up that others can provide to the media on your behalf.
  • Missing adults do not always receive a great deal of media attention.  The amount of media attention may be influenced by whether the case is high profile, foul play is suspected, mental health issues are present or if there is something unusual about the case.  Attention can also be influenced by other news events of the day.  If one media outlet says no, ask another.

Once an interview is set up, take some time to prepare the information you want to share with the public. Ask the reporter for a list of questions beforehand to help get ready.  Always ask for a copy of the interview to add to your files.

Using the Internet and Social Media

When posting information on the Internet or Social Media sites, keep the following in mind:

  • Use a combination of your loved one’s name with keywords like: ‘Missing Person’, ‘Missing’, ‘Help Find’, ‘Help Us Find’, etc.
  • Message all of your contacts and ask them to forward your site to all of their contacts.
  • Add your story to other groups or websites focused on similar issues.

Excerpted from Ontario’s Missing Adults’ Families of Missing Adults:  Finding Help guidebook.