Effective fliers creatively combine photographs with basic information about your child. The following information can help you develop strategies for increasing the visibility of your child's case and generating possible leads about the disappearance.
Ask someone creative to take charge of flier and poster production. Friends, family members, and volunteers can help with this task. Your poster coordinator can ask local printers to produce fliers free or at a discount rate. You can also work through NCMEC, whose case managers are authorized to contact your local PIP Printing store and make arrangements for several hundred copies of fliers to be printed at no charge to the parent. Special requests for larger quantities have been granted for children who are in particular danger.
Have fliers printed in different sizes for different purposes. Use different sizes for buttons, handouts, reward posters, mailings, and labels. Use the samples in this chapter as a guide.
Ask your primary law enforcement contact what telephone number should be published on the flier for people to use to call in tips. Because the purpose of fliers is to generate leads and tips relevant to your child's case, it is crucial to include a special phone number for readers to call. Often, law enforcement prefers to use a 24-hour hotline staffed by trained information takers rather than the local police telephone number, which may revert to voice mail or a beeper when no one is in the office. The NCMEC toll-free number can be used only after your child has been reported missing to NCMEC. Crime Stoppers and other reputable hotlines experienced in taking lead information are other possibilities. If you ask, Crime Stoppers may be willing to give and take reward information. Do not use your own telephone number or establish your own 800 number. You need to keep your own phone line free for your child or the person holding your child to call.
1. During the first 48 hours, it is critical that recent pictures of your child, descriptions of physical traits and personality characteristics, and facts pertinent to the disappearance be given to law enforcement, the news media, and nonprofit organizations and agencies.
2. Distribute only recent pictures that resemble your child. Remember that posters and fliers will show only the head, neck, and top of the shoulders.
3. Choose representative videos or home movies for airing on television to show viewers your child's appearance, mannerisms, and voice quality.
4. Never give away your only copy of a picture or video.
5. Be both creative and aggressive in getting your child's posters put up in heavily trafficked areas across the country.
6. Use publicity gimmicks, such as buttons, T-shirts, and bumper stickers, to etch your child's face in the public's memory.
7. Prepare a press kit for distribution to national news and talk shows and magazines.
8. Extend your search to the Internet, which will allow you to send your child's picture to a wide variety of organizations via e-mail more quickly and less expensively than you could by fax.
9. Plug into NCMEC's photo distribution service, which can coordinate national media exposure, send a broadcast fax to its national network of law enforcement agencies, contact America's Most Wanted requesting that a public service announcement be aired on your behalf, and post photos of your child on its Web site.
10. If your child has been missing for a long time, distribute age-progressed photos and updated case information to refresh people's memories and renew interest in your child's plight.