As many as 600,000 people go missing every year in the United States. While many resurface at some point, quite a few stay missing. For example, the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Missing and Unidentified Persons System has about 30,000 open missing-person cases.
If you’re trying to maintain attention in the case of a loved one who has been missing for a while, your challenges include keeping awareness high, given the amount of time that has elapsed. Another is making inroads with the public with the sheer number of missing cases. Let’s look at ways to overcome these barriers and others.
Ensure Details Are Accurate Across Various Sites
Many websites, blogs, and social media posts may publicize your missing-person case in some way as they have for Chelsea Cobo. Double-check them as much as you can to confirm that details such as contact emails, date missing, race, and age at the time went missing are accurate.
Your case is one of many. By spreading awareness about other missing-person cases, you can gain more attention for yours. Crowdsourcing or fundraising is one way to join forces. You can raise money for resources for your case and others.
Similarly, you can publicize multiple missing-person cases on your blog, website, or social media channel, and get featured on others. Get your loved one’s information in as many missing-person databases as possible.
Update Websites and Blogs Regularly
If your loved one went missing in, say, 2010, you may have no new information to add to the websites and blogs you set up back then to draw attention to the case. However, updated websites and content rank higher on search engines.
If you have nothing new, that is understandable. At a minimum, add a tag such as, “Last updated [Month, Day, Year],” and change it every year or two. That way, people who come across the case know it is active and how current the information is. Other details you might be able to add include age progression photos, memories about your times with the missing person, your experiences as you continue the search, and photos from connected fundraisers and events.
Many people go missing every day. Covering their cases is a good way to keep your site updated while spreading awareness about your loved one’s situation. Keep details about your loved one pinned or prominent on your social media, website, or blog.
YouTube, Vimeo, TikTok, and other video platforms could garner more awareness for your case. Seeing the missing person move, speak, and interact with others helps with identification and adds to the emotional appeal of what you are doing. In addition, it can drive more money to crowdfunding efforts and is a way to add updated content to your website.
Solidify Around a Brand
Cohesive efforts are likely to go further than disjointed efforts. Here are some tips.
- Choose a short name for your social media pages and website URL (for example, “Ruth Come Home”).
- Use that name for email addresses and social media names (email@example.com, #ruthcomehome, etc.).
- Have a website to house all information and links in one place.
- Store all photos, videos, and information in Dropbox or one place because you’ll have to give it out often.
- Designate only one or two people to be spokespeople and public coordinators.
Get on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and other platforms. Facebook is good for big-picture awareness and sharing progress. Twitter could get you many views quickly, especially if a celebrity or someone well-known retweets one of your posts.
YouTube is an excellent place to archive videos, footage, and media coverage of the person and case. Instagram gets your case out to a wider, potentially younger audience. TikTok is another platform to consider for similar reasons.
Hold Events and Fundraisers
Birthdays and anniversaries are natural times to hold events and fundraisers related to the case. Reach out to local media outlets and bloggers to get more coverage, and post about your events on social media.
Get specific about how donations will be used, perhaps to pay a private investigator or update a website. People are more likely to give money when specific actions are linked to the requests for funds.
Ask Police To Revisit the Case or Get a Private Investigator
Police may be willing to revisit the case given an anniversary or new information that has come to light. A private investigator could help uncover details that have remained hidden for years. Some PIs offer free or reduced rates in exchange for you publicizing them on your website and social media channels.
Maintaining attention for your loved one’s missing-person case requires covering multiple bases. You can use your website, various social media platforms, online missing-person databases, community events, and other methods to maximize the chances of your loved one returning home one day.
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