1. Contact the Police:
Register a “missing persons” or “endangered individual” complaint.
* With a missing child - call 911 IMMEDIATELY to engage the nation’s Amber Alert system.
Time is of the ESSENCE when it comes to kidnapped children. Their chance at survival decreases with every passing minute - do NOT delay calling 911! Law Enforcement will immediately alert the Media and make arrangements to distribute your child’s picture and information to the public.
IMMEDIATELY: FIND AND PROVIDE A RECENT (HIGH QUALITY) PHOTO & ANY HOME VIDEO OF YOUR LOVED ONE -
***Tip: get them on a computer e-mail attachment, too !! ***
2. Write down the last time the loved one was seen, what he/she was wearing, vehicle description/license plate # (if they own a car) and what their normal routine would be for that day/night.
Also note down the time on the clock - each time you call their cell-phone (even if it rings & rings and you get no answer).
Especially note the time - if it goes straight to voicemail (w/no ring).
Ask law enforcement to “triangulate” the cell-phone’s location - if you suspect your loved one is in a life-threatening situation.
3. Set-up an immediate Neighborhood Search, Provide Photo of Missing Person (Color copies to all who are searching):
Make contact with a Neighborhood Watch leader, Apt. Complex Manager, School PTA leaders, Friends/Family or anyone who would possibly possess “phone-tree” contact information to alert as many local volunteers, as can be gathered.
Appoint a trusted neighbor or family member (with cell-phone) to be the “Contact Person” for those who report in or have questions. Have them keep track of places which have already been searched & what still needs to be searched.
A local map ( printed off GoogleMaps or other source) can be used to keep track. Highlight (with a marker) those areas which have been checked. Walkie-Talkies are also a great tool, if available.
4. Create a “Missing” flier:
Use your most recent & highest quality COLOR picture of your loved one, in creating this very important tool in the search for them.
In large, BOLD print (at the top) - type in the word: MISSING
Under this, display the picture of them in as large a format as you can - so that the picture takes up the TOP HALF of the page (in height).
The lower half of the page can be devoted to the following:
Last seen wearing____ (clothes)
Tattoos, scars or other distinquishing features/marks
Phone number (& webpage/e-mail) for tips
Reward information (if any; which can also go ABOVE the photo, too)
5. Gather as much information as to your loved one’s current state-of-mind, relationships (personal & work), future plans…and, most importantly, if anyone has threatened them - in any way - within recent memory.
Write this ALL down - by starting a chronological journal of facts & events. (Keep track of “who-said-what” - when trying to piece together your loved one’s life up until they went missing.)
Even if you start with Post-It notes - which can be adhered into a plain notebook - written notations will help investigators put together the puzzle of what happened to your loved one.
6. Create a web-page or Website, ASAP! :
Ask family, friends or neighbors to help find a “computer-savvy” individual who can quickly assist you in setting up a webpage or website - displaying your loved one’s picture, home video-clip (via YouTube link), physical description, contact information and a message board (for tips).
Hint - there are many teenagers who have an excellent understanding of how to do this. Entrust them with this project and you will be surprised at their knowledge & willingness to help!
Here are just a few suggestions of sites that offer free or inexpensive web displays:
Make sure this webpage or website PROMINENTLY displays your BEST (recent & high quality) picture of your missing loved one.
Make it uncluttered and bright in its coloring (background & lettering).
(TV cameras will often shoot a website’s front-page to use in a news story. Strong, complementary colors are important when you want to capture attention.
Complementary colors are “visual opposites” on a color-wheel, for example: Royal Blue with Red or Purple with Orange)
Do not use pastels or small lettering !
Display the word “MISSING!” in the largest, brightest way you can - directly above your loved one’s picture.
Have that volunteer also register/sign up (on as many of the more popular Website Engines/Domains) a specific e-mail address which contains your missing loved-ones name.
This way, no one can misuse your loved-one’s name…or attempt to garner attention away from your case.
Choose one of them to be your main contact address for e-mails from the public and the media. (And forward the other addresses into your chosen main one)
7. Get in touch with local Media to spread the word:
Once Law Enforcement is officially involved in the search of an adult missing person - you can start to contact the local Media (newspaper, radio and television…as well as website message boards such as Topix for your city or town).
Have your law enforcement contact give you the proper “Tip Hotline” telephone number - for the public to anonymously call in tips on your loved ones whereabouts.
Have a friend or family member check the websites of each individual media outlet and gather their Newsroom “Tipline” or “Assignment Desk” contact information; both in an e-mail contact ”group” & a hard-copy (in a notebook).
FAX numbers and direct phone numbers to each Assignment Desk is essential.
Call each organization’s front-desk..and ask to speak to the “Assignment Desk” - when you have your Missing flyer designed and ready to distribute.
Be ready to send multiple, duplicate copies of your loved ones “Missing” flyer to each media outlet (FAX, e-mail, front-desk.)
Appoint an “official spokesperson” for your family, who will serve as both contact and giver-of-information (interviews) for your family.
Make sure this person is comfortable speaking in public and can speak clearly & concisely under pressure!
They will need to be available (by phone &, many times, in person) at all times of the day or week - until your loved one is found.
It is a critical and very important position…and one to keep standardized. (Appoint one person - and keep that same person for all media contact opportunities with the family.)
Arrange for them to have a reliable a cell-phone with them, at all times!
8. Get ready to write your first “Press-Release” & host your first “Family Press Conference”.
Utilizing the Media to help spread the word of your missing loved one is possible - you just need to know how to do it within their confines & schedules.
We are going to give you the best insights we have - to first draw, then maximize the opportunity of any publicity you may garner on behalf of your missing loved one.
The single, most powerful tool you have in your possession to conduct a search - is your home computer.
It will store-then-transmit your loved one’s picture & home video..along with the information that YOU craft to catch-then-direct the attention of the media and the public to your loved one’s story.
The industry standard (in the media) when one wants coverage is something called a “Press Release”.
(future example Press Release, here)
It is a SINGLE-sheet “announcement” of an event which spotlights your story.
It is what you will e-mail, FAX and, even, drop off to the media outlets you wish to cover your story.
It MUST contain the following:
1. a Header for your organization(containing the name of your loved one)
2. the words “Media Release“ or “Press Release” under that Header
3. the date you are sending it (upper right-hand corner)
4. the category-headers of What, Where, When, Directions, Visuals & Contact - for your event.
With this information, you are saying to the media that you are welcoming them to cover a pre-planned gathering or event;
what it is, where it will be, who will be there (to interview), address with directions of how to get there (Googlemaps or Mapquest link) & what time for them to be there and who to ask for when they arrive.
Always use descriptive language to allow them to “visualize” what they will be covering in a section called “Visuals”.
(i.e. - “one hundred candles distributed to community volunteers who will be praying for the safe return of your loved one”, “39 purple balloons to be released by family & friends” - to mark our missing loved one’s birthday & favorite color)
Let them know (with that same written language) the emotion & loss of those left behind your loved one’s disappearance.
Write about the family and/or neighborhood and/or community’s reaction & outstretching of support for you, in the search for your loved one.
They will want to photograph this, in person (the support you are receiving)…and this will “bond” more people, in your community, to your missing loved one’s story - and you will continue to get even more volunteer help in your search!
When you send your Press Release out via e-mail, make sure to write a concise & emotional “Subject Line” at the top.
(It will be THE ONLY thing which catches the eye of the already-besieged assignment editor or intern who has the onerous duty of mulling through the HUNDREDS of press releases e-mailed or FAX’d every day to their organization!)
Start with the name of your loved one or organization, followed by the words “Press Release:”
(For example #2b- “Find Lisa Stebic Press Release:”)
Then distill the goal of your upcoming Family Press Conference event down to 8 to 12 heart-breaking words, which will follow that line (above).
(For example - : Father of Two, Missing. Family Fears Worst!)
or - : Popular Student goes Missing - Family Begs For Help!
or - : Divorcing, Pregnant Mother Disappears, Family Terrified ! )
These subject lines will evolve over time and must be crafted to meet EACH one of your events.
We also wrote Fliers requesting Volunteers, at the same time, which mirrored the Press Releases. Then Lisa’s friends & neighbors took them to local grocery/drug stores, churches, synagogues, diners, dry cleaners, schools, etc..and asked them to distribute them to their members & customers.
(For example, in our largest search for Lisa, we wrote this Subject Line:)
“Find Lisa Stebic Press Release: Plainfield P.D. sets up massive search in Silver Springs State Park“
For the Media:
We usually wrote a short sentence or paragraph to start the body of the press release (which was inserted above the “What, Where, When, Directions, Visuals” section) which described Lisa, the loss being suffered by her family & their intent to hold a “Family Press Conference”, Search or Fundraiser - to gather support in finding her.
We, sometimes, would write an more in-depth explanation of our event’s goals under a longer paragraph entitled “Details” - such as the one we wrote for our friend Stephanie McNeil - whose brother, a talented blues musican/businessman, John Spira went missing in February of 2007.
(For Example: see Missing John Spira Chicago Musician press release-1-yr Anniversary)
Then we gave all the pertinent information of What, Where, When, description of Visuals and Contact information (for the family spokesperson) to round out the release.
Once you have this single-sheet press release written, we recommend you send it out to those media outlets, immediately & often…following this formula:
First time - send it via e-mail every SIX hours - up until the time of your event.
Second time to 3 weeks - send it twice or three per day. Early morning (before 8am) and early afternoon (12 noon)…with a 4pm backup.
After 3 weeks - Send your Press Release: One week prior to event, then 3 days before & then 1 day before event. If it occurs at night or on the weekend - send it on the morning of, as well.
If your loved one JUST WENT missing, then you are categorized as “breaking” news.
You need to catch whatever news “shift” (am or pm) is developing their daily coverage dockets.
Daily newspapers generally hold morning (9am) & afternoon (3pm) editorial meetings - to prep the NEXT day’s newspaper.
TV stations usually hold their morning editorial meetings around 9am & primetime editorial meetings around 1pm - 2pm, every afternoon (where management & reporters figure out WHICH stories to cover - with their limited manpower, for that & the next day)
News Radio can have both - since they normally have 24-hour news coverage.
When you hold a Family Press Conference, Vigil, Search or Event - remember that the Media usually has TWO shifts for their reporters/photographers: AM shift and PM shift.
It is recommended that you start your event during a daypart which does not include a “shift-change” for these individuals.
AM workers can be generally be assigned to cover your pre-planned events for anytime after 8:30am or 9am (in preparation for the Noon newscast). PM workers can usually make a 2:30 or 3pm (in prep. for the 5pm/6pm newscasts) …or 7-8pm (in prep. for the 10/11pm newscasts)
9. FAMILY PRESS CONFERENCES: Your third most powerful tool (behind your loved one’s website & your Press Releases.)
A “Press Conference” is - according to definition - an pre-designated event by which an individual, family or organization can invite the Press to come ask questions following an “opening” statement - being presented by the event organizers.
It is publicized by a Press Release and (we recommend) held at a time when most Media outlets can attend, in order to reach the largest section of the public, with your intended message. (see above)
The same statement subject( which is being made at the event) should be the one listed at the top of your press release.
If your family needs volunteers to search (say a wooded area, near your missing loved one’s home) - then you need to make that the prime focus of your “opening” statement.
In that statement, you will need to delineate/list the plans to make that “need” possible.
(Example: say “We desperately need people to help us search Tyson Woods, for our loved one, this Saturday. Search coordinators will be setting up a command post at the corner of Main Street & Grand Blvd - and ask for volunteers to show up at 9am. Protective clothing & shoes are recommended for searching the wooded areas“)
For your FIRST “Family Press Conference” - make sure you do the following:
Decide upon a family spokesperson (who will make the “opening” statement for you - with the rest of the family standing in back of that person). Have your spokesperson wear a jacket/blazer of a bright, primary color. The lapel of which will have the many TV “lav” microphones attached to it, during the one-on-one interviews.
2. Write out the statement (a few paragraphs, which go over the facts of the disappearance of your loved one, his/her description, Tip Hotline, the website or webpage information, the amount of any Reward you might want to offer..and, most importantly, how MUCH that person is missed & how painful/terrifying it is to NOT KNOW where they are and what has happened to them!) *note: when honest, deeply-felt emotion is shown - people will do anything and everything they can to help you!
3. Write a Press Release with basically the same information as you’ve decided to release in your statement…and then send it out to as many Media outlets as possible - with a picture, the website & Tip Hotline info and the What, Where, When & Visuals (see above, example #2).
4. Choose a smart location to hold your Family Press Conference.
A “smart” place would be somewhere which holds significance in your missing loved one’s life - like their house, their work or school. It is important to have that place in the background, with signage, if possible - as you give your Family Press Conference. If there is signage/banners (of them or for their work or school, etc) - make sure to stand where you have the sign - in full view - over your RIGHT or LEFT shoulder.
(It helps people assign a visual, location-based identity to your loved one - which will be visually supportive of their portrait picture.)
This means that you might need to go across the street for the building to be in full view, in back of you (for the TV cameras & newspaper’s press photographer).
Have a “rain” back-up available, too, if the weather looks ominous. A pop-up canopy-tent, is always a good option - in order to have the proper protection while doing an outdoor event - where cameras are present.
When they arrive, ask each member of the attending media write down their name, organization & contact info (phone number, e-mail & FAX number) in a ”sign in” notebook - which you can have sitting on a table - at the Family Press Conference location.
Also have a plainly marked envelope, sitting inside the notebook which says “Media Business Cards”, on the front - to collect & keep their business cards, for the future.
*Tip: We also recommend that you also borrow a small fold-up card table, cover it with a rich-colored table-cloth (red is best) and place as MANY picture-frames with pictures of your loved one, on it.
Surround those pictures with candles (even during the day), small & meaningful personal items belonging to your loved one (if available)..and a single rose with a ribbon attached, laying across the front.
This will give every photographer, on-scene, to have important visuals to intercut with your interview and statement soundbites.
Place the “portrait” table next to the location where you make your “opening” statement, so that family members can grab the portraits right before the statement is being read (see below). They can then set them back on the table, when you are finished.
Normally, photographers will “shoot” the b-roll (or “cut-away/cover”) shots of the table - following the initial statement and interview period of time.
5. Have every member of your family (and even friends, if you wish) hold a framed picture of your loved one (and hold hands) while they stand in back of the Family Spokesperson, as you read out your “opening statement”.
6. Show emotion: Don’t be afraid of telling/showing the media about how scared, terrified, upset, overwhelmed, frozen-with-fear you are feeling.
HONESTLY SHOWING THIS WILL GET THE PUBLIC TO MOVE HEAVEN AND EARTH TO HELP YOU!
In this world, we human-beings have an internal gut-reaction which helps us empathize with others, who are ”in pain”.
It is called the “There but for the Grace of God, go I” feeling….and it is what MAKES people rise out of their every-day doldrums and ACT to help another human being. (Because, we would all like to think that if we were in that same positon - then someone would come to help US, in our time of need, right?)
USE this fact - in begging for help in finding your missing loved-one.
Use these words:
“We are SO frightened of___”,
“We are TERRIFIED that___”,
“We are overwhelmed with Fear that_____.”
“Please, please HELP us____.”
You will find your pleas will be met…and, lovingly, by your community.
But only if you show your HEART.
Do NOT wear sunglasses during a Family Press Conference - or any item of clothing which can be seen as revealing or disrespectful. It will not reflect well on your missing loved one’s case.
Tip: if you are asked a question by the media - with which you are not comfortable (or puts you on the spot) - then respond, respectfully, this way:
“I’m sorry. I cannot answer that, at this time….but I would like you to know that _______ “ (fill in the blank with a point you DO want to get across).
The Long Run: You must get the word out any way possible
From Candlelight Vigils, Car Washes, Pancake Breakfasts, Fair/Fesitval Booths, Hair Cut-a-Thons, Garage Sales, Golf Tournaments, Butterfly & Dove Releases, Commemorative Walks, Holiday flower distributions, magnets, buttons, music videos, T-shirts, slideshow DVDs, Internet: You, too, can turn to multiple media for help in the search for your loved one!
We want to help you navigate the media & chart a public relations strategy involving fliers, vigils, flowers and magnets and more..which will BOND the public to your missing loved one & the search to find him/her.
We, Lisa Ruttenberg Stebic’s family, employed virtually every modern form of information-sharing, we could use - from a Web site and discussion boards to music videos and a YouTube.com campaign, to name just a few.
And we want to share it all with you - to help FIND your loved one!
A well-orchestrated blitz might just help you connect with the news media’s captivation with these kinds of stories. But you must stay 24-hours ahead of the next day’s news cycle.
That means MAKING news…and not just hoping for coverage!
Drive IT..so that it doesn’t drive YOU.
Here is our hard-learned & heartfelt advice:
You have to keep announcing things, creating the next news story - for the next day, few days or week. The media doesn’t always need BIG things…just a linear distribution of NEW (visual) things being done to further the search.
Remember, the media is like a shark you have to keep feeding..or it will go away (as will your chances of keeping your loved-one’s face in front of the public).
If well-planned and executed - the results might end up in weeks of almost daily local coverage…maybe even a couple of national TV appearances….netting hundreds of volunteers searching for your missing loved-one.
We always looked at the calendar to see what important day was coming up. How could we do a creative “tie-in” into Lisa’s story - marketing-wise - to keep her name & face in the public’s eye.
If you come up with the creative idea and have a list of volunteers - who are willing to making it happen - you can easily accomplish this.
Keep your list of volunteers organized by obtaining both their phone number & e-mails address. Put them into a “Group” under your “Contacts” area of your website’s attached e-mail. (We have FindLisaStebic.com which lists FindLisaStebic@gmail.com as our contact e-mail. The we send ALL Press Releases & requests for volunteers via our gmail account).
(Note: People really, really want to help you - but usually don’t know WHAT to do to help! The community hurts alongside a family-in-crisis…and will leap to action if you simply ask. We found that all you need to do is announce you need help * via group e-mail, phone-tree or press release* - and then provide the materials, instructions & coordination to make the project successful.)
Examples: Events which use Tie-In’s:
Searches: These are your first & most-urgent form of community involvement - in the search for your loved one. If it is warm/hot outside - make sure to have bottles of cold water or gatorade to distribute (attach “Missing” flyer to each bottle or hand them out together.)
If it is cold weather outside - go to any Camping/Hunting store and buy as many gel-pack handwarmers, as you can afford. Attach a sticker with your loved one’s image, website name & hotline to each package (such as ours, below).
(These can easily be printed up at home or at a print shop..and assembled by volunteers). Hand them out to every volunteer who shows up to search. Provide hot coffee, tea, donuts & bagels - for morning searches.
Coordinate with local Search & Rescue units to provide organizational structure & coordination of the search.
Holidays: We handed out free carnations with Lisa’s picture attached (on ribbon-tags) on Mother’s Day - at neighborhood restaurants, who volunteered to hand them to every single family who came to lunch/dinner. Local grocery stores donated the flowers, we paid for the printing on the tags & community volunteers assembled & distributed them. Look to see if you can utilize a Holiday to draw attention to your missing family member’s case. Be Creative!
Just a few additional examples:
On Lisa’s birthday, we held a neighborhood vigil, served birthday cake (2 sheet cakes, complete with Lisa’s picture on the frosting - for the photographers to photograph), we played her favorite music, lit candles, read a prayer and then released 100 purple balloons (her favorite color) with her image, hoping the visual message would reach a wide audience.
At her 20th High School Reunion - we were given permission to show her “Missing” banner at the Homecoming football game while an announcement was made, requesting people help search for her & donate to her reward fund.
Local Events: At the local town fairs & outdoor concerts, we set up a folding table (with tablecloth) under a shade-tent with a stack of Lisa’s “Missing” flyers, 100 refrigerator magnets (with her face, website name & Tip Hotline #), free purple balloons and a bowl of free candy for everyone to take, one of each. We always hung a large banner or two at each event
We HIGHLY recommend you utilize our idea of handing out refrigerator magnets at your events. They are MUCH more effective, durable & long-lasting than paper fliers. Think of the LONG run - in trying to keep valid tips coming in to law enforcement! Have them printed at Kinkos, et al…and assemble yourself, to save money.
Some retail consultants may offer to contribute “partial proceeds” to a reward fund - if you include them in your event planning. Hang your loved one’s banners at the fundraisers!
We established a Reward Fund for information leading to the whereabouts of our missing loved one. We set it up with a local bank and ensured that it was legally protected - for Lisa’s children’s college education (via a 529 account) - should it never be claimed. We held a Family Press Conference at the bank - which all the media attended (and was aired nationally). There we distributed “Lapel Buttons” with Lisa’s image, website & tip hotline - asking for a 1-dollar donation to the fund.
We organized a Car Wash and a Pancake Breakfast with the Jaycees (to benefit the Reward Fund). The community held Garage Sales, Raffles, Hair Cut-a-Thons, Wine-Tastings, Bake Sales, Golf Tournaments, Dog Wash/Grooming Days, etc to raise reward money, as well. We did them separately, so as to draw as much media coverage in steady increments. (Ask local philanthropic, community service-oriented groups to become involved and help organize these types of events. They WANT opportunities like this!)
A sincere word of advice:
Appoint one trusted person to both seek out and oversee donations - to make these “Reward Fund” Benefits, successful. Ask someone, you might know, who has a sales background & can emotionally convince organizations that a donation (of “stuffs”, like coffee, fliers, bottled water, pancake mix, etc) to your events - will actually be a donation to the community they serve. Make sure to list them on your Press Releases & Volunteer Fliers, in the “Thank You” section….and thank them, via the Media, publicly.
Individual donations (as well as those which emerge from a Fundraising event) need, without exception, to go directly into a bank account which can only be accessed by your MOST trusted family member, overseen by the Bank Manager.
Other Suggested Events:
Neighborhood Retail Fundraisers…
Community Gararge Sales…
We held three Candlelight Vigils…to mark certain occasions. The first was within a week of when Lisa went missing, complete with a pastor giving a prayer & friends reading poems/memories of Lisa. The second followed the cutting of her birthday cake & release of balloons. The third was to mark & observe the 6-month anniversary of her disappearance. It featured a rabbi & cantor offering peace to Lisa’s family, in her remembrance.
(future Video or photo from first Candlelight Vigil)
For Lisa’s One-Year Anniversary - we staged a Benefit Walk, complete with commemorative T-shirts, balloons & flowers - to benefit a local charity.
(For Lisa - the charity was a local Community Center which offered free counseling & shelter for abused women and children). Before the walk started, we had several short speeches by the city mayor & council, a prayer ..then a statement by the family spokesperson…followed by a message from the parent of our missing loved one. We then had the family perform a Dove Release (7 doves) with a poignant, live acoustic song being played by a local guitarist/singer.
At these events - we’d always hang BIG banners with the photo-shopped image of our loved one. (Available through your local Kinkos or print shop..which can also produce your “Missing” fliers/posters, refrigerator or car magnets & flower tags - ).
Have a friend/family member (who is good at Photo-Shopping on their computer) create a basic design - using Clip Art (free, off the internet) of your loved one’s favorite thing, in their favorite color. For us, Lisa’s was the color Purple & Butterflies. They remained a continuing theme throughout our events.
Going “Viral” (using the worldwide Internet community - to find your loved one):
Within days of the disappearance of your loved one, try to have a family member post as many home-videos of them on YouTube.com, LiveVideo.com and etc.. We showed a poignant home movie of Lisa Stebic lighting Hanukkah candles with her children, reading to them and singing with her family & at a backyard Barbeque.
(PUT LISA”S YouTube vids, here!)
Our extended family & friends solicited help from anyone who would listen, encouraging YouTube viewers (and others) from around the world to send us pictures of themselves holding signs that read findlisastebic.com, via our e-mail account.
Photos came from Greece, Canada and the United Kingdom, for us…and one of our talented friends created a montage of the individual photos, set to a popular song - and we posted her Slideshow back on YouTube to keep Lisa’s image out on the Worldwide Web.
(PUT “World Is Watching” video, here)
We also spun DVD copies of the slideshow montage - and gave them to the attending media at our next Family Press Coverage.
They worked so well - we got over 700 people to help up search for Lisa - in Silver Springs State Park. We intoned our thanks via a music video which featured a very powerful original song, inspired & written by a couple who searched along with us, that day. Local newspaper photographers, TV reporters and our friend at BluEyedDaizy Productions all donated their talents to pay tribute to all who volunteered that day to find her.
(future link to ”Looking for Lisa” video, here)
Remember: A picture is only a 2-Dimensional offering of your beloved, 3-Dimensional missing loved one. Videos can touch people’s hearts because they render the loved one into a flesh-and blood human being, WORTH being found !
We had people say they cried watching our videos. We were not trying to manipulate. It just made that connection where people saw Lisa Ruttenberg Stebic as a real person, not a two-dimensional driver’s license picture.
We were also lucky to obtain 3 Billboards to publicize Lisa’s disappearance.
We coordinated a Family Press Conference on the afternoon they were put up - with the Family Spokersperson & sister talking to the Media, in front of the billboard as it was being installed.
This was a very powerful image on that evening’s newscasts.
A family has only a brief window of time to draw local-then-maybe-national attention. We hope you can ride it out as long as we were able to..and that is why we are giving you every suggestion we can - so that you can try to follow the (successful) steps we made up, as we went along.
Tip: Always remain accessible to the media and to provide pictures or video, whenever possible, in hopes that a two-line blurb could become a three-minute story.
Our Website has been so helpful. We’ve known both the FBI and the local police to check it to search for tips or clues…and the media to check it for updates on our missing loved one.
The National Center for Missing Adults, says the Web plays a greater role in missing-persons cases, now more than ever…so it IS worth it to create your own website for your missing loved-one!
A note of learned caution: We created a message board on our family’s website for “Prayers and Messages of Hope“. But, we were surprised when the message board turned into a forum for speculation and accusations about the case. We had a dear friend offer to monitor it and discourage people from leaving negative messages - until it became too much work. Comment/Message boards can be a double-edged sword: great for anonymous tips and new observations…but bad for innuendos and erroneous, speculative information. We would just like to warn you to beware..and tread carefully, when creating one! ALWAYS, always have a board which can be administered and carefully monitored.
We wish you all the best this world has to offer, with our hearts open…and our thoughts & prayers at one with yours, in the hopeful return of your loved one. May God Bless and Keep you.
If your family has come to this page to find help in finding a loved one who has suddenly gone missing - know that our hearts and prayers are with you. We know the terror & foreboding you are currently feeling, all too well - and, in that, are sharing with you all the information/experience we have learned since our loved one - Lisa Ruttenberg Stebic - disappeared on April 30, 2007. We pray this will help you find them..and soon!