Creating a factsheet for a family member being held hostage is a useful way to consolidate the plight of the family’s efforts to get the hostage home if they have decided to go public with the story. The fact sheet can be sent to journalists who typically want to read something short and concise. At first contact, journalists are not ready to dive deeply into a story that they do not know they already have interest in.
The factsheet can also be useful when shared with government officials at various meetings.
The factsheet should be simple but informative including the following and possible more detail depending on the circumstances:
- Who is the hostage
- What is their name, where are they from, what is their occupation etc.
- Where are they being held
- Who is holding them
- Why are they being held
- What do you hope happens next with moving the case forward
- Include a photo of the hostage that you are happy with bring used in the media
- Carefully chose a photo that portrays the hostage in a good light, highlighting their good qualities (avoid photos of the hostage partying, drinking or doing anything that could be construed as negative in the kidnapper’s eyes)
Hostage US has several external media advisors who can advise families on going public or remaining out of the media. As Hostage US volunteers, we do not advise or offer opinions on media strategy as this crosses over into operational response. We can talk though media decisions with families, help them to create fact sheets and teach them how to get the most out of conversations with journalists.