Wednesday, 11 July 2012

The Missing Poster

You'll be in my heart
No matter what they say
You'll be here in my heart
- Phil Collins

The Importance of the Missing Poster

We found the poster to be one of the most effective tools in communicating Quigley's loss on a local level.  If I had to gauge calls that we received about sightings I would say about half were due to placement of "missing posters" and the other half due to newspaper adverts.


We went through many incarnations of and variations on the missing poster.  The above photo is the one that I have settled on as being the most effective for Quigley's situation.

It sounds ridiculous but there are so many points to consider when creating the poster.  And various sources list varying viewpoints on which information to include on the poster, such as reward size.  Listed below are the points that I took to heart.

The Weatherproof Poster

When we first started posting, we would print out A4 size posters and purchase plastic protector pockets at our local office supply store.  We would stick the posters in, upside down, and either tack or tape to poles as appropriate.  This was easy to do because we could grab a handful of each and make them up as we went along.  After a while, we noticed that these posters seemed to weather fairly quickly.

I then purchased a laminating machine.  This became an expensive and time consuming process.  I would laminate posters at the rate of 20 per night.  We needed a lot because we had a huge team of helpers posting in a vast rural area.  However, after time, these began to weather as well.

As our search progressed we had a helper, who happened to own a printing company, make an amazing suggestion.  He recommended printing the posters on a 220 micron white PVC.  It is waterproof.  This was amazing.  The substance is thin like paper and the posters look spectacular, still.  It is probably more expensive to print them this way initially.  But, the time, cost and trees saved in printing over and over again to replace weathered posters is probably worth it.

Information on the Poster

We received the best response from the most straightforward posters with the least amount of clutter.  Since many people photograph the poster and store it in their phones, I made sure the contact number and photos were as clear as possible. 

Photos - I found that including a close-up of Quigley's face and another photo which showed his shape and his body structure with markings really helped people when they called in sightings.

Specifics - Age, neutered or entire, colour, weight, breed and name were all very important for me.

Controversial items -
Reward - some people say to include the amount and other say to just put "large reward".  I've found people to be split on this matter.  On one hand naming a substantial reward can motivate non-animal lovers to be on the lookout as well but it can also create an abundance of "bounty hunters" which can scare the dog out of the area or lead to false sightings.

Date - Including the date lost can keep the posters feeling current.  But, if the dog continues to be missing for a stretch of time then you must constantly replace the posters with newly dated ones.  Otherwise, the date can then make the poster seem old.  It is sort of a catch 22 situation, I think.

Following Rules - In the UK, there are various rules pertaining to fly posting.  It is a good idea to check with local councils and other authorities to find out the rules.  If you poster in private areas or if you put tacks in trees as opposed to using tape, the posters might get taken down and bother the citizens.  It is also a nice idea to promise to remove posters once the dog is safely home.

Hold some information back
It could be helpful to hold back one defining characteristic about your dog so that if a sighting is called in you can use this piece of information to determine whether or not it is genuine.


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