Nothing seems harder than finding a location for your group’s first paranormal investigation, but you finally got one and now your team is ready to get out there. You excitedly set a time and date, but what should you do next? How do you go into it professionally, even though it’s your very first investigation? After managing my own paranormal team for nearly four years now, I’ve learned a thing or two about what to do – and what not to do, so here are some important etiquette tips to make sure you get invited back again:
Always get written permission to enter a location to do a paranormal investigation. The only exception to this rule is if your client will be on the location during the investigation or if they are going to participate in the investigation with your group. You may also want to ask the client to give the police a call to let them know you’ll be there. There’s nothing like seeing a bunch of people walking around a dark building with flashlights to make people dial 9-1-1. Trust me.
Make some rules
Be certain your entire groups knows the rules. Most groups do not allow drinking on investigations; some even forbid smoking. Talk to your group, so they understand what you expect of them. They won’t know if you don’t tell them. Some groups even set up bylaws for each member to sign; however, if you are a very close group and you know each other well, this isn’t always necessary, as long as everyone complies.
Nothing’s worse than having a bunch of people running around all over the place. Go to the location ahead of time for a walk through and make a plan for where and when you’ll visit each area. If that’s not possible, try to get a map or make a rough drawing of the location. If your group is large, break it up into smaller teams and have your teams switch areas throughout the investigation.
Keep track of equipment
Ask your team members to label their equipment with their names and phone numbers. Set up one central area at the site for everyone to put their belongings. Take turns staying at that area to monitor the equipment. Before you leave, do a complete walk through to check for anything left behind.
Introduce the entire team to your client and ask them what their goal is for the investigation. Listen to their concerns and take notes. Ask questions and explain what your group is going to do, where, and when. When it’s time to leave, clean up and don’t leave trash behind. Be sure to thank your client before you leave and tell them what you need to do next and when you’ll be in touch with them.
Don’t make them wait
Yes, you’ll be really tired the next day, especially if it’s a late night or all night investigation, but get to the evidence review as soon as possible while the investigation is still fresh in your mind. Then get back to your client as soon as possible to arrange a meeting to discuss what you did or didn’t find.
Collaborate with everyone
Find a good file sharing site, such as Dropbox to share your files with each other. Try to get all the members to listen to your audio and review video/pictures. If not everyone has the time, get at least two or three others to review it, then meet to discuss your findings. If you can’t meet in person, try collaborating via Skype, Go to Meeting, a members-only area of your website, or even a closed group on Facebook, so everyone can give their opinions.
If you didn’t find anything, let your client know, but do ask them to contact you should anything happen in the future or ask to return. You may also need to go back to the location multiple times – ghosts don’t perform on cue. If you think you caught something, share it with your client to get their input. If there were words picked up, don’t tell them exactly what you think you heard until they’ve had a chance to listen first.
This is something your entire group should be on board with – never, ever post your evidence all over the Internet or any other media without the permission of your client. You may be very excited about that class A EVP, but you could lose your client or even worse, face a lawsuit by not being discreet about your findings. Some locations have suffered extensive vandalism due to reports of the paranormal placed on websites. Please bear this in mind when you talk to your client and your group.
All it takes is a little communication, preparation and common sense to conduct an investigation in a professional manner. By taking the time to talk to your group and making carefully-laid out plans, your investigation will go much smoother, and your clients may even ask you to come back. And the best outcome of all, they will be impressed enough to help spread the word about your group.