What is The Professionalism Standard?
Your probably following it already!
1. Maintain a web presence
We are judged by people searching for information about the paranormal before they ever meet or speak to us. They judge us on the strength of our web presence. Most groups do this but many do it wrong. You should approach all visitors like potential clients and your site should be informative, easy to navigate and easy to read.
Having a registered domain name (this is a .com, .net, .org) is a very good idea. You have to make it easy for people to remember. The registered domain also shows others that you are serious about your group because you have put money into the serious nature of your website. A Facebook profile is good for networking and marketing but is a horrible choice for your ONLY web presence. The average person is not going to go to Facebook to find answers if they have questions or need help. They are much more likely to use a search engine.
However, we are not a watch dog organization. Your web presence type is entirely up to you. The following considerations are listed as a community service to suggest the best web presence you can offer a potential client. They are a guideline.
Please consider these things when building your website
– Feature your members If you are scared about putting your picture on the internet, then you shouldn't be working with the public. A picture and a biography will tell a potential client that you are real, down to earth people with lives and families and professions. It will make them more comfortable contacting you.
– Feature your investigations. You do not have to have full reports but say where you have been and when. Feature training investigations when you can to emphasize that you do organized training sessions as this will also put a potential client at ease. Name the teams you have worked with or for. If you have references, offer them. It is important that you show a potential client that you do active investigations.
– No unrelated ads. It only makes you look unprofessional to have a page cluttered with winking, blinking, distracting ads. Potential clients are not going to take you seriously if your web page is full of dating advertisements and the like.
– Be organized. People usually come to your site through a search engine and they are looking for something specific when they arrive. They will leave your site and chose another if it is hard to navigate your page and they can not find what they are interested in. This is a point where many otherwise excellent investigative teams make a less than satisfying impression.
A person terrified by a haunting is not going to want to see horror graphics. They want answers. They need to be made to feel as if this highly unusual experience that they have had or are having can be understood if not explained. They will leave before they will wade through unrelated content for real information.
– Keep your content current. This is where even I have some trouble but the extra effort to make the site fresh and update it regularly really pays off. Outdated holiday wishes or features are going to speak volumes about you as will screaming acid rock, horror movie sound tracts or graphic, violent or sexual content.
While on Facebook you can reflect your personal tastes in layouts and music, the website should be more geared to pleasing the visitor. These visitors are the ones who will be inviting you in to their homes or businesses. When you give out your address or pass out business cards, or put yourself in search engines, web rings or top sites you are trying to reach people who (in most cases) are not into the paranormal.
2. Team must be made up of adults
Over 21 years of age. Why is that important? Because the client trusts you on their property, in their homes and businesses and like it or not teenagers are notoriously unpredictable. I'm not arguing that older teens, over 18, can't be great assets to a team but the person representing the group to the public needs to be adult.
Furthermore there are issues of safety to be considered. Children and teens are widely accepted as being more open to the spirit world and while you might think that that sounds like a great way to bring the ghosts out to play it could pose a threat to the individual. Possession or oppression by the spirits may be possible. Not to mention that in some of the locations we investigate younger people might be vulnerable to persons who will not have their best interests at heart. We spend too much time in the dark with relative strangers for it to be a good idea to have children on an investigation.
As previously stated we are not a watch dog organization. Your team and your children are your business. Please use these suggestions as guide lines.
3. Investigate FREE of CHARGE
Paranormal ethics frown on taking payment for investigating a haunting. Reasons vary from how you could guarantee your services when most of what we do is anecdotal and subjective to individual interpretation to it would be too easy to deceive innocent people into being dupes. Not taking payment for our services is a way to stay honest. If you aren't investigating to help people, then what are you in it for… Charging money would only PREVENT people from asking you for help. The goal is to encourage people to ask for help and seeking pay will turn many away.
Accepting donations and featuring fund raising events would not be considered as asking for payment.
4. Be Honest
You're trading on your reputation. Your name and team name are all that you have. As teams come and go and you continue to operate honestly word of mouth will drive clients to your door. The actions of a few of us do reflect on the majority. Every bad investigator, every team that falls short of honesty with other teams, within their own groups or to the public steals our hard won credibility. The public already thinks we are all crazy, no need to help perpetuate the negative stereotype by only investigating for trophy ?captures?, manufacturing evidence, fictionalizing stories or being tolerant of those who do.
Do not embellish or fictionalize your accounts of investigations or of evidence. It is not evidence if your peers can't review it, try to duplicate it, work to authenticate it. If this summarily proves a natural cause for our evidence or debunks it that is proof that the system is working.
5. Act professionally
It should be able to go unsaid but as a supporter points out it bears mentioning.
1. Arrive for investigations on time.
2. Be prepared. Have everything you need with you and ready to use before you get on the site. This includes new batteries and whats needed to mark and store your evidence.
3. Be rested. If your not stay at home.
4.Do not go if you are sick or on medication that dulls your senses.
5. Dress sensibly for the conditions and consider an investigation the same as a work place. When dressing for investigations, wear clothes that would be acceptable in a casual business meeting. This would include shirts and tops that do not have slogans, pictures or bands on them, etc., jeans or dress pants that have no holes or rips in them but would be protective and comfortable if you were outside, or if your team has official designated clothing, you can wear that.
Do not wear all black, gothic attire, revealing or inappropriate clothing. Capes, flowing gowns or costumes would not lend any credence to your dedication to investigating, even if you love the idea of matching camouflage fatigues or black ninja suits for the whole team.
6. Behave as if you are at work, or your grandmothers house. Remember, you are not at a friend's house and although you may or may not end up being long term friends with the client you are not there to make friends but to gather data. **I forgot this once, when I was a new investigator and made the mistake of being too casual on an investigation by asking if I could remove my shoes during an 18 hour investigation. Apparently from what I have heard this was offensive. Lesson learned.**
7. Be polite.
8. Be respectful. Always, always, always be on your best behavior.
9. Make an effort to include the client, if they want to be a part of the proceedings. Explain what you are doing and why to the client and be ready to answer any questions that they may have for you. Allow them to test the equipment, monitor the equipment or otherwise give them something they can do if they show an interest.
10. Be sober. Do not be high or drunk. Period.
6. Follow protocols while collecting data
The data you collect should be available for peer review. If it can stand up to stringent peer review then you may have real evidence. The way you collected the data is most definitely an issue. If you do not know where your people are or what they are doing then how can you be sure that isn't them in a blurred snapshot or on an EVP? Furthermore, your provenance of the data collected could make all the difference to your peers when they are reviewing your evidence. Know what equipment was used, how, when and why and present the results with no commentary on what you think it is.
7. Analyze & present your findings in a timely manner.
What good is having hours of tape from investigations held months ago that has never been listened to? Your pictures, video and audio should be analyzed and presented in a report form to your client in a timely manner. Do not take so much data that it can?t be evaluated in a matter of days.
The report is for the client. Present them with what you got, with as little to no set up as is possible. For instance present pictures with no commentary of your own and ask them to tell you what they see before discussing what you think is in it. Let them listen to possible EVPs without having heard what you hear in them.
8. Maintain client contact after an investigation
Ask if the client would like to set up an ongoing investigation or would like to be taught how to collect data.
Make sure that they know that activity may increase after an investigation and make sure you are available to them if it does. Keep in touch with them when it is appropriate and follow up your report with research.
Offer ongoing support but be sensitive to them and watch for signs that they are tired of the scene and may need a break from all of it. Some people will not just say: "We need a break." It?s a fine line and one only learns how to tread it with experience.
Even then it,s difficult to know how much is enough? Ask them. If they don,t want to continue that should be their choice.
Don't leave them hanging.
Don't make yourself a "fixture".
If you are following these guidelines or wish to adopt these guidelines for your team, I want to applaud you for working with a code of conduct, for believing that protocols are important and for supporting ethics in the field of paranormal research. Please add one of our banners to your web presence, link it back to this page explaining what it stands for and then go back to doing the real work of researching and investigating the paranormal.
As our network grows so will our reputations, so will our credibility and so will our ability to help those who are experiencing alleged paranormal activity.
Your input is welcome. If you have something that you feel needs to be added to the Professionalism Standard contact us.
Many of you are adhering to these standards now. If you are why not join The Professionalism Standard
We can make a difference in the paranormal community; one group at a time.