Cold Case: Laura Van Wyhe

Anne Champion, an Iowa native and prominent New York City attorney, who has defended President Trump’s niece, Mary Trump, and CNN and White House correspondent Jim Acosta, selected Meld to be the lead marketing agency in her quest to solve a 25-year-old cold case for her childhood friend. That friend, Iowa City native Laura Van Wyhe, died in the early morning hours of October 26, 1996, after celebrating her 21st birthday.

Meld’s role has included public relations, social media, web, and marketing. We named the campaign, built the website, and created a Facebook page that became the hub of conversation. We also worked to maximize awareness by aligning our audiences with those listening to the national podcast, Bonaparte, that features Laura’s story. Bonaparte has been listed as a top 20 podcast on the Apple store.

Grabbing the Nation's Attention

Public relations was critical to gaining the attention of media, law enforcement, and the public. Meld’s work in this area started with identifying potential investigative reporters who might be interested in sharing this story. Meld worked with USA Today/The Des Moines Register and The Daily Beast to ensure both local and national audiences were reached. Mary Trump, a friend of our client, then retweeted some of Meld’s content, creating an even bigger buzz.

The website Meld built has garnered visitors from 49 states.

Daily Beast Featuring LVW Cold Case
Des Moines Register Front Page
Mary Trump Retweet

Laura Van Wyhe Social Media

Page Rules

Due to the sensitive nature of this campaign, we created explicit rules for this page to encourage respectful discussion. We monitored the page through community management to enforce these guidelines.

Bonaparte Podcast Post

We utilized our audiences to bring visibility to Bonaparte, the nationally-ranked podcast series focusing on Laura’s cold case. These posts often sparked discussion in the comments from parties relevant or adjacent to the case.

Top Performing Post

We worked closely with Anne to craft content that would bring about fruitful discussion and ideally lead to information that would solve the case. This post dispelling a widely-held false theory about the case was one of the top-performing posts, reaching 8,700 people and receiving 269 comments and 68 shares.

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“I have worked with quite a few big national PR companies, with respect to big cases that we worked on, but Meld was the right choice for this. First of all, even though Meld is small, they’re sophisticated, and I think with Melinda’s journalism background, she really just understood the case and understood what needed to be done.”

Anne Champion

Partner at New York law office of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher


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More than 65% of visits to the website are from social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.


Within the first two months, people from 49 states + Washington, D.C. visited the website

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Within the first month, Facebook page followers grew to more than 500 people

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