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Start: Mark Evans

How to capture the spotlight Add to ...

As you offer a great product or service to attract customers and grow revenue, it also makes sense to try to capture the spotlight to support your company's marketing and sales efforts.

So how do you gain the attention of the media, bloggers and, just as important, consumers?

Truth be told, there is no secret formula. Instead, it involves a combination of planning, luck and often being in the right place at the right time.

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The most important thing - aside from having a good service or product - is having a compelling or interesting story.

Too many companies think that simply means talking about what they do.

That may be interesting to them but not likely to those who know nothing about them or have never used their products or services.

Instead, it's more important to think "big picture," where a company plays a role in a story but it is not the story.

The idea is to create a story with broad appeal as opposed to trying to get coverage only about your company. It doesn't necessarily mean talking about your competitors but these kinds of stories encompass broader trends or themes that have more potential to resonate.

Coming up with these stories is not an easy task. It takes creativity, imagination and the willingness to talk about more than just what you do.

At the same time, these stories are more effective if they can be customized to different target audiences.

For example, a newspaper may have a different editorial mandate than a trade magazine or a blogger interested in a specific topic. Trying to create a one-size-fits-all story may not work as effectively as creating variations on a theme.

If you're considering using a public relations agency, I would suggest doing a lot of the "grunt work" before you engage them. It helps to have your story already developed or, at least, have a good idea about the key trends or issues that can be newsworthy.

A company should also have created some marketing collateral that can be used to support outreach to the media and bloggers.

If you do this work upfront, a PR agency can focus on delivering the story to its network of reporters and bloggers without having to spend a lot of time creating your story.

Of course, a good PR agency will massage and refine your story but its real value is in getting it into the hands of the most relevant people.

And then with a little luck and timing, you may be able to capture the spotlight.

Special to The Globe and Mail

Mark Evans is a principal with ME Consulting , a content and social media strategic and tactical consultancy that creates and delivers 'stories' for companies looking to capture the attention of customers, bloggers, the media, business partners, employees and investors. Mark has worked with three start-ups - Blanketware, b5Media and PlanetEye - so he understands how they operate and what they need to do to be successful. He was a technology reporter for more than a decade with The Globe and Mail, Bloomberg News and the Financial Post. Mark is also one of the co-organizers of the mesh, meshUniversity and meshmarketing conferences.

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