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Real-estate flyer wears 'clever disguise'

Getting noticed. It's what business owners strive for every day, and for good reason. It's hard to build a business if potential customers don't know you're there.

As a PR professional, I know it's easier said than done. Even the most resource-rich global companies struggle to make a lasting impact with their customers. That's why I'm so impressed every time I see a small business cut through the noise armed with nothing more than their passion and smarts.

I recently stumbled on an example of this in the most unlikely place. I'm sure I'm not the only homeowner who constantly receives material from their local real estate agents. It's part of life in the city. Either it's a list of what houses are currently for sale, or the prices for which they recently sold. The news might be interesting, but it's rare that the agent's face or brand sticks with me.

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That changed a month ago when I got home and reached into my mailbox. In there was a four-page brochure that immediately grabbed my attention. On the surface it appeared to be the first edition of a local publication devoted to the history of my neighbourhood. It was full of anecdotes of what the area was like before it was developed, complete with pictures from early in the century. It was news to me, and I was fascinated.

Gradually, however, as I came across the house listings on the back, I saw the document for what it was – a real estate agent's collateral, but one wearing a clever disguise. For that reason, it didn't end up in my recycling bin. It lived on my kitchen counter for weeks, and it caught the attention of some of my friends and family. It was a PR tactic that worked. And all it took was a combination of two passions: career and hobby.

It's a good reminder to us all. I've been able to use my love of snowboarding to generate business opportunities. But all of us have lives outside of work. Combining the two in interesting or innovative ways can help your personality shine through and, ultimately, help get you what you crave most – attention.

Special to the Globe and Mail

Mia Wedgbury, president and co-founder of High Road Communications, operates Canada's largest public relations agency focused on technology and digital lifestyle. The company, which has been recognized as one of the best workplaces in Canada for two years running, has offices in Toronto, Vancouver, Ottawa, Montreal and San Francisco. A seasoned PR expert with more than 18 years of experience, Ms. Wedgbury has directed global brand positioning programs, handled crisis communications, managed international product launches and developed PR strategy for companies across the entire tech and lifestyle spectrum. In 2006, she also helped the agency launch the High Road Connect practice – a social media, Web 2.0 and marketing services group – to help companies transcend conventional communications. Ms. Wedgbury's clients include Microsoft Canada, MSN, Canon Canada, Disney and LG Electronics.

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