This blog is contributed by Jeff Crilley, Author, Free Publicity, and featured presenter at the 2014 Print Leadership Summit. With more than two decades of news experience and hard-earned PR expertise, Crilley shows you how to use fundamental promotion strategies to put your business in the spotlight.

Do you have a great idea to market your business but no clue how to get noticed by customers? If you’re tired of spending your resources but just not seeing the ROI, I can relate.

After 25 years of beating the street as a TV reporter and now as President & CEO of Real News Public Relations, I have learned what it really takes to get your great ideas in front of your audience. And I have a scoop for you: to get noticed, you need to sell your brand story like reporters sell the front page story. Whether it comes from the newsroom or the pressroom, fundamentally getting attention is all about having the right message at the right time in the right place.

So, here are five fundamental elements that can increase the success of marketing your business from some of the top PR pros in the industry:

1) Be Unusual

Have you ever seen a promotion that was so different and creative that it made you stop in your tracks? Doing something “outside the box” can be intimidating, but just as the news doesn’t cover what’s normal, the usual promotion won’t get you the head-turning results that can drive more sales. You can say that the old adage about “man bites dog” still holds true—uniqueness sells.

For example, PR whiz Carolyn Alvey knew this when she was trying to raise money for a charity several years ago. Instead of holding a garage sale, she sent out a press release announcing a “Celebrity Garage Sale.” Everything from Bob Hope’s old golf clubs to Roger Staubach’s long-neglected neckties was for sale. By making an ordinary garage sale unique, the media was instantly sold on the story.

How can you apply this idea to your business? Try creating a direct mail piece your customer can’t help but open like this one from Sappi Fine Paper.

2) Be Visual

Reporters tell stories with pictures. Brands tell stories as well—through content marketing, social media, print media, and any other communication vehicles. It’s having a visible personality for your company by engaging and connecting with customers on an emotional level.

In the printing and graphic arts industry, a great way to connect is to host tours or open houses for clients and graphic arts students. Then post tour photos on a company Facebook page. Create a company blog and share case studies of satisfied customers. There are many ways to put your business out there and show your customers what you stand for.

3) Choose the Right Promotional Strategy

Perhaps the most common mistake some companies make is choosing the wrong promotion strategy for their audience. In both the news business and the print business, we need to seek out the communication channels and messaging that resonate with a target audience. There is no one-size-fits-all—Test strategies and measure response rates to determine what works best for your company.

4) Write Like a Reporter

If I were going to send a press release to a reporter, I’d write the kind of headline that a newspaper would run. When you’re creating a blog title or email subject line, write a headline that would make you read it!

Why is this so important? Consumers get hundreds of messages every day. Often the decision of whether to read your message is made in a matter of seconds. Many times that well-crafted sentence in the third paragraph of your blog or email is never read. Grab the customer at the beginning and lead them to your call to action.

5) Wait for Slow Times in Your Market

Reporters take advantage of slow news times like holidays when government offices are closed, and so do most of our sources. When are your biggest downtimes?

Slow times can be great opportunities for marketing your business because 1) you may have more staff and resources to devote to marketing and 2) chances are this is your competitors’ downtime too.

To learn more best practices for marketing your company, Jeff Crilley, an Emmy Award winning reporter and PR professional, is presenting “Talk the Talk: Getting the Attention Your Business Deserves” at the 2014 Print Leadership Summit, June 2–3, Dallas, TX.