You want to grow your business, and raising its profile in the community seems like the perfect strategy to get more visitors to your website. But, be warned, if you launch a public relations campaign prematurely you could be doing more harm to your business than good.

Before you start pitching media outlets and bloggers, there are a few things you need to consider.

First Impressions Matter

Studies show you have just a few seconds to make a positive first impression on the Web. Your website must have engaging web copy a friendly, pleasing design. Anything less and you’ll lose potential visitors. Installing a user tracking system like Google Analytics will help you determine your visitors’ behavior. Heed the results. Pay attention to how long people are staying on your website. If your current visitors aren’t engaging with your website, why would media outlets and bloggers bother to stick around?

Proof. Proof. Proof.

Most of the media outlets and bloggers you’ll be pitching to write for a living. Spelling and grammar mistakes are huge distractions for most people, but even bigger issues for professional writers. Sloppy web copy distracts from your message. Proof your web copy. Then proof it again. Have trusted colleagues, friends and family help with this task. If you can, hire a professional copywriter to catch any errors. Create a site that reads well, that won’t distract media and bloggers and give them a reason to leave your website.

Know Your Story

Have a clear idea about what makes your business unique from your competitors. How are you staying ahead of the curve? Ensure your unique message is communicated on your website. Media outlets and bloggers are constantly looking for fresh angles and innovative material. Know your story and what makes your business special before reaching out to the media and bloggers.

Determine Your Media Targets

List the outlets and blogs you’d like to cover your story. Do your research. Whether it’s reading and commenting on targeted blogs or watching the television show you’d like to appear on, know the organization, publication or person you’re approaching. Make sure your story would work with their format and content.

Craft a Solid Pitch

Traditional press releases can be passé. Writing a cover letter-like pitch is usually much more effective, especially when dealing with bloggers. In your pitch, illustrate how you understand their format and content needs and how their audience will benefit from the information you are presenting. Paint a colourful story with an angle that would work for their blog, program or magazine.

Subject Lines are Crucial

Email is often the preferred method to send your pitch. Keep in mind that media outlets and bloggers commonly receive dozens or even hundreds of pitches daily. To break through the clutter and get them to open your email is a challenge. Creative, enticing subject lines that paint a story can make all the difference. Understand the media. The economic downturn has affected many media outlets. One person is often handling the workload of three. Presenting them with ‘ready-to-go’ stories and being conscious of their time constraints could give your pitch the edge it needs to get covered. The easier you make their job, the better.

Be Flexible

When media outlets and bloggers show interest in your story, accommodate their needs. Expect tight turnarounds and respect their deadlines. Treat them as your client. The benefits to your business and web traffic will be well worth the effort.