Public relations pro Laura Scholz creates successful media outreach programs for her small business clients. Below, she tells you how to become your own best publicist.

Know your message. What’s your “message?” It’s your unique story—what makes you or your product or service special and different. Make your story interesting and memorable. Show some personality. But most of all, make sure you can tell people what you do, why it’s unique and how they can connect with you in thirty seconds or less. Be prepared to deliver it quickly and effectively in any context, be it a cocktail party or an on-camera interview.

Do you homework. PR is all about research and relationships. Design clothes? Find out what bloggers and reporters in your town write about fashion. Read their work. Follow them on Twitter. Comment on their blogs or stories. Share interesting content on your own blog or Facebook page. Then, when you’re ready to contact a reporter, use your homework. Reference a story or post or segment that you’ve enjoyed. You will instantly stand out from the competition.

Keep it short and sweet. We could all talk for hours about how amazing our products and services are. But reporters, bloggers and producers get hundreds of pitches a day. They’re busy. They don’t have time to read a two-page email or listen to you blabber for 20 minutes about your next event. Keep your pitch short and to the point. If they need more, they’ll ask for it.

Be prepared. While The Oprah Show is the Holy Grail of all media hits, we’ve all heard the horror stories of people who were featured on the show, only to run out of stock or have their websites crash. Simple tips for being media-ready? Make sure you always have a bio, headshot, logo or product photos available (preferably on your website in easy to download format), up-to-date content on your website and social media platforms and a few standard answers prepared for any press inquiry. There’s nothing worse than missing out on a PR opportunity because you didn’t have the right photo or losing potential customers because your website crashed after that great feature segment on the evening news.

Build relationships. Just like your interaction with a news source shouldn’t begin with your pitch, it shouldn’t end with the story. Remember to say thank you. Keep in touch. Share resources that might be good for future stories. Continue to engage. Not only will it keep you top of mind, but it’s just good karma.

Laura Scholz is the president of Scholz Communications, an Atlanta-based public relations firm specializing in small business media outreach. laurascholz.com