Public relations versus advertising: the age old debate has been solved. We're inundated with ads now more than ever. Throughout the course of one day, we see an incredible 5,000 ads. That's one every 11.5 seconds.

And how many of those can you ads can you recall? For most, the number is low. Much of the time, our brains barely see these ads — which means their messages certainly aren't sticking. So, the solution isn't to spend more on advertising. It's to try something different.

Break through the advertising noise and get the attention of your audience through public relations. A 2014 study found that PR is nearly 90 percent more effective than advertising in the role of consumer decision-making.

PR is totally free except for the time you put into getting the story. Since it's earned media (not paid), audiences inherently trust it more. PR can truly work wonders for your business's brand awareness and your sales, too.

Follow these five steps below to secure at least one story about your business this summer.

1. Set your eye on the prize

If you're doing DIY-PR, you want to be methodical in your approach. After all, you don't have the time to invest chasing multiple publications and journalists.

Instead, set your sights on one media publication you'd love to be in. A local newspaper or magazine is a great, realistic place to start. Before you officially start trying to get a story published here, go online and check out their media kit. Their demographics should match your target audience.

2. Follow the journalist closely

Read 3-5 issues of the publication. Which writer do you think would be most interested in your brand and story? Whose writing style stands out the most? Which section of the paper or magazine do you see your brand fitting?

Once you've answered those questions, you should have one, maybe two writers. Go to their online publication to find their email address and follow them on Twitter. Retweet 1-2 of their tweets, and continually favorite their content in the coming weeks.

To really stand out, send a handwritten thank-you note detailing why you like their writing and a particular story.

3. Develop a newsworthy story

Through your research, you should know what your journalist likes to write about, so that should be your primary place to draw story inspiration. Here are a few general topics journalists are generally interested in:

  • local events
  • breaking news
  • trends
  • summer-themed stories
  • business profile (show how your business is linked to the community and/or why you're unique)
  • cause marketing (partnership with a charity or any donations your company makes)

4. Craft a brief, effective pitch

Now, it's time to pitch your story through email. Your pitch should be as short as possible and no more than 400 words. Here's a formula you can use:

  • Start by showing you know their beat.
  • Introduce your story idea in one sentence and why you think they'd be interested.
  • Offer an exclusive: interview, behind-the-scenes photos, product sample or studio tour.
  • Provide a call to action and see what they think.

5. Follow up

Nine times out of 10, stories happen by following up. Send an email a week later to see what they thought of the first idea and offer a different version of the story. Be actively engaging with them on Twitter during this time.

Then if you still hear nothing, send a "break-up" email. Say you wanted to reach out one more time before approaching a competing publication. Offer something they can't resist, too.