The Tin Shingle Blog


Telling the Truth

Media exposure can be one of the most powerful things your business acquires in terms of impact on sales and brand recognition.  Nevertheless, just as it has the power to make companies, it also has the power to break companies.  Though we all want our story to be told, our product to be shared, or our expertise to be highly sought after, in order to ensure long term relationships with the media who can help you reach that oft discussed "tipping point", it is essential to be 100% honest with the media at all times.

Examples of when to be honest include:

  • The depth of your expertise, your training, who you have worked with, and how you have impacted them.
  • Past media experience.
  • Availability and pricing of your product.
  • Testimonials, reviews, and use of celebrity endorsements.
  • Facts, figures, the reach and span of your business, and financials.

It can be tempting when faced with a possible media opportunity to exaggerate any of the above, but it will only bring you more harm than good.  Lying to editors or producers not only affects your relationship with them, but also their own job.  Bringing on an inexperienced guest, products that aren't fully available, or sharing stories not based in fact can impact them in a negative way as well.  If the story isn't a good fit for you at the time, it's much better to share why, and know that you will be on their radar and file for future fits, and also be known as an honest company at their studio/magazine/blog.  Quite the opposite will happen if you stretch the truth for short term gain.

Remember that your pr strategy is a marathon, not a sprint.  You want stories that are good fits for your long term brand goals, not short term quick fixes that were gained by half truths or exaggeration.  An even better way to secure longer, more quality media relationships?  When you aren't a good fit, recommend someone who is!  Make yourself a valuable tool for the press and they will keep coming back to you for more! 


Are you "oversharing" your newsletter? How overzealous promotion can affect your brand and how to prevent it

I'm a woman who receives hundreds of emails a day, literally hundreds.  In order to be sure I (eventually) get to everything on my plate, and that I get to them in the order they need to be addressed, I triage them.  Hundreds of them.  Nevertheless I personally see what crosses my inbox and lately I've noticed more and more newsletters that I've never subscribed to flying into my inbox.

As a woman whose personal and professional calling is to help entrepreneurs and to build brands, I do enjoy company news and newsletters.  I love to hear about what brands I follow are up to and I read their newsletters. I also  sign up for apparel and accessory lines newsletters that I purchase often and I follow websites that keep me "in the know" like Social Diva, Laughing Sage Wellness, and Shefinds to name a few.  So it's not that I have an aversion to newsletters, I probably read over fifty of them weekly.

Still....Add that to client emails, press correspondences, Tin Shingle emails....well you get it - I am innundated with emails as most publicists and business owners are.  Nevertheless when an unfamiliar email crosses my inbox I KNOW it's unfamiliar.  And even when it's informative and perhaps even an exciting product, I've become annoyed that someone chose to add me to their email list without my permission.

When at an event recently I ran into a couple of editors I work with who were lamenting the same thing - they're finding themselves added to email lists from fashion lines, experts, products, even newsletters that in no way relate to the beat they cover.  These editors receive twice the amount of emails I do at times, and yet they know when they've been subscribed to a list without their permission...and they aren't happy!

These anecdotes are all meant to illustrate an unfortunate habit of some small business owners who may believe it's a bit of harmless self-promoting, when it's often seen as intrusive and pushy.  Of course we're all eager to get the word out about our brand, but it's best to do so virally, in forms of traditional pr, or with savvy internet marketing strategies, instead of simply adding names to your list without permission.  This is often ensuring you're starting off on the wrong foot, as your first introduction may well be an uninvited email - not a great way to make a first impression!

Instead of adding an editor's name, how about sending an irresistable pitch that invites them to visit your site (or sign up for your newsletter).  How about finding unique ways to capture emails that may be clever but still take names voluntarily?  Be sure you show them the value that your product/service/expertise has to not only them, but their readers ( or viewers if it's a producer).  At the end of the day, your mission should always be pure - to share your business with those you created it for, and you want those people to be true ambassadors of your brand.  Ambassadors are created by people developing a passionate following of your brand and story.  Ambassadors can't be forced, you must win them over by really changing the way they think, feel, cook, get it.  At the end of the day it's about the response they have to you or your product.  You want to start out with a good introduction and build brand loyalty.  You want them to WANT to read your newsletter.  You want them to want to send it to their friends, families, and colleagues.  

With that in mind here are your assignments:

1.  If you are signing up readers to your newsletter without their permission stop.  If they are in the media  and you are doing it you must doubly stop!

2. Create value in your product/service/expertise and in your newsletter that make it something people not only look forward to daily/weekly, but come to depend on.

3. Create your own internet marketing strategy directed specifically towards database growth, newsletter angles, and clever methods (contests, mandatory sign ins, rewards via newsletters) to capture email addresses that will allow you to build a larger mailing list.

4. Be sure your website is mentioned in all of your publicity hits that leads people to your homepage where you should always have a newsletter sign up that is visible and active.

5. Be your own best publicist and tell everyone, everywhere you go, why they should be on your newsletter.  I myself do this all the time.  I love sharing things that I find helpful, cool, fun, interesting, I share them with those I love. If I had a penny for every time I recommended someone to go visit

Follow those rules and I'm sure you will see more success, and keep the good energy flowing between you and those you are hoping will be part of the growth of your business - however that may be!

Follow those rules and I'm sure you will see more success, and keep the good energy flowing between you and those you are hoping will be part of the growth of your business - however that may be!


Do I Really Need Balls to Make it in Business?

I've always been a fan of words like chutzpah, moxie & audacity, anything that is reminiscent of positive persistence and that "glass half full", gonna-make-it attitude. Often times, the word I hear most often to describe this attitude is ballsy.

When I decided to move to New York City (which took very little convincing despite the fact that I had no job waiting for me, and my vast knowledge of the city was limited to the long weekend I spent visiting tourist spots with my parents during a spring break over a decade ago) my friend Richard told me "Everyone needs a New York City chapter, forget 'balls out' go 'balls in' and just do it".

Later, when I moved here and became a full fledged entrepreneur, I heard the term "you gotta have balls" tossed around almost daily. One of my favorite women of late, best-selling author (and Tin Shingle member) Karen Salmansohn even has a line from her book "Ballsy: 99 Ways to Score Extreme Success" which states "you don't need a penis to succeed in business, just balls".

Sure, all of this is fine and good, but I'm left with one problem: I don't have balls, and I'm fairly certain that I wouldn't care for them either. Sure I know that it's symbolic, but why use a term for male confidence and the male anatomy as a frame of reference for our female success? Alisa Vitti, founder of Laughing Sage Wellness once said to me that when she meets a powerful and inspiring woman who is breaking down walls and making things happen, she exclaims something along the lines of "you sure have a great pair of ovaries". YES! What a great start!

Like Gloria Steinem said, a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle. Well I am starting to think that a woman needs balls ...well she just doesn't need them at all! Do you know what she does need? She needs to continue to push to change the way society feels about a woman in control of her own business, her own life, and her own destiny. She needs to remind herself that what she does need is endurance, faith, moxie, bravery, an ability to believe in herself and keep going when everyone else wants her to quit. She needs her faith in herself and a community of like minded women in her corner to support her and move her even faster towards her goals!

With women starting businesses at nearly 4x the rate of men, and succeeding - let's leave the men their balls - they need something of their own and we have enough great things going for us without that extra baggage!


Sharing Email Lists for Greater Reach

With holidays around the corner, it's time to work on actively engaging your database and email lists and being sure they are as large as possible for your holiday promotions you will be sending!

Sure some people swap email lists secretly, but I often find this dishonest - and at times you could be infringing on someone's email privacy rights! 

Instead of secretly adding people to your email list when you aren't even sure they want to be there in the first place ( how will that ever benefit you?)  here are some other suggestions:

* Find a like minded brand or product and find a way to cross-promote, whether this be by offering their database something a discount or product/service that would truly resonate with their email list, or by sharing a tip that they can send to their email list as it will benefit them

* Offer something equally beneficial to the person whose list you will be sharing

* Share an event or online/teleseminar program in which you can promote on both of your lists, and invite people to your website to sign up as well

* Support a charity or non-profit through your sales and ask them to promote you via banner ad or email promotion to drive people to your site

For instance, if you have a greato organic body products line, perhaps you can create a special holiday gift package with another brand and promote the package over both of your websites.

If you are an expert in organizing home spaces, offer to speak for free at a yoga studio or women's group, and ask them to promote you and your site via their database - you will not only get more email subscribers to your site via the promo email, but also from your in person speaking.

Remember - never attend an event, trade show, or networking group without something you can take and save email addresses on - even a printed hand out will work!

For more on database growth, stay tuned!


Get Over the Today Show Already!

So, I know you don't want to hear it, but you're going to have to......are you ready?

Get over getting on the Today Show!

While you're at it Get Over Oprah!

Sure we all want to tell our story on those programs, goodness knows I want my clients on all the time as well - it can change your brand!  I'm not saying that these outlets aren't important to pitch, but often I find that businesses or experts spend so much time pitching ( and often pestering) these major outlets they forget about the rest of the influential media outlets out there! 

Here's some advice on how to ween yourself off of pitching only the "Holy Trinity of TV" (Oprah, Today Show, and The View):

* Go to and look at her upcoming shows - it's free and it's online!  See if you are a good fit for any.  If you are  CORE member you can simply email us a segment you are interested in and we will pitch you directly to the producers.  If you aren't, mail or email your pitch to the show and after a week follow up.  After your follow up log it and let it go....

* Look at other shows' upcoming segments - at Red Branch PR we regularly call the producers to check in, but we often also go online to see what programs they have coming up.  Shows that do this include:  Martha Stewart, Rachael Ray, Tyra Banks, Ellen, & more!

* Now make a list of the multiple other shows you can reach people on:  Good Morning America, CBS This Morning, Mike & Juliet,  Tyra, Bonnie Hunt, Ellen, LOCAL NEWS, Good Day New York/Chicago/Dallas, etc.....PHEW the TV list alone is countless!

* Glance at your online and magazine pitch lists - are you caught up here?

* Now WATCH the programs ( via DVR and online options) to see what they cover and how they cover it - check over all of your pitches to be sure they share the same tone as the shows you are pitching.

* Plan ahead:  TV is a short lead so think about the next few months and how you can spin your story into an upcoming show - or pitch a segment they may need.  And remember that even though a segment is short lead, holidays, sweeps weeks, and big news events will be planned at least a month in advance!

* Think positively and believe in yourself, believe you will get your Oprah /Today/ Daily Candy moment, but don't wait around for them to change your business!  Just like your mother told you not to wait around pining for that guy in high school to call you back and ask you to prom - the one who never did ( you're missing out on other guys sweetie!)  - you should apply the same philosophy to pitching your major TV outlets! 

Don't let another great (TV) date pass you by while you're waiting for that call!


Are you REALLY ready for Oprah?

Hi Collective E team,

Sabina here, thinking about a question that I actually asked a client today, and even more excitingly, two Collective E members themselves had to ask themselves this past month, when we sent their media kits and information on to the producers we work with at the show.

So often when I ask a new or potential client what they want out of a PR campaign, their answers are:  Today Show & Oprah.

When this is the case we ( along with publicists around the globe) sigh.  Of course those are great goals, but they are lofty.  Nevertheless we push on forward when the product or story is a good fit for the program.  Still, though the hard part is getting ON the program, the work doesn't end there, and if you haven't prepared, "Oprah Prepared" beforehand, the entire experience could backfire!  

Here are a few ways you should be ready LONG BEFORE you actually pitch (or have your pr team pitch) the show.

* Have an updated media kit with your biography/company backgrounder, testimonials ( these are great!),  product information sheet, and great photos of yourself and product on hand.

* Be sure you have a REEL if you are an expert or planning on speaking on the program, not just submitting your product.  They will ask you to submit it to their FTP site and will expect it there within minutes of their request.  Thus you must have it ready to go.  The producers will not risk putting you on television if they cannot see how you translate on camera.  This is another reason why it's a great idea to start small with local press hits and build up to Oprah style press hits!

* Be sure you can handle the VOLUME of sales and online hits the program will generate.  If you are currently fulfilling orders in your basement and cannot fulfill more than 5,000 for the season, do not pitch yourself to the Oprah Winfrey Show.  When you are featured on the show you are opening yourself up to a massive television audience, and if they order your product or visit your site you must be able to service them.  If you cannot, believe me the producers will hear about it, and your likelihood of a second chance on the show is very low.

* Be able to gift the studio audience.  If you have a product or book and you are on the program, you should be able to give something away to the entire audience and you will be looking at hundreds of free product samples.  Obviously if you are a high end jewelry maker or handbag designer this may be more difficult, but you will have to give them something....of course the exposure is worth every penny, but the key here is preparedness!

* BE READY!  You may get a call from the producers next week - will you be ready to go with just a week or two's notice?  The Tin Shingle team regularly works with the team to fill stories they are working on, or suggest them from our members.  If we send you will you be ready?

Stay tuned to the "How Do You's"   where we will be getting even more tips about Oprah from one of her producers.  Until then, be sure you are following the above tips to be sure your Oprah pitch, and any pitch for that matter, is executed to the best of your ability!


How Green is your Business?

Hi  Tin Shingle Ladies,

As I sat at my desk at work recently I looked around the very well lit ( by natural light) loft we are in and thought - why are all of these lights on?  Why are there water bottles on everyone's desk?  Why are there PAPER sitting in the trash can?

Things needed to change!  In a world where Going Green is as hot a topic as the election and the economy, I wonder how often many of us addess green issues within our offices?  Bigger companies share their green efforts all the time, which is not only great for all of us sharing this planet, but also a clever marketing strategy.

Why let the "big dogs" 'have all the fun?  I challenge you all to look at your businesses this weekend and do two things:

1. Change your business on the inside, including:

a) Check out how much you are making changes to "go green".  Do you have a recycling bin for the hundreds of sheets of paper that pile up every day or that are too easily discarded in the trash?  At Red Branch PR we often re-print notes or documents that are not going to be shared out of the office on the back of other print outs.  Saves paper and money!  The rest we recycle.  You'd be amazed at the amount of paper you were throwing out when you install a recycling bin in your office.

b) Are you disposing of your old computers and other office equipment properly?  Check with your local recycling center to find out when they pick up or where you can drop off this material that is often hazardous to the environment if you are just throwing it away.  Staples will even take back old and empty ink cartridges and reward you with coupons for more!

c) NO more waste:  Be sure all of your taps, faucets, and light bulbs are working as efficiently as possible. 

d) When possible, turn off the AC and open your windows.

e) Find local websites and agencies that will help you reduce your carbon footprint!

f) Encourage employees to stay healthy, quit smoking, and walk - healthy people are just as important as a healthy planet!

g) Stop using water bottles - the plastic pollutes your body and the planet!  Bring water in via Nalgene or unbreakable glass body (doesn't pollute you at all) or get a company wide water dispenser and fill up ceramic mugs or glasses when you get that water craving.

2.  Change your business from the outside by raising visibility

a) Share your story with the press when you go green

b) Find opportunities to involve the community in your Green Metamorphisis.  Donate old clothes or food to shelters, have a company wide activity that celebrates going green, educate other local small businesses on going green at your office space, hold a forum for people in your line of work to discuss how you can all create some environmentally friendly standards you all agree upon and then invite the media to hear all about it!  The possibilities are endless!

c) Let your customers know how and why you are going green!  More and more consumers are thinking about what they buy and why they buy it these days - make sure they know you care about the home that you share with them as much as you care about their business!


Another Reason Why Sabina Loves Peter Shankman & HARO

So, I'm sure if you're one of the few entrepreneurs who doesn't religiously read the daily HARO emails, you will be by the time this blog post is completed.  Beyond getting our daily doses about what is up with Peter and his two cats, you get amazing leads from reporters and producers from all areas and outlets nationwide. 

What I personally enjoy about getting the leads is it helps me become more aware of what the reporters deem are the hot stories of the day, what the upcoming trend stories are, what news is getting the most coverage, and how I should be spinning and angling my "harder" news stories.

Another great thing to get out of his and any other lead generators you subscribe to?  Look at how quickly deadlines are approaching.  I was almost surprised to see Valentine's Day queries coming into my email inbox the other day, but then I realized that we did just wrap the holiday issues and though Fall may just have become official, in the world of long lead media (magazines, etc) we are on our way into February!

Those are my thoughts on Peter Shankman's HARO for  now:  great leads and greater lessons!  And to top it all off it's FREE!  Now you can't beat that in our world of nearly $5.00 gas!

Until later,



Women on the Campaign Trail and what it means for your media campaign

The women of the campaign trail: Sarah Palin, Michelle Obama, Jill Biden, Hillary Clinton all have more serious things on their mind than their wardrobes, and all four of them would prefer that their personal lives remain personal.  Unfortunately the media feels otherwise, and if you would like to find yourself or your product in the media spotlight along with these White House hopefuls, you have to play along. 

Take fashion:  are you a stylist who can give tips on how to dress like the campaign's first and second ladies?  Do you have tips for them in the wardrobe department?  Does your label make a dress or accessory similar to one that Michelle Obama wears?  Here is how some of our interviewees placed their product on celebrities.

Tin Shingle member Cara Sinclair, founder of Kara James Handbags, recently discovered that her handbag the Kate is being carried by Jill Biden, the wife of vice presidential hopeful Joe Biden.  By sending out a press release to the celebrity weekly magazines and the fashion blogs, our team was able to secure her a placement on, and the boutique it was sold in will be in In Touch this week.  Whether it's Us Weekly or The View, CNN or Vogue, people are talking about the fashion on the campaign trail, and if you are a lifestyle brand, you need to find your way into those stories.

The campaign has gotten personal, and will remain that way for years past the election.  Are you an expert who can talk about something related to key players?  What about the role of sexism in the election and in politics?  About the affect of the media on the candidates' families?  How about a health expert on ways to relieve stress on the campaign trail and in the White House?  Work outs you can do while traveling from state to state or in cramped office spaces?  All of these items could lend themselves to lifestyle segments on tv or in print!


Images and Your Campaign Plan

Hey Tin Shingle,

I was just uploading images to a magazine's FTP site for a last minute editorial request and as I navigated my client's image library I started thinking about how essential an organized and complete set of images if to every brand's campaign plan.

Whether you are just about to share your story with the market, or you are a magazine darling, there are certain things you should always have on hand.  These are my "must haves" for any image library, and how to use them:

* Low Resolution Images: 

These are great for emailing back and forth with the press while they are considering you or your products for a piece.  You should have an individual image for each of your products that is not on a model (so they can lift it right into the publication), as well as your headshot/photo and your company's logo on hand in this format as well.

* High Resolution Images:

These images should mimic your low resolution images but should be greater than 300 dpi.  These will be used if images of your product (or you) need to be used in magazines, on television, or at times, online.  You do not email these back and forth during pitches as they are longer and clog emails. 

* Line Sheets:

A line sheet is in essence a sales/marketing sheet used by a your brand to provide information on the range of products you offer.   It typically includes a photo of each product  (possibly computer generated), their identification numbers, the style, and the colors it comes in.  It should also list price and order cutoff dates, as well as delivery information.  You should have this in high and low resolution as well as you will use it during your pitching via email to editors.

TIP:  Create two line sheets, one with wholesale pricing for your sales efforts, and one with retail pricing for public relations editorial use.

* Look Books

Similar to line sheets, look books showcase your brand's entire product line, and are often used in fashion pr.  Instead of showcasing all the styles together on one or two pages like a line sheet, look books feature one look per page, along with all necessary information about that product.  Look books do not typically provide pricing information, leave that for the line sheets.  You should compile your high and low resolution images into both your line sheets and look books.

TIP:  Have both electronic and hard copies of your look books and line sheets.

Best of luck with your image librarys and all the work that a great image library entails!  When deciding on the photography you are going to use, think about your brand's message, who your consumer is, and the emotions you want the images to evoke.  Look at the images of other brands you admire or that are similar to yours and get a clear idea of what you want.

It's a great feeling to have it all organized and at your fingertips.   I was so glad today to be able to pull the images Strut Magazine in Montreal wanted about our Canadian client's handbags in mere seconds.  

Best of luck, and remember to join the PR thread with any further questions you may have about your image library!




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