Online Class TuneUp: Citizen Journalism 101 with Olivia Abel


When the local news website, Gothamist died (and all of its sister city publications - but is coming back to life!) because its billionaire owner didn't agree with the editors and writers wanting to unionize, regular readers felt the fragility of local media. Suddenly, the news source showing and telling them what to do disappeared (it actually went dark - articles vanished). Writers of those articles pretty much collapsed onto the floor, because all of their work was gone, and any change they made through their articles was gone. All the proof they unearthed was gone (archives have since come back online, but still).

When this happened, the shock-wave through the community left Tin Shingle's owner, who is also the publisher of a local media blog, A Little Beacon Blog, was left with the realization that it's up to the people to get out information. What little number of journalists there are left in the industry can run with stories and investigate them, but research and investigations take time and money that many small publications don't have that much of. Citizens have been stepping up to do their own investigative work - Citizen Journalists.

Citizen Journalists are regular people who have been contributing to the local news scene by sharing their experiences via status updates, photos and speeches at public meetings. If citizens are taking on the role of informing, where their voices are heard and at times, taken as fact even if no fact was checked, what can these citizen journalist do to be even better and produce great news?

In this first installment of Citizen Journalism 101, we talk with Columbia School of Journalism graduate and top editor, Olivia Abel, who will reveal her training in Journalism Basics:

  • Who, What, Where, When, and Why: What’s important for a story
  • Basic Tenets of Good Reporting
  • Fact Checking and Libel Law
  • Recording Laws
  • Photos Treatment

Online Class TuneUp: Interview with Megh Knappenberger (Founder's Secret Series)

You're going to love this Valentine's Day present for you, business owners and artists!

“Just viewed this #tinshingletuneup on replay, and totally loved the biz/branding/creative deep dive”
— -Kathryn Brooks of She's Her Own CEO

On this Tin Shingle TuneUp episode, we interview the Kansas City based artist, Megh Knappenberger, who realized one day that she was tired of her day job (of running her own design agency), and wanted to pursue her art full time. After injuring her back, this young mother and sought after graphic designer was forced to take down-time. When it was time to return to her business, she found that she didn't want to. She listened to the whispers, and followed her desire to paint full time.

It wasn't by accident, and it took some serious grit - Kansas limestone to be exact.

 The portrait that started it all.  Photo Credit: Megh Knappenberger   

The portrait that started it all.
Photo Credit: Megh Knappenberger

Giving into her passion for painting, Megh produced a painting that friends and family loved, and caught the eye of someone who would be pivotal to making her big dreams of producing art for the collegiate level a reality. Months after she closed up shop on her business, and opened her painting studio, she made her first big sale of $150,000 for her series called "The Original Six", which is a series of paintings of all 6 Jayhawks (the icon for University of Kansas). The series is an officially licensed collection of Jayhawk paintings, which for an artist was nearly impossible to earn from the University. KU had a 30 year history of saying no to artists who wanted to reproduce the icon in various ways. When Megh showed the paintings to family and friends, the response was overwhelming, and Megh says, "it became bigger than me."

 "The Original Six," Megh's debut series as a professional painter that garnered her a lot of KU love, PR, and a sale of the paintings that would enable her to continue painting.  Photo Credit: Megh Knappenberger

"The Original Six," Megh's debut series as a professional painter that garnered her a lot of KU love, PR, and a sale of the paintings that would enable her to continue painting.
Photo Credit: Megh Knappenberger

It has garnered the attention of ESPN Kansas City, Kansas City Star, and The University Daily Kansan. A brand ambassadorship with NIALL watches was also formed.  To get even more excited for this interview, watch Megh's super short video about the making "The Original Six" here:

We take you through the timeline of how this all unfolded during this episode.

Created in collaboration with Niall Luxury Watches in Kansas City, the six originals have been purchased and the limited edition prints are currently available. Each is signed, numbered, and comes with the Rock Chalk.

Online Class TuneUp: SEO Tips & Tricks for Google Ratings

What happens when a creative writer gets a hankering for loving SEO and Google Rankings? Really great content that ranks highly in Google's search engine! Do you want to know something even better? In this class, you get an SEO expert that can explain it to you in plain English, using metaphors to help you understand that are way more fun than charts and graphs! Tin Shingle's owner, Katie Hellmuth Martin, is such a person, and will lead you through this Online Class. Here is what she will cover:

  • What is SEO
  • What Does and SEO Friendly Website Look Like (A step by step guide)
  • Tips For Service  and Product Based Companies
  • How to use Social Platforms to Your Advantage
  • Why Google Reviews are important and how to get your clients to do it
  • Getting SEO from other websites
  • What the Normal Person is Seeing and how you to optimize that
  • Keyword Clues you can use to boost your rankings
  • When and If you should by an Ad
  • What to do when you rebrand

Listen to this online class to see how you are going to make your website SEO delicious for Google and get found by new and old customers and clients.

Online Class TuneUp: PR Planning for February 2018

This is the Online Class for people who make their own luck. There are those who sit back and wait for opportunities, and then become one of hundreds of people who all try to get that opportunity at once. And then there are the rest of the success stories who are staying ahead of the media and suggesting ideas - suggesting ways that they may feature our business in a way that would delight, captivate, and solve their reader's problems. This class gives the latest story angle ideas that you can use right now in February to pitch your business for PR in April, May or June.

Newsflash: If you dream of your business being featured in a magazine, you can make this happen - on your own. All you need to do is email them with an idea. Ok, there's more to it than that, (like a really effective Subject Line, a Great Followup, and a Killer Idea), but the real trick is knowing the right time to pitch the right article angle.

Hot Topics Right Now: Magazines work 3-6 months ahead of time. So you must think that way also, and suggest a timely idea for the future. This doesn't mean simply planning ahead. This means actually executing it right now. Magazines are working on things like this right now:

  • Summer Fun
  • Camping
  • Star Wars Origami ("May the 4th Be With You" is coming up!)
  • Bridal Budgets
  • Disruptive and the revolutionary people behind the idea
  • Italian Cooking

Do you want more ideas like this? Listen to this Online Class, Tin Shignle's monthly PR Planning, which tells you what to be pitching in February if you want PR in May or June.

How Do We Know This? The folks at Tin Shingle are in touch with publishing houses to get their "Editorial Calendars," which are the monthly plans that magazines generally follow.

Normally the story angle deadlines are available to our Media Contacts and Editorial Calendar Level 4 Membership only. But during this PR Planning class series, we share with you some of these deadlines. Get in the class today and you'll hear them, and/or activate your Level 4 Membership level to access these and more any time you want.

Online Class TuneUp: PR Planning for January 2018

The first of our monthly series kicks off the year!

It's no coincidence that you're reading about really cool businesses in magazines right now. But those businesses didn't sit back in their shops waiting for the media to come calling. They went for it and got it! Yes, they pitched their favorite glossy magazines, and some of them heard back and were featured.

This. Could. Be. You!!

Tin Shingle is your PR Campaign Partner in crime, and we've got your roadmap for what ideas to pitch to the media for this month. No, you don't need to be a professional PR person. You need to be a go-getter with fresh ideas. Listen to this TuneUp to get some of those ideas and some gumption to carry them out.

Covered in this Live TuneUp Broadcast:

  • Secret Ideas Magazines Want Now:
    If you're reading magazines right now for all of their Resolution tips, recipes, great body tricks, and more New Year New You themes, and if you're thinking "My business would have been a perfect fit here!" We will tell you - yeah - it could have! If you had pitched the magazine in time. We'll tell you what you should be pitching right now.
  • Sneak Peek into Tin Shingle's Editorial Calendars
    Print magazines tell you in advance what kind of issues they are putting out for the month. We'll tell you about a few of them.
  • Social Media Hacks
    Want your Instagram photo to show up in the front pages of a magazine? We're trailing some hashtags that the glossies are using, and we'll share them during the broadcast.

Gift Guide Alert!

Yup, we're in the time of pitching for the next Gift Guide - Mother's Day. It's happening now. Are you emailing magazines about it? You will be after you join us tomorrow.

Online Class TuneUp: Squirreling Away for Buzz Building - Hibernation!

This TuneUp is designed for businesses who are going into hibernation and are preparing for the Winter! In this TuneUp, we go over snuggly things you can be doing to prepare to create big buzz for your business during the month of December, or other winter months. It's time to store up for the winter to last you through a long season of uncertainty. Winter is often the most dreaded for businesses because of the weather. School closings, blizzards that impact shipping and travel, and those Winter Blues people battle through. Now is the time to set your agenda for the next few months so that you have plenty of good ideas to choose from when you need to ramp it up.

Online Class TuneUp: Planning for the New Year, with Sabina Hitchen

What are your plans for 2018? Are you getting your list and checking it twice for an awesome and powerful start to the New Year - of pitching the media! This is the time to set the plan and lay the groundwork for how your year will go. How will you approach the media? What will your ideas be? How will you keep track of it all?

Sabina Hitchen, the Small Biz PR educator and founder of and the Press for Success training course joins Katie on the webinar to give you play-by-play of what this can look like.

Covered In This TuneUp:

  • Plan your work and working your plan
  • Big picture planning: determining your wording and point of view
  • Researching your ideal customers and matching media to reach those customers
  • Break down goals and objectives to make this all easier!
  • Monthly action steps you can take in the new year.
  • Tips on how to make this work in your day if you feel like you don’t have the bandwidth to make it happen.

Online Class TuneUp: PR Planning for December 2017


During the month of December, the print media is long done with compiling Christmas Gift Guides (they did that in October). In December, the glossy magazines are working on Valentine’s Day Gift Guides! And other February and March related content. Some magazines are even working on April! Learn more about what you should be emailing the media about during December.

Covered in This TuneUp:

  • Short Lead PR Ideas: What's trending right now and how you can use social media - or even last minute pitches - to create buzz about your biz during the month of December.
  • Medium Lead PR Ideas: What is of interest to websites, blogs, tv, and celebrity weeklies
  • Long Leads PR Ideas: What print magazines are working on for 2018 that you need to be pitching now.
  • Editorial Calendars: Get a sneak peek into Tin Shingle's private member-only database which contains Editorial Calendars from editors at glossy print magazines. These give the public clues about what they are working on and how you can get their attention with your pitches.

Online Class TuneUp: How to Host A Successful Pop-Up Shop

This Training TuneUp explores all the bases you need to cover in order to have a productive pop-up shop. This webinar is led by Tin Shingle's owner, Katie, who plays host to several highly successful pop-up shops in Tin Shingle's Headquarters.

These one-time local events boost the promotion of your business, whether service or product based. You need to be having them! Learn how you can be successful with planning, promoting, and accomplishing these events during this webinar. We will take a look at pop-up shops that have thrived and discuss the following topics, roadblocks, and strategies: 

  • How: The ins and outs of how to create a pop-up shop
  • Aggressive Marketing: Why and how you need to be over the top with marketing
  • Flyers: What your marketing flyers should contain, the best wording to use, and how to design them
  • Early Buzz: How to build up hype well in advance
  • Social Media: The big key that social media plays
  • Local: The most strategic ways target your audience: Local!
  • Pop-Up Within Your Existing Shop: Having a pop-up shop in your own storefront and how it can trigger traffic, sales, and buzz.

Online Class TuneUp: Hey You...With The Hardley Used Instagram Account!


All too often we see PR obsessed members with either no social media accounts or worst yet neglected (or even private) feeds. What? No, no, no!

During this Training TuneUp, Katie Hellmuth Martin will uncover strategies from effective social media accounts, giving you inspiration, as well as dont's from other accounts to learn from.  If this is you - and you want the latest Instagram strategies, and constantly hunt for them but have no recent posts to your Instagram, Facebook or Twitter - you better listen/watch this TuneUp stat!!

Online Class TuneUp: PR Planning for November 2017

A favorite of listeners, the PR Planning for This Month series demystifies the ins and outs of the PR and pitching world giving you confidence and skills to have success in making buzz about your business.  This training TuneUp is streamlined to help you:

  • Prep your PR pitching campaigns AND blog/social media content planning.
  • Pump you with relevant story ideas, topics, and themes to use now!

Covered In This TuneUp:

  • Short Leads (What's trending right now and how you can use social media -or even last minute pitches- to create buzz about your biz during the month of Thanksgiving.)
  • Medium Leads (What is of interest to websites, blogs, tv, and celebrity weeklies - Holiday stories you can still pursue placement.)
  • Long Leads (What print magazines are working on for 2018 that you need to be pitching now. Hint: Valentine's Gift Guides!)
  • Editorial Calendars: During this TuneUp you get a sneak peek into Tin Shingle's private member-only database which contains editorial calendars from editors at glossy print magazines.

Online Class: Digital Marketing For Promoting Small Business

Learn quick and easy techniques that your business can use today that will help more people find out about your business. Designed for business owners who run a storefront, sell a product, or provide a service direct to customers, this workshop will get you comfortable with all the strategies you need to know in Facebook, Instagram, blogging, and newsletters. We wil cover:

  1. Reach More People: the where and how
  2. Use Social Media Productively
  3. Perfect Visual Story Telling
  4. Properly Use Links to Call to Action
  5. Effective Email Marketing 

Katie Hellmuth Martin is the publisher of A Little Beacon Blog ( and runs Tin Shingle ( an online training and resource platform for small businesses and marketers. Having helped hundreds of businesses resolve a myriad of issues preventing them from promoting effectively, she is well equipped to help you promote your business.