Media, Darling: Suzanne Dimma

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Suzanne Dimma is the editor-in-chief of Canadian House & Home magazine, Canada’s leading authority on decorating and design. An expert in all matters of style, her 20 years in media include three years hosting her own television series, The Style Dept., on HGTV, as well as conceptualizing, producing, writing, styling and art directing for a variety of outlets. Her previous roles include design director for Wish, Canadian Family and Gardening Life magazines, and creative director for House & Home’s product line.

House & Home
Twitter: @suzannedimmaHH

How can someone grab your attention with a pitch?
Be direct, clear and brief. I, and all the other editors at House & Home, receive at least 40 different promotional announcements a day. We simply don’t have time to read through anything epic. Make your point in the first line – or even better, the subject line – of anything you send. 

A good understanding of the company you’re pitching too is also essential. Do you really think the product, event or person is a good fit for House & Home? I find that belief in whatever is being promoted always shines through. You can tell when a pitch is a stretch. Approaching us anyways wastes everyone’s time.

What do you find most useful when dealing with public relations professionals?
Be accommodating, quick and thorough. I love PR people who can anticipate my questions, so I don’t have to send a zillion follow-up emails. If you’re alerting me to a great new line or design, include pictures! We run a lot of photography every issue, so having strong images to choose from – both seamless and in situ – is a huge help. And since our deadlines are demanding and things often change at the last minute, anyone who can make things happen quickly and accurately becomes a go-to resource.

What is the biggest mistake PR professionals make?
Being pushy is never appreciated. Sending an email, then following up with a phone call on the same day isn’t being helpful. Perhaps most damaging, though, is negotiating an exclusive, then shrugging in surprise when the story pops up in a competing publication. Making promises you can’t deliver is the fastest way to erode trust.

My pet peeve?
Gimmicky, wasteful, over-packaged promos. We feel terrible putting all that packaging in the garbage.

Any other thoughts you’d like to add?
Nurturing your relationships goes a long way. Instead of sending those make-believe personal emails, actually get to know your contacts. If I think you understand my best interests and have them in mind, I’ll give your emails, phone calls and packages my attention. For the past few years, a company has been sending me products to consider that don’t fall under House & Home’s interests. I have never received a phone call from them and I’ve never featured any of the products. At the end of each year, the products are donated to charity. 

Fashion-able: leggings, socks and tights for autumn

It’s official: summer is over. No more smooth bare legs, with pedicured toes peeking out of pretty sandals. But cooler weather (especially this week!) does mean that we get to wear tall boots, leather jackets and tights again. 

On the fourth floor, we’re pumped that this season’s fashion has brought lots of rich colours and sassy prints to standard leggings, tights and socks. Just because it’s grey outside doesn’t mean you have to stick to drab grey, black and brown for fall. We love the idea of jazzing up a simple black dress with leopard tights, or wearing a plaid mini with knee-high socks for grown-up school girl look.

Here are some looks from around the web that we’ll be whipping out in the coming months.

We love the look of bright & bright from blogger Karla’s Closet. Fall demands colour! Opaque tights like these are so versatile and give you an instantly polished outfit. Also, a great way to spice up your fall wardrobe with little investment.

Blogger Fashion Toast rocks the knee-high socks with wedges, saving the look from being too sweet. This would also work with a classic pair of two-toned brogues in brown leather. They’re ideal for those in-between autumn days, where it’s a bit too hot for full tights, but too cold for bare legs.

As always, American Apparel keeps it racy with a sheer version of the knee-high. These would look cute with a mini dress or skirt (rather than… a leotard). If you are into it, the bright tights beneath are also a cool idea.

American Apparel also has some great, rich jewel-hued tights. Love them.

We’re also loving this way of incorporating the leopard print trend: with a pair of luxurious Wolford tights.

Wolford also has a bright kelly green pair that would look lovely with the current military-green/olive pieces. 
They’re a bit more of an investment than a pair from say, H&M, but will wear extremely well and last much longer. Wolford has a boutique in Yorkville at 126A Cumberland Street.

Basically, almost anything goes for hosiery this season. Pair with booties, brogues or tall boots, and people won’t stop staring at you below the waist. In a good way.

My ‘hood: Christina

By Christina
I live near Broadview subway station, which is right off the Danforth – home to some of the best restos in the city! There are many amazing places to nosh.

One of my favourites is 7 numbers. This spot is great for a cheap, big, authentic Italian meal. My fiance and I consider ourselves calamari connoisseurs, and this restaurant passes with flying colors!

The restaurant is charmingly loud, with eclectic furniture, paper table cloths and an enormous chalk-board menu. A tip for dining here: when ordering wine, be sure to ask for a wine glass or your Merlot will be delivered in a plastic cup!

The Danforth is also a great place to shop. Enter Tabula Rasa (745 Broadview Ave), my new favourite store, located steps away from my house (dangerous!).

The owner, Jennifer Park, is amazing at helping me select a new look from their wide selection of new (like Wayne Clark and Ports), vintage and reconstructed vintage pieces.

Here is a photo of  our client Noah Reid (Score: A Hockey Musical) and me in a last-minute purchase from Tabula Rasa. Score!

The D-forth is also home to the Carrot Common, a hybrid grocery store that sells health food, flowers, minerals, gourmet coffee and organic juice, massage products, books, plants, unique clothing and much more…

They also sell freshly squeezed juice and smoothies. Great place to stop by post-run for some hydration!

There you have it – the Danforth is a lot more than just Greektown. Come check out some of these hot spots. Maybe you’ll discover something new while you’re strolling around the east end.

Yum, yum: Matt’s Mom’s Recipes: Go-To Cookies!

As the name says, this is my “go-to” cookie that is great for impressing guests, and is super easy to make. I always use natural peanut butter – smooth or crunchy. I found this recipe in The Toronto Star about five years ago.

These are great! Sometimes if we’re lucky, we’ll get a care package of these brought up to the fourth floor. They’re such a good mid-afternoon snack when we need a break and a bit of a sugar hit.

Go-To Cookie
1/2 cup each white and brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup each flour and oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 ounces chocolate chips
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut

1. Beat sugars and butter until fluffy.
2. Add peanut butter, egg and vanilla.
3. In a separate bowl, mix together all dry ingredients
4. Add mixed dry ingredients to butter and sugar mixture.
5. On a lightly greased cookie sheet (or lined with parchment paper), drop tablespoon-full balls of cookie dough, three inches apart from one another.
6. Bake at 375 degrees Celsius for eight to 10 minutes.

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We’re Not Just Pretty: Lindsey Love

Lindsey Love is a senior publicist with HarperCollins Canada. A quasi-fixture in the book industry, Lindsey has also worked with Harbourfront Centre’s International Festival of Authors, Warwick Publishing, and The Writers’ Trust of Canada as well as working as an intern in far too many places to list.
Twitter: @lindseyelove

How long have you been in your current position?

Three years.

How does your company leverage PR (i.e. to generate press, to build reputation, to manage crisis communications, etc)?
Events are a huge PR focus for most of our authors at HarperCollins. We’ve done everything from sending a writer to speak at an intimate book club, to throwing a reading at a nightclub, replete with shots and strippers. It all depends on the book, the personality of the author, and our PR budget to determine what will work best. It’s definitely a case-by-case decision.

Who is your mentor or professional in the industry you admire?
I’ve been very lucky to work under two PR dynamos at HarperCollins. Rob Firing is known throughout Canada for his boundless enthusiasm for every project he works on, and you’ll never meet a more thorough publicist than Colleen Clarke. They’ve both inspired me in equal ways.

What are your feelings about how PR has been positioned in the media in more recent years, on popular TV shows (Melrose Place, Sex and The City, The Real L Word, The City, etc.)?
I think anything that brings awareness to the PR industry is inherently good. When I was in high school, and even when I was in university, I didn’t even know that someone could cultivate a career in PR, so it’s great that young people are learning more about the profession. 

That said, many of these shows are making the industry out to be far more glamorous than it actually is. A typical day involves a slew of emails with long hours at a desk. It’s not all high heels and push-up bras, although some of that does exist. Some of the shows also seem to glorify being rude, and I think that’s too bad. In my experience, being as kind as possible to those you work with is always the better route to choose. 

Lastly, there’s also a lot of men in PR, and they don’t seem to be portrayed very often in these shows, which I also think is too bad. It’s definitely a great career option for both genders. 

What’s your biggest piece of advice for PR pros, both junior and senior?
Like I said, be nice. Always, always, always, strive to be nice. I would never tell anyone not to be assertive when they need to be, but pick your battles carefully. Canada’s PR and media industries are small, and things you say or do today can definitely catch up with you tomorrow, so always keep that in mind, for better and for worse. 

Luckily, most people in both PR and media in Canada are amazing, so there’s seldom anything to be BUT nice — it’s such a great industry to be in.

What do you love most about your job?
The people. I love working with my colleagues at HarperCollins, the amazing contacts I’ve made in the media and other industries since I started in PR, and of course I adore working with so many talented writers and personalities as well — who can range from rock stars like Dave Mustaine, to political players like Ralph Nader. It’s a fun and interesting job, every day.

A little more from the fourth floor:

Designer: Sometimes I shop at Lululemon, does that count?
Store: Ben McNally Books and/or Nicholas Hoare Bookstore. Both of these shops are lovely.
Book:  Very tough question, obviously. The best fiction I’ve read recently is Room by Emma Donoghue, which is out this September, and the best non-fiction I read this year was War by Sebastian Junger, which was published last spring. Both are enlightening and disturbing in their own ways.
Snack: Chocolate.
Season: Summer.
Inspiration: My mother. She’s been through a great deal of adversity in her life, but she still smiles every day and seeks to make life better for those around her. She’s amazing.
Drink: I don’t drink very much or often, but when I do, it’s a vodka soda (please).
Motto in two words: Love. Courage.
Idea of perfect happiness: A sunny day by the ocean.
Indulgence: A monthly membership to hot yoga at any of the amazing hot yoga studios in town.
Celebrity crush: Slash from Guns N’ Roses. He’s just as dreamy in person as he is in 80’s rock videos. Sigh.
Favourite Tweeter to follow: Since he’s one of my authors and he’s ALWAYS funny, @shitmydadsays, tweeted by Justin Halpern (the book is equally as great!).

Media, Darling: Janine Falcon

Janine Falcon is a freelance writer and beauty geek. As a past beauty editor at Canadian Living and Homemakers magazines, she’s now the Face Kit editor of the new digital health-and-beauty mag The Kit, and the founder/editor of BeautyGeeks, an award-winning blog. She’s appeared on Canada AM, Entertainment Tonight Canada, and Steven and Chris; written for Best Health, Fashion and Glow magazines; and been quoted in newspapers such as The Toronto Star, National Post, Vancouver Sun, Edmonton Journal and Ottawa Citizen.

The Kit
Beauty Geeks
Twitter: @TheKit; @beautygeeks

How can someone grab your attention with a pitch?
It’s got to be an easy fit for one of the publications I write for. It also has to be unique or exclusive. Writing the same feature everyone else is writing is… uninspiring.

What do you find most useful when dealing with public relations professionals?

Good humour and a positive attitude. Plus, appreciation when a PR somehow comes through on ridiculously short notice!

What is the biggest mistake PR professionals make?

Incomplete press materials. Perfect press packages include newsworthy details, pricing, availability and product, if applicable. Pulling the old omit-the-price-so-someone-has-to-get-in-touch move makes us move on quickly to the next product instead, the one that came with all the information. (A 24-hour online source of high- and low-res images would also be helpful!)

When it comes to makeup and skin care, we need to examine texture, scent and efficacy to decide whether we can recommend it. Unfortunate things can happen otherwise: in a magazine several years ago, a beauty editor recommended a mascara designed to darken lashes for three days. She tried it after the magazine went to print and discovered the stuff was awful, super-tricky to remove after the three days. And when the story came out, she got letters from annoyed readers.

My pet peeve
More general than strictly PR-related: I’m a grammar geek as well as a beauty geek. “I wish I WOULD HAVE known” hurts me, it’s so wrong. I first started hearing it about eight years ago; now it’s terribly common. The correct way to say such a thing is “I wish I HAD known”.

I also have major issues with the misuse of the word “myself.” For instance, “just call Staff or myself.” Nope. You can’t call “myself” – I’m the only one who can call myself. But you can call Staff or ME.

Geez. I’m such a geek.

Any other thoughts you’d like to add?
I’m pretty lucky. I work with so many pros who are on point, crazy-smart and reliable, and I’m in an industry full of talented and supportive friends. Amazing.

My ‘Hood: St. Clair and Bathurst

by Debra and Matt

We live between Christie and Bathurst, on St. Clair Avenue, and our neighbourhood’s hot spots for good eats and great shopping are increasing monthly!

Every Saturday, we take our daughter to the amazing Wychwood Barns Farmer’s Market. We like to grab a whitefish sandwich from Ali’s stand, the most incredible maple-smoked trout from Akiwenzie`s Fish (if we’re lucky; they’re not always there), and a wonderful caramelized onion and mozzarella empanada from a Spanish vendor.

For brekkie, it’s no secret that Stockyards is simply amazing, and they have a brunch with a deep fried egg. You gotta try it.

If we’re brave enough to stand in a line resembling mid-July at Canada’s Wonderland, we like to grab some frozen yogurt at Dutch Dreams. If not, and we still have a sweet tooth, Leah’s is always a winner. Have the chocolate caramel salted pretzel. Trust us on this one. 

Delicious frozen treats at Dutch Dreams.

And, if we’re in a pinch, can’t make dinner ourselves and are tired of ordering pizza or sushi, a roti at the legendary Albert’s Real Jamaican Foods is a delicious change.

Par Par Boutique is an amazing go-to place for great gifts. We also love a store called All About Mac, which has been our saving grace when we can’t (or won’t) make the trek to the Apple Store in Yorkdale or the Eaton Centre. 

Our neighbourhood is a great spot for our family, and gives us a million options to get outside, explore the streets and shops, and help support the amazing local businesses that make this city so wonderful. 

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