How long have you been in your current position?
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?
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.
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.
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!).