My ‘Hood: Alana

by Alana
I have lived in the Yonge and Eglinton area my entire life, and love being a short walk away from anything I could ever need or want. The strip is filled with tons of cute shops and restaurants, and over the years I’ve acquired some favourites.
If you’re a fan of traditional Pad Thai like me, then Sorn Thai is the place for you. Located a couple of blocks north of Eglinton, this spot has been around for more than 15 years and is great for fast, cheap Thai food, amazing service and the best Pad Thai in the city (seriously). If that’s not your cup of tea, try an order of their crispy spring rolls and the red curry beef – delish!
I just read about a new café, Jed’s Frozen Custard. I heard a lot of hype about their frozen custard, so I went to check it out. It’s smooth, creamy and cool on a warm day. For the chillier days now upon us, Jed’s also offers baked goods and specialty coffees.
Since Yonge and Eg isn’t only about good food, I couldn’t write this post without mentioning my favourite little jewellery store, I Heart Accessories. This store has become my go-to place to pick up great, inexpensive and beautiful accessories for my girlfriends’ birthdays and special occasions. I often end up leaving with a little something for myself as well. Oops!

Note: It’s a tiny shop north of Eglinton, on the east side of Yonge, so keep an eye out ’cause it’s easy to miss.

Speaking of celebrations, the Little Party Shoppe is hands-down the first place I think of when I need a great all-occasion card or gag present. They have everything from balloons and board games to books and coffee mugs, and literally everything in between. Drop in sometime, especially if you’re planning a holiday party.

Ok, back to food. I forgot to mention that I love anything deep fried, and if you’re adventurous with your food like I am, you should definitely experience the crispy, warm, gooey-ness of a deep-fried Mars bar from C’est Bon. Their other desserts are worth trying, too. (They also have deep-fried bananas.) The picture says it all, don’t you think? Mmm…

My neighbourhood is a great spot for almost anything, and if you haven’t ventured uptown in a while I suggest checking out the awesome businesses of Yonge and Eg. You won’t regret it.

Rave: On The Fourth Floor Holiday Gift Guide – Part 2

Last week, we made your holiday shopping easy with our festive gift guide. Today, we’re about to make it even easier, with a second edition of the best gift ideas from our clients. 

For the Eco-Conscious Fashionista: Neko Shoulder Bag by Matt & Nat, $150 at Shopgirls Gallery Boutique

Made from blue vegan leather with purple lining, this Neko Shoulder Bag by Matt & Nat is the right statement piece for the eco-conscious fashion devotee’s wardrobe. Each bag is made in a socially responsible way, and uses an average of 21 bottles for its lining. For the chicest in eco-fashion gifts, buy this tone-on-tone stitched Neko bag at Shopgirls Gallery Boutique (1342 Queen Street West) or online.
For the Jewellery Buff who Loves to Shine: Tiddlers, $835 to $1,065 at Made You Look Jewellery Studio and Gallery

Based off a doodle from the designer’s high school days, jewellery wearers won’t be able to resist Made You Look’s Tiddler collection by Lara H.I. Created as a figure without gender or religion, each Tiddler can be customized to your accessory lover’s taste. For a special touch, the pendant can hold a personalized symbol, such as a horoscope sign, a musical note or individual initials. The Tiddler collection is available at Made You Look Jewellery Studio and Gallery (1338 Queen Street West) and online

For the Bride-To-Be: The Wedding Show, $20 from The Wedding Co.

Say “I do” to tickets to The Wedding Show. From Friday, January 14 to Sunday, January 16 at The Carlu (444 Yonge Street), The Wedding Show offers newly engaged couples access to 125 hand-selected exhibitors representing the most original and elite vendors. Purchase tickets to this one-stop-shop for the latest in wedding trends online for your bride-to-be.

For the Wine Connoisseur: Under-Counter Wine Cooler, $1,699 from Electrolux

Looking to make a splash with a gift this season? This high-end wine cooler will dazzle that special someone, and make it onto their “best gifts ever” list. It comes loaded with innovative features, like LED lighting to let them view their lovely bottles, a UV-filtered glass door to protect wines from harmful rays, and even Perfect Set temperature control – set a temperature anywhere between 45°F and 65°F, and the wine cooler will hold the temperature to keep wine perfectly chilled. It’s sleek and simple design will look great. Available at Sears, The Brick, Leon’s, The Bay and additional select major appliance locations. 

For the Spa Girl: Body Blitz Argan Oil Face Serum, $65 from Body Blitz Spa

Let the luxury lover experience the spa in the comfort of her own bathroom. From the most tranquil spa in town comes a new line of Body Blitz natural products. Made of more than 75 per cent organic, extra virgin, cold-pressed argan oil, organic aloe vera, rose damask and organic lavender, the Argan Oil Face Serum naturally hydrates skin. Like she could really say no to the world’s richest natural source of vitamin E. Available at Body Blitz Spa (471 Adelaide Street West) or online.
For the Handsome Man in Your Life: Lookout Coat in Otter Charcoal, $670 from Oliver Spencer

Keep him warm and dashing in this lovely coat by top British menswear designer, Oliver Spencer. He’ll be as dapper as Don Draper in the classic, yet stylish coat, which features dark brown football buttons, clean lines and a cozy black cotton lining. Bonus? There are “lovers pockets” in the back for you to slip your hands in on a cold day. Brilliant! Toronto is the third retail location, joining London and New York. Drop in at 962 Queen Street West. 

For the Fitness Buff Who Needs More: Pilates membership at Body Harmonics Pilates, various prices

Have a loved one who’s seen and done it all when it comes to fitness? Test their stamina with Body Harmonics. These renowned Pilates studios in Toronto (at 672 Dupont Street and 488 Eglinton Avenue West) are known for their tough and effective classes. And it’s not just about building muscle or gentle stretches. The studios aim to teach all participants about why they’re doing the movements, leading to a true understanding of Pilates, their bodies and a lifelong commitment to a healthy lifestyle. That’s a gift that keeps on giving. Please find more information here

For the Irish Pub Lover: Gift Certificate to Quinn’s Steakhouse and Irish Bar, various prices

There are Irish pubs all over the world and with good reason; they’re always fun, cheery and cozy, with great beer and good food. Quinn’s Steakhouse & Irish Bar is no exception. Owned by Ireland native Gavin Quinn, the pub boasts delicious steaks, excellent service and a wicked whiskey collection. Executive chef Paul Pisa regularly creates tempting special menus, full of unique and delicious items (like the wild mushroom and Irish whiskey on Brie, only until tomorrow!). Give your mates a cool pint this holiday season, or really spoil them and treat them to a whole evening out. Gift certificates available at 96 Richmond Street West in the Sheraton Centre.
For Someone Who Wants to Look 10 Years Younger in 40 Seconds: Nanoblur Correction Cream, $19 at Shopper’s Drug Mart, Rexall and PharmaPlus 
Seriously. This topical correction cream will create the appearance of poreless skin, while reducing lines, textural damage and even unwanted pigmentation. It was originally developed to address the concern of high-definition cameras showing skin imperfections of Hollywood’s brightest stars. The photos above are NOT retouched. It even comes with a 90-day money-back guarantee. Also available online.
For Everyone: Amazing Products and Services for Less on TeamBuy.ca 
The holiday season ain’t cheap, and sometimes, you just need to buy a gift that costs less, but doesn’t seem like it cost less. Enter TeamBuy.ca. This amazing website harnesses the power of buying in teams, and offers fantastic products and services for less. Recent offers have included spa treatments, yummy restaurants, homemade soup delivery, and even a cute, customizable diaper service. There really is something for everyone, and you can save anywhere from 50 to 90 per cent. With sites featuring local businesses in 12 cities across Canada, you’re also helping support your community. Buyers unite!  

Do Me A Solid: Jake’s Gigantic Give

One of the best parts of PR is helping charities throw fundraisers that benefit those that are less fortunate, or need our help with research, awareness, life’s necessities or simply some toys to play with. We happily pitch in for these events, and they’re often some of the most fun that we work on (or attend!) all year. 

This new section, Do Me A Solid, is devoted to featuring the worthy charities and events that we, and other PR colleagues, are working with. We want to help spread the word about the great charity work that so many are dedicated to. Help us shout it far & wide!  

We’re thrilled to launch this series with a wonderful, child-focused charity called Jacob’s Ladder, The Canadian Foundation for the Control of Neurodegenerative Disease. This charity was created after Jacob Schwartz was born with Canavan disease, an inherited, neurodegenerative disorder that affects his ability to walk, speak, see and eat. Jacob’s parents, Ellen and Jeff Schwartz, were told by doctors that their son would not live past his fourth birthday. 

Photo by Hudson Taylor

This past year, with great fanfare, Jacob celebrated his 13th birthday. Although severely disabled, Jacob loves life and this infectious optimism inspires all around him. Since launching Jacob’s Ladder in 1997, the Schwartz family has organized various annual fundraisers and initiatives raising millions of dollars. 

Jake’s Gigantic Give, presented by Scotiabank and Fabricland, is a unique holiday fundraiser where children can experience the power of giving back during the holidays.

Participating children (and adults) come in to a big “warehouse” full of 10,000 donated toys, from Mastermind Toys and Spin Master Toys. They will choose one to give to a child in need to one of seven charities (SickKids, Variety Club of British Columbia, Jewish Family & Child Services, Children’s Aid Society, Chum City Christmas Wish, Chai Lifeline, Starlight Children’s Foundation Canada and the Jean Tweed Centre). In the end, they can choose a gift for themselves, teaching them that giving always has its rewards. 

As well as the fun gift giving experience, there will be tons of entertainment and snacks, including food donated by Pizza Pizza, Kernels, Hershey’s and Cake For You (750 cupcakes!).

The toy-filled fundraiser expects more than 2,000 people to participate and over 200 volunteers to help with logistics and act as “Mission Makers” – working with the kids to choose their gifts. 

Everyone is welcome!  

What: Jake’s Gigantic Give
Where: 150 Lesmill Road, Toronto, Ontario
Why: To support local charitable organizations and help fund research of neurodegenerative diseases.
When: Saturday, November 27 and Sunday, November 28, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day
Admission Fee: Adult admission to the lounge is by voluntary donation; $25-admission fee for participants
We hope to see you there. x

Media, Darling: Candy Signorini

Candy Signorini is the fashion and beauty producer for the Gemini award-winning show CityLine on Citytv. 

CityLine, currently in its 26th year, is the longest running and most successful daytime show for women in Canadian history. Hosted by Tracy Moore, CityLine engages, entertains and informs viewers across Canada with its unique live format and daily themed approach. As familiar and trusted guest experts visit the set, viewers are treated to professional tips covering such topics as décor, entertaining, fashion, beauty, home and gardening.

Twitter: @CityLineCA

How can someone grab your attention with a pitch?  
It has to have an appropriate angle for the show and its format. So, that means you have to know (and watch!) the show so you understand how we cover topics. Do your research. We’re looking for the “wow” factor – what makes your product unique? Why would our viewers be interested? 

What do you find most useful when dealing with public relations professionals? 
A quick response to our requests, having good product info and being able to provide relevant guests that could appear on-air. That means someone who’s not only media savvy, but someone who can be entertaining while providing good consumer information. 
If we’re covering an event — make sure there are strong visuals for us to shoot. One-on-one interviews in a hotel room are just too “dry” for our format. It needs to be fun, interactive and interesting.  
What is the biggest mistake PR professionals make?
Not knowing the show format. Believe it or not, people have pitched us on guests we already regularly use on the show! Don’t pitch us things that aren’t relevant to our subject matter.
And, clogging my in box with big files/attachments. Those get deleted right away, often unread.
My pet peeve:
All the follow up, whether by phone or email. We’re all looking for great ideas, so if we’re interested you will hear back. Time just doesn’t allow us to respond to every email. 

If you’re sending a “save-the-date”, please include the time of day that I’m supposed to be saving! 
Any other thoughts you’d like to add?
Magazines, newspapers, television all have different time lines. We often get info too far ahead or too late for us to do anything. 

Rave: Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 1

Last week, a few of us had the pleasure of going to see a sneak peek of the seventh Harry Potter movie, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, courtesy of Warner Bros. We’re comfortable with our inner-geek On The Fourth Floor, and more than a few of us have read each Harry Potter book as soon as it was released and saw each movie as soon as it came out in theatres. We may have even done a little dance when the tickets arrived.

The seventh and final Harry Potter novel is being told through two full-length films, allowing just the right amount of time to fit in all the major scenes from the book. This film revolves around Harry and his challenge to destroy He Who Must Not Be Named (Voldemort). 

With help from Harry’s good friends Ron and Hermione, they search for clues that will lead them to Voldemort’s Horcruxes and uncover an old tale of the Deathly Hallows – one that, if true, will give Voldemort the power to take over the entire wizarding world. After two hours of Harry Potter excitement, the film ends at a satisfactory point that will (hopefully) please fans long enough until part 2 comes out in summer 2011. 
 
The film offers suspense and action, with a twist of humour and romance, resulting in a movie that everyone will enjoy. Potter-heads unite!

View the official trailer here.

Teacher’s Pet: On writing and editing

The second question in our new Teacher’s Pet series focuses on the writing and editing process.

I’ve always wondered how much guidance junior staff receive during their first few months of employment/internships. 

What is the typical editing process for a junior PR person before one of his/her press releases or any other written materials are ready to be circulated to press – do senior staff typically look over the work of junior staff and provide them with constructive feedback and help them revise the work, or is it expected that their written material is already perfect?

Shane McKenna (@Shane_McKenna) is currently a Public Relations student at Durham College. We’ve asked a junior and senior staff member to help answer his question, to give two different perspectives.

Abby – Publicity Co-ordinator
At rock-it, we have a great process in place for editing work, and everyone pitches in with editing and writing help (whether junior or senior). I’ve found that my writing has gotten stronger, because my team is great at giving constructive feedback. 
Typically, I write a release, submit it to someone for an edit, and they will track their changes when they send it back to me. This helps me see where improvements were made and understand why something was re-worded. Then, it goes for a final edit with either Lisa (Publicity Manager), or Debra (President), then to the client for approval, and finally, to the media. Lots of steps along the way help catch any mistakes.
When I started, I did receive guidance from the team. However, I think it’s important that you can get started without a lot of guidance. It can be a little overwhelming, but you have to jump in and just give it a shot – whether or not someone is showing you every step along the way. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes; it’s how you learn. If you have a good team, they’ll help you learn from your mistakes, rather than criticizing you.  
Lisa – Publicity Manager
First, some background! I studied Journalism – Print and Broadcast at Durham College, where I learned really valuable writing skills. Then, I was hired by the campus Communications and Marketing Department, where my main role was writing and editing – and knowledge of CP Style was a must.
Being a strong writer was definitely an asset when I made the move to rock-it – I was able to teach other team members some easy ways to improve their writing. Now, I hold the unofficial role of copy editor at rock-it, though the process from taking a first draft to a final copy distributed to media is a team effort.
Most agencies recognize that junior staff are still learning the ropes, with everything from pitching to building lists to writing promotional materials. While it’s not expected that junior writing will be perfect, there are a few steps you can take to a) show your employer you value strong writing, b) begin to recognize errors and look up how to correct them, and c) save the editor time. It’s okay to make mistakes here and there – it’s part of the learning process! But there are five tips to make sure you’re submitting your best work possible.

1. Consult the CP Style and CP Caps and Spelling books. If you truly can’t locate a rule within these resources, flag it for your editor – that way, they know you made the effort to find the answer, and they’ll see that you know when to check reference guides.

2. Make a list of information to include. Writing a press release? Make sure you include the 5 Ws! It’s surprising how often crucial information is left out or forgotten.

3. If your senior staffer doesn’t go over their changes with you, ask them to sit down with you and explain. Send a friendly email to book a mutually convenient time for the two of you to discuss the changes that were made.

4. Take notes to ensure you are not making the same error every time you submit something for editing. After two or three corrections, it’s expected that you will remember the rule going forward.

5. The most important piece of advice is to take constructive criticism seriously, but not personally. Let’s face it – working in the communications industry, there is a lot of writing. Rather than dread or avoid it, embrace it. You senior staffers will notice when you put extra effort into improving your skills, which will only work to your benefit. 

Oh, and in the words of a former professor, “Spell check is free on your computer. Use it!”

Good luck!

Rave: On The Fourth Floor Holiday Gift Guide – Part 1

We know you love shopping as much as we do, but finding the perfect gifts for loved ones can be a difficult task, even for the most seasoned of shoppers. Fear not, On the Fourth Floor has done your shopping for you! Here, we bring you stylish finds from some of our clients for everyone on your list. We’ll bring you even more ideas next week.

For the Budding Designer with Marc Jacobs Style Dreams: Design Your Own Dinner Set from Drake General Store, $68
The creative kid will get design happy this holiday season with Seedling’s Design Your Own Dinner Set from the Drake General Store. Complete with a plate, bowl, mug and egg cup, children can personalize their very own dinner sets with paint, glitter, feathers and ribbons. Sets can be designed with an Alexander Wang-cool aesthetic or with a girly Nanette Lepore touch. Either way, bake them in the oven for an hour and use them for a lifetime.

For the Glamorous Lounger: Cicciabella Cowgirl Slippers from Tryst Lingerie, $65


Finally, there is the perfect accessory for the glam girl’s leopard print Snuggie. Your favourite lounger can kick up her feet in style with Cicciabella Cowgirl Slippers from Tryst Lingerie. Embroidered with faux suede and lined with super soft faux sheepskin, this is one pair of comfy footwear she simply won’t want to take off. Luckily, with hard sole bottoms, she doesn’t have too. 



For the Newlyweds: Starburst Mirror from Homesav.com, $99

Normally retailing for $240, this mirror is a steal for just $99, available on Homesav.com from today until Wednesday. Not familiar with Homesav.com yet? It’s an online shopping destination, offering the latest designer furniture and décor at up to 70 per cent off. The progressive site is the first of its kind in Canada, offering an exciting approach to home decorating.


For the Next Suri Cruise or Romeo Beckham: Wide Stripe Sweater with Initial from You Name It Baby!, $96 



If Suri Cruise has proved anything, it’s that children can be trendsetters too. To keep the kids in your life fashionably on trend, try personalized Wide Stripe Sweaters with Initials from You Name It Baby! Hand-knit, these super soft cotton sweaters feature the child’s first initial against a striped background. Casual and cool, this sweater comes in your choice of colours, and is delivered to your door. 

For the Gourmet Chef with an Apartment-Sized Kitchen: Frigidaire Portable Induction Cooktop, $199

Even the most tolerant chefs can get frustrated with the tiny, ancient stovetops that come with most rental apartments. To help, Frigidaire has come out with this nifty cooktop to bring food to the next level. Aspiring Jamie Olivers can melt chocolate and boil water, and save on utilities at the same time – the cooktop is 70 per cent more efficient than gas and 20 per cent more efficient than electric. Plus, the surface is easier to clean, since heat transfers right to the cookware. Available across Canada at Sears, The Brick, Leon’s, The Bay, and additional select major appliance locations.  

For the Beauty Junkie: Intraceuticals Oxygen Treatment from Bay Dermatology Centre, $225

The beauty-obsessed can now rock Hollywood’s A-list face treatment in Toronto with an Intraceuticals Oxygen Treatment at Bay Dermatology Centre. This non-invasive skin treatment takes only 40 minutes and results last for up to three weeks. Give the gift, and let the beauty fanatical join the list of celebrity Intraceuticals fans, including Katy Perry, Madonna, Justin Timberlake, Eva Longoria-Parker and Dsquared² design duo, Dean and Dan Caten. With healing properties that reduce inflammation after IPL or PhotoFacial treatments, chemical peels, acne and sun damage, your skin will be ready for any photo shoot, TV appearance or celebratory occasion – like your next holiday soirée.

For the Yogi Striving for Inner Peace: Passport to Prana, $20 to $30
Help the yoga junkie in your life get Zen with Passport to Prana, the card that helps yogis get acquainted with the city’s best yoga studios at a fraction of the cost. Buy this passport for a yoga class at each of Prana’s destination, boutique and community studios. Regardless of exercise style, Passport to Prana has the class to suit any yoga subscriber. For a gift that keeps on giving, a $30-Toronto card will get the exercise buff in up to 70 yoga classes. Roll out that yoga mat! 

For the Dapper Gent (or one you want to make more dapper): Fred Perry Toggle Shawl Collar Sweater, $215


This cute and cozy sweater is great for almost any dude – stylish, yet manly, and warm enough that you’ll never hear him complain about the cold again. Better yet, it’s timeless cut and colour ensures that he’ll have it around for ages – which means you can swipe it for yourself after a year or two. Available across Canada, at the Fred Perry store in Toronto and online.


For your Mini-Me: Comfy Cardi from Mini Mioche, $42 (infant) and $46 (child)



Mini Mioche makes adorable, organic clothing for infants and children, from newborn to six years. Its Canadian-made line is super soft and available in surprisingly hard-to-find neutrals, like black, grey, olive and natural. Not only will your li’l ones look good, but you can feel good too, since Mini Mioche strives to reduce its carbon footprint as much as possible, with reuseable dyes, water-based or discharge graphic prints, and 100-per-cent recycled materials for everything from hang tags to catalogs. What’s not to love? P.S. Mini Mioche will also open its first bricks and mortar store at 795 Queen West in early December.


For the Foodie Friend: Home-baked Taste with PC Home Baker’s Gift Loaf Pans, $9.99




Channel your inner Martha Stewart and whip up the perfect gift for the foodie on your gift list. PC Home’s Baker’s Gift Loaf Pans are oven-safe, silicone-coated paper pans that make for an easy release after baking. Bake a special treat in one of these reusable pans and tie it up with a fabulous red bow for the perfect presentation.

Need a recipe? Try Martha Stewart’s Banana-Walnut Loaf. Serves 10.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 cups mashed medium very ripe bananas (about 6)
  • 1 cup chopped toasted walnuts (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-by-5-by-3-inch (2-quart) loaf pan; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda; set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. With mixer on low speed, add flour mixture in three additions, alternating with two additions of banana; mix until just combined. Stir in walnuts, if desired, by hand.
  3. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached, 60 to 70 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes in pan, then deliver to your loved one!
     
     Happy Shopping!