City Living: LGFW SS’ 12

TIFF has officially wrapped and it’s on to the next one. Next up? LG Fashion Week, beauty by L’Oreal Paris’ SS 2012 presentations. This season is poised to be bigger and better than ever, especially with fashion week’s brand new location. The tents have moved further east, and will be held in David Pecaut Square (right next to Roy Thompson Hall and the King St. streetcars).

While we savour every show and our hearts always race before the lights and music begin in the runway room, here are some shows we’re particularly excited to see:

 On opening night, we welcome LaLa Berlin, traveling from Deutschland for her inaugural show in LGFW. Carried in 60 stores worldwide and worn by celebs including Heidi Klum, Cameron Diaz and Jessica Alba, LaLa Berlin is known primarily for high-end knitwear. Watch the show on Monday, October 17 at 9:30 p.m. (by invitation only).

Look from Lala Berlin’s f/w 2011 collection.
One of our fave’s for the past few seasons are Toronto/Halifax sister-act duo Chloe Comme Parris, comprised of Chloe and Parris Gordon. Known for their artisanal skills, such as hand-made fabrics and dyes, the line epitomizes effortlessly cool style.  This show will be held in the intimate studio environment on Tuesday, October 18 at 7 p.m.
Look from Chloe Comme Parris’ f/w 2011 collection.
We’re also excited for VAWK‘s latest collection, created by Project Runway-alumnus Sunny Fong. Fong is best known for his handmade knits and dramatic accents. Also, we commend VAWK for their use of diverse models (read: beautiful and curvy). VAWK shows on Thursday, October 20 at 9:30 p.m.
Looks from VAWK’s f/w 2011 collection.
If you want in on the action, but don’t have a media/industry/buyer pass, you can purchase a general ticket to see the show (ranging from $20 for a single show to $175 for a full day pass). For more information on purchasing tickets, student ticket group rates, or a VIP ticket package, click here or email
To win a set of tickets to a LGFW show, tweet us! The tenth person to tweet
@rockitpromo will win a pair of tickets to a selected show. Tweet “I want to check out @LGFWbyFDCC‘s Canada Cool with @rockitpromo.”

*Winners must pick up tickets at will-call before the show. 


Media, Darling: Brian D. Johnson

Brian D. Johnson is best known as senior entertainment writer and film critic for Maclean’s, Canada’s weekly news magazine, where he has worked from 1985 to the present. He is also president of the Toronto Film Critics Association, and has worked professionally over the years as an author, musician and filmmaker.

Born in England and raised in Toronto, Johnson began his career as a staff reporter at the Toronto Telegram and the Montreal Gazette during the early 1970s. He has since written for publications such as the Globe and Mail, Saturday Night, Toronto Life, Chatelaine and Rolling Stone. Johnson is the author of three non-fiction books: Railway Country: Across Canada by Train, The XV Olympic Winter Games: The Official Commemorative Book and a history of the Toronto International Film Festival titled Brave Films, Wild Nights: 25 Years of Festival Fever.

Brian is married to author Marni Jackson and they have a son, Casey.

Did you always want to be in the media? If not, what other careers were on the horizon? 
I always wanted to write, and the media turned out to be the fastest way to get into print.
Where would you like to be five years from now? 

On a northern lake or a southern beach, retired from working the media treadmill full-time, and doing my own creative work, as a writer and filmmaker.
Any advice for people getting started in your industry? 

Get an adventurous variety of experience in the world, traveling and working, before narrowing your horizons to a single specialty (such as film critic).

What are your favourite media outlets, not including your own?
The New Yorker, the Sunday New York Times, CBC One, Real Time With Bill Maher, Steve Martin’s Twitter Feed.

Best interview you’ve ever had? 
The best would be any one of the various interviews I’ve done with Leonard Cohen over the years. 

The worst is a competitive category, but it would be a tie between Tommy Lee Jones and Melanie Griffith, neither of whom felt like playing ball.
Best advice you’ve ever been given? 

From documentary director Errol Morris, when asked what the key to conducting good interview is, he told me: “Shutting up”. His answer was met with a long silence.
What rule(s) do you live your life by? 

As few as possible. But trying to enjoy it is not a bad start.
What’s the most important tip you can give PR pros? 

If you want to build a trusting relationship with a journalist, think like one, and when asked off the record, be honest about the nature and quality of what you’re promoting.
Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro? We love to hear about #wins.

Virginia Kelly is the best film publicist in town. She’s smart, funny, informed, responsive, candid and passionate about cinema. One of a kind.
I hate? 

Aspartame, freezing rain, and Rob Ford’s “vision” of Toronto.
I love? 

Swimming in a spring-fed Canadian lake with no motorboats and water that’s safe to drink.

Jeff in Venice, Death in Varnasi by Jeff Dyer.

Best place on earth?
That lake, and its location is my secret.

Dinner guest?
Bob Dylan.

“We don’t need another hero”.
Favourite app? 
Flipboard for iPad.

Pool or ocean?

Voicemail or email?

City Living: Swag Bags Do’s and Don’ts

Whether you’re a fashion week aficionado, a sophisticated girl-about-town or a fellow PR pro, we’re sure you have been handed a swag bag at some point in your social life. Swag bags, filled with branded goodies, have gone beyond being a “nice touch” and are now a standard expectation among attendees of many sponsored events. Not only are they an excellent marketing tool, if filled right, but a well-stocked bag can make an event memorable for your guests.

With LG Fashion Week quickly approaching, it’s likely that industry insiders all over the city are getting ready to start filling bags with treasures. We consider ourselves experts in the swag bag department so we’ve put together some gifting do’s and don’ts for when you’re ready to start stuffing pretty bags with prezzies.

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Do include press materials but keep it short and sweet. This is not the time to include lengthy press docs that no one will read. In this instance, less really is more. Save some trees by including a one-page release or info sheet that gets your point across.

Don’t include coupons. Unless you’re including a coupon for something that is completely free, skip it. If you want to offer a discount on products, try a gift card instead. A $10 gift card will be appreciated but a 10 per cent off coupon is a gift bag #fail.

You won’t find any coupons hiding in these sleek swag bags.

Do include food products but make sure they have a long shelf life. It just makes sense. Make sure that any food is packaged correctly and that there is little chance of spoilage.

Don’t use a flimsy bag. You do not want your guests’ bags to tear as they’re walking home or jumping in a cab. A decorative, reusable bag is a great option because it is another gift for your guests and can easily be branded by one of your sponsors.

These structured bags are sure to make a statement, and a comfortable home for all the goodies. 😉

Do start stuffing your swag bags early. As soon as you have an idea of how many guests you’ll be gifting, start putting the bags together. It seems like it will be an easy thing to manage but you’ll be busy with a lot of tasks on the day of your event. It takes a long time to put them together, trust us on this one.

Finally, pack it with items that are useful and not too heavy. If we’re wearing heels and have had a few cocktails, it’s difficult to lug around a 100 lb. bag. That free coffee maker is great to get, but consider sending it to us after. Most women will give a new gloss or a mascara a try (and we’re fairly faithful – if it’s good, we’ll buy it next round). Our favourite things? Perfume, snacks, shampoo, mascara and razors (we’re looking at you, LGFW).

Best gift bag you’ve ever received? Tweet us @rockitpromo.  

Rave: Ballet-Style Workouts

While it’s not yet technically the “New Year”, there’s something about September that urges us to make a resolution and start fresh. Perhaps it’s that we still haven’t shaken the feeling of going back to school and starting with a blank slate. Whatever the reason, our resolution this fall is to jump back on the workout wagon, because let’s face it, somewhere between burgers and beer at the cottage and many late, cocktail-filled nights on patios this summer, we fell off. 

Normally, this would sound like a drag, but we’ve found a cool new workout trend called The Bar Method that will get you sweating and feeling nostalgic for the good old days of pink tutus and ballet shoes (before they became a trendy alternative to heels).

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The Bar Method combines ballet, yoga and Pilates in an interval workout, and while new to us on the fourth floor, it’s actually been around since 1959! Now with over 60 locations all over the U.S and one in Vancouver, The Bar Method is quickly becoming the “it” workout. 

Drew Barrymore, Ginnifer Goodwin, Zooey Deschanel, Denise Richards and Anna Paquin are just a few of the celebrities that swear by this fat burning, muscle carving, body reshaping, arm sculpting, waist trimming, posture enhancing (shall we go on?) workout.

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Since we don’t plan on flying to Vancouver or New York to try out a class, we did our research and found a similar alternative in Toronto called The Extension Method. The studio, aptly named The Extension Room, is located at 530 Richmond St. W., and offers a variety of ballet-style workouts which include: Ballet Bootcamp, Ballet Sculpt and Classical Ballet Technique. 

Classes run for about the same price as Yoga ($17 for a drop-in and $170 for a month pass). The 267 Richmond St. location of Extreme Fitness also offers a selection of classes.

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You can also check out classes at the National Ballet of Canada, which offers seven progressive levels of classes, allowing you to advance at your own pace (we’re not Karen Kain after all). Classes run through the year in three terms of 15 weeks each and prices run from $350 to $1,285 per term, depending on the number of classes you take.

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For those who crave variety in their workout menu, City Dance Corps might be the one for you with Ballet, Ballet Boot Camp and Power Barre classes. All three are offered with a variety of drop-in rates and options ranging from $15.25 per class to $152 per month, allowing even the most commitment-phobic to lace up their pointe shoes.
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Here’s hoping our first resolution of fall sticks. If not, at least we’ll have a little fun stretching, sweating and pretending we’re prima ballerinas for the day.

City Living: The Curl Ambassadors

Finding that special hair stylist who makes all your hair dreams come true is a challenge for any girl but it can be especially difficult for girls with curly or thick hair. Some stylists just don’t have a sense of how to cut and style curly hair and don’t realize that these locks require specialized products (and maybe a little extra TLC, too).

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That’s why we love the gals at The Curl Ambassadors (159 Harbord St.). Founded by two ladies who have lived through all the trials and tribulations of having curly hair, (Betty and Caroline) the Ambassadors is located in a space that is Victorian-inspired and couldn’t be cuter. The cozy salon employs a group of stylists who specialize in cutting and styling all types of curly hair. 

Not only do the Ambassador’s stylists understand curly hair (“we all know that it’s usually not about the length — it’s about the shape”), the salon also carries an unbelievable inventory of curl-taming products.

Most of the products they carry are nearly impossible to find in Canada. Products such as Mixed Chicks, geared toward women of mixed race is not available anywhere else in Canada. Other great products available at The Curl Ambassadors include  Kinky Curly, Uncle Funky’s Daughter and Carol’s Daughter. These products do an amazing job of wrangling curls for women of all ethnicities and they are all-natural and sulphate free.

The salon’s exclusive product list, plus the fact that every customer gets a free tutorial on how to style their new cut, definitely makes the Curl Ambassadors the curly hair experts in our books. 

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In fact, the salon’s dedicated clients love the Ambassadors so much that a new location opened this year at 9100 Jane Street in Vaughan.  
Want to book an appointment? Check out the Curl Ambassadors online. If you’re not in love with your curls already, you will be after your first visit. 

Rant: Effective Resume Writing

We get lots of resumes on the fourth floor, and while there are definitely some great candidates in the mix, we can’t help but question some of the submissions we receive, from PR newbies to seasoned pros alike. Some are riddled with errors, some spell Debra‘s name incorrectly, some don’t spell check – we could keep going. So to help out all the wannabe rockiteers out there, we’ve compiled our top tips (in random order) for writing a PR-focused resume.

1. Always spell check. There is really no reason not to. It’s free, it’s built right into your computer, and you’re applying for a communications position – we need to know you can communicate error-free.

2. Remember this episode of Seinfeld? Well, we’re with Mr. Lippman. Chill out on the exclamation points – they are rarely necessary in a resume/cover letter. When in doubt, leave them out.

3. Not sure who to address your resume to? Don’t write “to whom it may concern” or “hiring manager”. That’s taking the easy way out. Check the company’s website for clues. Still can’t find it? Call them! Don’t ask to speak with the president, but ask a receptionist or junior staffer who would be the best person to address your resume to. It shows initiative and attention to detail, and it’s super simple to do.

4. Most people embellish a bit on their resume, we know that. Just make sure you’re not flat out lying. For example, if you don’t know Canadian Press Style, don’t say that you do. Part of our hiring process includes a writing and editing test – we’ll catch ya if you’re lying, and then we’ll just be annoyed that you wasted our time. Most companies will expect you to be able to hit the ground running with the skills you list, and it will show pretty fast if it turns out you’re not as experienced as you implied.
5. Try to keep your resume to one page. Two is okay if your experience is super relevant. But don’t list the part-time burger-flipping job you held in Grade 11*. It’s perfectly okay to only list the jobs that will serve you in the position you’re going after – in fact, it’s preferred.

*Teacher’s Pet exception: If you’re a student applying for your first-ever internship, it’s okay to list a few part-time jobs you’ve held, especially if they demonstrate a skill relevant to PR (customer service, writing, sales, etc). It’s better than leaving your resume empty. Part-time jobs show responsibility and workplace experience, but they should only be seen on very junior resumes).

6. Read the job posting from top to bottom and follow the directions. If it says to submit your resume only (and no cover letter), then do so. If it asks you to quote a competition number, make sure you include it. PR is all about attention to detail!
7. This should go without saying as it applies to all industries, but tailor your resume to the position you’re applying for. Don’t send generic carbon copies to every company you apply to. Your resume will be stronger if it reflects what the hiring company is seeking.

8. For cover letters, be creative and let your personality shine through in your writing, but keep it professional. It will help you stand out from the pack.

9. This is Canada. Make sure all your words are spelled the Canadian way: flavour, honour, centre, etc. You get the idea. We hate to see “color.” It’s COLOUR, people!

10. Follow up. Nearly all of us at rock-it landed our first interviews thanks to good follow-up. Many bosses get hundreds of emails a day, so if you’re not persistent, chances are you’ll fall through the cracks. Use good sense though – don’t follow up with Robin Kay during LG Fashion Week, don’t follow up with Cameron Bailey during TIFF, and don’t follow up with Debra Goldblatt-Sadowski during either of those events. 😉

Sending us a resume? Please, please consult our checklist first!
Do you have more resume tips? Tweet us @rockitpromo or comment below!

Media, Darling: Sarah Casselman

Sarah is a Queens University graduate, as well as an International Academy of Design and Technology diploma recipient. This self-proclaimed magazine junkie is the Senior Editor of FASHION News. She has also appeared as a style expert on  ET Canada, The Marilyn Denis Show, Steven and Chris and MTV among many others.

During her studies, Sarah worked at Augustina Boutique where she “spent the majority of [her] paycheques on Me & Ro jewellery, bags and scarves.” Upon graduation, Sarah moved to teach ESL in Tokyo, Japan for two years. She loves being part of the FASHION team.

Did you always want to be in the media? If not, what other careers were on the horizon?

I am a magazine junkie (always have been) and a serious fashionphile, so it seemed like a natural fit. Either that or a vet; when I was little I had a very successful stuffed animal practice in our basement. My alter ego at age seven? Dr. Christine Longington.

Where would you like to be five years from now?
A smart woman never tells all.

Any advice for people getting started in your industry?
Internships are worth their weight in gold. Treat everyone with respect, it’s a small industry and you never know who you’ll be working for some day.

What are your favourite media outlets, not including your own?
Anything and everything fashion-related and the tabloids at the grocery store check-out. I love a good Us Weekly fix, it’s my guilty pleasure.

Best interview you’ve ever had?
All of them! Whether I’m interviewing a local designer or Lady Gaga I’m always fascinated by the interview process. The challenge is finding (and asking) that key question; the one that unlocks the subject’s true personality. From that point on, it’s smooth sailing.

Best advice you’ve ever been given?
Make a plan (courtesy of Dad and Mom Casselman). I’m a big believer in making a plan before forging ahead.

What rule do you live your life by?
Fear is not an option.

What’s the most important tip you can give PR pros?
Don’t send 12 attachments in an email unless I actually ask for them. Somehow, the rest of the circus doesn’t matter as long as I can still send and receive. 

Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro?
Having a handsome senior associate pitch me on Tiffany & Co.’s holiday collection. I covered the jewels and then got a sparkly one of my own a few years down the line. This past June I became a Mrs. #PRWIN.

I hate?
Spiders and spicy food.

I love?
My family, friends, baubles (fine or faux) and any fashion ad/editorial that includes animals (preferably anything fluffy and small).

The Windsor Style by Suzy Menkes.

Best place on earth?
Any place with my husband. (Ok, Nantucket.)

Dinner guest?
Anyone who brings a great bottle of chilled chardonnay.

Make that superhero. I always loved Wonder Woman and her fabulous statement cuffs!

Pool or ocean?
The ocean for walks on the beach, the fresh sea air and my sail cloth bag. The pool for lounging, the occasional dip and a really glam cover-up.

Voicemail or email?
Email, it guarantees a same-day response from me.

City Living: Boutique Shopping in Toronto

The need for a new fall wardrobe has us dreaming of the shops of New York, L.A., Paris and London. We’re not saying Toronto is lacking in the shopping department, our office is just a stone’s throw away from many great stores on Queen Street after all, but the appeal of stores like H&M and Zara begin to wear thin when you show up to work and three other girls are wearing the same shirt as you. Here are three boutiques that we think will satisfy your craving for a shopping vacation.

Uptown: Canopy Blue (2582 Yonge St., just north of Eglinton)

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For those of us who live north of Bloor, it’s always a bonus to be able to get our shopping fix right in our own area. Squeezed in between Gap Kids, West 49 and Chocky’s, Canopy Blue is a shopping oasis in a desert of big chains and family friendly stores. Since opening in 2008, owners Nicole Bitove and Candice Ilton have created a store with a laid back vibe and selection of designers that rival any boutique in L.A. From T-shirts to black tie, designers include Smythe, Herve Leger, J Brand, and Jay Godfrey, to name just a few.  

Midtown: The Narwhal (8 Price St., Suite 101, just south of Summerhill station)

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We think you’ll agree that The Narwhal has brought shopping in Toronto to a new level. Situated a little off the beaten shopping track, you can find the store directly across from the Summerhill LCBO in Rosedale. When walking through the doors of the Narwhal, you are immediately surrounded by all things beautiful, and we don’t just mean the clothes. With a background in interior design, co-owner Sydney Wills has created an environment worthy of the clothes it houses. With designers like Acne, Dolce Vita, Helmut Lang, House of Harlow, and Haute Hippie, we warn, you may want to take out a loan and buy everything in the store; we did.
Downtown: Jonathan + Olivia (49 Ossington Ave., at Queen)

We just about died when we heard there was going to be a store in Toronto that sold Topshop. Excited by the prospect of getting to shop at our favourite London-based store, we got there as soon as humanly possible and were not disappointed. While Topshop was the initial draw, the designers that continue to fill the racks like Alexander Wang, Rag & Bone, Marc Jacobs and Pamela Love make it hands down one of the best boutiques in the city. 

When it comes to shopping, these stores really are a breath of fresh air. We guarantee you won’t miss the big crowds, annoying sales associates and impersonal experience of big box store shopping.  You may need to spend a little more, but it’s worth it. 

What’s your favourite boutique in Toronto? Tweet us @rockitpromo or comment below.

Teacher’s Pet: Advice for PR students, recent grads and enthusiasts

September has arrived and with it, brought a whole new crop of students pursuing a career in PR. To give you an edge, we’ve decided to share some of the top tips that we’ve learned from our time in the biz.

You know that a publicist needs stellar writing skills and an interest in media but do you really know what it’s like to work in a busy PR office? If not, it’s ok. You won’t have an accurate picture of the PR world until you’re actually in it. However, the ladies on the fourth floor are some of the best people to give you a realistic introduction to a world that can be crazy and busy, yet fun and fulfilling.

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Don’t be afraid to ask questions
Questions are not just a great way to learn – getting answers guarantees that you and your team are on the same page. Take advantage of their collective experience and ask as many questions as possible. You may feel like you’re being annoying but it’s better to ask and avoid a possible catastrophe. 

Excel, Paint/Photoshop and Outlook
If you have ever fibbed on a resume and said you’re a pro at using these programs, you are in for a rude awakening when you start working in the PR biz. A seasoned publicist knows these programs inside-out so start downloading those tutorials.

To quote Barry Waite, coordinator of the corporate communications and PR program at Centennial College, “If you don’t have Twitter, you won’t find a job in PR.” ‘Nuff said. Social media has become an essential tool for PR, and Twitter is at the top of the game right now. Luckily, it’s fun and you will quickly understand that it’s an important information source and not just people posting updates about what they ate for breakfast. 

If you’re just starting out, read our Twitter tutorial here.

Start media monitoring
Chose a company you admire and read the dailies every day to find coverage of the company. Media monitoring is something you will do a lot when you’re starting out, so learn how to set up Google alerts and practice your scanning skills. Also, it’s the best way to get to know a writer, a TV show or radio program which is one of the most important aspects of working in PR.

We have just scratched the surface and have tons more advice to give so send us your questions @rockitpromo (or comment below) and we’ll give you the low down. We can’t wait to hear from you.

City Living: Best moments from TIFF 2011

The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is undoubtedly one of the most exciting, hectic and energized times of year for the fourth floor. The film fest creates the type of atmosphere that we thrive on and despite the fact that we are pulling 18-hour days, we really do love it. We may say we’re stressed out and tired but the truth is, we’re catching a buzz from the entire experience and relishing every moment. Once the red carpets are rolled up and the celebs are on to their next destination, we are left with new experiences and great memories.
We have put together our most unforgettable moments from TIFF 2011. We want to hear your stories as well, so please tweet, comment and share with us.
Watching K’naan perform to a small crowd of about 350 people at Festival Music House, front and center, and hearing his yet-unreleased tracks performed live for the first time.
Image courtesy of JJ Thompson.
Bringing Sarah Silverman from the wrong red carpet at the Alliance party to the right red carpet. She was very cool and laid back, and took it all in stride. We got to chat with her for 10 minutes, and laughing with a comedian is the best experience.

Image courtesy of Jonathan Leibson/Getty Images.

Chatting with The Sheepdogs during soundcheck, then hearing them for the first time at Festival Music House. They are now a huge fourth floor favourite, and we can’t wait to see them when they come back in November. Filmmakers – USE CANADIAN MUSIC!
 Image courtesy of Ryan Emberley.

Seeing Drizzy ride up to the Breakaway premiere in a rickshaw. Way to keep it real, Drake. 

Catching a glimpse of the very chic Tilda Swinton on our way back from the Tastemakers Lounge. Girl crush solidified.

Meeting Backstreet Boy Howie D. at the Hello! Canada party. A childhood dream long in the making. He’s just as cute in real life. 
 Our friend Tracy with Howie D.

Hitting the Strombo party late-night and turning around on the patio to find Bono and K’naan standing immediately behind us. The party was immediately amped up a notch (or five).

Everyone getting ready at the office each afternoon for the night ahead was probably the most fun. Checking out everyone’s outfits, helping with styling advice, zippers and hair – definitely some serious bonding moments, which helped us get through the long hours.  

Our office was basically everyone’s closet for two weeks.

Finally, from Debra, who quite possibly worked the most hours out of us all (and saw the most action!): 

So many favourite moments this year. Between Tastemakers, the Alliance red carpet, Harry Rosen Moth Diaries party, Festival Music House, the four films I worked on – it’s hard to pick just one! I did love being at the Soho House for the Ides of March cocktail party. It was intimate, not too busy and filled with power execs and talent like George Clooney, Ryan Gosling, Evan Rachel Wood, Marisa Tomei and more. Was one of those ‘it’s definitely TIFF’ moments. Also loved dancing my butt off to Sam Roberts at FMH. Until next year…