We know many of our awesome readers are regulars of the Media, Darling column, and we’ve got a little surprise for you. This week, we asked our Media, Darling – Athena Tsavliris – a brand new set of questions to shake things up a bit!
Tsavliris is the Toronto editor of Vitamin Daily. Her writing has appeared in the National Post and Fashion magazine, among others. Home sweet home is in the Annex where she lives with her husband, daughter and wacky schnauzer, in a slightly lopsided Victorian with a pomegranate door.
How did you get your start as an editor?
I interviewed our editor-in-chief, Sarah Bancroft a couple of times for features I was writing for the National Post and Fashion Magazine. When the job came up for Toronto editor at Vitamin Daily, I contacted her directly. The fact that we already had a rapport and that she was familiar with my writing secured an interview with our publisher. I’ve been with the company since its toddler years.
If you weren’t a Media, Darling, what would you be doing right now?
As a teenager, I was always mesmerized by the eye popping window displays at Harvey Nichols. If not media, I might have worked with clothes, creating ridiculously over the top windows or sourcing costumes for the pantomime. Wouldn’t that be fun? I could also have been a manicurist, like Dita Von Teese’s mum. I can paint 10 talons (base, polish x2, speed dry) in less than 10 minutes. No smudges.
Pitching or follow up: Phone or email?
Phone calls are much more personal, but I think most people nowadays prefer email. I personally can’t always switch my focus to palazzo pants if I’m in the thick of a rice pudding recipe. If an email grabs my attention, I respond promptly. If it doesn’t, I’d rather not sit through the schpeel on why your client’s printed-rayon palazzos are the perfect breezy summer evening look.
There is one publicist I’ve worked with who’s been in the business for many years and takes a very traditional approach – hand-written notes, formally crafted emails and voicemails that are as articulate as they are brief. However you choose to communicate, do so with style and respect, and you won’t fail.
We know irrelevant pitches, calling you the wrong name and 8 follow-ups are no-no’s; what else should publicists avoid doing?
Ah yes, irrelevant pitches – hemorrhoid cream and flea repellent won’t make the cut, I’m afraid. I’m amazed at how many calls I get from people who’ve never set eyes on Vitamin Daily, so it goes without saying that publicists should read (even skim) a publication before making a pitch.
A misspelled name or addressing the wrong person is sloppy, but an open call is annoying too. If a pitch begins with “Hello there,” I can safely assume that I am one of a trillion recipients or the sender hasn’t taken the time to look at our masthead. Either way, it lacks the personal touch so integral to the journo/publicist relationship.
When you have 100 people to call in a morning I can see how it’s easier to follow a scripted pitch. But the schpeel sounds wooden and insincere, especially when I’m your 99th call.
Long, repetitive press releases, attachments and fancy fonts are other peeves.
Sunrise or sunset? Sunset.
Scent? Ren Moroccan Rose body cream.
Cookie? Walkers shortbread.
Flower? Soft peach Ranunculus.
Shower or bath? Shower.
Film? Big Fish, Life Is Beautiful and Finding Nemo. I spot a theme.
Crush? Jeff Bridges
First job? Waitress. And a lousy one, at that.
Inspiration? Gosh, so many. But let’s begin and end with my family. Diana Vreeland and Iris Apfel fall somewhere in between.