Media, Darling: Carlene Higgins

Carlene Higgins started her publishing career as an
administrative assistant at Salon Magazine before joining Flare nine years ago. As
beauty director, she’s responsible for award winning photo shoots,
up-to-the-minute beauty stories and testing the latest products and trends.







Twitter: @carlenetweets
Website: www.flare.com


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

I graduated with an Environmental Studies degree with a
minor in English. I worked in advocacy for a bit but it didn’t suit me. I felt
good about making a difference in the world but ultimately, I wasn’t happy and I
don’t believe that’s doing anybody any good. I needed more structure and
creativity and once I stepped foot in the magazine world, I knew I was in the
right place.


Where would you like to be five years from now?
Dunno. I’m really happy with where I’m at right now. I
love my work, I’m being challenged, I’m learning and I’m given the freedom to
push my work creatively in different areas I want to go. Sometimes I think
about being an editor in chief or starting a website, and other times I dream
about going in on an independent project with somebody and making trillions of
dollars on a really great idea instead of writing about other people’s all the
time.



Any advice for people getting started in your industry?

Be really good at whatever it is you do. If you suck at
photocopying and filing, nobody is going to keep you around long enough to find
out what you really are good at. Make yourself indispensable, pay your dues,
and every once in a while, push to go in the direction you want to go. Also,
forget the attitude problem you mastered in high school. It won’t work in the
real world (my tongue bled from all the biting those first few years). You need
to quickly adjust to find new ways of settling matters. Hint: it involves
removing your feelings from any work situation. It’s tough. Practice your poker
face in the meantime.


What are your favourite media outlets, not including your own? 
I took a year long break from TV watching but television
seems to be having a moment right now. I’m pretty convinced Game of Thrones and
Girls could be the best shows ever to air, just comparing to a few years ago
when I actually thought Lost was a really good show.


Best interview you’ve ever had?
Justin Timberlake. My husband still questions my
daughter’s true DNA.


Worst?
I’d tell you, but I’d get in shit from the PR
company tomorrow.



Best advice you’ve ever been given?
Writing well is using the least amount of words to say
the most you want to say (thanks Dad).



What rule(s) do you live your life by?

Be brave and forgive yourself when things don’t always
work out. It was worth a shot.


What’s the most important tip you can give PR pros?
Calling an editor to follow up on whether a package
arrived is the equivalent of telemarketers calling during dinner.

Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro? We love to hear
about #wins.
I am so happy when a press release comes in with
A) the name of the product B) a description of its benefits including key
ingredients C) the price D) the launch date E) arrives 3 months before the
launch date. 

I hate? 
Haters.

I love? 
Lovers.

Reading? 
A book that is so similar to Downton
Abbey it’s a bit scary.

Best place on earth? 
Home.

Dinner guest? 
Ellen DeGeneres.

Hero? 
Ellen DeGeneres.

Pool or ocean? 
Both.

Voicemail or email?
Email.

Media, Darling: Kristen Vinakmens

Kristen Vinakmens is currently Editor-in-Chief of Cosmetics magazine. Vinakmens has been working as a magazine journalist since 2001, landing her first gig as a writer at documentary film industry magazine RealScreen. She moved to the consumer side in 2004, when she joined Glow as copy editor. Vinakmens has held staff editor positions at Elle Canada (where she was Associate Beauty and Health Editor), Today’s Parent and P&G Beauty’s Rouge, where she launched Rougemag.com for American and Canadian audiences. Most recently, she was Beauty Editor at Glow and Flare magazines. She is also an accomplished lifestyle writer and has written for titles such as Azure, House & Home, Style at Home and Best Health

She won the Best Beauty Editor award at the 2011 P&G Beauty & Grooming Awards, along with her colleague Wing Sze Tang, for her work with Flare

Twitter: @Kvinakmens 
Did you always want to be in the media? If not, what other careers were on the horizon? 
It took me a while to realize I wanted to work in media, even though I hoarded fashion magazines from a young age. I studied art history and English in university and thought for a while that I wanted to be an art gallery curator, but soon realized it’s a very niche field and jobs are hard to come by. After dabbling in some writing for the student newspaper, I enrolled in journalism at Ryerson and that clinched it. 
Where would you like to be five years from now? 
Working as a magazine editor in some capacity. I love having the opportunity to be creative on a daily basis and to collaborate with amazingly talented, creative people. 
Any advice for people getting started in your industry? 
Take every opportunity that comes your way and never say no. 
What are your favourite media outlets, not including your own? 
For news, the Globe and Mail and the New York Times (often via their websites). For fashion/beauty: Women’s Wear Daily, NY Mag’s The Cut, Fashionista.com, Style.com. Fashion/beauty magazines: Flare, Elle, Marie Claire, Allure, Vogue and Vanity Fair
Best interview you’ve ever had? 
Taylor Swift. I’m not a huge fan of her music (although I can appreciate her talent), but she won me over with her charm and she genuinely seemed to want to talk to me, which is not the case with every celebrity. But I can sympathize somewhat with celebrities on the press junket circuit; I’d probably be cranky too after two straight days of non-stop interviews. 
Best advice you’ve ever been given? 
Work your ass off now and reap the rewards later. 
What rule(s) do you live your life by? 
Put yourself first and don’t try to please everybody. 
What’s the most important tip you can give PR pros? 
Keep up-to-date on editor moves in the industry and study mastheads on a regular basis. It’s such a small industry and people are constantly moving. That said, keeping editors up-to-date on people moves on the PR side is just as important. As for press releases, it can’t be stressed enough that they should be clear and include all the relevant info (for product releases, that includes price, launch date, etc.). I’m also not a fan of book-length press releases – when I need info quickly, they’re tough to navigate to get to the “meat” of the matter. Keep them concise. 
Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro? We love to hear about #wins. 
My best experiences with PR pros are when they’ve taken the time to get to know me. We rely on each other so much that it’s important to establish a rapport and a sense of trust. 
I hate? 
Bad manners. 
I love? 
Getting a thank you note from a PR pro regarding a story they (or their client) liked. It’s a small gesture, but a welcome one. I once got a personal note from Dermalogica founder Jane Wurwand, thanking me for capturing the story about her FITE initiative so well. She was a great interview and a very inspiring woman, and the note really made my day. 
Reading? 
The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht.
Best place on earth? 
Paris. 
Dinner guest? 
Lady Gaga or Oprah. Both would be nice. 
Hero? 
Journalism-wise, Anna Maria Tremonti of CBC’s The Current. She’s always engaging and one of the best journalists in Canada. 
Favourite app (or whatever you are downloading these days)? 
I’m an obsessive pinner on Pinterest. Also, I love a good game (or several) of Words With Friends. 
Pool or ocean? 
Ocean. Preferably in Greece. 
Voicemail or email? 
Email.

Media, Darling: Jill Dunn

Jill Dunn is an award winning Toronto-based writer and editor. She got her start working at ELLE Canada, and then worked as beauty editor at Glow magazine for several years. Currently she’s at the helm of 29Secrets.com, a women’s beauty and lifestyle site, and is a resident beauty expert on the Marilyn Denis Show on CTV. Her freelance work has appeared in Hello! Canada, Canadian House & Home and Sympatico.ca, among others.


Twitter: @jilld_tweets; @29secrets

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

For a time I wanted to be a lawyer; glad that didn’t pan out. Would have been bored to tears.

Where would you like to be five years from now?
Would still like to be creating content – the exact platform, I can’t say definitively. As a true Gemini, I can’t commit to anything too far in advance. Would also like to get a few more stamps in my passport between now and then.

Any advice for people getting started in your industry?

Be proactive and take every opportunity that comes your way. Competition is tough, so you really need to go above and beyond to shine and land the job of your dreams. Also learn as much as you can about video content (script writing/producing/editing). You’ll be that much further ahead.

What are your favourite media outlets?

I get a lot of headlines via various journalists I follow on Twitter, therefore the news outlets I read vary from day to day. Generally speaking, for hard news my go-to pubs are: thedailybeast.com, globeandmail.com and nytimes.com. Magazines: Grazia, British Vogue, various versions of ELLE, Flare and Fashion. Juicy stuff: xojane.com, fashionetc.com, and dailymail.co.uk. TV: 60 Minutes and E! Fashion Police – equally informative.

Best interview you’ve ever had?

This is going back about eight or nine years, but Oscar de la Renta. He had anecdotes for everything. You would think he would be so bored of media interviews, but he was gracious, charming and generous with his answers – we talked for 30 minutes, which is kind of unheard of with someone so high profile. And recently, I met Pat McGrath in New York. I didn’t get to interview her one-on-one, but she did apply my lipstick. For a beauty editor, that’s about as good as it gets.

Worst?

Christina Aguilera.

Best advice you’ve ever been given?


Do what you said you would do when you said you would do it.

What rule(s) do you live your life by?


Pour yourself a drink, put on some lipstick and pull yourself together.” – Elizabeth Taylor

What’s the most important tip you can give PR pros?


Build personal relationships with editors, tailor your pitch and take it easy on the exclamation points. Also, educate your clients about ways to leverage online opportunities. I find a lot of PR pros and their respective clients think that online coverage is “free” or somehow less valuable than print. In a growing number of instances, online outlets are just as influential as print pubs. Plus, you reach a wider audience, for a longer period of time, so there is inherent value in that. 

 
Also very helpful for agencies: updating editors semi-annually of which clients you’re representing and the key contact for each. The nature of agencies is that they’re constantly changing clients/staff, so keeping editors in the loop is always good practice

Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro? We love to hear about #wins.


I love it when I write an email request and I get a prompt reply back saying: “Working on it; will keep you posted.” That acknowledgment puts my mind at ease and shows that the PR pro respects my deadline. Overall, I have very good experiences with the PR pros I deal with regularly.

I hate?


Embargos. I think they serve little to no purpose in this day and age of instant information. If I’m excited about something, I want to talk about it at my leisure (within reason, of course). Often I go to events months and months in advance of something launching, but by the time it hits shelves, I barely remember what I was excited about in the first place.

I love?

Kitchen parties, Three’s Company reruns, Jeopardy!, sharp wit and Skype dates with friends who live too far away.

Reading?

Just read The Marriage Plot. Up next: Half-Blood Blues.

Best place on earth?

A stretch of secluded beach on PEI during the summer.

Dinner guest?

The entire cast of Bridesmaids. I’d be flanked by Chris O’Dowd and Jon Hamm.

Hero?


My mom (doesn’t everyone say that?).

Favourite app?

Obsessed with Pinterest (follow me: @jmdunn00), Songkick and Words With Friends. Also like OneSpout – app for consolidating daily deals.

Pool or ocean?


Ocean. Salty air is good for the body and mind.

Voicemail or email?

Email, please. It’s efficient, and I like having a copy of correspondence to refer back to.