Media, Darling: Julia McEwen

Julia McEwen has been fixated on all things beautifying since she
was a child sewing clothes for her dolls and giving them radical new hair ‘dos.
She’s a fashion sleuth, facial mask hoarder, self-described dog snob, and
purveyor of shiny fabrics.
She briefly worked as an independent fashion designer and a
freelance wardrobe stylist before joining Canadian Living almost five years ago. Now, as fashion
and beauty director, McEwen is responsible for fashion and beauty photo shoots,
service driven beauty stories and testing the latest products and trends.



Did
you always want to be in the media? If not, what other careers were on the
horizon?
Many
jobs — both real and fake — were on my wish list growing up, but a job in the
media was never top of mind. Like most little girls, the prospect of being a fairy princess or a mermaid sounded like a good bet. As I grew older (but not
so much wiser) professional gymnast or Olympic downhill ski racer was the goal.
Next came vet, marine biologist, lawyer, interior designer and then finally I
settled on fashion designer. I went to school for fashion design and fashion
business and while attending one of my electives, fashion journalism, I decided
that was my dream occupation.
Where
would you like to be five years from now?
I’d
still like to be working in print media, but on a larger scale with more of a
focus on fashion. I’d like to be writing and producing aspirational photo
shoots and articles. Ideally this future publication would be located in NYC or
London.
Any
advice for people getting started in your industry?
Try,
try and try again. Oh, and do one, two or even three internships. Perseverance
is the name of the game in this industry. You have to love what you’re doing
because it’s a ton of work for not a lot of pay. Also, never be rude to people.
Being an asshole will get you nowhere, fast.
What
are your favourite media outlets, not including your own? 
Best
interview you’ve ever had?
Surprisingly
enough, one of my best interviews was also one of my first interviews. It was
with reality TV mentor, Tim Gunn. He was very media trained so for a newbie
journalist it was appreciated. He was also astoundingly insightful, charming
and inspiring. What more could I ask for?
Worst?
Carrie Underwood. Seconds before the interview I was instructed not to ask any
questions with a Canadian emphasis. I work for Canadian Living magazine……
Best
advice you’ve ever been given?
“Why
say no when it feels so good to say yes.” – Tommy Boy, the movie.
“Don’t
live in the past or the future, live in the now.” – My friend’s mom, aka Buddha
reincarnated.
What
rule(s) do you live your life by?
Likely
this rule is fuelled by my OCD, but for the last eight years, I plan out my outfit
for the following day. Every detail is decided on in advance, including
accessories and jewelry. It helps keep my closet tidy and gives me plenty of
time to map out the perfect outfit for the day ahead.
What’s
the most important tip you can give PR pros?
When
it comes down to it, a PR person’s success depends on their relationships with
media peeps. We’re all human, no need to send out mass emails or leave awkward
voicemails like you’re reading from a bad script. Just be real, talk openly and
be honest.
Things
that make me happy:

When
a press release has the name of the product, price, availability and arrives
early enough for it to be timely to feature in book for long lead media, e
vents
on the subway line that are first thing in the AM and e
vents/previews/interviews
that start on time and don’t last longer than an hour.

Things
that make me go crazy:

Massive
attachments in email, t
he
phone call follow up less than 24 hours after the initial pitch/event has been
sent or emailed, s
aying
something is exclusive when your direct competitors are being offered the exact
same thing and ev
ents/previews
in the middle of the day.

Best
experience you’ve had with a PR pro? We love to hear about #wins.
I’ve
had countless warm and fuzzy experiences with so many wonderful PR pros it’s
difficult to pick an all time best. So I’ll just give a few of them shout outs
for being my PR guardian angels: Katherine Hamilton, Lisa Kruger, Lindsey
Haywood, Caroline Duguay, Sarah Smithers, Anita Matte, Kelly Amsterdam, Isabelle
Randez and Jessica Shamess.
I
hate?
Leggings,
UGG boots and Canada Goose jackets. Especially when worn all together with a
Starbucks in hand. #fashionfail #lifefail
I
love?
Day
sequins, rice and Norwich terriers.

Reading?
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver.
Best
place on earth?
Somewhere
I’ve yet to discoverer. My money is on Anna Dello Russo’s apartment-sized
closet.
Dinner
guest?
Hero?
I
don’t have one overarching hero in my life but there are lots of influential
women out there who inspire me — and one man. Jenna Lyons, Julianne Moore,
Grace Coddington, Cate Blanchett, Gwen Stefani and Tom Ford.


Favourite
app (or whatever you are downloading these days)?
Vine
is the newest app added to my social media roster. So far it’s tied with
Instagram for top spot. Followed by Twitter, Pinterest and Viddy.
Pool
or ocean?
Ocean.
Public, resort and/or hotel pools are cesspits. 
Voicemail
or email?
Emails
all the way. Even if it takes me one, two or seven plus days I’ll eventually
reply to your email. Voicemails make me ragey.

Media, Darling: Doug O’Neill

Doug O’Neill is the executive editor of Canadian Living magazine,
where he also produces the weekly Travel Talk blog.  Doug’s career in
magazines has taken him to a slew of Canadian titles including Toronto Life, TV
GUIDE
, Homemakers, and he’s also freelanced for a variety of Canadian and
American magazines. He most recently taught “Service Journalism” in
the Magazine Publishing Program at Ryerson University.




Did
you always want to be in the media? If not, what other careers were on the
horizon?
I‘ve
always been smitten with words. Storytelling was part of my Gaelic heritage.
But for some reason, I took a detour and studied environmental science at
university. Two semesters spent mucking about swamps was all I needed and I
transferred to the English department. After graduation I made a bee-line for
the magazine world.
Where would you like to be five years from now?
I’d like to be in a position that
enables me to work overseas for chunks of the year. I spent seven months in
Paris in the mid-1990s and it was a daily brain-twister – and a lot of fun. A
project (long-term or short-term) that would take me to Asia would turn my
crank.
Any advice for people getting started in
your industry?
Follow your gut. If you have a
quirky interest, make time for it. Those signature passions are what define you. No job is 100% perfect – but make sure one part of your job is a
perfect fit for you. And play with technology, even if you’re technophobic.
New gadgetry will unleash more creativity.
What are your favourite media outlets, not including
your own? 
Podcasts: Ted Talks, CBC’s “Definitely Not the Opera” and “The Amateur Traveler.” Print magazines (in no
particular order):  Afar (travel), Vanity Fair, Geez (new age, alternative
spirituality), GourmetNational Geographic, Globe
and Mail
Focus section (and anything penned by Elizabeth Renzetti), Food &
Drink
(for the pretty pictures), Enroute and the Springwater News (the
tiny community weekly that covers my home town – my aunt buys me a subscription
each year). Digital – where do I begin? Too many to mention but a
few off the top include Tyee, Spacing,  Macleans.ca (I still can’t read
the print version but love what they’re doing digitally), Toque & Canoe,
and the social media/community sections of CBC.ca (their news packaging has
been dull of late, but some great bloggers right now!).
Best interview you’ve ever had?
Irish
singer Sinead O’Connor.  She swore, then I swore, we both swore. I swear
it was the best interview ever. We talked about religion and dysfunctional
families.
Worst?
Margaret
Atwood. I was a junior researcher at Toronto Life in the mid-1980s. Ms. Atwood
answered the phone by saying,  “So, what’s your problem?”. I was quaking in my Birkenstocks.
Best
advice you’ve ever been given?
From a former boss/mentor:
“Keep asking yourself questions. Invite your inner editor to perch behind
your ear and  then listen to him/her. You discover your best answers when
the questions come from within.”
What rule(s) do you live your life by?
I’d like to say I live by this
rule, but sometimes I falter. In short:  Do what you want – not what
you should. If you do as you ‘should,’ sure you could probably have a really
good job. Do as you ‘really want’ – and you’ve got an amazing career you
absolutely love.
What’s the most important tip you can give
PR pros?

Don’t
be dismayed if we don’t return your call or reply to your email right away. If
we like your pitch, we’ll definitely get in touch. It just may not be the right
moment. 
Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro? We
love to hear about #wins.

I
worked on an intensive editorial partnership at the London Olympics sponsored
by P&G. Their on-the-ground team, Toronto-based MSL Canada, frequently used
a phrase that is pure magic to media: “Okay, Doug, we’re going to leave
you alone now so you can do what you’ve gotta do.”  H-E-A-V-E-N. They
knew when to pull back. Some PR folks tend to shadow media a little too much at
 media events and when working on projects. The MSL team were there when I
needed them, and then gave me the autonomy I required to get my story. It
worked for everyone. (Oh, and if you’re going to sit in on interviews — be sure
to ask the interviewer in advance if that is okay.)
I
hate?
#1. Mid-day PR luncheons.
 They wreak havoc on the schedule – and my tummy. Immediately after work
is so much better.
#2. Shopping – unless it’s for
kitchen gadgets and travel accessories.
#3. Small talk.
I love?
#1.When PR folks make a specific
reference to a recent editorial item in the print mag or online. It shows they
really know us.
#2. Patsy Cline. And not just
because we share the same birthday.
#2. My Bose iPod dock.
Reading?
I tend to read a few books at
once, but not all of the same genre. Currently: Linden MacIntyre’s Why Men Lie (fiction, not a self-help book!),  Rita Golden Gelman’s Tales of a Female Nomad (a travel memoir), and Naomi Duguid’s Burma: Rivers of Flavours (food meets history.)
Best place on earth?
A toss-up: Haida Gwaii off
Northern British Columbia or Southern India.
Dinner
guest?
Annie Lennox.
Hero?
Jane Goodall because she is
forever breaking the mould. And my late Dad, who single-handedly raised eight kids
on his own. He, too, broke the mould.
Favourite
app (or whatever you are downloading these days)?
Packing Pro. Seriously, I can pack
for a 10-day trip with no stress, no fuss. I simply do what my Packing app
tells me.
Pool or ocean?
Ocean, preferably at dawn.
Voicemail
or email?
Email. 





Media, Darling: Brett Walther

As Canadian Living’s Home & Garden
Director, Brett Walther shares simply chic décor strategies with the magazine’s
3.9 million readers. With an emphasis on getting high-end style for less, his
do-it-yourself approach stretches decorating dollars, and translates the
hottest design trends into easy, breezy, weekend updates.

Before joining the Canadian Living family,
Brett previously served as the features editor at Style at Home magazine, where
he became a familiar face across the country as a regular guest on CityTV’s CityLine.
After hours, Brett can usually be found at
his Toronto Cityplace condo (where you can “almost, but not quite” watch the
Jays on the Rogers Centre field), making the slow – and expensive – transition
from minimalism to maximalism.


Did you always want to be in the media?
Remember that TVO show from the early ’80s
where the three kids inherited the clubhouse filled with robots, and started a
newspaper as a cover for fighting aliens? That pretty much cemented my career
path, and I’ve never strayed far from those dreams of making it as a real-life boy
reporter. I’d toyed with the idea of playing it safe as an in-the-trenches foreign
correspondent in my late teens, but the danger of the design beat ultimately won me over.
Where would you like to be five years from
now?
I’d love to be where I am now, having spent
the past five years elevating the profile of Canadian Living’s Home &
Garden section to rival our Food content. That’s right – watch out, Test
Kitchen.
Any advice for people getting started in
your industry?
Make yourself indispensible. Your greatest
achievement as an intern is to make your editor wonder how anything got
accomplished before you came on the scene.
What are your favourite media outlets, not
including your own?
I adore House Beautiful and Country Living.
Even if a particular story isn’t appealing to me from a style standpoint, their
savvy packaging pulls me right in. I’m tempted to add CBC to come off all highbrow,
but it’s only on for Coronation Street.
Best interview you’ve ever had?
Sherri Donghia, the design director of the Donghia home textiles empire. The interview was a marathon three-hour stroll through her
impossibly inspiring fabric showroom, which ended with her offering me a job in
her Manhattan HQ. I’m sure she was thinking “swatch-room stock boy,” but I was
still rather flattered.
Worst?
Interviewing other journos is rarely any
fun. We tend to be a terribly guarded bunch in the presence of recording
devices. Worse than that are interviews with pseudo-celebs who suddenly decide
they’re designers because a bed-in-a-bag has their face plastered on the
packaging. Barf.
Best advice you’ve ever been given?
“Products on-page should never appear
larger than they do in real life,” “Anniversaries aren’t real news pegs,” “Every
planter pot needs spillers, thrillers and fillers,” “Know your reader,” and “A
person who is nice to you but is not nice to your server is not a nice person.”
What rule(s) do you live your life by?
Dorothy Draper wrote the seminal DIY
decorating guide, Decorating is Fun! back in 1939, and it’s basically my
manifesto – even beyond the confines of design. If something stops being fun, I
know that it’s time for a change.
What’s the most important tip you can give
PR pros?
Be as transparent as possible. If access to
a junket or interview opportunity is dependent on specific conditions and
expectations of coverage, I need full disclosure in advance. Is the client
going to push for a specific platform for publication? Are they hoping for release
by a certain deadline? Although I’m obviously not going to accept a seven-night
stay at the new Knightsbridge Bulgari without covering it in some capacity,
I’ll graciously decline the invitation if I know in advance I can’t deliver
anything near what you’re hoping for. It’s common courtesy. My momma taught me
that.

And please – for the love of all that is
holy – enough with those silly supplied hashtags at press events.
Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro?
We love to hear about #wins.
There’s that gorgeous Helen Mirren line
from Gosford Park when she goes on about how she’s good at her job because
she knows what her ladyship wants before she knows she wants it herself… It’s
always lovely to be furnished with the full complement of high-res images,
product specs, Canadian retails and sourcing deets before you actually have to
request a thing. Jennifer Thompson from Elevator, for example, is a master at
that sort of intuitive approach to PR, and I love her to bits.
I hate?
Karate-chopped cushions, pot light chandeliers,
bun feet, flocked wallpapers and windows without drapes.
I love?
Cabriole legs, grey-washed wood, horizontal
stripes, camelback sofas, button tufting, and blue-and-white transferware.
Reading?
Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall.
Best place on earth?
My family’s farm in southwestern Ontario.
Dinner guest?
Madonna on one side, and her
would-be-decorator brother Christopher on the other. I’d referee.
Hero?
Jose Bautista. Even if you’re not a Jays
fan (and shame on you if you’re not), the beard is worthy of worship.
Favourite app (or whatever you are
downloading these days)?
I have a full-on, Zak Morris Saved by the
Bell
phone. It’s a miracle I can even text.
Pool or ocean?
Lake.
Voicemail or email?

Email. It’s very possible that phone of mine isn’t voicemail-capable.

Media, Darling: Susan Antonacci

Susan has been working in publishing and media for over 25 years.
 Prior to becoming editor-in-chief at Canadian Living, she held the position of 
managing editor of Canadian Living and Homemakers Magazine. Susan is 
married with two children, aged 22 and 25. She is co-chairman of Heart and Music, supports SOS (Students Offering Support), and works with Free the Children, Breakfast for Learning, St. Mary’s Food Bank and other charitable foundations. She also works to promote the importance of the arts in school curriculum’s across Canada.



Canadian Living is a dynamic, contemporary, engaging brand that touches
 on all aspects of the busy lives of today’s Canadian women. Susan believes 
that women choose Canadian Living because the brand works hard to respect who their readers are, how busy their lives are and offers them accessible ideas, solutions and stories that will inspire and engage them and help them make the most of their day-to-day lives.
Did you always want to be in the media? If not, what other careers were on the horizon?
I always thought music would play a role in my life. I sang competitively as a child and was even in a rock band in my early 20s and really wanted to “make it big!”. Unfortunately, it soon became clear that I needed more than $35 a week to live. I was only willing to starve for my art for so long.

I also worked at a radio station for a short time and thought I’d like to be a radio personality. Though it’s been a running joke for years with friends that with my voice, I could have considered call-in centres of an entirely different kind.
Where would you like to be five years from now?
I can honestly say that I would be most happy if I was right where I am now — at Canadian Living. I couldn’t work with a better team, I love the brand, I love our readers. However, I’m fortunate to also love the business side of publishing, so who knows what five years will bring?
Any advice for people getting started in your industry?
Take an internship! I know there’s been a lot discussed these days about the merits of interning, but I really feel that it is the best hands-on experience you can get. It is the only time in your career that you can request working in different sections (of a magazine, newspaper or online) to really get a feel for what works for you and what you enjoy.

It’s also extremely important to understand the online side of the industry, from blog posts to social media. It’s an ever-evolving industry that has certainly experienced a lot of change in the last few years, so it’s important to be able to go with the flow and learn as much as you can to keep up!
What are your favourite media outlets, not including your own?
I am a news junkie, and I always start my day with reading the Toronto Star and the Globe and Mail, and I watch and listen to CBC whenever I can. I am a big Jian Gomeshi fan!

And about once a week, usually on the weekends, I spend time reading the New York Times and the New Yorker online, along with food blogs and guilty pleasure blogs, often ones that mostly show pictures of cute puppies and kittens doing cute puppy and kitten things. 
Best interview you’ve ever had? Worst?
A few years ago I was invited to be a moderator at the Canadian premiere of Food Inc, a documentary about the food we eat based on the book by Michael Pollen. This was at a theatre downtown and some of the people in the film, including Michael Pollen, stayed for a Q-and-A session. The crowd was very receptive to the film and we had a lively discussion about it. I was lucky to be asked to take part.
As for my worst interview, I’d have to say it was when I had a few minutes with Martha Stewart in the middle of the paint aisle at a major retail outlet in Toronto. It was so rushed and hard to settle into, and it was Martha freakin’ Stewart! I was trying to come across calm and cool but instead I was nervous and sweaty. I’d love a do-over. 
Best advice you’ve ever been given?
Salt, tequila, lemon! And if that doesn’t work, treat people how you want to be treated. I know it’s such a cliché but my mom always used to say this to me and I truly believe that in the larger, karmic way of how things go, life is just more pleasant when you treat everyone with love and respect, and it makes it more likely you’ll get it in return.
What rule(s) do you live your life by?
It’s taken me a long time to learn this, but I try to let go of negative things and thoughts. That goes for my personal and professional life. I used to really let it get to me but it’s just not worth carrying that kind of baggage around. Think positive, be positive.
What’s the most important tip you can give PR pros?
I work with many PR reps and I’d say the most important tip I can offer is for them to understand that we must consider editorial integrity first and foremost. Pitch the idea or concept and let us determine whether it’s the right fit for our reader/audience.

It’s also more pleasant when they’re not too pushy.
Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro? We love to hear about #wins.
John MacKay from MacKay and Co — every interaction I’ve had with him has been positive. His approach is a soft-sell, he has great ideas and does his research on the media outlet that he’s approaching. He is the ultimate connoisseur in his field. He’s been bang on in regard to Reitman’s and Tiffany this year. The guy is top-notch.
I hate?
Bananas! And any baked goods bananas can hide in.
I love?
My husband, Greg, my children and my dog Scooter McGee (not always in that order!). I’d also add licorice, fudge, PEI, and farmers’ markets to the list.
Reading?
Sweetness At The Bottom Of The Pie by Alan Bradley.
Best place on earth?
That’s a tough one, but Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island comes to mind first, so I’m sticking with it. 
Dinner guest?
Izzeldin Abuelaish, a Palestinian doctor who wrote a book that I often refer back to, I Shall Not Hate. And Elie Wiesel, a Nobel Laureate who has written about his experience as a teenager during the Holocaust. I’d have us sit down for dinner and figure this whole Middle East peace process out.
Hero?
That’s another tough one. I think anyone who sees an injustice and has the guts to stand up to it is a hero. Craig Kielburger, the founder of Free The Children, comes to mind. Here’s a guy who was just 12 years old when he first read about children rights issues in Pakistan. He was so bothered by these sweatshops that he went on a mission to change it. I love that.  His brother, Marc runs a close second.
Favourite app (or whatever you are downloading these days)?
Twitter, and some newspaper apps.
Pool or ocean?
Ocean! I used to scuba dive and I’ve always loved swimming in such vast, open spaces. I love knowing I’m sharing the space with millions of other creatures, many of which haven’t even been discovered yet.
Voicemail or email?
I’m cool with either.

Yum, yum: Spiced Tilapia Sandwich with Onion Salad

Summer screams for barbecue: greasy, juicy burgers, creamy potato salad and bright yellow ears of corn slathered with butter and a generous helping of salt. The thought of all of those tasty dishes makes our arteries clog! Oh, how deathly delicious. 
We recently picked up a copy of Canadian Living’s The Barbecue Collection to expand our grilling repertoire. With this hit of inspiration, we are in full force planning backyard bashes and cozy cook-outs. 
We tried out this tilapia sandwich recipe first, since it sounded delicious and seemed pretty easy to make. Coming in at 480 calories, the sandwich will not only satiate your taste buds, but it’s also waistline friendly (as long as you stick to a salad as a side instead of chips or something creamy). A great choice after a summer of indulging in burgers, chicken wings, beer and other high calorie treats.
Spiced Tilapia Sandwich with Onion Salad

1 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp each salt and pepper
½ tsp cayenne pepper
4 tilapia or catfish fillets, each 6 oz/175 g
4 tsp olive oil
8 slices of thickly cut bread or buns*

*We hit up a local bakery for some soft artisan buns.
Onion Salad
1 cup thinly sliced white or sweet onion
1 tsp salt
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
4 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
½ tsp paprika
Tahini Yogurt Sauce
¼ cup plain yogurt*
3 tbsp tahini
2 tbsp lemon juice
¼ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp hot pepper sauce
*we substituted Greek yogurt for plain. It’s thicker and packs a protein punch.
Onion Salad
Toss onion with 1 tsp salt; let stand for 20 minutes.
Using hands, squeeze out moisture: rinse under cold water and drain, pressing to remove excess moisture.
Toss together onions, parsley, lemon juice, oil, paprika and pinch salt.
Tahini Yogurt 
Mix together yogurt, tahini, lemon juice, cumin and hot pepper sauce.
Tilapia 
Mix together paprika, coriander, cumin, salt, pepper and cayenne; sprinkle all over fish.
Brush with oil. Grill on greased grill over medium-high heat, turning once until fish flakes easily, about 6 minutes.

Serve on bread with Tahini Yogurt Sauce and Onion Salad.

Media, Darling: Janine Falcon

Janine Falcon is a freelance writer and beauty geek. As a past beauty editor at Canadian Living and Homemakers magazines, she’s now the Face Kit editor of the new digital health-and-beauty mag The Kit, and the founder/editor of BeautyGeeks, an award-winning blog. She’s appeared on Canada AM, Entertainment Tonight Canada, and Steven and Chris; written for Best Health, Fashion and Glow magazines; and been quoted in newspapers such as The Toronto Star, National Post, Vancouver Sun, Edmonton Journal and Ottawa Citizen.

The Kit
Beauty Geeks
Twitter: @TheKit; @beautygeeks

How can someone grab your attention with a pitch?
It’s got to be an easy fit for one of the publications I write for. It also has to be unique or exclusive. Writing the same feature everyone else is writing is… uninspiring.

What do you find most useful when dealing with public relations professionals?

Good humour and a positive attitude. Plus, appreciation when a PR somehow comes through on ridiculously short notice!

What is the biggest mistake PR professionals make?

Incomplete press materials. Perfect press packages include newsworthy details, pricing, availability and product, if applicable. Pulling the old omit-the-price-so-someone-has-to-get-in-touch move makes us move on quickly to the next product instead, the one that came with all the information. (A 24-hour online source of high- and low-res images would also be helpful!)

When it comes to makeup and skin care, we need to examine texture, scent and efficacy to decide whether we can recommend it. Unfortunate things can happen otherwise: in a magazine several years ago, a beauty editor recommended a mascara designed to darken lashes for three days. She tried it after the magazine went to print and discovered the stuff was awful, super-tricky to remove after the three days. And when the story came out, she got letters from annoyed readers.

My pet peeve
More general than strictly PR-related: I’m a grammar geek as well as a beauty geek. “I wish I WOULD HAVE known” hurts me, it’s so wrong. I first started hearing it about eight years ago; now it’s terribly common. The correct way to say such a thing is “I wish I HAD known”.

I also have major issues with the misuse of the word “myself.” For instance, “just call Staff or myself.” Nope. You can’t call “myself” – I’m the only one who can call myself. But you can call Staff or ME.

Geez. I’m such a geek.

Any other thoughts you’d like to add?
I’m pretty lucky. I work with so many pros who are on point, crazy-smart and reliable, and I’m in an industry full of talented and supportive friends. Amazing.