Media, Darling: Tara Ballantyne

Tara Ballantyne joined Style at Home last February as its resident style and food editor. Tara began her
styling career in Norway and worked for publications like Norwegian ELLE and
French ELLE along with various other European publications. She has had
numerous television appearances on the Marilyn Denis Show, Breakfast Television
and CityLine.

photo credit: Transcontinental Media 

you always want to be in the media? If not, what other careers were on the
There are so many things you can do in a
lifetime, and I’m guilty of wanting to do anything to satisfy my creativity. My
schooling is in interior design and I worked in architecture for three years
before I switched to magazines. It was the best decision I have ever made and I
love what I get to do and how creative I can be each day at Style at Home.
would you like to be five years from now?
In a studio with a totally inspired
photographer, great light, lots of beautiful food, great models and a hundred
baby bunnies shooting some wild Tim Walker-inspired images.
advice for people getting started in your industry?
Don’t be afraid to sweep floors, pour endless
amounts of coffee, or even pick up someone else’s dry cleaning (seriously I had
to do this once). I’ve had to learn countless coffee orders by heart and had
design proposals ripped up right in front of my face. It can be a long road of
being humble, but you watch and learn and in the end, it’s completely worth it.
are your favourite media outlets, not including your own?
Having spent so much time in Norway, I really
developed an affection for swedish RUM magazine, ELLE Norway and Sweden, and I
love emmas designblogg –
design and style from a scandinavian perspective
. I also adore Canadian blog Bijou and Boheme, and spend entirely too much time selecting fashion
ensembles from the The
, that my husband and I
should definitely purchase. Fortunately, he is a kind and patient person who
politely nods and says “uh huh” while I involuntarily involve him
in selecting my favourite looks to wear on a vespa, and for braving the
cobblestone streets. 
interview you’ve ever had?
My interview for ELLE Norwegian… it ended up
landing me my first cover, and I was so insanely excited to be part of the
magazine in another country – it was pretty amazing. There is always something
very special about your first.
I’ve been super lucky so far, in that I’ve only ever had great interviews. Fingers crossed this continues!
advice you’ve ever been given?
Avoid horizontal stripes and don’t eat a full
meal before you go swimming.
rule(s) do you live your life by?
If you truly love something, it’s worth
fighting for. And edit to clarity – fashion, interiors, your words…
the most important tip you can give PR pros?
Open and honest communication I guess. I’ve
worked with great PR people and I’ve always appreciated when they tell me what
I need to hear, not necessarily what I want to hear. Also I am always super
impressed when they remember names!
experience you’ve had with a PR pro? We love to hear about #wins.
Being convinced that the $250 sweater I
bought for a television appearance was not a bad decision and in fact a
worthwhile investment piece for my wardrobe. Cashmere really is timeless, lol.
Subway delays.
Butter tarts, and the way Instagram always
makes you instantly look amazing.
International design books (magazines); I
love seeing what’s going on in other countries and get a lot of inspiration
from that. Right now I am also re-reading Rebecca for the second time, and am
guilty of choosing my knitting project over my half-finished copy of Infidel
place on earth?
Any place where I’m surrounded by family and
friends, a great glass of wine, and good food and conversation.
Brother and sister, Sibella Court
and Chris Court. I am so astounded with the creativity that they both exhibit
in the work they do with styling, development and photography. 
Coco Chanel. 
app (or whatever you are downloading these days)?
Instagram, and that
new Christmas app that helps you with shopping and wrapping.
or ocean?
Definitely Ocean.
or email?
Definitely email.

Media, Darling: Sandra Martin

Toronto freelance journalist Sandra Martin specializes in parenting
and personal finance — two very hot topics. In her previous role as executive editor of
, she appeared regularly on television news and current
events programs to discuss everything from diapers to drinking underage.

Before joining Today’s Parent in 2005, Sandra worked double duty as personal finance correspondent for Global TV and as a reporter with the Financial Post. She also launched the National Post’s FP Weekend money section. Prior to that, she spent nearly five years at MoneySense magazine, where she developed a reputation with TV and radio producers as an approachable, understandable on-air source.
Since then, she has appeared often in television broadcasts, including Citytv’s CityNews, Breakfast Television and Cityline, CTV’s Canada AM and News Channel; CBC’s The National and NewsworldThe Mom ShowET Canada; Global Ontario’s News Hour, as well as the now-defunct Morning News and MoneyWise personal finance magazine. She has also taped segments for Til Debt Do Us Part on Slice.
In print, her byline has appeared in ChatelaineMoreCottage LifeReader’s DigestMoneySense and PROFIT magazines, as well as the National Post and The Globe and Mail newspapers.
Sandra holds a degree in journalism from Ryerson University and has also completed the Canadian Securities Course. She lives in Toronto with her husband and two young daughters.

Twitter: @SandraEMartin

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

Once I was honest with myself, yes, I always wanted to be in the media. But
for a long time, I tried to be practical, entertaining the idea of becoming (in
this order): an architect, an accountant and a technical writer. Oy.

Where would you like to be five years from now?

For the first time ever in my career, I don’t have an answer to that – and
it feels really, really good. This spring I gave my notice at Today’s Parent,
after nearly seven great years. As much as I love the brand, am invested in the
brand, it was time for me to move on and challenge myself with something
different. Don’t get me wrong; I bawled like a baby when I handed in my letter
of resignation; it was a really emotional move for me. But in the media,
stagnation is the death of creativity. And if you lose your creativity, you
might as well kiss your career goodbye.

Any advice for people getting started in your industry?

I graduated from journalism school at the height of a recession, and except
for, well, now, I’ve never been without a salaried job. My newbie mantra? Work hard. Be humble. Speak up when you have an idea. And don’t stay in one place
too long. (See, I almost didn’t take my own advice.)

What are your favourite media outlets, not including your own?

My addiction to is becoming a bit of a concern for all those who love me. I think they’ve
nailed everything that my demographic wants in a shelter mag; the interiors are
a little bit quirky and totally approachable – the rooms don’t look as though
they’ve been staged to an inch of their lives. Plus you get to see the
homeowners; you get to know them, as well as their spaces.

Anyone who follows me on Twitter knows I’m a music fan (and wannabe guitarist)
– and I love music trivia. and are two of
my go-tos.

Best interview you’ve ever had?

You mean in the course of researching an article? The biggest thrill has to
have been when I was granted 20 minutes on the phone with David Cronenberg, who
was promoting the premiere of his film M. Butterfly at TIFF. He ended up
speaking with me for an hour.


Either I haven’t had a complete train wreck, or I’ve wiped it from my memory
in order to protect my sanity.

Best advice you’ve ever been given?

“Why don’t you just do it.”

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

It sounds corny, but I treat people I work with – bosses, peers, those who
report to me – the way I’d like to be treated. I take it as a huge compliment
when people come to me with their problems, and I respect the fact that they’ve
chosen me to confide in. Also, I hope to live my life with no regrets. That
goes for my interactions with people, as well as the path I choose for myself.
I don’t ever want to look back and say, “What if I had….”

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

Don’t rely on email programs. I can’t tell you how many pitches I’ve
received addressed to “Sandrae” because my Today’s Parent email
address uses my first name and middle initial squished together. If you start
out misspelling my name (which is really, really easy to look up), you’ll have
to have some phenomenal pitch to win me back.

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

Hmm, I can’t pick out just one, but I really love when PR pros work with me,
like a partner. If I come to you all flustered because a hole has opened up at
the last minute, and I need a high-res image for the magazine, or props for a
TV shoot, I’ll so appreciate it if you’re willing to scramble with me to put
together what I need.

I hate?


I love?

Free stuff.


I’m coming down from a bunch of back-to-back rock bios; for some fiction, right now I’m reading In One Person by John Irving. He’s one of my favourite
authors ever.

Best place on earth?

That depends on my mood. Today I’m going to say New York City (I feel like
my people are there, and I can’t believe I’ve never lived there). Sometimes,
I’ll say a remote woodsy place. I’ve never been to Tofino, BC, but I just know
I would love it there.

Dinner guest?

Dave Grohl.


Ever since I read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, I’ve had a helluva
lot of admiration for Rebecca Skloot. Every journalist should read that book,
and remember what the pursuit of the truth is about.

Favourite app (or whatever you are downloading these days)?

I could not live without BlackBerry Messenger, but I’m afraid other media
types will think I’m terribly uncool for saying that. There’s nothing I
download more enthusiastically than music; I feel like I need to backfill my catalog
with some of the seminal albums I didn’t grow up with (my family was very pop).
Maybe Some Girls by the Rolling Stones?

Pool or ocean?

Pool. I’m not a strong swimmer, plus I’m a control freak – so I like knowing
the edge is never more than a few strokes away.

Voicemail or email?

Email. One hundred per cent.

Media Darling: Tracy Moore

Tracy Moore is the host of Canada’s longest running lifestyle show CityLine. From Monday to Friday on Citytv, Moore can be seen across the country trying DIY projects, learning new recipes and sizing up the latest fashions. Aside from being an energetic mom to two young children, she is known for her laid back style, easy laugh and love of fashion, fitness and all things shoe-related.

Born in Toronto and raised in Richmond Hill, Moore worked her way up the media ladder to her current position as host of CityLine. Her professionalism, work ethic and engaging personality helped her advance from CTV intern to CBC videographer, back-up host and Newsworld anchor, and eventually anchor on daily news magazine Toronto Tonight. 
In the fall of 2005, Moore joined Toronto’s number one morning show, Citytv’s Breakfast Television as its live reporter. Within months she was backing up the show’s lead anchor in addition to covering live breaking news events. Moore took a brief break in 2008 to have her first child, Sidney Nicolas, returning to host CityLine. She also gave birth to Eva Simone two years later. Moore says being a mommy is hands down her biggest accomplishment to date.
Outside of her work on-air Moore made a name for herself as a volunteer early in her career by initiating a speakers’ series in Toronto high schools, talking to students about non-violence and media literacy. She counts as one of her top priorities boosting the self-esteem of young girls. To this end, she emcees the ‘Girls On The Run’ event every year.

CityLine airs weekdays at 9 a.m. on Citytv.  


Twitter: @tracycityline, @CityLineCA 


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

When I was in elementary school I went back and forth between wanting to be a miner (I loved rocks) or a Solid Gold dancer (I loved Darcy). By high school a teacher introduced me to the concept of journalism. That became the goal going forward.
Where would you like to be five years from now?
Five years from now I’d like to be sitting in this CityLine studio, hosting this show. I am living my own personal dream right now, so over the next five years my personal goal is to get closer to mastering the craft. This is one job I can see myself in for many years to come!
Any advice for people getting started in your industry?
Volunteer. If you have even an inkling of interest in the field, start volunteering and see what you like and what you don’t early on. Also, take jobs strategically. Don’t worry if you’re at the bottom of the totem pole. Take a position based on where you may be able to move. This industry is rare in the sense that people still move from being a TV station receptionist to being an on-air host.
What are your favourite media outlets, not including your own?
I read tons of magazines including Toronto Life, Vanity Fair, Chatelaine and Today’s Parent
Best interview you’ve ever had?
Chris Noth. I was a reporter/host for Citytv’s former 24 hour news channel and Chris Noth came on as a last minute guest. The dude was grumpy! Through a bit of joking around and a bit of sympathy for his crappy mood, he totally warmed up by the end of the interview telling me all sorts of things about Sex and the City II he wasn’t supposed to leak and laughing and smiling. It was great.
Jamie Oliver. He was super tired after being carted off from station to station. I could tell he probably didn’t register what city or country he was in by the time he got to our show. He was fairly unresponsive and even though the interview wasn’t abysmal – it stunk. 
Best advice you’ve ever been given?
Don’t be afraid to have people underestimate you.
What rule(s) do you live your life by?
Be good to EVERYONE. Your smile can be the thing that lifts someone else’s day. And you never know who you will need or who will have the power to help you in the future.
What’s the most important tip you can give PR pros?
Watch or read whoever you are pitching. Know their product down to the smallest detail. And then pitch based on fitting into what’s already there. And be brief. When I get pitches that last a full page and a half on my smart phone they get an instant delete.
Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro? We love to hear about #wins.
Any instance where a PR pro is able to make a situation work for everyone!
I hate?
Cold weather.
I love?
Summer, babies, chocolate, coffee, books.
The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides. 
Best place on earth?
Jamaica or Montreal.

Dinner guest?
Marjorie and Leonard Moore (mom and dad).
Favourite app (or whatever you are downloading these days)?
Pool or ocean?
Voicemail or email?

Media, Darling: Erin McLaughlin

Erin McLaughlin is the editor-in-chief of Style at Home, Canada’s largest decorating and style magazine. She is also the editor-in-chief of Canadian Gardening, Canada’s most popular gardening magazine. For more than 15 years, Erin has been defining style for Canadians, as she has held positions as editor of Canadian Home & Country, and as features editor of Canadian House and Home. She has also written numerous freelance design columns over the years.

Erin grew up in a household of design aesthetes, informing the notion that surrounding yourself with items you love is the best – and easiest – way to decorate. Erin’s energetic approach to decorating encompasses mixing trends and styles, bright colours with classic neutrals and, more than anything else, making style simple and accessible in every area of the home. 

Erin has shared her design expertise on programs including CityLine, Breakfast Television, Global TV, Rogers Cable and CFRB 1010.

What was your favourite class in high school? Why?
Home Economics. My late mother was a fabulous sewer and I aspired to sew like her. Alas, it was not to be – I didn’t have the patience!

How did you get your start as an editor?
Since my first stint as the editor of my high school yearbook, I have never not been “editing” something.

If you weren’t a Media, Darling, what would you be doing right now?
Horse breeder.

Pitching or follow up: Phone or email?
Absolutely email.

We know irrelevant pitches, calling you the wrong name and eight follow-ups are no-no’s; what else should publicists avoid doing?
Sending samples in giant and complicated layers of witty packaging. The products should be strong enough on their own without the accompanying recycling disaster.

Sunrise or sunset? Can I say both?
Scent? Not for me, but I love the smell of my husband’s Mennen Speedstick. Who knew?
Cookie? Peanut butter Larabar.
Flower? Peony.
Ticklish? Sometimes during a pedicure.
Shower or bath? Bath.
Crush? Mark Darcy.
First job? Editorial assistant at TV Guide magazine.
Inspiration? Every time I open my eyes.

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.