Media, Darling: Liem Vu

Liem Vu is the news/social media host of The Morning Show on Global. Before landing his current hosting gig, his passion for storytelling has brought him to the front lines of breaking news. He has written for the Toronto Star, the Globe and Mail, the National Post, and hosted a series of features for MTV News, focusing on issues like suicide and the radicalization of Somali-Canadian youth.



During the G20 summit in Toronto, Vu was detained by riot police in the Queen St. ‘kettle’ while shooting a video report for the PostPrior to his career as a journalist, he moonlighted as the lead singer of a barbershop quartet called ‘The TemptAsians,’ performing at weddings. 

Image courtesy of The Morning Show on Global.



Twitter: @liemvu
Website: morningshow.ca 


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

I always knew I wanted to do something related
to storytelling. In high school I wrote for the student newspaper, which helped
me push through my undergraduate and graduate studies. It didn’t matter if it
was print, broadcast, or radio, I was satisfied as long as I was able to tell
someone’s story well.

Where would you like to be five years from
now?

Hopefully, I’ll still be working in
television! There are so many creative opportunities in the TV world that I
don’t think I’ll ever get bored. I honestly haven’t even thought that far ahead.
With the launch of
The Morning Show across Canada, I’m focused on
coming up with new ways to tell different stories that resonate with viewers
across the country.
Any advice for people getting started in
your industry?

Intern. Intern. Intern. I know the financial
reality of being an unpaid intern may not be that appealing, however it’s the
best way to cut your teeth in the media world. People say you should actively
network and shake hands, but I have a different view on things. You shouldn’t pre-occupy yourself with “networking.” Yes, it’s important, but the key is to do
good work. Doing good work will get you noticed, not just schmoozing. Trust me…I
was a shy 240-pound guy seven years ago…
What are your favourite media outlets, not
including your own? 

Full disclosure: I love the Oprah Winfrey
Network. Next Chapter and Master Class are such inspirational shows. The
types of interviews she conducts inspire me to pick up my journalistic game on a
weekly basis.
Best interview you’ve ever had?
It was a series of interviews I did for MTV
News about Somali-Canadian youth in Toronto’s Little Mogadishu neighbourhood.
Since 2005, over 30 young Somali-Canadians died because of violence and at least
another 30 were recruited by a terrorist group called Al-Shabab. I had the
opportunity to interview a man who spent six months in the extremist group along
with young men who had lost their friends. It was an eye-opening experience that
I’ll never forget.
Worst?
There are always bad interviews, but you just
got to roll with it.
Best advice you’ve ever been
given?

Treat others how you want to be treated, and be
humble.
What rule(s) do you live your life
by?

Sleep. Nap. Exercise. It’s the only way you
can survive the early morning TV grind!
What’s the most important tip you can give
PR pros?

Be willing to discuss the direction of an
interview/segment. As Vanilla Ice once said: Stop, Collaborate, and Listen.
Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro?
We love to hear about #wins.

Working with High Road Communications for my
inside look at Facebook Canada HQ. And working with APEX PR for my feature on
Google Canada. Both pieces turned out amazing, thanks to their patience and
willingness to give me access to these unique office spaces.
I hate?
Stepping on gum.
I love?
Spinning. For real.
Reading?
Toronto Life. Esquire. The Walrus. Daily
newspapers.
Best place on earth?
Canada!
Dinner guest?
Mark Zuckerberg. That man fascinates me…
Hero?
My parents. They risked their lives by
escaping the Vietnam war just so I could have better opportunities. I will be
forever grateful.
Favourite app (or whatever you are
downloading these days)?

Instagram
Pool or ocean?
Ocean.
Voicemail or email?
Email. I always forget to check
voicemail.

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Media, Darling: Fiona Forbes

Fiona Forbes is a Canadian television personality who currently hosts Urban Rush, an award-winning entertainment talk show based in Vancouver. Fiona earned a degree in history from the University of British Columbia. While she initially planned to pursue a law degree, Fiona applied to a journalism program instead on a whim. She has now interviewed over twenty thousand people, including everyone from Michael Buble to The Pussycat Dolls to Arnold Schwarzenegger, and received many accolades including praise from none other than Regis Philbin. It seems she has found her calling.

Twitter: @FionaForbes

Did you always want to be in the media? If not, what other careers
were on the horizon? 
I actually wanted to be a lawyer and through fate and serendipity I
ended up on TV before I went to law school. 

Where would you like to be five years from now?
Hopefully I’ll still be still be doing what I love to do – making people
laugh and interviewing interesting people. My co-host and I have always had the goal of taking our show to a national audience…

Any advice for people getting started in your industry?
Don’t be afraid to hit up people you admire for advice and ask them how
they got their gig. Try and intern as much as possible – proximity leads to
opportunity – being in the right place at the right time is key in this
business!

What are your favourite media outlets, not including your own?
(i.e.: what do you read/listen/watch?)
I’m a consumer of all media. As my job mostly focuses on the
entertainment world I lean towards the standards when it comes to TV –
Entertainment Tonight, Access Hollywood etc. to keep up to date. For my show
prep I lean towards pop culture websites and blogs – I have about 20 sites I
visit daily bookmarked. I love this part of my job and don’t really consider it
work!

Best interview you’ve ever had?
Over the years I’ve interviewed over 20,000 people so it tends to be
kind of a blur! One of my favourite people to talk to is Michael Buble. His
first TV interview was on our show many years ago and we always have a blast
and get into some sort of hijinx when we hang with Buble!

Worst?
Goldie Hawn. I was so excited to meet her and get the opportunity to
interview such an icon but let’s just say Goldie was not having a good day and
the interview didn’t even happen.

Best advice you’ve ever been given?
Never give up.

What rule(s) do you live your life by?
Do or do not. There is no try. – Yoda

What’s the most important tip you can give PR pros?
Keep your pitches short and sweet! I get so many press releases that are
so convoluted it’s like a puzzle trying to figure out what’s being promoted. Know who you’re pitching and take the time to personalize it.

Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro? We love to hear about
#wins.
The best person I know in PR only pitches me when she knows it will suit
our show. She always comes up with creative ideas and always follows through
with them. She’s persistent but not pushy and always does a great job for her
client and makes great TV in the process.

I hate?
Cilantro. Seriously.
  
I love?
My job. I feel so fortunate to have found a career that I love.

Reading?
On a long flight I love to read Vanity Fair cover to cover. I also think
I’m one of the only females yet to read “50 Shades of Grey”…it’s on
the list!

Best place on earth? 
Amalfi Coast in Italy.


Dinner guest?
Would love to have dinner with my Dad – he passed away about ten years ago.
My favourite thing was to make him Sunday dinner and I’d give anything to do
that one more time.

Hero?
Same as my dinner guest. My Dad was a great man.

Favourite app (or whatever you are downloading these days)?
Uber! It’s a great car service that geolocates you and is there within a
few minutes. Cabs in Vancouver are so overpriced and always dirty.

Pool or ocean?
Oh, either is fine with me! I’m a total water baby and could stay in
either all day.

Voicemail or email?
Email. And less is more! 

Media, Darling: Sabrina Maddeaux

Sabrina
Maddeaux is the Managing Editor at
Toronto Standard, where she writes
and edits smart, candid content that sometimes makes people angry. Prior to
that, she was the Style Editor at
Toronto Standard. And before that, she
freelanced for publications such as
Toronto Life, blogTO.com, Sweetspot.ca,
TCHAD Quarterly, Faze Magazine, GlobalNews.ca, and more.

She
attended St. Bonaventure University in New York, where she studied political
science, journalism, and theology, and played NCAA Division I soccer for two
years. She likes things that aren’t boring. And cheese, always cheese.
Photo credit: Becca Lemire

Did you always want to be in the media? If not, what other careers were
on the horizon?
Actually, I always thought I’d be a lawyer. When I graduated from
university, I got into top law schools like Boston College and Notre Dame — I
even put down a deposit at Boston College and moved there. Two weeks before
classes were supposed to begin, something just didn’t feel right. So I totally
freaked out my parents, got a one-year acceptance deferral, and never looked
back.
Where would you like to be five years from now?
I’d still like to be the editor of an independent publication. There’s
so much more freedom in what you can write and the opinions you can express — I
can’t see myself giving that up anytime soon.
Any advice for people getting started in your industry?
Live outside whatever your beat is. If you cover fashion by day, be a
political junkie by night. It provides perspective and makes for a more
interesting writer and person.
Also, don’t regurgitate press releases. Think for yourself. Originality
creates value.

What are your favourite media outlets, not including your own? 
The Atlantic, the New York Times, Jezebel, xoJane, The Paris Review, The
New Yorker
, The New Inquiry, Gawker, and a slew of other small independent
pubs. I watch Breaking Bad, Damages, Veep, Mad Men, Dexter, Golden Girls
reruns, and too much TMZ.
Best interview you’ve ever had? Worst?
I’ve always had good interviews, maybe because I think of them as
conversations and not interviews. I’m also really picky about who I interview
because I hate transcribing.
Best advice you’ve ever been given?
I think it was Kelly Cutrone who said, “Be everywhere, meet everyone.”
That was my philosophy for a long time, and still is. This industry is all
about networking and you never know when you’ll meet someone that can change
your career.


What rule(s) do you live your life by?
Always eat a good breakfast. Cereal doesn’t count.
What’s the most important tip you can give PR pros?
Don’t complain about mostly positive coverage (unless there’s a factual
error). And don’t complain about honest reviews and feedback — even when
they’re negative. Also, don’t blacklist lightly. Media talk and we tend to have
each other’s backs when it comes down to it.
Finally, read my publication. If you pitch me an actress for our next
(nonexistent) cover, I can’t take you seriously ever again.
Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro? We love to hear about #wins.
I like any PR pro who takes the time to get to know my publication and
me. The agencies and publicists I prefer really get what I do and don’t try to
brainwash me.
I also appreciate PRs who set realistic expectations about their events
and products; it shows they value my time and trust. Don’t lie to me, and I’ll
like you. If I like you, I might just cover that dingy event where one Degrassi
kid shows up (You’ll eventually have one. Everybody does), because I care.
I hate?
Censorship, Internet outages.
I love?
Strong cheeses and John Lithgow.
Reading?
I’m slowly working my way through the Game of Thrones series.
Best place on earth?
St. Bonaventure, NY.
Dinner guest?
I’m a little obsessed with media mogul and feminist icon Jane Pratt
right now. Would love to pick her brain.
Hero?
I think everyone should be his or her own hero.
Favourite app (or whatever you are downloading these days)?
Is it so five years ago to say Shazam? I’m on a BlackBerry, so my
entire device is so five years ago. I can’t be blamed.
Pool or ocean?
No question: ocean. The smell alone is so relaxing.
Voicemail or email?
Unless someone’s dying… NEVER, EVER voicemail.

Media, Darling: Pay Chen

Pay Chen is a TV host, writer and producer
who got her on-air start at OMNI-TV in Toronto, sharing short infotainment
segments in prime time and late night. Her favourite pick-up line during those
years was, “You’re the last woman I see before I fall asleep.” 
She’s also the former host of Breakfast
Television Winnipeg
on Citytv, and hosted programs for G4TechTV, The Biography
Channel and is seen nationally on the popular preschool series,
4 Square (it was a show before being known as a place
you can check-in).

Pay is currently The Bachelor Canada
Insider for iVillage.ca and The Bachelor Canada, where she’ll dish the dirt on
what’s really happening on the show, set to hit your screens this fall on
Citytv.

She has written for children’s television
shows and is currently writing for an animated series. Her passion for all
things local and edible have lead to regular food columns for the Toronto Standard, Metro newspapers and contributions to iVillage.ca.

Pay used to be very skilled at the ukulele.
Website: www.PayChen.com
Twitter: @PayChen

Did you always want to be in the media? If
not, what other careers were on the horizon? 
I had always wanted to be a teacher and
then became really interested in working in children’s television. After a few
years of doing educational TV and programs, I decided to go back to school to
get my teaching certificate. I was accepted into a post-grad program in
Australia and was making plans to move when, on a whim, I applied for the host
position at OMNI. I spent seven years at OMNI and never made it to Australia.
Where would you like to be five years from
now?
I’d like to be Tom Cruise’s fourth ex-wife. Or you know, happy. Loving what I do and
still feeling challenged by it.
Any advice for people getting started in
your industry?
A lot of people ask me how to get a job
on-camera. That’s a tough one. You don’t necessarily need certain skills.
Sometimes people are hired because they have the right look. I worked in
production and was writing before I was hosting. It gave me a true
understanding and appreciation for the process of making television. Also, when
you know how to produce segments and direct shoots, it’s harder for people to
bullshit you later as a host. To do well, you need to understand what others do.
My first job was as a production co-ordinator. I did the running around,
photocopying and tedious schedules. I have a lot of respect for good
co-ordinators and production assistants. They hold the show together.

Also, be willing to learn what other people do.
You won’t build that show yourself.
What are your favourite media outlets, not
including your own?
 
I leave those 24-hour news channels on all
day. They repeat the stories every 15 minutes so after the third time seeing
the same story I always think, “I knew that.” And I feel really smart. 

I also have a fondness for the CBC because it
had such a strong influence on my childhood. My brother and I learned to speak
English by watching TV. CBC, PBS and Magnum P.I. formed us as people. 
I also watch a lot of Food Network. It’s no
secret that I would love to host and produce a food show.
Best interview you’ve ever had?
I can’t think of just one, but the best
ones feel like you’re shooting the breeze with a friend. The laughs are genuine
and you’re sad when you have to wrap.
Kids and teens make up some of my most
rewarding and memorable interviews. I used to be a story researcher on a teen
show. We dealt with some heavy issues that affected kids (violence, eating
disorders, bullying, drugs) and kids don’t filter or edit what they say the way
adults do. They are brutally honest.
Worst?
Sometimes you interview people who don’t
want to do press and you can tell they’d rather be somewhere else.
Best advice you’ve ever been given?
As a host: Be yourself.
As a writer: Read it out loud.
As a producer: B-roll. There’s never
enough.
What rule(s) do you live your life by?
Don’t be an a**hole. Be kind. Be helpful.
What’s the most important tip you can give
PR pros?
Know the show I’m working on or the column
I write when you pitch. I’ve had people pitch me ideas when I was on BT and not
realize we were a LIVE morning show. Also, it might be one product that you’re
pitching to many outlets, but let me know you’ve considered my audience by
suggesting an angle that suits what I’m working on. I’ll feel like you did me a
favour.
Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro?
We love to hear about #wins.
I’ve had many great experiences! I tend to
work with the ones I like over and over again. I count many PR pros as friends.
The ones who understand that TV is about visuals and good speakers. You want
promotion and I want content, so let’s make it work. 
Good PR people and good hosts have to be
great listeners. We both talk and “sell” for a living – sometimes you just need
to shut up and listen.
I hate?
Rudeness. When people have a sense of
entitlement. 
The sound of girls shuffling their feet
when they wear Uggs. Will they fall off if you pick your feet up? 
The smell of boiled hot dogs.
I love?
Kind people. Those who do things without
expecting anything in return and those who do it without drawing any attention
to themselves. 
Plain chocolate cake, no icing. Things in jars. Seriously, it’s an
obsession.
Reading?
Scripts. But I want to reread Tina Fey’s Bossypants. “Over! Under! Through!” – That’s great advice.
Best place on earth?
Anywhere I can have my closest friends,
access to cheese and dessert.
Dinner guest?
I would love to get Tina Fey, Ellen
DeGeneres and some of my best friends together because we’d laugh until we
hurt.
Hero?
Christian Bale as Batman. Wait, I didn’t
answer this correctly did I?
Favourite app (or whatever you are
downloading these days)?
I’m an Instagram addict. I post photos of
lattes and nailpolish like everyone else.
Pool or ocean?
Ocean. I grew up in Nova Scotia. I miss the
sound and the smell of the ocean. Not the bad smells. I don’t miss those.
Voicemail or email?
Email. I hate long voicemails and I’m
usually running around when people call so I’m only half listening.

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: Carley Fortune

Carley Fortune is the editor of The Grid’s
life section, where she handles stories on fashion, real estate, parenting,
retail and food, which makes her very hungry. Occasionally, she writes about world
issues, like finding an apartment and saving money, but mostly she sits in
front of a computer thinking of ways to get the word “woot” into display copy. She’s
been working in magazines for six years, previously as the associate online
editor at Toronto Life.

Did you always want to be in the media? If
not, what other careers were on the horizon?
No, but I’ve been a lover of magazines
since a very young age. I wanted to be a florist, a vet and a marine biologist
when I was little. In high school, I seriously considered becoming a lawyer,
but decided to go to journalism school and see if I could make it in the
magazine biz.


Where would you like to be five years from now?

Still in magazines. Still in Toronto. Much
larger pay cheque. Or, I’ll retire to the countryside and edit cookbooks.


Any advice for people getting started in your industry?
Lose the attitude. Listen. Share your
ideas.


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

I love Slate and The Atlantic online. I
listen to Slate’s Culture Gabfest and the James Beard Foundation’s Taste
Matters
podcasts. I’m a magazine addict and one of my favourite things is to
spend time in front of the newsstand and see what stands out. I often pick up Bon
Apetit
, Esquire and GQ; I wish there were equally awesome women’s publications.
My partner and I subscribe to the New Yorker, New York, Toronto Life, and
Saveur.


Best interview you’ve ever had?

When I was at Ryerson, Colin Mochrie let me interview and shadow him for three
days for a class assignment. He was so open and generous with his time, and I
was able to write and report a proper profile. I learned a lot from that
assignment. 



Worst?

A couple of friends and I fake interviewed Joffrey Lupul at a party. I stood
staring at him with my mouth agape. It was horrifying.


Best advice you’ve ever been given?
“Be careful, your mouth is going to get you
in trouble one day.” I just haven’t really followed it.


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

Be prompt. Work hard. Say what you think.


What’s the most important tip you can give PR pros?
Know the publication. Obviously, The Grid
is focused very tightly on Toronto, but I can’t tell you how many travel and
national stories I’m pitched.


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

Hmm… I recently went to a fantastic beauty
trend seminar held by MAC. It was a small group of people in a nice setting, it
was fun and I learned a lot.


I hate?

Public spitting, bad manners, men with long
fingernails, chipped nail polish.


I love?
A home-cooked dinner, Toronto restaurants, red
lipstick, Manhattans, Smashbox’s Photo Finish Primer, my girlfriends,
loungewear, my fiancé’s smile, Slate’s Mad Men recaps.


Reading?

Ruth Reichl’s Not Becoming My Mother.


Best place on earth?

A dock, anywhere.


Dinner guest?

Pippa Lord, who runs the website Sous Style
and is the photo director for Elle. She just seems like a really smart, stylish,
spunky Aussie chick.



Hero?
My parents. And Eve Best in Nurse Jackie.


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

Truthfully, I’m obsessed with the
calorie-counting app MyFitnessPal. I gained what I call
“The Grid 10” in my first year at the magazine. There’s always delicious,
bad-for-you food at the office, but this helped me get rid of it.


Pool or ocean?
Ocean. Chlorine gives me a rash. But I grew
up on a lake and love freshwater the most.


Voicemail or email?
I don’t know how to check my voicemail. 

Media, Darling: Lena Almeida

Lena Almeida, a wife and mother of two feisty little boys, is a writer,
social media enthusiast and authentic shopaholic. In fact, if it’s on sale –
she’s already bought it. 
Before starting a family, Almeida worked as a corporate trainer and employee satisfaction specialist for a Fortune 100
company. As much as she loved her career, she also yearned to explore her
creative side. 
Almeida started her blog Listen to Lena as a way of communicating
the best parenting finds to friends and family, but as she continued to post,
it was not long before an old passion was reignited – writing. Her site
evolved to focus on her love of creative writing and includes product reviews
and features, humorous takes on parenthood and her famous random rants. In
2010, 

Almeida was named Best Blog and Best Family Blog at the Canadian Blog Awards
and is consistently ranked as one of the highest trafficked blogs in Toronto.
In 2011, she was once again named Best Family Blog and recognized as Motorola
Canada’s Social BLAZR. Today, she is the Official Shopaholic for
SHOP.ca

Almeida has extensive experience partnering with brands and is
considered one of Canada’s top digital women. She enthusiastically uses her
skills and knowledge to help elevate women’s presence and influence in social
media.


Twitter: @Listen2Lena

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

I’ve always wanted to be a writer, so naturally I studied Human Resources and
became a Corporate Trainer. 🙂 Seriously, though – I kind of fell into media
while on maternity leave. I was looking for a way to channel my creative
energy, so I set up a little blog and began to talk about the things I love.
Before I knew it, the blog had become my business. Quite happy to be in this space!


Where would you like to be five years from now?

Five years from now I would like to be as healthy, happy and fulfilled as I am
today.



Any
advice for people getting started in your industry?

There is no such thing as an overnight success. Don’t start a blog with the
sole purpose of gaining popularity or quitting your day job. Post often,
frequently engage with your readers (I respond to every comment left on by
blog), and if desired, position your blog to brands in a respectful and
professional way.


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

I spend an inordinate amount of time watching/listening to the news, so CP24
and 680 News are constantly streaming in the background. The only television
show I’ve bothered to PVR in the last six months was The Vampire Diaries. SUCH
a fan.



Best
interview you’ve ever had?

While I wouldn’t call it the “best”, interviewing four women – all in hiding –
at a battered women’s shelter was certainly one of the most memorable.


Worst?

I’m too polite to say.


Best
advice you’ve ever been given?

Fear = absence of faith.


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

It’s quite corny, but my high school motto (Father Michael Goetz, Mississauga) was “Take a risk, get involved, be committed.” Although I rarely subscribed
to it in high school, I live by those words today in everything I do.


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

Tailor your pitches and know the blogger (and her/his audience). Most established
bloggers have little time, but a lot of influence. Be brief and to the point;
let the blogger know in the first paragraph how you’d like to work together
(even if it’s simply to communicate a press release). Within 30 seconds of
opening your email I want to know what’s in it for my readers, what’s in it
for me, and what your expectations are.


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

Since I often review products, many times PR folk will ask if I’d like to
coordinate a reader giveaway as well. Recently, I had the chance to experience
Arlene Dickinson’s Persuasion line. In lieu of a reader giveaway, I asked if
rock-it promotions would mind donating the prize to a silent auction
benefitting Perinatal Bereavement Services Ontario. Y’all agreed without
hesitation – knowing that you’d be trading further press and reader engagement in order to help support something that I believed in. That, to me, is a HUGE
PR #win.


I
hate?

Anything with more than four legs.


I
love?

In no particular order: Shopping at Wal-Mart early on a Sunday morning, finding
a Joe Fresh dupe for an OPI nail colour, writing with a 0.7mm retractable lead
pencil, watching my boys play with cars, enjoying a ripe mango out of season, the smell of crisp, clean sheets hanging on a clothesline, laughing so hard I
cry, watching TELUS commercials, realizing my husband already cleaned the
kitchen, having someone else wash my hair and this quote: “Success is getting what
you want. Happiness is wanting what you get.” – D. Carnegie


Reading?

Ugh. Don’t make me admit it! I just finished the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy.
#mommyporn


Best
place on earth?

Niagara-on-the-Lake. I was married there five years ago this July. Yes, I was one
of those 07-07-07 bridezillas.


Dinner guest?

John Cleese. But only if he came as Basil Fawlty, and stayed in character all
night.



Hero? 
My two sons. They’ve taught me that unconditional love is not simply a song
lyric.


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

Epicurious. It always tells me what to do with bok choy.


Pool
or ocean?

Ocean.


Voicemail
or email?

Twitter.