Rave: The Dark Knight Rises

Who doesn’t love Batman? Whether you’re an Adam West aficionado, a fan of the classic DC comic books or secretly think Clooney was awesome (but then… who are you?), there seems to be a Batman for everyone. 


We were lucky, lucky, lucky to get a few passes to check out the advance screening last week. Instead of telling you straight up that we loved it, we thought it would be fun to bring back the ‘he said/she said’ style of film review. This time, Matt and Debra share their thoughts about the film. Enjoy! 



On Christian Bale:

She said: Sometimes I have a hard time getting over the whole
viral incident where you were a
complete nut job, but I think all is forgiven, Mr. Bale. You are my favourite
as Batman and I want you to win over the bad guys sooooo badly that I silently
cheered in my seat numerous times. I’d add a little warmth to your home, but
you’re a hot superhero and I like all your toys.

He said: Christian Bale and Christopher Nolan certainly work well together and definitely have figured each other out since making Batman Begins and The Prestige.
I’m not sure whose fault it is for the “bat voice”, but I hope that’s not what people condemn Bale or Nolan or this film (please note, I am referring to this as a film and not a movie. There’s a difference) for once they made that (mistake) in the first film it would be weird for him to drop it.
Bale is great as Wayne and as Batman, but I really feel more people will come away talking about Joseph Gordon-Levitt who really “bat” his role out of the park.


On Anne Hathaway:
She said: Babe. Babe. Babe. Anne Hathaway = Catwoman. Who
knew? You are so incredibly sexy and strong and you look so good doing it in
every, single, frame. The fact that you did your own stunts made me your
biggest fan, even if I really didn’t enjoy you hosting the Oscars. And your red
lipstick was perfect.

He said: When I heard that Anne Hathaway would be playing Selina Kyle (note – she’s never actually called Catwoman) I got really excited. I’ve always been a fan of her as an actor and an admirer of her beauty and both didn’t disappoint. She actually was purrfect. (don’t worry, I’m rolling my eyes at myself).


Special effects:
She said: I was blown away by the opening scene and then I
just kept being blown away again and again. Seeing this film in Imax is a must.

He said: This really did feel like a dramatic film (there’s that word again) with action thrown into it, instead of the other way around. When I read that back it may sound like it might be light on the gadgets and brawling, and it most definitely is not. It’s hard to really get into the SFX without spoiling the film, but let me just say that my mouth was agape for the whole film, especially the opening and closing sequences.


Romance:
She said: I’m told that the romance(s) are from the original
story – not quite sticking to the bible, but if you’re a comic book fan, no
surprises here.
  Nothing super sexy, but
it’s not what I came for.

He said: As with all good dramas, there definitely are some birds trying to hang with the Bat in this flick. But you know what they say about two birds….


Story & Script:
She said: I am not a comic book fan, so I just enjoy the
story for what it is. There were twists and turns and incredible acting. The
cast is crazy good: Marion Cotillard, Tom Hardy, Michael Caine, Joseph Gordon-Levitt… And all of those folks are from Inception, as well. Interesting,
n’est pas?
I found the villain, Bain (Tom Hardy), to be
absolutely terrifying and the anarchy that entails in Gotham to be equally
scary. I couldn’t understand Bain all the time, and he sounded a bit like a
muffled Sean Connery to me, but other than that, I couldn’t take my eyes off
him.  The design of that mask is so, so
creepy.
I got lost in the story for three hours (almost – 2
hours and 47 minutes, I believe) and could have watched more. And let me
qualify this by saying that I don’t sit still for three hours very often and I
don’t like having to commit to anything for that long.

He said: Nolan and his bros really handled the gravitas of making such a large film, as well as knowing it will be the last (for this creative team at least). The Burton and Shumacher era movies, were just that…big movies. Their stories were entertaining but they both achieved something comic book-ish. This felt as real as a story could be about a man who saw his parents killed, who was trained in an extreme discipline of martial arts, who decided to don a Kevlar suit shaped like a bat in order to fight for his city. As much as this is a story about Batman, it is also a very human story about trust, fear, friendship and life.

Does it live up to the hype/trailers?
She said: Yes.

He said: The only thing the trailers did for me was excite me that this was coming out, period. I would have to say that it surpassed the feeling any of the trailers hoped to achieve. I will be seeing this again.


Will Batman fans love this?
She said: I think the comic book Batman fans will have some
small issues with the storyline (again, so I’m told), but for those film lovers
who just love a good escape – yes – it is undeniable that you will love this.

He said: Fans of this trilogy will love this. Fans of great action/suspense films will love this. Pure Batman fans are going to have all sorts of issues that I overlooked only because the film is so good otherwise. 
You have to sorta forget what you already know if you know the book(s) and if you don’t know anything you’ll be way better off (though it will be handy to watch with someone who knows something about the other films, at least).

Final thoughts?
She said: My fave in the trilogy, so far. If you like Batman, RUN to
the theatre this weekend.

He said: I was worried about my bladder with the running time being almost 3 hours. But the only reason I came close to peeing my pants at several times throughout the film was because I couldn’t believe I was watching something that attacked me on such an awesome visceral level. 
I will actually get angry at people who tell me they don’t like it.

I am such a nerd.


Go see this film and tell us what you think with the hashtag #batweek: @rockitpromo, @debgee and
@mattyaustin.



All images courtesy of Warner Bros. 

DG for the win!

Today on the fourth floor, we’re proud to announce that our very own boss lady, Debra Goldblatt-Sadowski, is nominated for PR Professional of the Year in the first-ever BizBash Toronto Readers’ Choice Awards. The awards are based on reader votes, so we’re calling on our friends, family, readers and colleagues to help our fearless leader take the award this month.

#debgeeforthewin
Photo credit: Jessica Blaine Smith


You may know Debra from her work talent-wrangling at TIFF, managing the crowds at fashion week or any number of projects she’s worked on since founding rock-it promotions in 2000, but we want to bring you the inside scoop on DG. So today, we present 10 secret reasons why she deserves your vote:


1. Debra has a poet’s soul. No, really. She studied creative writing at Concordia University and always dreamed of becoming a poet. However, that soul also has a pragmatic side that encouraged her to channel her love of writing into something more lucrative than poetry.


2. She can hook you up. Not only is she keeper of the keys at some of Toronto’s most exclusive events, one of her first jobs was working for a dating service.

3. She’s the
woman behind the man in the mask.
From
working with Woody Harrelson, who starred as the comedic superhero
“Defendor” in the movie of the same name, to marrying Matt Austin-Sadowski,
who, once upon a time, was a green Power Ranger, DG is basically the industry’s
own Pepper Potts.



4. She’s also a fairy godmother. Or at least according to her adorable three-year-old daughter, whose favourite game is “Fairy Godmother,” with Debra cast in the lead role.


5. She tweets it like it is. Sometimes sweet, sometimes sassy, Debra’s tweets are always on the pulse of Toronto. 


6. She’s a pioneer. A strong supporter of social media, she was one of the first PR pros to recognize the unique voice of social media, and in particular bloggers, creating controversy by inviting them into the tents at fashion week years before the term “street style” was part of our everyday lexicon. 

7. She has great taste. Debra was the first person in Toronto to start a full service gifting lounge company called Tastemakers (along with VP of Operations, Leesa Butler). Modelled after swag lounges in the U.S., she recognized a missing niche here and eight years later, has sparked some competition, but still has the best lounge at the festival.


8. On the Fourth Floor. rock-it was the first boutique agency to start a daily lifestyle blog back in 2010. Not one day has been missed since it was launched. The Media, Darling feature is our most popular and has attracted praise from competing agencies and journalists, alike.

9. Once you are part of the family, you stay part of the family. Many of rock-it’s clients have been on the company roster for many, many years. Drake Hotel, Alliance Films, Loblaw Companies, Fashion Design Council of Canada, Frigidaire and Electrolux, to name a few. Debra considers all clients to be top priority and always goes the extra mile, whether on vacation, weekends or evenings.


10. She’s a cool boss. Do you get to Google Tumblrs, do each other’s hair and attend wine tastings
during office hours? ‘Cause we do. Plus, we love our flexible dress
code, the fact that we can bring our dogs to the office, and
occasionally start our emails to her with “Hey, man.”

For these reasons and more, please support #debgeeforthewin and help her take the award at BizBash’s Celebrate Toronto Events 2012 reception on May 22. Visit bizbash.com/torontovotes to cast your vote! Voting is open until Thursday, May 17 and you can vote once per day, every day.





Teacher’s Pet: Education vs. Experience

Lorena Laurencelle is currently a Public Relations student at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. 

Her Question: What level of education is necessary to succeed in the public relations field? Is education more important, or is experience more valued?
Our Answer: Our team comes from a variety 
of backgrounds, experience and education. We look at both sides of this question by asking some with PR education backgrounds (Amalia and Meg) and some with PR experience (Natalie, Debra and Abby) for their advice.
Debra – President
I didn’t go to school for public relations. I have a degree in creative writing and started working when I was 14 years old and moved out when I was 18. I learned from experience. I took every lesson and like to think I got a bit smarter with each mistake I made. I loved to write, always had an easy time meeting new people and I spent years doing shitty telemarketing jobs where I honed my phone skills. Get good at what you love to do and you can succeed without getting a degree. Spend time in a really good internship or two and that’s going to do you a world of good in the PR world.

Natalie  – Publicist

I attended the University of Western Ontario, majoring in Media, Information and Technoculture and minoring in Comparative Literature and Civilization. While at Western, I also completed a Certificate in Writing. While I think that post-secondary education can be helpful in developing your writing and critical thinking skills, I don’t think that a B.A. is necessary for a career in public relations. At university, I learned more about my strengths and weaknesses and began to think that I wanted to work in PR. It wasn’t until after graduating and completing two internships that I knew that PR was for me.
Ultimately, my advice for anyone looking to get into PR is to volunteer/intern as much as you can. While being a good writer is a necessary skill for a good publicist, first-hand experiences are what make a great publicist. So much of what we do at rock-it involves events and the type of on-the-ground experience you get in a (good) internship is what I believe you need. Learn how to run a door, make a guest list, create a clippings package, etc. – these are the tasks that seem menial, but which are SO important to a functioning PR team. You can read about it in school, but nothing can ever beat real life experience.
Abby – Publicist
Ultimately, a bachelor’s degree of some sort is required to succeed; you need basic levels of writing, comprehension and time management to make it in any career. For PR, it boils down to a combo of natural skills and learned skills. For some types of PR, these skills are best learned in school. For others, they’re best learned in the trenches. If you are willing to work hard, ask smart questions, have great people skills and are a strong writer, you don’t necessarily need a PR-specific education. There are lots of related degrees that will help you out – English, communications, journalism, film, a technology background or even science can be relevant. It depends on what area of PR you’d like to work in. 
Communication skills are a must, so if they come naturally to you, then you’re likely able to make it without a post-secondary PR degree. If you’re not the strongest writer, take a few courses to brush up, or start a blog to develop your style. 
PR education never hurts, but landing a great internship, meeting people in the industry and participating in social media are the alternate route to making it in public relations.
Amalia – Assistant to the President
Having a bachelors degree and a certificate in PR (or something related) is very important. I think that having a PR-geared post-secondary diploma is something that will benefit you incredibly. The things that I learned on the first day of school (Algonquin College) are still getting me through the work day…so pay attention and don’t skip class!
Interning is something EVERYONE should do. I did three internships one summer, and it really paid off. Although the money isn’t great, you need to see it as a learning experience and an investment in your own future. They are paying YOU to learn.
Keeping in touch with former bosses and colleagues is also something everyone should do, especially in our field. Staying on someone’s radar is just as important as your experience, education and skill set combined.
Meg – Junior Publicist
After getting a B.Sc. and working in unrelated jobs for a couple of years, I went back to school for a post-grad diploma in PR. I definitely value that education – it taught me PR writing styles and other basics, and gave me an idea of what to expect in this business. I think a PR-specific education is a strong start to a career in this industry. Writing, editing and style are the base of everything we do, and a PR-specific education will prep you with that knowledge.
That being said, all the education in the world won’t allow you to succeed without real-life experience. Interning is hands down the best way to really learn the biz. I would be nowhere without what I gleaned from my time interning. An education is the foundation for the knowledge you gain from job experience. I continue to learn every day by watching the awesome and experienced pros I work with and listening to their advice and know-how.
In Conclusion: There’s no one right answer as everyone comes into this industry with different skills, education and experience to draw on. However, we all agree on the strength and importance of internships and that some form of education is necessary, even just to hone your writing skills.
Have a PR question you want answered? Send it to meg@rockitpromo.com. We’ll choose the best and answer it on our blog.





Fashion-able: Socks

We know warmer weather is coming, but we’ll likely still be wearing socks for a while. We love socks as a fun, and often ignored accessory, so let us show you how to style this wardrobe staple in all new ways.

Socks and Sandals

The words “socks and sandals” together should no longer make you cringe. Unless you are thinking wool socks and Birkenstocks, because that pairing is still worthy of a body shudder.

To make this formerly unfashionable combo stylish, wear printed socks and platform sandals. Choose from plaids, stripes and polka dot socks to work with the season’s hottest shades of red, animal print, or calf hair platform sandals. Quirky-chic, the unforeseen pairing is for the daringly fashion forward. If it’s too much for you, try the safer version by pairing neutral socks with neutral shoes. Hot.

Black socks with Oxfords


Worn together, short dresses and oxfords make for a casually cool outfit. For style so hip it will knock your socks off, wear your oxfords with slouchy ankle length socks in neutral shades. 

Fearne Cotton. Image source.

Perfect for a day at the office or a weekend of shopping, top off the look with a denim vest or your go-to leather jacket. Follow in the footsteps of Britain’s next “it” girl, Fearne Cotton, and wear the latest in trendy sock and oxford pairings. 

Colourful Socks with All Black Ensembles

If you’ve met our boss, you know she appreciates her designers. Whether at Fashion Week or the rock-it headquarters, she favours her Helmut Lang and Margiela in shades of black. Yet each day, you can pull up her pant hem, or unzip her boots to find a bit of colour with her enviable collection of colourful socks. Patterns, prints and neon: Deb wears it all. Take a cue from rock-it’s leading lady and brighten even the darkest of outfits with colourful socks.

Agyness Deyn rocks coloured socks with all-black. Well, sort of all-black.
For those who don’t own an all-black wardrobe, don’t fear a colour overload. Colour blocking is way in. 

We’re Not Just Pretty: Ashley Ballantyne

You might remember that Ashley Ballantyne used to work on the fourth floor with us, but was offered her dream job at Canadian Stage and hopped over there. We miss her, but it did give us the opportunity to interview her for our We’re Not Just Pretty feature.

Ashley recently joined the team at Canadian Stage, one of the country’s largest non-profit theatre companies, as associate director of communications. Ashley manages publicity for their annual season of contemporary theatre and public relations for the company as a whole.

With a theatre degree under her belt, Ashley left her homeland of Nova Scotia to study corporate communications at Seneca College, then got her first gig at a mid-sized Toronto PR agency, specializing in edible consumer products (mostly chocolate). In her spare time, she volunteers as a publicist for local theatre groups and joined the board of directors for the Toronto Fringe Festival.

After a stint with the lovely ladies of rock-it promotions, she was able to combine her passion for the theatre (and flair for the dramatic) with her love of communications. 


How long have you been in your current position? 
Four months! I am mid-way through my first season with Canadian Stage.

How does your company leverage PR?

PR is about sharing stories, and as a theatre company, it’s our job to tell stories – both on stage and off. We do this through a mix of media relations, social media and marketing communications. 

We’re very lucky to work with incredibly talented artists and theatre companies from Toronto and across Canada on each of our productions. So when it comes to media relations, we have a great list of stories to share about the work being presented or created and the varied careers of the cast and company.   

We use social media as an amazing way to get audience feedback, answer questions, share behind-the-scenes details about our shows and connect with the rest of Toronto’s vibrant artistic community. 

Our PR efforts are directly linked to our marketing and communications strategy – building awareness about a show through advance stories and reviews, creating collateral material like newsletters, programs and e-blasts, creating buzz by sharing media review quotes and audience feedback through online/print ads, and creating and sharing photos, videos and more.

Finally, word-of-mouth is vital to the success of each show. We work hard to build our brand in everything we do. In addition to traditional PR, we’ve created a series of programs that reach different audiences, from artist growth and development, to education and youth outreach to donor events like backstage tours and theatre trips.

What qualities are most important to you when hiring a PR team member?
Experience is important. A PR degree or an internship are great ways to learn more about the industry, meet and learn from the pros and figure out what kind of PR you want to do. Being smart and savvy goes a long way (and sometimes, so does a little sass). That being said, energy and attitude are most important for me – if you love what you’re doing, and you want to be there doing it, then you’ll do it well, and it will show. 

Who gave you your first big career break?
Well, I recently found out that Canadian Stage employees are also allowed to audition once a year for our productions – hoping the biggest break is yet to come… 

Kidding.

I’ve been extremely lucky to have worked with some incredible folks, who’ve all helped shape my career. Dan Tisch (president) and Alison George (vice-president) at Argyle Communications were my building blocks – teaching me everything from the basics to the details and the drive you need to thrive in agency life. 

And Debra Goldblatt (who should write a book on all the brilliant things she knows) really opened the door for me when it came to connecting my communications career with my love of theatre during my time with the rock-it team.  

What’s your biggest piece of advice for PR pros, both junior and senior?
Read the paper/magazine/website or watch/listen to the newscast/show you’re pitching.
Double check the details (twice) before you hit send.
Find a mentor or mentee to learn from/with by listening, observing and sharing in their successes and challenges. 

What do you love most about your job?
Tough one – this will be a toss-up: I love working with people, I love seeing a story about a Canadian Stage show in print and I LOVE that it’s my job to go see plays. 

If you weren’t doing PR, what would you do?
Please refer to question four (career break).  😉 

A little more from the fourth floor:
WebsiteSweetspot.ca, shedoesthecity.com, dailypuppy.com, TorontoLife.com and about a zillion more.
Designer: Valerie Dumaine.
Store: Charlie Boutique on Queen West.
Book: The entire Harry Potter Series.
Snack: Nachos & guac, chocolate chip cookies.
Sexy: Singing in the shower.
Inspiration: My family.
Drink: An ice cold pint of Keith’s OR a classic cosmo.
Motto in two words: Thumbs up.
Idea of perfect happiness: Relaxing on the beach in Nova Scotia (cocktail in hand, toes in ocean).
Indulgence: Mani-pedis.
Celebrity crush(es): Aaron Tveit, Ewan McGregor: Broadway babes who can sing, dance and act.
Favourite tweeter to follow: @2amt and the #2amt hashtag  and, biased, but: @canadianstage!

**Want to win tickets to an upcoming Canadian Stage production?**
Tweet us @rockitpromo and tell us where today’s featured PR pro works. 

One lucky winner will receive two tickets to see Saint Carmen of The Main, a tale of hustlers, hookers and hired killers, from Canada’s best known playwright, Michel Tremblay. The play also features killer costumes, including red leather costumes with eight-inch platforms – on men and women.
 

Think this video.

Congratulations to @ for correctly answering and winning the tickets! Stay tuned for upcoming giveaways.





A holiday message for you


Happy holidays from all of us on the fourth floor! 
Wishing you and yours a happy, healthy and fun holiday season.


xo
Debra and the team

From left to right, top row – Carly, Rachelle, Lara, Christina, Matt, Alana and Abby
Bottom row – Debra, Michelle and Lisa

Meet Our Team: Debra

Debra Goldblatt-Sadowski is our fearless leader, founder and president of rock-it promotions, inc. and Tastemakers. She has appeared as a PR expert on MuchMore Music, eTalk, ET Canada and Global News, and has been interviewed by The Globe and Mail, National Post, Toronto Star, Toronto Life and many more.

Goldblatt-Sadowski attended Concordia University and graduated with a degree in Creative Writing. She is a published poet, a former performance artist and a produced playwright. She has no formal education in public relations. She founded rock-it promotions at the start of the new millennium in January 2000.
 
She’s known for her friendly and outgoing approach to publicity, stellar networking skills and having the ear of most media members in the city. She’ll rarely turn down an invite to a good party and has been known to throw a few fun shindigs herself.

In addition to being a great head honcho and PR maven, she is a wonderful mom to two-year-old Mila Raven, and happily married to film and television director Matt Austin-Sadowski

Twitter: @debgee


What song gets you out on the dance floor?
Anything from The Stones to Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros to Gaga. Doesn’t take much to get me dancing.

What can’t you leave the house without?
My BlackBerry during the week. My daughter on the weekends.

Best gift you’ve ever received?
Advice from my smart parents.   
My husband.

What is your guilty pleasure?
Us Weekly. Dexter. Gossip Girl. Vodka martinis with three olives. Dark chocolate. Dutch Dreams. And my toes are always painted something pretty. Always. 

What do you love most about living in Toronto?
My family and friends are all here. I love that I can always find something to do. It’s a little bit rock’n’roll, a little bit of country. I also really like that it’s a big city, small town. I am six degrees from almost anybody.

Best part about being a publicist?
I love helping businesses reach new levels of success through media exposure. I love crafting story ideas for journalists. I love to write. I love to talk.

A little more from the fourth floor:
Website: Apartmenttherapy.com (love the house tours).
Designer: Marc Jacobs.
Store: Holt Renfrew.
Book: Tropic of Cancer, Henry Miller; Notes of a Dirty Old Man, Bukowski; and anything by Pablo Neruda and ee cummings.
Snack: Smartfood Popcorn.
Season: Summer.
Sexy: Confidence.
Inspiration: The memory of my mother’s hugs; the sound of my daughter’s laugh.
Drink: Aforementioned vodka martini with three olives, s.v.p.
Motto in two words: Rock it.