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.


Rants and Raves: Email 201

Turns out email is a very passionate topic for some of our loyal followers! We loved getting all the feedback from our first post on Email Etiquette – so much feedback that we thought we’d write a second post. You’re welcome.

Thanks to @_itsandi and @rachals for their tips and to several other tweeps for sharing the original story.

  • Read your email before you hit send. Make sure you’ve included all necessary info (remember the classic 5 W’s: Who, What, Where,When, Why), asked all questions, and spelled everything correctly (including the person’s name). Writing with rage or sobs? Walk away, cool off, and read it again with an objective eye. Otherwise you’ll send something you’ll regret later, and emails, like diamonds, are forever.
Avoid any misunderstandings, and make sure you’ve covered all bases before hitting “send”.
  • Thinking about recalling a message? Don’t. It looks shady and only draws more attention to the issue. A better idea is to send a short, thoughtfully written apology clarifying or offering further explanation. Much more mature.
  • Patience is a virtue. People get a lot of email and we try to respond right away, but sometimes it takes a moment (or several hours) to get there. We could be in a meeting and not able to check email. If something is THAT urgent, pick up the phone.

  • Remember back in the ‘90s when forwards were fun and cool? Well, they’re not anymore. Oh, and before you pass along that “helpful” email alerting everyone to a hoax, do a quick check on Snopes to make sure it’s legit.

    Avoid flooding your colleagues email by sending annoying forwards.
    • Subject lines matter – they’re the windows of emails, giving you a sneak peek of what’s inside. Don’t switch between topics on an email string, rendering the subject line meaningless. Change the subject line if you want to start talking about something else. It makes filing and organizing so much easier.

    • Don’t cc people unless they are relevant to the conversation. It’s annoying to receive emails about something you have nothing to do with. Like makeup, less is more.
    • Personalization is great for everything but email. Avoid using sparkly pink backgrounds and big, crazy-ass fonts (we’re not sure who does this, but if you do, STOP NOW). A clean white background is the only way, as are simple fonts that work for everyone – we like Arial, Calibri and Verdana. NOT Comic Sans, please.
    • Please reply to your emails. We know everyone is crazy busy (trust us, we understand). But we don’t need you to write us a novel in return. When you’re pressed for time or have a zillion emails to respond to, a simple “yes” or “no, thank you” or “received” can go a long way. Don’t play hard to get – we’re not dating.
    • Some of our Media, Darlings have said if they don’t reply, they’re not interested in the pitch and we should move on. But others encourage us to follow up. We’re sorry to pester, but be patient with us if we followed up with you when you’d rather we didn’t – we’ve secured many an article thanks to persistence. Or, tell us no, and we’ll stop bugging you. Simple.
    Do you have any other email faux pas that you want to share? Tweet us @rockitpromo.

    Rant: Email Etiquette

    Email is a huge part of our day. It’s how we communicate with media, clients, vendors, project partners, and each other. Sometimes we wish Email 101 was taught alongside PR 101 (listen up, Teacher’s Pets). It’s surprising how many people lack proper email etiquette skills.

    EMAIL 101

    • First and most important to us is, include an email signature IN EVERY EMAIL: first and last name, professional title, company name, mailing address, office line, alternate phone number if applicable, email address and website. Don’t make us search through your last 20 emails to us just to find a phone number or mailing address.
    • Our email addresses have our first names. So, if you’re writing to rachelle [at] rockitpromo [dot] com, don’t begin your email with “Hi Rachel”. A mistake is cool, but try to care. Not so different from many Media, Darling pet peeves.
    • We’re not huge fans of the “read receipt”. It just seems pushy. Try not to overuse “reply all”. And careful when marking something “high priority” – you don’t want to end up like the boy who cried wolf.

    Image source
    Stop marking everything urgent!
    • Capitalize and punctuate. It’s fairly simple to throw in a few periods, commas and question marks, and makes it easier to understand what you wrote.
    • Also, please don’t shorten words or use numbers for words. We understand you may be in a rush, but an email riddled with short forms can come across as a) confusing, b) cryptic, c) unprofessional, d) annoying and e) it’s not a text.
    you ≠ u
    are ≠ r
    for ≠ 4
    to ≠ 2
    great ≠ gr8
    • Read our entire email before responding, and try to address all of our comments and questions – we included everything for a reason. Going back and forth and re-asking questions wastes your time and ours.

    • (Side note: We love when media include their story request, deadline, any special instructions, and publication or issue date right off the bat! And we promise to get you all the necessary information by your deadline.)
    • A quick note on RSVPs – identify yourself (especially if you’re writing from a personal account like Gmail). We’re receiving lots of other RSVPs, so including your info off the top definitely makes it simpler and faster to track them. While you’re at it, tell us which event you’re planning to attend – we’re often working on more than one shindig at a time.
    • When replying or forwarding an email, keep the entire message thread. It’s more efficient to file *one* email in the chain instead of three or four. Plus, it saves time when you have to look back on something; you won’t have to look up several emails and piece together the entire conversation because all the info will be in one nice, tidy chain. We like nice and tidy.

     Have you committed any of these crimes against email?
    Emailers Anonymous might be for you.

    Please help us in making the e-world a better place, one email at a time. What really grinds your email gears? Tweet us your etiquette rants and tips @rockitpromo.