Media, Darling: Shel Zolkewich

Shel
Zolkewich wears two hats: the fancy fedora of a marketing consultant and the
battered ball cap of a freelance writer. She helps her marketing clients with
all the usual tools of the trade: strategies, Websites, campaigns and media
relations. On the writing side, it’s about the outdoors, travel and food. She’s
an avid angler and hunter and wishes she had a third arm to hold the
ever-present camera. Her heart lies in the North where there are small
airplanes, muddy roads and feisty Northern Pike.
Twitter: @shelzolkewich

Did you always want to be in the media? If not, what other careers were on the
horizon?
I
remember flipping through that “What Do You Want to Be” binder in high school and
getting excited about the prospect of being an undertaker. I’m not kidding!
I’ve always been a little obsessed with medicine and anatomy. But the course
was really long and I’m kind of lazy, so I settled on the Creative
Communications course at Red River College in Winnipeg instead. And just so you
know, I failed journalism.


Where would you like to be five years from now?
I
like the path I am on right now. The marketing stuff is filled with new
technology and interesting projects. I’m a writer at heart, so being able to
keep my hand in the game is important. I’ve been doing some teaching lately and
loving it. Basically, more of the same in the next five years, with a little
more adventure travel, I hope.


Any advice for people getting started in your industry?
Work
hard, listen to the old folks, work hard, embrace every little bit of new
technology, work hard.


What are your favourite media outlets, not including your own? (i.e.: what do
you read/listen/watch?)
Admittedly,
I’m a Twitter junkie. I’m an early riser and it’s like having coffee with
thousands of my dearest friends. They let me know what’s going on in the world.
I visit the Winnipeg Free Press site daily and The Globe & Mail site a
couple of times a week.


Best interview you’ve ever had?
Very
early in my career, I interviewed a gentleman who had lost his daughter to a
drunk driver. At the end of our chat, he asked me how old I was. Then he
reached out, took my hands in his and said “She would have been exactly your
age.” That moment taught me a couple of things: always listen, know that you
can make a connection to another human being at any minute and be thankful for
what you have in this life right now.


Worst?
I
wouldn’t want to single out anyone in particular, but I get very annoyed with
interviewees give off that ‘are we almost done, I’m really bored, you are small
potatoes and I don’t really care’ vibe. If you’ve agreed to the interview, give
it your best, no matter who is interviewing you. One day they could become
Anderson Cooper.


Best advice you’ve ever been given?
Make
hay while the sun shines.


What rule(s) do you live your life by?
Make
hay while the sun shines.
There’s
always someone way worse off than you.
Give
and you shall receive.


What’s the most important tip you can give PR pros?
As
that old song goes, give the people what they want. If I ask for images that
are about one MB, please don’t send me 32 K snaps from the website. I try to
work as efficiently as possible, because as a freelance writer, it’s simply not
lucrative to be a pokey Joe. If I have to ask for the same information a couple
of times, my bottom line is shot. PS: Samples work.


Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro? We love to hear about #wins.
I’m
not weaseling out on this one because I’m being honest when I say the PR folks
that I deal with are ALL top-drawer pros; I really can’t single anyone out.
They’ve saved my tail more than once when I’ve up against a deadline, sending
me last-minute images and info. The travel PR people have taken chances on me
as a freelance writer, hoping I’ll eventually find an outlet and earn my keep
for that fabulous Caribbean trip. It’s about being partners. I love you guys!


I hate?
 
Waiting. Impatience is my Achilles heel. That’s why I hunt; it teaches
me patience.


I love?
 
Twitter


Reading?
 
The Ice Master by Jennifer Niven. I’m a sucker for anything about
Canadian history, exploration or adventure.


Best place on earth?
 
Lake St. George in central Manitoba


Dinner guest?
 

Elvis Aaron Presley


Heros?
 
My mom and dad.


Favourite app (or whatever you are downloading these days)?
The Weather
Network. I’m a Manitoban and we’re a little nutty about the weather.


Pool or ocean?
 
Ocean. But a northern Manitoba lake is even better.

Voicemail or email? 
Email, oh please, email.

Media, Darling: Flannery Dean

Flannery Dean graduated from the University of Toronto with an M.A. in English Literature in 2001. Shortly after graduation, she decided to try her luck in the world of magazine journalism, though every once in a while she returns to the 12th floor of Robarts Library to fall asleep with a copy of The Canterbury Tales under her chin.

A freelance writer and editor, she’s written for TV and has contributed to CBC.ca, ELLE Canada, Chatelaine, Glow, Toronto Life, the National Post, Dogs in Canada, The Bark, and the Ottawa Citizen. She blogs daily for Chatelaine.com.

What was your favourite class in high school?
Any class I got kicked out of definitely makes the top five. So English, Biology, Geography, Gym, and French would qualify.
Why?
Short answer: No human being hated school as much as I did. I need to be free!

How did you get your start as a journalist?


Nepotism. My mother is a writer and when I graduated from U of T, she helped me get an internship at Where Toronto magazine. It was unpaid though, so nepotism has its limits.

If you weren’t a Media, Darling, what would you be doing right now?
Parasailing with George Clooney in Lake Como.

Pitching or follow up: Phone or email?
Email is preferred. But I love to talk to a living breathing human being sometimes, too.

We know irrelevant pitches, calling you the wrong name and eight follow-ups are no-no’s; what else should publicists avoid doing?

 
Saying no to my requests for an interview with their clients – that is just evil.

Sunrise or sunset?
I’m greedy, I want both – and all in one day.

Scent? 
Scent of a Woman by Al Pacino. Very exclusive. Only available to a select group of TBS viewers.

Cookie?
I will eat any cookie put in front of me and I’ll probably eat yours when you turn your head.

Flower? 
Peonies, hyacinth, irises, and everything currently blooming in my mother’s garden.


Ticklish?
Painfully. It’s a problem.

Shower or bath?
 
I’ve patented the decadent shower-bath. You start with a shower, then while the water’s running, you plug the tub and wallow in your own luxurious bilge water until someone tells you to get the hell out of the bathroom because you’ve been in there for at least an hour already.

Film?
Arthur (original). The Palm Beach Story. Topsy Turvy. I spent my youth watching TVO’s Saturday Night at the Movies.

Crush?
Many! Currently Francois Arnaud, The Borgias. It’s possibly mutual as I’m pretty sure he winked at me during the season finale. 

First job? 
Dishwasher. Real confidence builder.


Inspiration? 
My mortality. 

Media, Darling: Karon Liu

Karon Liu is The Grid‘s (formerly Eye Weekly) resident food writer and he considers himself to be the luckiest guy in the world since his main task is to eat. Prior to The Grid, he has written for Toronto Life, National Post, Toronto Star and the Toronto Sun, and his photos have appeared in More, Zoomer, National Geographic Traveler and on TorontoLife.com.


Can you spot Karon’s hand?
In addition to backpacking, stargazing and trying new foods, Karon also enjoys writing about himself in the third person.


What was your favourite class in high school? Why?
Photography class was my favourite because it broke up the monotony of staring at a textbook all day. It was the one class where I didn’t fall asleep. I learned how to develop my own film, manipulate photos without Photoshop and find my way around the darkroom when the red lightbulb would break. I also have many fond memories of hallucinating in an unventilated darkroom full of chemicals at 4 a.m.

How did you get your start as a writer?
After graduating with a journalism degree from Ryerson, I did a few internships and freelance gigs before becoming an editorial intern at Toronto Life magazine. They had just started a food blog called The Dish and I was pitching stories and taking every assignment that was handed to me. I didn’t know much about the restaurant industry at the time, so I had to do a lot of cramming. I continued to write for Toronto Life’s site for the next two years and then I moved on to The Grid, where I’m currently a staff writer.

If you weren’t a Media, Darling, what would you be doing right now?
Hiking in the Himalayas and avoiding work of any kind.

Pitching or follow up: Phone or email?
E-mail.

We know irrelevant pitches, calling you the wrong name and eight follow-ups are no-no’s; what else should publicists avoid doing?
Sending folders and packages full of press releases, CDs and USB keys. Writers and editors usually throw them out immediately, or keep the USB key and delete all the files in it. If I need additional information, I’ll ask.

Sunrise or sunset?
Sunrise when I’m on vacation, sunset for the rest of the year.

Scent?
Unscented.

Cookie?
My sister’s chocolate chip recipe.

Flower?
Chamomile. Add hot water, some honey and you’ve got a party.

Ticklish?
Yes. It’s why I broke up with Oprah.

Shower or bath?
Moist towelette.
Film?
Tie between Raiders of the Lost Ark and Jurassic Park.

Crush?
I prefer C-plus.

First job?
Working in the stockroom at The Gap in the Toronto Eaton Centre. I believe every teenager should work at least two years in the retail or food service industry to appreciate the value of a dollar and learn how to deal with jerks.

Inspiration?
Books, coworkers, friends, newspapers, an afternoon stroll, pretty much anything can spark an idea for an article, photo spread or what I’m going to have for lunch.