Media, Darling: Suzanne Dimma

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Suzanne Dimma is the editor-in-chief of Canadian House & Home magazine, Canada’s leading authority on decorating and design. An expert in all matters of style, her 20 years in media include three years hosting her own television series, The Style Dept., on HGTV, as well as conceptualizing, producing, writing, styling and art directing for a variety of outlets. Her previous roles include design director for Wish, Canadian Family and Gardening Life magazines, and creative director for House & Home’s product line.

House & Home
Twitter: @suzannedimmaHH

How can someone grab your attention with a pitch?
Be direct, clear and brief. I, and all the other editors at House & Home, receive at least 40 different promotional announcements a day. We simply don’t have time to read through anything epic. Make your point in the first line – or even better, the subject line – of anything you send. 

A good understanding of the company you’re pitching too is also essential. Do you really think the product, event or person is a good fit for House & Home? I find that belief in whatever is being promoted always shines through. You can tell when a pitch is a stretch. Approaching us anyways wastes everyone’s time.

What do you find most useful when dealing with public relations professionals?
Be accommodating, quick and thorough. I love PR people who can anticipate my questions, so I don’t have to send a zillion follow-up emails. If you’re alerting me to a great new line or design, include pictures! We run a lot of photography every issue, so having strong images to choose from – both seamless and in situ – is a huge help. And since our deadlines are demanding and things often change at the last minute, anyone who can make things happen quickly and accurately becomes a go-to resource.

What is the biggest mistake PR professionals make?
Being pushy is never appreciated. Sending an email, then following up with a phone call on the same day isn’t being helpful. Perhaps most damaging, though, is negotiating an exclusive, then shrugging in surprise when the story pops up in a competing publication. Making promises you can’t deliver is the fastest way to erode trust.

My pet peeve?
Gimmicky, wasteful, over-packaged promos. We feel terrible putting all that packaging in the garbage.

Any other thoughts you’d like to add?
Nurturing your relationships goes a long way. Instead of sending those make-believe personal emails, actually get to know your contacts. If I think you understand my best interests and have them in mind, I’ll give your emails, phone calls and packages my attention. For the past few years, a company has been sending me products to consider that don’t fall under House & Home’s interests. I have never received a phone call from them and I’ve never featured any of the products. At the end of each year, the products are donated to charity.