Media, Darling: Wing Sze Tang

Wing
Sze Tang is the beauty and health editor at FLARE,
and has been working in magazines for more than nine years. She started out as
a grammar cop (a.k.a. copy editor) and still cares about the smallest
details. Back in her freelance writing days, she contributed to Fashion, Elle Canada, Best Health,
Travel + Leisure and Marketing Magazine. She appreciates when
people pronounce her first name correctly (hint: the Sze sounds like
See, but calling her just Wing is
perfectly cool, too).


Photo credit: Adam Moco


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

Looking back, I can see I was always
heading in this direction. Words make sense to me (numbers do not!). I studied
English at the University of Toronto, and all my “grown-up” jobs have been in
publishing.



Where would you like to be five years from
now?
My heart is in journalism. But I have a lot
of disparate interests and ideas, so who knows what the future will bring.
Any advice for people getting started in
your industry?
Don’t assume that being passionate is
enough to set you apart. While it’s essential, know that everyone else
clamouring to work in this business feels the same way. Work harder than them.
If you feel insecure about your experience or skills (we all do sometimes), don’t
let that hold you back; use it to drive your ambition to get better. If you
want to write, read 
 everything. Figure out what makes great writing great. And
then write. Learn from your editor.
What are your favourite media outlets, not
including your own? (i.e.: what do you read/listen/watch?)
I look at the usual suspects in the
fashion/beauty and health beats, since of course I keep tabs on my competitors.
Beyond that, my reading list is eclectic – everything from Toronto Life, Wired
and Gawker to The New York Times, Outside and The Atlantic. I also love the
serendipity of finding a great story via the smart people I follow on Twitter.
I have terrible taste in TV.
Best interview you’ve ever had?
Hard to choose. Since I cover beauty and
health, I get to talk to lots of different people  movie stars and scientists,
makeup artists and MDs, athletes and business execs. The variety keeps my job
interesting. I love interviews that feel like natural conversations, not
interrogations. And I love getting answers I didn’t expect and learning things
I didn’t know.
Worst?
Any interview where I’m allotted a few
minutes. Or where the interviewee delivers coached or rehearsed lines.
Best advice you’ve ever been given?
If you want something, ask for it.
What rule(s) do you live your life by?
Don’t let fear rule your life.
Try, try again.
Be curious. Be skeptical.
What’s the most important tip you can give
PR pros?
1. Know who covers what. It’s not a secret
(see: the masthead). If you email your pitch to everyone on staff when I’m the
one who handles the section, I’ll assume you don’t read the magazine. Sometimes
we get packages addressed to people who haven’t worked here in YEARS.

2. Save trees. Keep press releases short
and sweet. Some of the ones I get rival book manuscripts. But deliver the
relevant details (e.g. specifically what’s innovative/new), not fluff or
over-the-top claims. If your pitch has a whiff of B.S., I’ll doubt if I can
trust any of it (or you).

3. Be honest and transparent. If you can’t
reveal the information because you don’t know it, or you’ve given another
publication the exclusive, I’ll understand. But I’d rather hear no than wonder
why I’m getting the silent treatment as my deadline looms.
Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro?
We love to hear about #wins.
Once, an expert source flaked out right
before my deadline and decided he was too swamped to do an interview. Without
missing a beat—in fact, within half an hour—the PR reached out to two different
sources to see if she could secure an equally appropriate alternative for me. I
interviewed one of them later that afternoon. The PR deftly turned a
near-disaster into a win, and I couldn’t have solved the problem faster myself.
I hate? 
Going to sleep. Writing the first
paragraph. Dealing with people who are bitchy for no reason.
I love? 
Sleeping. Traveling. Eating.
Reaching the finish line. Collecting lipsticks and skin-care potions. Escaping
to the movies. Hanging out with my dude and my dog.
Reading? 
I’m slowly making my way through
my Instapaper archive of long-form nonfiction articles. I wish I had time to
read more books for fun.
Best place on earth? 
Depending on my mood:
home, or far away.
Dinner guest? 
Happiness is good food with a
great friend.
Hero? 
My mom, who raised my sister and me
almost single-handedly. We’re very different people, but she taught me that it’s
possible to defy the odds through hard work and sheer will.
Favourite app (or whatever you are
downloading these days)? 
I’m a news junkie, so Twitter is the most addictive. I
tweet sparingly but listen all the time. (Say hi: @wingszetang.)
Pool or ocean?
I can’t swim, though it’s a
life goal to learn. Till then, you’ll find me on the beach under an umbrella, dodging
the sun.
Voicemail or email? 
Email! Fastest for
everyone. I do answer my phone, but don’t call to read me the press release.

Media, Darling: Christopher Turner

Christopher Turner is a freelance fashion and lifestyle writer based in Toronto. His writing has appeared everywhere from Fashion Television to Disney, but he’s best known for covering the red carpet and staying on top of style for Canada’s most read fashion and beauty website, Fashionism.ca. Christopher covers fashion headlines, trends, shopping, maintains the daily Fashionist blog and shares celeb-watching duties at the popular column Style Winners and Losers.
Twitter: @Turnstylin
Did you always want to be in the media? If not, what other careers were on the horizon? 
Not really. I actually started out with ambitions of becoming the next Atom Egoyan. As a university student I majored in Film Studies and English Literature. My entry into fashion was when I was scouted by a model agent and soon found myself bouncing around working in NYC, Milan and Athens. When I finally made my way back to Canada, I had no idea what I wanted to do next. One thing led to another and I ended up as an intern on the then-brand new websites for Toronto Life and Fashion Magazine. Half way through my internship I was hired on, and the rest is history.

Where would you like to be five years from now? 
I’ve made a lot of changes in the last couple of years to get to where I am now and I have to say that I’m pretty happy with how things are going. Five years from now? All I can say is that I believe in challenging yourself.

Any advice for people getting started in your industry? 
Be nice. Seriously. Once you’ve got that down, ask questions, listen to the answers and write everyday.

What are your favourite media outlets, not including your own? 
I check in daily with New York magazine, Gawker and Styleite.

Best interview you’ve ever had? 
Jann Arden. She was gracious, funny and oh so sweet. You always worry when you meet someone you admire, but she truly exceeded any expectations. Adrianna Lima might be a close second… because apparently flattery will get you everywhere with me. I still have that interview on tape and give it a listen when I need a quick smirk.

Worst? 
Perez Hilton. No further comment.

Best advice you’ve ever been given? 
Be kinder than necessary, because everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.

What rule(s) do you live your life by? 
Take care of yourself and the person sitting next to you.

What’s the most important tip you can give PR pros? 
I’m a big believer in email etiquette, even on those days when things are rushed. You can say hello. I can’t stand greeting-less emails and I’ve deleted my fair share. I’ve also gone way out of my way to help PR pros that put that simple effort in. Most importantly? Figure out who I am and what type of content I write. It’s amazing the number of pitches I receive in a day that have absolutely nothing to do with anything that I would ever write about.

Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro? We love to hear about #wins. 
The little things mean so much to me. Nothing beats a handwritten thank you note.

I hate? 
Mean people, drivers who don’t signal when changing lanes, potatoes and when TV shows run late and my PVR cuts that last minute off.

I love? 
Shoes, spaghetti and meatballs, gingham, bad television, music that makes me sing, movies that make me cry, poetry that makes me think. And my niece and nephew, of course.

Reading? 
Always. I’m currently on a biography kick.

Best place on earth? 
The Duomo in Milan. It’s the most impressive building I’ve ever seen. When I lived there I made a point of stopping by the cathedral square every single day just to look and daydream. No excuses… every single day. I remember times when it would be close to midnight and I was just finishing work and desperate to go home. Still, I always ended up taking the long way home just to stand there for a few seconds. It was grounding and inspiring all at once. I need to go back.

Dinner guest? 
How about an insane dinner party that includes: Karl Lagerfeld (Baptiste Giabiconi would be with him of course), Madonna, Shakespeare, Oprah, Baz Luhrmann, Isabella Blow, and Karen Carpenter.

Hero? 
The news is filled with heroes. Anyone standing up for what they believe in despite the obstacles.

Favourite app (or whatever you are downloading these days)? 
Truthfully, BBM is probably the only thing that keeps me from ditching my Blackberry these days.

Pool or ocean? 
Ocean. Nothing beats the sand and the sound of the ocean.

Voicemail or email? 
Always email.

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