Photo Friday – Nail Art

We don’t know about you, but we are still giddy from the excitement over last
week’s Golden Globes. So many laughs,
memorable moments, and of course head-to-toe glamour. This year we got an extra close up on all
the pretty things with the E! Mani Cam where celebs got to show off their done-up digits, with Zooey Deschanel stealing the show with her film strip nail art. 
Our subsequent mani-mania inspired today’s Photo Friday, and left us
eager to experiment.




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Rave: Our All Time Favourite Movies

With the memories of TIFF ’12 fresh in our minds, the office is still buzzing with
celebrity gossip and movie chat, which got us talking about our all-time
favourite movies. Turns out that here on
the fourth floor, we all love a good chick-flick, but like to balance it out with a good comedy or classic ’90s flicks every so often. 


Here’s a list of our favourite
movies of all time which we feel are “must-sees.”  



Disclaimer: We’re not saying these were the best-written, best-directed or best-acted films we’ve EVER seen – just feel-good ones we’ve watched over and over because they make us feel good, spark our imaginations and let us escape to another world once in a while.

As if we even need to explain this choice! Clueless is the ultimate high-school chick
movie that had us all dreaming of Cher’s luxurious life. Who wouldn’t want a sunny L.A. lifestyle, your own brand new Jeep to practice driving and all of the purple clogs you can
squeeze your feet into? And seriously,
who doesn’t like a great makeover scene? Best part of a chick flick, always.

We’re suckers for a good romance and this one might top them all. Maybe some of us are lacking a bit of romance
in our lives, but despite that, The Notebook ranks as one of our top choices
because of its combination of real-world struggles and a love that’s deeper
than infatuation. And there’s nothing quite like a little Gos.
                                   
Eye candy. You’re welcome!

This movie is one of the best of Paul Rudd’s, one of our fave funny men of recent years (coincidence that he’s also in Clueless? Hardly. He’s become a sign of a great comedy). This movie makes us laugh to the point of tears, and makes us cringe from his
character’s sheer awkwardness. One of
the most quote-able movies we could come up with and could watch again and
again. Schlappa da bass…..

We are putting these two together simply because they both
made our list for the same reason: we love a little magic and fantasy every
once in a while (some of us a little more than others). These movies – all 11
of them – combine beautiful imagery and creative stories that capture our
attention so that we can watch for hours at a time. We may have done this more than once. Believe what you want. 😉

Who doesn’t like a little bit of teenage drama and
scandal? We couldn’t resist adding one
of our favourite flicks from 
high school to the list. It was awesome back then and it’s even more
awesome now to look back and shake our heads at what we thought was a
life-altering script. We also can’t
forget that this was the beginning of Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Phillippe’s
real life romance. (It doesn’t matter
how that turned out.)

And now for the ultimate in chick flicks. We couldn’t leave this one
out…

Young Patrick Swayze as eye candy, Jennifer Grey’s endearing
portrayal of Baby (pre-nose job, how we prefer her), the dancing, the music, the dresses, the shoes, the dancing… what’s not
to love? We don’t even need to go on.
    
                                                  
Classic…

Media, Darling: Johanna James

Johanna James is a chase producer at Sun News Network, Canada’s home of hard news and straight talk. She first got her start in the TV industry as an intern at Sun TV and worked her way up to be a segment producer and video assignment editor before the launch of Sun News Network. 
A Torontonian at heart, she loves city life, the diverse selection of cultural foods and entertainment, and the feeling of calling Toronto home. But don’t be fooled, she’s an avid traveller, experiencing the sights and sounds of Paris, London and New York to name a few. But she calls Grenada – the native home of her mother – her second home away from home.
Did you always want to be in the media? If not, what other careers were on the horizon?
I’ve had a fascination with TV ever since I was a young kid. But I think it started when I was two years old, watching Dave Devall do the weather on CFTO, drawing on the glass board – I was hooked. My interest grew stronger when I completed my media studies class in high school. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, but I wanted to know how everything on TV came together. My college internship sealed the deal and here I am today.
Where would you like to be five years from now?
Would still like to be producing TV; possibly in a lifestyle format. But overall, I want to be happy, sane and enjoying what I do next. You never know. I didn’t think I’d be doing what I’m doing now when I was 20. Throw in some travelling and I’ll be happier than a kid with ice cream cake.
Any advice for people started in your industry?
If there’s an opportunity to get your foot in the door through internship (free or not) or through volunteering – DO IT! But make sure it’s something that you want to do and be prepared to roll with the punches. The TV industry is always changing. Be true to yourself, do your best and have fun.

What are your favourite media outlets, not including your own?
For news: 680 News, Newstalk 1010, Sun Media, AP, Reuters and BBC. I enjoy reading few magazines like Essence and O, The Oprah Magazine. And for anything else… when in doubt, Google.
Best interview you’ve ever had?
I had a chance to interview Dwyane “The Rock” Johnson, and oh my, is he ever lovely. He was extremely nice, vibrant and my camera loved him – at least I think so. I would have to say I’ve had a lot of enjoyable and interesting conversations with the guests I book for my network and the PR reps to escort them. You learn a lot from just having a causal yet respectable conversation.
Worst?
People who didn’t care to be there for the interview and gave one word answers. It doesn’t happen a lot, but it happens. Life goes on.

Best advice you’ve ever been given?
This happens to pop into my head more often these days: “Remember it’s not rocket science or surgery, it’s just TV.”
What rule(s) do you live your life by?
I credit the West Scarborough Boys and Girls club for implementing the following rules when I attended from ages five to 13.
1. Respect yourself.
2. Respect others.
3. Respect others belongings and their beliefs. 
And be observant of your surroundings. It’s hard to remember sometimes, but handy when you do.

What’s the most important tip you can give PR pros?
Deliver the whole package. In my case, if a PR representative can provide a plan for a suggested segment with guests, useful and concise information, visuals, prop selections (if needed) and accessible web links – we will love working with you! A good segment takes attention to details (and elements). As long as you’re just as willing to make the opportunity work, it will work with flying colours.

Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro? We love to hear about #wins.
I can’t nail down one experience, because I have more than one. I will say that there’s a group of PR pros who I’ve dealt with in the past nine months that have been awesome to work with. I would gladly work with them in the future, no doubt about it.

I hate?
Intolerable people who don’t want to try to be tolerable. 

I love?
Travelling to the Caribbean, especially if I can enjoy a few afternoons on Grand Anse beach in Grenada. 

Reading?
Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill and when I want to escape, the Harry Potter series. J.K. Rowling has quite the imagination. 

Best place on earth?
Grand Anse beach in Grenada, central Paris and I’m sure there’s some places that I haven’t discovered yet. I still got time.

Dinner guest?
I would say my obvious choice would be Oprah, but I would have to say group of my childhood friends from elementary school. We try to keep in touch as much as we can when we can. Twenty years plus and still going.
Hero?
Do Superman, Batman, Thor, Captain America and Planet count? Just kidding. My mother. It probably sounds cliché but I strongly admire her strength and determination. Plus she delivers results and answers; I have to love her for that. 
Favourite app (or whatever you are downloading these days)?
I actually don’t download a lot of apps. BBM is probably the only app I use a lot, and the Scene app. 
Pool or Ocean?
Definitely the ocean. I’m not the greatest swimmer, but I can rock the lounge chair on the beach any day, or at least four out of seven days of the week if I was in the Caribbean.
Voicemail or email?

It can be tricky. I would say personal email because I can always look back at it. Or call until you get me.

Rave: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

For some, Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom is considered “The Most Magical Place on Earth” but we’ve got news for those Muggles – they’re dead wrong. Universal Studios snagged the title when they opened The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (WWHP) in June 2010.

Where to go first?

Housed within Universal Studio’s Islands of Adventure theme park, WWHP is a Rowling-fan’s dream come true. As with the books and films, the park’s attention to detail is impeccable. That noise you’re hearing in the girl’s loo? Oh, that’s just Moaning Myrtle having a wee cry. Looking for the ATM? It’s under the archway labelled “Gringotts.” So cool, right? 

For all your cauldron needs.

From touring inside Hogwarts to indulging your sweet tooth at Honeydukes, there’s a lot to see and do in the park, which also means a lot of time for lollygagging. Our suggestion: get to the park early (we arrived 30 minutes before it was supposed to open and they let us in!) and beeline to Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, located inside Hogwarts (!!!). This dark ride takes you through the castle, where you’ll follow Harry (on his broom, natch) and encounter a lot of familiar sights: the Whomping Willow, Dementors and the Quidditch pitch. Surpringingly, one of our favourite parts of the ride was the queue, as it took you through Dumbledore’s office, the Gryffindor Common Room, Professor Sprout’s greenhouse and the Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom.

The magical, magical Hogwarts.

The two other rides are Dragon’s Challenge, a pair of completely different roller coasters and the Flight of the Hippogriff, a kid-friendly ride by Hagrid’s cottage. If you’re a fan of rides, we highly suggest waiting in line for both the Red and Blue dragon coaster. Another tip: eat lunch after the rides. 

Butterbeer!

Finally, the shopping. Hogsmeade has it all: Ollivander’s Wand Shop, Honeydukes, Zonko’s and the Three Broomsticks. But save up your Galleons because Hogsmeade ain’t cheap. A character’s wand will run you $30, the Marauder’s Map (unframed) is $50 and a Chocolate Frog is about $10. There’s one thing that’s totally worth the pricetag though, and that’s Butterbeer. Make sure you get it frozen and in the commerative cup. You can thank us later.

Happy Family Day!

Happy Family Day!

As this holiday is only four years old, you may not have any long-standing family traditions to honour. Thankfully, we’re here with the perfect itinerary for your day. (Shameless plug: these are all our clients, but nonetheless super rad activities).
Piola’s Make-Your-Own-Pizza event

Inspire your little one with this pizza made by Piola’s chefs!
Image source

From 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., stop by Piola (1165 Queen St. W.) where kids under 14 can create their own pizzas with the restaurant’s expert pizza makers. Kids learn how to stretch out the dough and then top the pizza with the toppings of their choice. $10, includes a choice of pop or juice (limit one per child). Call here for reservations 416.477.4652. 
The Monkey Bunch at the Drake Hotel

The Monkey Bunch.
Image source

After filling up on pizza, pop across the street to catch the The Monkey Bunch in the Drake Underground. A rock n’ roll band with a social conscience, The Monkey Bunch’s thoughtful songwriting appeals to both “talls” and “smalls”. Only $8 for a single ticket, $28 for a family pack, the concert starts at 3 p.m. sharp (doors at 2:30 p.m.). For more information, call 416.531.5042.

Potted Potter


Looking for a little magic to top off your holiday? Then Potted Potter is just the ticket! This hilarious, two-man play condenses JK Rowling’s epic series into 70 madcap minutes. With two performances (2 p.m. and 5 p.m.) on Family Day, this play will entertain all the wizards and witches, Muggles and Squibs in your family. Read the Toronto Star‘s 4 star review here. Click here to buy tickets.

Meet Our Team: Natalie

Natalie is our newest addition on the fourth floor, and we couldn’t be happier to have found her. She graduated from the University of Western Ontario in 2007, with an honours degree in Media, Information & Technoculture, a minor in Comparative Literature and a Certificate in Writing.

She got her first kick at PR when she landed an internship with the Canadian Opera Company. She worked at Alliance Films for nearly three years, and from there, landed a contract doing unit publicity with Battle of the Blades, where she got to hang with Ekaterina Gordeeva, making her childhood dreams come true. A serious pedigree to have on our team – welcome, Natalie!


Follow her on Twitter: @badalie



How long have you been part of the team? 
About two months.


What is your guilty pleasure?
Sleeping in. I don’t do this very often, but I relish the days when I can lay in bed (guilt free) well into the afternoon.

What do you love most about living in Toronto? 
Biking! I love living in a city with such a thriving bike culture. I’m way too much of a wimp to bike in the winter, but as soon as the city thaws, Rupert (my trusty steed) and I are inseparable. Toronto becomes a lot smaller and easier to discover when you can map out your own route. 

Best gift you’ve ever received? 
Last year for my birthday, my boyfriend gave me a custom-made Lara Vincent headpiece. Made of black & cream suede flowers, it is absolutely stunning. It’s the first thing I’d grab from my apartment in a fire (other than my boyfriend).

Best part about being a publicist?
No two days are ever the same. 

A little more from the fourth floor:
Website: www.apartment803.com
Designer: Samantha Pleet, Proenza Schouler, Calla Haynes, Rodarte, Lover, Vanessa Bruno… I’ll just stop now.
Store:  Robber, Rac Boutique, LAB, Jonathan + Olivia.
Book: The Harry Potter series.
Snack: Apples or dark chocolate.
Season: Fall for the clothes, summer for the fun.
Sexy: Boys with beards.
Inspiration: Sally Singer.
Drink: Coconut Bongo tea
Motto in two words: Namaste (keep that extra word and buy yourself something pretty).


To note: one of Nat’s favourite things to do is to have friends over to try out new recipes, ingredients and cuisines. Her current favourite cookbooks are The Essential New York Times Cookbook by Amanda Hesser and Momofuku by David Chang. She points out “I’ll be testing out his pork bun recipe soon, if anyone wants to come over!”

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.