Media, Darling: Susan Catto

Susan Catto is deputy editor of Hello! Canada and
has been with the magazine since 2009. After studying at Columbia and Oxford,
she returned to her native Toronto and became a freelance journalist with
regular gigs at the
New York Times,
the
Economist.com, TIME Canada and Lucky. Susan lives in the east end with her husband and two young
kids.




Did you always want to be in the media? If not, what other careers were on the horizon?
As soon
as I discovered magazines, I wanted to be a freelance writer. I did a detour,
earning a doctorate (in eighteenth-century literature, yay!) and even teaching
university courses for two years. I was freelancing at the same time, though,
and journalism always felt like a privilege, not a job. It was a pretty easy
call to make.

Where
would you like to be five years from now?

Still finding my work as interesting and challenging as I do now. 

Any
advice for people getting started in your industry?
Read a
newspaper every day — and if you read it online, at least scan each headline,
don’t just click on the stories you are already interested in. Young people who
are curious and well-informed with good general knowledge really stand out. The
people you are working for or pitching to may be decades older and it helps to
understand their cultural reference points. Plus, life is just more interesting
when you know stuff!

What are your favourite media outlets, not
including your own?
For work, Celebitchy
and the Daily Mail; for fun, The New Yorker and HBO Canada

Best
interview you’ve ever had?

I recently interviewed Joan Rivers, which was a kick because I had interned on
her talk show when I was in university. She didn’t remember me, of course, but
it made for a nice rapport and she was as funny, frank and interesting as you
would expect.

Worst?
As a
stringer for the
New York Times I once had to knock on doors in rural Muskoka
— at night — trying to find a guy who’d just been accused of child molesting.
didn’t find him but just thinking of what that interview would have been like is bad enough. 



 Best advice you’ve ever been given? 


“No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money.” 



What
rule(s) do you live your life by? 

Find the bright side and practice gratitude.



What’s
the most important tip you can give PR pros?


Get to know what we do and don’t cover so you can tailor your pitch to our
magazine.



Best
experience you’ve had with a PR pro? We love to hear about #wins.
I
screwed up the time of my Joan Rivers interview and Lia Caponecchia at the
Shopping Channel had to take the flack for it…but still helped me get a new
slot. Lifesaver!


I hate?
People
who are routinely rude or dismissive. Are they really so important/stressed out
that general standards of politeness don’t apply to them?


I love?
Godiva
dark chocolate-covered pretzels.

Reading?
Yes,
compulsively and indiscriminately…


Best place on earth?

Outer Banks, N.C.


Dinner guest?


Hero?
Tina Fey.


Favourite app (or whatever you are downloading these days)?
Netflix,
to catch up on the first few seasons of Breaking
Bad
.


Pool or ocean?
Ocean,
no contest!


Voicemail or email?

Email.

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Media, Darling: Tara Henley

Tara Henley is the assistant editor at Hello! Canada, where she’s worked for five years. Her celebrity interviews have been published in many of Hello!’s international editions, including Hello! UK. Formerly a regular contributor to The Georgia Straight newspaper in Vancouver and a blogger for XXL magazine in New York, Tara’s freelance articles have appeared in the Globe and Mail and The Guardian
 


Twitter: @hellocanada 


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

I actually planned to be an English professor, but a month into my master’s degree I decided to help out at the student newspaper and stumbled onto a big news scoop. I promptly fell crazy-in-love with media. There’s nothing in the world quite like getting curious about something and then being able to phone up whoever is involved and ask them about it.

Where would you like to be five years from now? 

I’d like to be doing pretty much what I’m doing now, except I’d like to have published a book (or two!) and own a pair of Christian Louboutins.

Any advice for people getting started in your industry? 

If you want to succeed in media, it helps to really love the media. Take in as many outlets a day as possible. Here’s some other helpful tips other people have passed on to me: always go above and beyond; don’t be a clock watcher; do your research; send thank-you notes; always think of how you can best serve your outlet; do what scares you first; it doesn’t cost anything to be nice; and be grateful for every opportunity that comes your way.

What are your favourite media outlets? 

I read Vanity Fair, Toronto Life, Macleans, the Globe and Mail, the National Post and the Toronto Star. I adore CBC, and listen to CBC Radio for at least an hour a day. Fave shows are Q, As It Happens and Metro Morning. And on TV, Strombo. And I love the blog Orangette and the New York Times Dining section.

Best interview you’ve ever had? 

I always enjoy sitting down with Michael Bublé.

Worst? 

Kanye West.

Best advice you’ve ever been given? 

Stay present, be in the moment and focus on what’s in front of you. Also, Beyoncé once told me that when you’re tired or down, it helps to dress up. She’s so right!

What rule do you live your life by? 

It’s better to give than to receive.

What’s the most important tip you can give PR pros? 

Customizing your pitch is essential. I often get pitched random events like, say, a boat show. Unless Angelina Jolie is going to be there, we can’t cover it! Another thing: please don’t email us enormous files. We get hundreds of emails a day and a big file can crash our inboxes. Then we can’t send emails from our mobile devices and you can imagine the mayhem that causes. Lastly: we at Hello! enjoy chocolate. A lot. Please feel free to send us some.

Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro? We love to hear about #wins. 

PRs in this city do a fabulous job. The publicists we deal with know the magazine well and regularly move mountains for us. It’s so appreciated. Plus, they tend to be fun people so it’s always great to have a gab when our paths cross.

I hate? 

Slow walkers, raisins in baked goods.

I love? 

Cookbooks, Purdy’s chocolates, hip-hop, Chelsea Handler, dogs, Mexican food, The Queen, cooking for friends, back issues of Gourmet magazine, romantic comedies, Christmas, strong coffee, interviewing people, The Daily Show, The Wire, vegetable gardens.

Reading? 

Feeding a Yen by Calvin Trillin, The Table Comes First by Adam Gopnik, Boomerang by Michael Lewis.

Best place on earth? 

New York City, Tofino (BC), and my neighbourhood in Toronto.

Dinner guest? 

Larry King would host my dream dinner party with Jay-Z, Beyoncé, Prince William, Kate Middleton, Ryan Gosling, Sandra Bullock, Jamie Oliver, Bill Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, Barbara Walters and Nora Ephron around the table.

Favourite app? 

I’m not terribly adventurous with apps. I basically think iPhones were invented to store my photos of food and friends’ dogs. And occasionally the cocktail dresses I want to buy.

Pool or ocean? 

Ocean, preferably Kits Beach in Vancouver.

Voicemail or email? 

How about an actual, live phone call? I’m probably the last person on the planet that still enjoys talking on the phone. I tend to pick it up when it rings.