Media Darling: Karl Lohnes

Karl Lohnes is a design
journalist of all good things related to the home. He reached millions of
viewers for eight years while appearing on America’s This Small Space on HGTV and was one of the founding editors of
Style At Home magazine, with which he was associated for almost 15 years. 
He is currently the
on-air home decor expert for CTV’s Canada AM and The Marilyn Denis Show, offers
up a monthly style report on CHUM FM’s
All About Style with Marilyn Denis and is the weekly home columnist to Metro
in Canada and the United States. He is a popular speaker at consumer/
trade design shows and is an avid shopper. Lohnes also runs a private design and
décor consulting business and loves to cook, bake and entertain.

Twitter: @KarlLohnes

Did you always want to be in the media? If not, what other careers were on the horizon? 
The world of media fascinated me from a very early age, especially magazines; those names on the mastheads were like gods to me. I thought editors of a magazine were the ultimate in media power, then I started to work for some only to realize they are everyday people making a living. I studied  marketing and advertising in college and fell in love with design/decor in my mid-twenties. I worked at advertising agencies, for a major bank and the phone company before realizing that wearing a tie was not for me. I started my career in design by working at furnishings store Urban Mode on Queen St. in downtown Toronto. 
Where would you like to be five years from now?
In five years from now I hope to have expanded my media reach through newspapers, television, radio and magazines. Truly, the only worth that a media personality has is how many people they can speak to. 
Any advice for people getting started in your industry?
In the design world, the best thing you can do is look and listen…It’s the only way to predict trends and absorb the vibe on the street. In media, the best thing you can do is be humble and not expect everything to happen overnight.

What are your favourite media outlets, not including your own? 
My favourite media outlets are airplane magazines; they incorporate culture, city buzz, travel, food, fashion but rarely decor…They tend to be nice monthly capsules of what’s happening out there. 

Best interview you’ve ever had?
About me: The Washington Post. They coined me ‘The Dr. Phil of Decorating’. I lived off that nickname for personal appearance booking for about ten years. Best interview I’ve conducted? My interview with Diane Von Furstenburg when she launched her home decor line. I realized that the more famous someone is, the less they actually have to say publicly. 
The very first time I appeared on Canada AM. I was promoting Thanksgiving turkeys and the interview segment went horribly wrong. Its one of my biggest career lessons; stick to what you are best at and don’t try to be something you are not (like a turkey expert!).

Best advice you’ve ever been given?
Stay focused on your passions and incorporate them into your work. All of a sudden, work becomes a good reason to wake up to each day. 
What rule(s) do you live your life by?
If you want respect, you need to treat everyone the same…Whether you are nice or an ass; just be consistent. 

What’s the most important tip you can give PR pros?
Your media contacts will always outlive your client contracts.

Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro? We love to hear about #wins.
Getting follow up after I’ve publicised your client’s product. Its a very rare thing to get a thank  you these days. 

I hate?
Having to deal with three different PR contacts for the same media opportunity; the senior account director who secures the opportunity, then an associate account manager that sends the information, then the intern who tries to communicate with me

I love?
Having a weekend brunch or coffee with one of my PR contacts. It shows they go far beyond 9-to-5 role in their career.

Hopefully my own book really soon…Until then, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke. It’s 782 pages long so wish me luck.

Best place on earth?
The Jasper Park Lodge Resort. A magical place where time stopped in the mid-1950s.
Dinner guest?
Martha Stewart; although we have dined in the past, I have never cooked for her at my house.
Any and all of my editors for making sense of the messages I write.

Favourite app (or whatever you are downloading these days)?
Olson Recipe Maker…Helps me with my cooking, baking, food prep etc. Couldn’t live without it when at the grocery store.
Pool or ocean?
Ocean; peeing in the water becomes less guilty.

Voicemail or email?
Email; it means I can respond any time of the day or night. 

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.