Media, Darling: Maryam Siddiqi

Maryam Siddiqi is the editor of Post Toronto and the deputy managing editor of the Features Department at the National Post. She first started at the Post eight years ago as the managing editor the paper’s business magazine. Prior to that she worked in public relations. Extracurricular activities include drum lessons. She can play a fairly accurate rendition of Sunday Bloody Sunday. Cool.

Twitter: @MSiddiqi


How did you get your start as an editor?
After university, I completed the post-grad PR certificate program at Humber. I worked in PR for three years and hated it, so I completed Ryerson’s Magazine Journalism continuing education program, then got an internship at Saturday Night magazine. As that came to an end, I sent a few freelance pitches here and there, including one to the National Post’s business magazine. Luck, timing and a solid story pitch landed me an interview with the magazine’s editor (his managing editor had just resigned), who hired me.

If you weren’t a Media, Darling, what would you be doing right now?
Writing for TV. (It’s my hope, anyway.) Or urban planning.

Pitching or follow up: Phone or email?
Email, please. I’m really not a phone person.

We know irrelevant pitches, calling you the wrong name and eight follow-ups are no-no’s; what else should publicists avoid doing?
Please take no as an answer. I know you think your story is really important, but sometimes I don’t (sorry!). Plus, I’m dealing with you times, like, 30, so if I turn down a pitch and you come back to me with it, well… it’s going to make me not want to run the story just that much more.

Don’t send emails bigger than three or four MB. If you’ve got lots of photos or PDF’s attached to an email, find out if there’s a group mailbox you can send it to. Send me a 12MB message and it paralyzes my email and makes me not like you.

If something can be sent electronically, please do so. At times, I feel like I’m responsible for a not-insignificant pile of landfill with all the press material I get.

Please contact me at my work email, not my personal email, not on Facebook.
Sunrise or sunset? Sunrise.
Scent? Bond No. 9’s Fire Island or L’Occitane Green Tea with Mint.
Cookie? Can’t go wrong with PC Decadent chocolate chip, but if I’m looking for something healthier I love Whole Foods’ spelt ginger snaps.
Flower? Hydrangeas.
Ticklish? Yes.
Shower or bath? Shower.
Film? Grosse Point Blank. Or 28 Days Later. (Scares me every time.)
Crush? Cute boys with English accents. Specifically, Henry Cavill.
First job? My very first pay cheque came from McDonalds. I was a cashier.
Inspiration? People who take action instead of just talking.


Teacher’s Pet: a new series

PR students who are still in school and trying to figure out how to start in the industry have many questions. Fortunately for inquiring minds, rock-it promotions has the answers. Today we introduce a new feature called Teacher’s Pet, where we will answer some student questions. Whether it’s about mentoring, corporate culture at agencies or how to contact a journalist, we have the right industry knowledge for budding professionals.

A little while ago, we invited students to ask us questions about working in the PR industry. We received some great responses, so we’ll be posting our thoughts every few weeks. Check back often to see if your question was chosen, or just to catch up on the latest in professional advice.
Today we’re answering a question from Ashley Cabral (@ashley_cabral), a fourth-year public relations student at the University of Guelph-Humber.
Ashley’s Question: When interviewing for an entry-level position or internship, what makes a candidate memorable?
Our Answer: Interviews can be nerve-racking, but they don’t have to be. Follow these six steps, and stand out for all the right reasons!
Make an entrance – Start off your interview on the right foot by arriving early. Coming in 10 minutes before your scheduled interview suggests to your company that you are both punctual and organized. 
Arriving earlier than this is not a good idea. Work is busy, and we feel badly making someone wait while we wrap up whatever we’re working on. We plan for interviews to be at specific times, and build our day around that.

If you are arriving late, it doesn’t mean your chances are shot. Call as soon as you know you will be late and let us know. Things happen, and sometimes you can’t help but be late. Calling ahead shows consideration and thoughtfulness.
Score extra points by dressing appropriately in a professional outfit that is simple yet current.
Come prepared – It is difficult to convince employers that you really want to work at their company when you aren’t familiar with their clients. To be an engaging, informed candidate, it’s important to be able to reference a company’s client list, campaigns and past events in conversation.
Know your media – We appreciate that you read Vogue and Vanity Fair; and we get that you’re fashionably up-to-date. But if you want start out at a Canadian firm, it’s important to be familiar with Canadian journalists and their outlets. If you are looking to start in fashion but don’t know who Lisa Tant is, start researching. (Hint: @LisaTant)
Be Yourself – Know what separates you from your competition. Whether you are editor of your school newspaper or are producing your own fashion show, discuss the unique qualities and experience you bring to the table.
Relax! We understand that interviews are nerve-wracking, but if we’ve called you, we’re excited about meeting you and getting to know you. We want to hire someone great and you could be it. Let your personality shine through. Bringing us to our next point…
Be confident – PR superwoman Kelly Cutrone suggests that sometimes in PR you have to fake it to make it. You may feel nervous, but now is the time to act confident. This means eye contact, and no hair playing. Be sincere and smile. If you’re going into this field, it shouldn’t be hard to do that.
Follow-up – After the interview, remember to send a thank-you email or handwritten note. For a personal touch, be sure to reference a couple of points discussed during the interview. Keep it short and sweet, and be genuine in thanking your interviewer for their time (we are busy people)! 
If you don’t hear back, follow up again. And again. And again, until you get a hard no. You aren’t being annoying, you are showing us that you want the job. 

Have a PR question you want answered? Send it to We’ll choose the best and answer it on our blog.