Media, Darling: Hannah Yakobi

Hannah Yakobi is an award-winning journalist and communications specialist.
Throughout her career, she has written for the
National Post, OK! Magazine,
Canwest newspaper network and dozens of publications worldwide. She is
currently the editor-in-chief of
FAJO Magazine, an international publication with staff in
Canada, U.S., U.K. and Italy.


Over the past decade, Yakobi has interviewed and photographed many fashion
and entertainment icons, including John Fluevog, Mariah Carey, Jeanne Beker,
Enrique Iglesias, Deepak Chopra, Catherine Malandrino, Paul Venoit and Bryan Adams. A graduate of Carleton University‘s renowned school of journalism,
Yakobi speaks four languages and has lived in five countries. In her free time,
she enjoys raising awareness and funds for various Canadian and international
charities.



Dress by David Dixon. Photography
by Robin Gartner for FAJO Magazine.



Twitter: @FajoMagazine,
@HannahYakobi

Web: www.fajomagazine.com 



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

My career trajectory was somewhat unpredictable: I wanted to be a ballet dancer when I was very young (who didn’t?), for many years I dreamed of becoming a fashion designer (I even took some courses)
and later I briefly thought psychology was the field for me. But then, at 18, I became a
reporter and have never looked back. 


Where would you like to be five years from now?
I’d like to continue to do exactly what I’m
doing now, but on an even larger scale.


Any advice for people getting started in your industry?
You need to be hard-working and dedicated. Some
people have an expectation that fashion is all about glamour and fabulous
parties – it certainly does have that, but in order to stay in this industry
for a long time, you need to earn it. Expect long hours and plenty of stress.
When you start, say “yes” to almost everything. And never be rude to anyone –
it’s a small industry and the word about bad behaviour travels fast. 


What are your favourite media outlets, not including your own? 
I grew up reading Harper’s Bazaar, so that
publication has always had a very special place in my heart. And I love the
British edition of Glamour, the small, mini-size version – I’ve been reading it
for years.


Best interview you’ve ever had?
Dominique Szabo, Senior Vice-President of Estee
Lauder. She was remarkable on every level.


Worst?
This is a hard question. I’ve had some
interviews that didn’t start on a good note. But almost always, after chatting
with each other, the interviewee and I were able to get the conversation
flowing.



Many of my friends who are also journalists
frequently tell me crazy stories about some of their interviews. I think I have
been lucky to never experience that. At least – not yet.   


Best advice you’ve ever been given?
“University education is very important” is what
my grandfather always used to say. When I got my degree, I understood the value
of those words.


What rule(s) do you live your life by?
Hard work pays off. 

What’s the most important tip you can give PR pros?
Do the research before you contact media folks.
If someone says they are not interested in a pitch, do not pressure them.
Maintain relationships with people. 


Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro? We love to hear about #wins.
The folks at National PR. They are quite
amazing.


I hate?
Cold weather, pretentious behaviour,
unprofessionalism. 


I love?
Charity work, hosting parties, travel and
getting my hair done. 


Reading?
About to re-read Life of Pi. Just saw the movie
in December and loved it, so decided to read the book again.  


Best place on earth?
Barcelona, Spain.

Dinner guest?
Valentino Garavani. I have great respect for
that man. 


Hero?
My mother. She is an incredible woman, who has
dedicated her life to my sister and I. She has had quite a spectacular career,
and always has incredible business ideas. 


Favourite app (or whatever you are downloading these days)?
Instagram.

Pool or ocean?
Can I say “the sea”? Mediterranean sea!

Voicemail or email?
If you want to chat, I’m on my phone. If you
want a response right away and it has to do with business, email is where you
can find me.

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Media, Darling: Briony Smith

Briony Smith is the writer and stylist
behind
The Grid’s fashion page. She was previously the fashion editor of
blogTO. Briony has also contributed to publications like ELLE Canada, LOULOU, Toronto
Life
, and glow. She recently appeared as a stylist on MuchMusic, and was named
by
Flare magazine as one of the Top 10 Best Dressed denizens of Fashion Week.


Photo courtesy of Flare, by Max Kopanygin.

Twitter: @TheGridTO
Website: thegridto.com 


Did you always want to be in the media? If
not, what other careers were on the horizon?
I still remember the day my dad told my
10-year-old self what a masthead was—and my immediate obsession with getting on
one someday! (Other careers I toyed with, believe it or not, were cop,
obstetrician, lawyer, and librarian.)
Where would you like to be five years from
now?
Writing, editing, and styling stories and
packages that make people say to their friends, “Hey, I read the best piece
today.”
Any advice for people getting started in
your industry?
Don’t. You will have to work ten times as
hard as everyone else, all the time. Forever. If you can handle that, and still
feel that passion for fashion, journalism, the arts? You’re in the right place.
What are your favourite media outlets, not
including your own? 
Vanity Fair, HBO, The A.V. Club, The New
York Times
, iwantapounddog.blogspot.ca.
Best interview you’ve ever had?
For crush factor (at the time), Will
Arnett. I behaved in a terribly unprofessional manner when I conned him into
repeating a line from a treasured Human Giant sketch.
Worst?
One musician scheduled a phoner immediately
after his dental surgery, while another actress scheduled the call during her
brief limo ride to the airport and kept barking what I should and should not
focus on in the piece. Oh, and Hawksley Workman.
Best advice you’ve ever been given?
A common refrain in the Smith household was
“Life isn’t fair.” My corollary to that might be: “Failure isn’t falling
down—it’s not getting up.” Jesus, that sounds like something on one of those
inspirational posters. This quote from U.S. congresswoman Debbie Wasserman in
last October’s Vogue did, however, strike me recently: “I might not convince
you that I’m right, and I might not always win the day or be successful on
everything I set out to accomplish. But I’m never going to lose because I got
outworked.”
What rule(s) do you live your life by?
The usual things: Try to be kind. Smile
more. Work hard. Dress well. It’s the little things. This, too, shall pass.
What’s the most important tip you can give
PR pros?
We know our fevered, last-minute emails
for products, images, and interview requests can be annoying, but super-prompt
replies are what make me really love some PR people—and loathe others.
Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro?
We love to hear about #wins.
I cheer every time a PR gal sends me a
high-res, off-figure, on-white image just in the nick of time.
I hate?
Leggings as pants. Snobbery. Getting up
early. Sore feet. Bad TV. Bad style.
I love?
French 75s. Kindness. My friends. Work
ethic. Similes that give you chills. Trinity-Bellwoods. Great style. A
well-dressed man.
Reading?
Best place on earth?
Under the covers. Or maybe Thailand.
Dinner guest?
Louis CK. Karl Lagerfeld. Peter Kaplan. And
the Davids: Chase, Milch, and Simon.
Hero?
Roger Ebert.
Favourite app (or whatever you are
downloading these days)?
Flixster, Shazam, and Instagram.
Pool or ocean?
The sea! It’s one of the great loves of my
life. (Full disclosure: I’m from B.C.)
Voicemail or email?
Email. Never, ever voicemail. Don’t call
me. Ever.


Media, Darling: Melanie Ng

As a field reporter for CityNews, Melanie Ng hits the streets to bring
viewers the latest in news and events from across Toronto and the GTA.



Working with the media on a daily basis in her previous career in the
fast-paced world of PR, Melanie knew her true calling was in broadcasting and
enrolled in the postgraduate Broadcast Journalism program at Seneca College at
York University. Her next challenge took her to a new level…hundreds of feet up
high in a helicopter! As a reporter at the Canadian Traffic Network, Melanie
provided breaking news and traffic reports for CHCH News, Global News and local
radio stations. Melanie was a weekend news anchor and videographer at CHCH
before finding a home as a field reporter at Citytv in October 2010.

Melanie Ng grew up in Oakville and graduated from Wilfrid Laurier University
with a double honours degree in Communication Studies and English, and a minor
in History. Melanie went on to complete a postgraduate certificate in Public
Relations from Humber College, graduating with honours.




Did
you always want to be in the media? If not, what other careers were on the
horizon?
Growing up, I was always drawn to the
media, specifically news. I knew that I
somehow wanted to work in the field – I just wasn’t sure where I saw
myself. After my first career in public
relations, I realized my heart was in reporting

Where
would you like to be five years from now?
Still being able to tell stories that
matter and feeling like I’ve made a difference.

Any
advice for people getting started in your industry?
Be ready for a challenge. Things won’t always go as planned, but you’ve
got to roll with the punches. Most
importantly, don’t forget who you are.

What are your favourite media outlets, not including your own? 
I dabble in everything.

Best
interview you’ve ever had? 
Too many to mention. While I have had some fun celebrity
interviews, I find the most interesting stories come from everyday people.

Worst? 
I’ve talked to many grieving families
who’ve lost loved ones. It never gets easier seeing the unbelievable pain
they’re going through. However, if
they’re willing to share their story, those interviews can sometimes be the
most powerful.

Best
advice you’ve ever been given? 
Just be yourself.

What rule(s) do you live your life by? 
Follow your heart. The rest will fall into place.

What’s
the most important tip you can give PR pros? 
Underpromise and overdeliver. Be aware of journalist deadlines and think of
creative solutions if your original plan doesn’t pan out.

Best
experience you’ve had with a PR pro? 
I was on a tight timeline to jam a number
of elements into a story.  I thought I’d
have to reach out to a several companies, but one PR rep saw what I needed and
was able to coordinate everything in a couple stops.  It was a great example of going above and
beyond.

I hate? 
When people are inconsiderate. 

I love? 
A good laugh. Friends. Seafood. Wine. Dogs. Reality
TV.

Reading? 
The first 30 pages of several books. It takes a lot to pull me in and keep me
interested.

Best place on earth? 
Curled up under cozy sheets with no alarm
clock set.

Dinner
guest?
My grandparents who passed away before I
could meet them.

Hero? 
My mom. 

Favourite
app (or whatever you are downloading these days)? 
Any game apps that involve trivia or word
puzzles.  Yes, I’m sort of a dork.

Pool or
ocean? 
Definitely ocean.

Voicemail
or email? 
I like sending email, but receiving
voicemail.

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.

Media, Darling: Derick Chetty

Derick Chetty is the fashion reporter at the Toronto Star. Covering both Toronto and international shows, he also reports on the local society scene and compiles the Star’s annual Best Dressed List. He was formerly the fashion editor at Flare Magazine, has a weird obsession with Pride & Prejudice and never gets tired of watching 1980s sitcoms. 

Photo by Randy Risling.
Website: www.thestar.com 
Twitter: @DerickChetty

Did you always want to be in the media? If not, what other careers were on the horizon? 
No. When I was younger I had grandiose plans to be a designer. But the first year pattern drafting class at Ryerson pretty much steered me clear off that career path. I learned I have little patience for mathematical calculations. 

Where would you like to be five years from now?
I feel we are living at warp speed.

Any advice for people getting started in your industry?
The newspaper industry is at a crossroad now. You might be embarking on the most thrilling ride of your life or a death plunge off a cliff. 
But if I haven’t deterred you, start getting some experience by interning somewhere. It might not be paid but treat it like a real job that you absolutely love and where no job is too menial. I once cleaned an editor’s office.  

What are your favourite media outlets, not including your own?

Wall Street Journal and Financial Times – weekend print editions only. Love any newspaper that still consider art direction something to be treasured. And I have a lengthy list of guilty-pleasure blogs I love.
Best interview you’ve ever had?
Donna Karan. Even though I was plunged into a panic when I realized my tape recorder was not working. But looking at my notes at the end, I noticed she did not waste a single word – every answer was precise, measured and directly to the point. 
Worst?
Any when the subject wants to conduct the interview via email or the questions to be presented ahead of time. If you’re that busy, why bother agreeing to the interview?  

Best advice you’ve ever been given?

No one tells you the truth. 

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

Do the right thing.  

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

I like a touch of professional formality. Perhaps social media has made us all too casual. I don’t respond well to people who reach out to me with Hiya, Hey dude, Happy Monday! How was your weekend?  

And my name is not Shinan Govani. He’s the shorter one.


Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro? We love to hear about #wins.
Any that operate without fuss or delay. 

I hate?
Depends on time and day. But that should tell you I don’t harbour hatred. 

I love?
Time to myself.

Reading?
Re-reading The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon.

Best place on earth?
Barcelona. My happy place. 

Dinner guest?

I’ll start with The Golden Girls and then move on to any other quartet of funny ladies – Designing Women and the Sex and the City girls.  

Hero?

Anyone that overcomes adversity in pursuit of their dreams. 

Favourite app (or whatever you are downloading these days)?

I got 20 apps when I first got my iPhone and I haven’t downloaded any since. That tells me I probably don’t have a need for more. 
Pool or ocean?
Ocean. 

Voicemail or email?

Email.

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Media, Darling: Jes Watson

Born to a staunchly feminist mother, Jes Watson rebelled at a young age the only way she knew how — by learning how to cook, clean and craft her way through life. Fast forward to present day and Jes is now the editor of SweetHome on sweetspot.ca, where she gets to bake up a storm and write to her heart’s content on a daily basis.

When she’s not working, she can be found in her Leslieville home with her adorable red-headed daughter, amazing husband and somewhat lazy dog. 

Twitter: @sweetspotdotca, @jeswatson


Did you always want to be in the media? If not, what other careers were on the horizon? 
Amazingly, I have a BFA in acting. So I basically earned a degree by doing yoga, chanting through my chakras and dressing up in ridiculous period costumes. About halfway through the program I realized I’d rather be writing the drama than acting it out (but I still do a mean mime wall).

Where would you like to be five years from now?
Oh, gosh. Some cozy cottage in the woods, letting my daughter tumble over me in a field of wildflowers. Or living in some gorgeous New York apartment. Either way.

Any advice for people getting started in your industry?
Don’t be pushy, but be persistent — it’s a fine balance. Curiosity and confidence are your best assets.

What are your favourite media outlets, not including your own?
I’ve had a subscription to the New Yorker since I was 18, never met a Granta I didn’t like and I love gawking my way through Vanity Fair. TV-wise, I’m really loving Portlandia and Boardwalk Empire these days.

Best interview you’ve ever had?
Joshua Jackson. Hello, Pacey! It was like 23-year-old me giving 15-year-old me a high five through time. 


Worst?
I interviewed a celebrity stylist who actually fitted me with a synthetic hairpiece before I left. I walked back to the office with this crazy rug dangling off my head like some sort of mangy dead animal, and couldn’t figure out how to get it off until one of my coworkers managed to wrest me from it.

Best advice you’ve ever been given?
A little bad taste is like a nice dash of paprika.

What rule(s) do you live your life by?
Own your mistakes and don’t be afraid to mess up. The messes are always more interesting, anyway.

What’s the most important tip you can give PR pros?
Suggestions are always better than questions. And use the phone sparingly – seriously.

Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro? We love to hear about #wins.
I always love working with PR on big events like Toronto Fashion Week, TIFF and IDS. There’s a lot going on and everyone is so harried, but it’s awesome to see everyone pulling together to make it all happen.

I hate? 
Slow walkers. Poorly bound books. Sloth.

I love?
Hanging with my toddler. Freshly laundered sheets. Dusk runs and night swims.

Reading?
Murakami’s 1Q84.

Best place on earth?
My cottage in the dead of winter. You have to ski in and it’s just unbelievably quiet, pristine and beautiful.

Dinner guest?
Fred Armisen. I am so obsessed with Portlandia.Or Werner Herzog — just to hear him talk in that voice for a few hours.

Hero?
I have a major lady crush on Patti Smith.

Favourite app (or whatever you are downloading these days)?
I really love making dorky family music videos with VidRhythm for the iPhone.  Every song’s a winner.

Pool or ocean?
Ocean, then lake, then pool. But I’ll take whatever is closest.

Voicemail or email?
Email. I don’t even check my voicemail anymore. My mom is the only person who even bothers leaving me messages.





Rants and Raves: Email 201

Turns out email is a very passionate topic for some of our loyal followers! We loved getting all the feedback from our first post on Email Etiquette – so much feedback that we thought we’d write a second post. You’re welcome.


Thanks to @_itsandi and @rachals for their tips and to several other tweeps for sharing the original story.
 




  • Read your email before you hit send. Make sure you’ve included all necessary info (remember the classic 5 W’s: Who, What, Where,When, Why), asked all questions, and spelled everything correctly (including the person’s name). Writing with rage or sobs? Walk away, cool off, and read it again with an objective eye. Otherwise you’ll send something you’ll regret later, and emails, like diamonds, are forever.
Avoid any misunderstandings, and make sure you’ve covered all bases before hitting “send”.
  • Thinking about recalling a message? Don’t. It looks shady and only draws more attention to the issue. A better idea is to send a short, thoughtfully written apology clarifying or offering further explanation. Much more mature.
  • Patience is a virtue. People get a lot of email and we try to respond right away, but sometimes it takes a moment (or several hours) to get there. We could be in a meeting and not able to check email. If something is THAT urgent, pick up the phone.

  • Remember back in the ‘90s when forwards were fun and cool? Well, they’re not anymore. Oh, and before you pass along that “helpful” email alerting everyone to a hoax, do a quick check on Snopes to make sure it’s legit.
  •  

    Avoid flooding your colleagues email by sending annoying forwards.
    • Subject lines matter – they’re the windows of emails, giving you a sneak peek of what’s inside. Don’t switch between topics on an email string, rendering the subject line meaningless. Change the subject line if you want to start talking about something else. It makes filing and organizing so much easier.

    • Don’t cc people unless they are relevant to the conversation. It’s annoying to receive emails about something you have nothing to do with. Like makeup, less is more.
    • Personalization is great for everything but email. Avoid using sparkly pink backgrounds and big, crazy-ass fonts (we’re not sure who does this, but if you do, STOP NOW). A clean white background is the only way, as are simple fonts that work for everyone – we like Arial, Calibri and Verdana. NOT Comic Sans, please.
    • Please reply to your emails. We know everyone is crazy busy (trust us, we understand). But we don’t need you to write us a novel in return. When you’re pressed for time or have a zillion emails to respond to, a simple “yes” or “no, thank you” or “received” can go a long way. Don’t play hard to get – we’re not dating.
    • Some of our Media, Darlings have said if they don’t reply, they’re not interested in the pitch and we should move on. But others encourage us to follow up. We’re sorry to pester, but be patient with us if we followed up with you when you’d rather we didn’t – we’ve secured many an article thanks to persistence. Or, tell us no, and we’ll stop bugging you. Simple.
    Do you have any other email faux pas that you want to share? Tweet us @rockitpromo.