Meet Our Team: Lara

Lara is the newest addition to the rock-it team, and we couldn’t be happier to have found her. After graduating from the University of Western Ontario, Lara worked in television production and fashion styling before pursuing a career in publicity. After a short time at The Mint Agency, Lara joined the rock-it team, bringing her happy-go-lucky attitude with her.
Lara is obsessed with cereal for lunch (with almond milk), and is on a never-ending search for the perfect cheek stain to get that all-over glow (which we think she already has).

Twitter: @laratobinstyle

How long have you been part of the team?
Two months.
Ideal vacation spot?
Travelling is a huge part of my life, so narrowing it down is impossible. But give me anywhere with mountains and water and I’m in heaven.
What do you love most about living in Toronto?
Whenever there are city events, like a parade or outdoor concert, I have the same thought every time, without fail: “Whoa… Toronto is way bigger than I realize.” I feel T.O. pride when I see huge numbers of people coming out to participate, giving our large city a smaller community feel.
Best gift you’ve ever received?
A pinky ring from my mom (ironically, for her 50th birthday). My mother, my sister and I each have one; it represents our own sorority. 
Best part about being a publicist?
Letting your creative juices flow. I’m a people person, and love to meet and talk to new people. I also love to write, research and learn; all of which PR holds the key to. 

A little more from the fourth floor:
Website: http://www.theselby.com/
Designer: Alberta Ferretti and Gwen Stefani (L.A.M.B)
Store: Holt Renfrew Last Call
Book: The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. I can’t find my copy though, that’s gotta be bad karma.
Snack: Nachos
Season: Summer
Sexy: Summer
Inspiration: Family. Everyone at rock-it. Spiritual thinkers and optimistic folks.
Drink: Beer, especially Magic Hat, which is only available in the U.S.
Motto in two words: One Love
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Rants and Raves: Open Offices

This is a special Rants AND Raves post. Working in an open office environment has some major advantages and can create some minor issues. Overall, working elbow to elbow with your coworkers is fun and makes for some big laughs and brilliant brainstorming sessions.

Here are some ups and downs about open concept offices that we’ve experienced. We bet they’ll sound familiar to everyone else with this groovy office design.
Raves

  • Saying hi to everyone at once first thing in the morning, then discussing the various outfits sported by the team before getting down to work.
  • Furry little friends brightening our day. Our office mascots, Angel and Brooklyn, can visit everyone in the open layout for a lil’ scratch behind the ears.
  • Team brainstorms and problem-solving, in an instant.
  • Spontaneous dance parties that erupt when we’re stressed.
  • Being able to sneakily roll your eyes at someone across the room, without anyone else noticing.
Rants

  • Not being able to sneak in five minutes late without anyone noticing.
  • Hearing the same Katy Perry song on the local radio station 15 times a day.
  • Smelling the spicy chili that someone ate for lunch, for the rest of the afternoon.
  • Five publicists on five phone calls with five important clients = noisy.
Solutions to the above:

  • Don’t be late! Open concept or not, it’s not a good impression to make with your boss or team, or a great way to start your day.
  • Personalize your tunes for the day with an online, build-it-yourself radio station. We like Grooveshark and The Hype Machine.  Use earphones.
  • Bring spicy chili for everyone! That way, no one can complain about the lingering odour (they’ll be too busy trying to keep awake after their delicious hot lunch). Or, invest in some yummy smelling candles to light after lunch is finished.
  • We’ve worked out an office dog schedule – more low-key days (like Friday) have Angel and Brooklyn, while high-stress days are dog-free (like during TIFF).
  • Installing sound barriers between stations helps with phone call noise. Also, we’ve found that discussing schedules can help. Knowing that your coworker is on an important call at 1p.m. can mean that you schedule yours for later that afternoon.

Open offices mean that you must be much more considerate of your fellow desk jockeys. The upside? A work environment that’s a lot more fun for everyone!

What are your recommendations for a smooth and easy open office work environment?

Meet Our Client: YuMee Chung

YuMee Chung is the brains and the beauty behind Passport to Prana, a unique yoga program that offers people the freedom to try their city’s best yoga studios by eliminating the cost barrier that comes with yoga in a big city. The Passport To Prana card retails for a one-time fee of $20 to $30 (varies depending on the city) and gives the card holder access to try one class at 10 to 70 studios (varies depending on city).

Chung taught yoga for years before launching Passport to Prana with business partners Raj Gandhi, Prajna Harsora, Scott Peterson and Jim Benedek. She has taught yoga to CEO’s, Hollywood directors and high-profile celebrities, including Val Kilmer and Diane Lane, and offers yoga instruction on her personal website.

Photo courtesy of Marc Davidson

What do you do?

I work with Passport to Prana to promote the practice of yoga in major North American cities, including Toronto, Vancouver, New York and San Francisco. We started out in Toronto five years ago and we expect to be operating in more than 20 cities by the end of the year.
I’m a lawyer-turned-yoga teacher and I play a business development role at Passport to Prana, which to me means dreaming big and not being afraid to stand traditional business practices on their head. And, yes, I do occasionally bust out a headstand while on the job.

How long have you worked with rock-it promotions?
We’ve been with rock-it promotions for three years–three very happy years!

What do you love most about your job?
I love that my job doesn’t feel anything like a job. I’m one of the lucky ones who can say I followed my passion rather than doing what was expected. Also, it doesn’t hurt that my co-workers are all talented, creative, funny and kind people who share my enthusiasm for the work we do.

What do you like least about your profession/industry?
Technical difficulties. Sure, they’re a fact of life for online businesses but they’re the one thing that threatens my yogic calm.

Photo courtesy of Cylla von Tiedemann

What’s your next big goal?
We always say we won’t stop until Passport to Prana gives you access to all yoga studios everywhere!

Why is public relations important to you and what you do professionally?
We know we have a great product but without PR nobody would know about it. PR puts us on the map and brings clients to our door.


Any other thoughts you’d like to share about your PR experience?
A PR professional who really “gets” what you do and is enthusiastic about working with you is worth her weight in gold.

A little more from the fourth floor:
Website: Etsy.com. Nice business model, nice execution, nice way to spend all my disposable income.
Designer: Berlin-based BLESS.
Book: Whatever I happen to be reading. At the moment it’s Black Swan Green by David Mitchell.
Snack: Too many to say–I’m a snack monster. I would be 300 pounds if I didn’t do yoga!
Season: Spring, Fall and everything in between.
Sexy: Shiny, happy people.
Inspiration: The yoga practice and the people who do it.
Drink: Jasmine tea.
Motto in two words: Breathe and smile (Russell Simmons taught me that one after a sweaty yoga class at Jivamukti Yoga School in NYC).
Idea of perfect happiness: The state of missing nothing.
Indulgence: Date night with my husband.
Greatest achievement: Hopefully still to come.

Passport To Prana is available in Vancouver, Victoria, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Calgary and Edmonton and will launch in Winnipeg this August. This year, they have also launched Passport To Prana programs in the US cities including Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Philadelphia, New York and Dallas.

Rant: TTC etiquette

How to ride like a lady (or gent)

A subway car broke down while riding home last night and an irate man proceeded to scream at the concerned-looking TTC worker that he “sucked at his job”. Many, many times. Not cool.

We love our public transit. It delivers us to our bright and cheery Queen Street office, drinks at Sky Yard, and our Frisbee games at BMO Field. Sometimes, it’s not so reliable, but hey. They’re working on it. What we do have a beef with are TTC riders who ‘forget’ how to be good riders.

A few friendly reminders:

  • Give up your seat for the elderly, pregnant, frail or anyone who looks like they need a seat. C’mon. This is not a hard one. If you’re sitting on the outside seat, and the inside one is free, move over. We’re not going to climb over your knees.
  • Move back. Even if you are getting off at the next stop. They’ll wait for you to get off, promise. Be aware of your massive bag knocking people in the head, face, back, etc. Please, take your backpack off and put it at your feet. It’s like a whole other person when you’re wearing it.
  • If there’s a delay, don’t yell at the TTC workers. They probably aren’t personally responsible. They don’t want to hang around in the hot and smelly subway station while the door is being fixed any more than you do.
  • Say please. Say thanks. Smile!

If everyone followed these little rules, we could all sip our morning lattes in peace. 

P.S. Did you hear? Now, you can get TTC arrival times on your phone. Check this BlogTO article for deets.

Rave: Social Media

Twittiquette

Did you know most of the 100 million (+) people on Twitter don’t actually tweet? About 80 per cent of all users have tweeted fewer than 10 times. We know most of our friends are Twitter-extraordinaires, but for some of the folks out there that are watching instead of playing, here’s a crash course in having fun with Twitter, and how to get something out of it.

Don’t be a flooder. Even though Mom thinks everything you say is interesting, not everyone agrees. Tweet when you have something worthy to say. Filling everyone’s feed with play-by-plays about your cat is lame.


Nothing to say? If you’re worried about your voice at the start, you can still be active — post a link to your favourite news story, photo of the day, recipe or You Tube clip. People will start following you if you’re posting interesting things, even if it’s not an original thought.


Your dirty laundry. Keep private messages private — use the “direct messages” feature or email the person. Remember, the world can potentially see every tweet you post. This is meant to be a public forum.


Re-what? Like what your friends have to say? Share with everyone by re-tweeting what they said. This helps build their followers and will get you in their good books.

It goes like this: Type “RT”, then the @ sign for the person’s handle. “RT @janedoe (cut and paste their message here)”. Be sure to leave a space between the @ sign and the RT. And no space between the @ sign and the person’s handle.



What’s with the # signs? Known as hash tags, # signs help categorize what people are talking about. Setting up an event? Create hashtag by choosing a short word that immediately conveys what your event is all about (like #g20). Make sure no one else is using it.

Promote your hashtag right away in your tweets, Facebook and blog. Every time someone uses the tag in a tweet, it will make your event much more searchable.

Then, search your tag here. You can set up a free RSS feed to see how often your hashtag is used. Voila! Your event just became that much more popular.  


To follow or not to follow? The jury’s out about whether or not someone following you means you must follow back. What do we think on the fourth floor? Follow people who are important to you either personally or professionally. Follow people who are interesting. If you get bored with their tweets, unfollow. It’s not a real-life breakup.

You are now well on your way to becoming a social (networking) butterfly.

*Our creative director Matt Austin Sadowski offers Twitter tutorials for personal use or business. If you’re interested, please email him at matt@rockitpromo.com. Or follow him.