Media, Darling: Shinan Govani

Shinan Govani is the National Post‘s resident snoop and people watcher. In addition to frequent television appearances and being Page Six‘s “go-to-Canadian,” Govani has also appeared in such publications as Salon, Details, New York, Fashion, and enRoute. “Shinan is to celebrity what the Bank of Canada is to the dollar,” Toronto Life once said. His beat has him meandering across umpteenth different types of scenes, in Canada and beyond, whether it’s the Art Basel scene in Miami, Fashion Week in Paris, the film festival circuit c/o Sundance/Cannes/Toronto, the society set, the chef crowd, etc. Earlier this year, he attended Vanity Fair‘s famous Oscar night party in L.A. – the only Canadian journalist to be invited inside the party.


Photo Credit: Sisi Penaloza
Website: National Post
Twitter: @shinangovani, @nationalpost


Did you always want to be in the media? If not, what other careers were on the horizon?
I can’t remember not being a media-phile and know-it-all, but I didn’t always know how it would translate into a career. Always had varied interests – including politics, culture, style, food – and the great thing about journalism, per se, is that one can minor in all those subjects at once, if one wishes. More specifically, for me, most of my interests in all subjects pivoted around the people in various tribes, so winding up with the kind of column I write is no accident. I’ve always subscribed to Jonathan Swift’s famous dictum: “Character is plot,” i.e. I believe all great stories – be they world events, or tabloid tales, or what not – come down to people. Their vanities, their hang-ups, their childhoods, their reaches for validation, etc.
I will also add that I was always the guy who’d have anxiety attacks when I passed newsstands, fretting about what I hadn’t yet read, as well as the kid with the flashlight under the blanket reading a book way, way after bedtime.
Where would you like to be five years from now?
More books, for sure (my first novel, Boldface Names, came out a few years ago). I’d like to maybe take a stab at writing biographies at some point. Also, I want to continue to give back, socially-speaking, having played in this crazy playground for so many years – continue to contribute in causes such as AMFAR (I co-chaired its annual gala in Toronto for two years, through which we raised close to two million dollars). I want to go live in Venice, Italy for a spell, but in the winter. I see it very clearly: Venice. In the winter. When the hordes of tourists have poofed, and the city is supposed to be the most hypnotic (it’s when the moisture from the sea hits the chill, creating a haze off the canals that filters the suns into variations of pink and gold). 
Also: I’d like to get around to making bread. But just once.
Any advice for people getting started in your industry?
Read and write. And write and read.
What are your favourite media outlets, not including your own? 
I am a veritable Cookie Monster when it comes to media-consumption, so, in addition to many of the obvious (the Page Six-es and the Vanity Fairs) I’ll just throw a few things, at the top of my head, and in no particular order: some fun podcasts on KCRW, out of L.A., including Elvis Mitchell’s showbiz-insider, ‘The Treatment’ as well as the quite charming ‘Good Food’; Tatler out of the U.K. (required reading in my field); the weekend Financial Times (love the ‘Lunch With’ column, and David Tang’s high-larious advice column!); anything Camille Paglia or Ingrid Sischy or Bob Collacello; everything Daily Mail; the Daily Beast (much better curated than the Huffington Post); the Great Lives series on BBC4; columnists, far and wide, like Maureen Dowd, David Carr and Cathy Horyn in the New York Times, AA Gill in the London Times, Emily Nussbaum and Anthony Lane in The New Yorker, Mike Musto in The Village Voice; Arts & Letters Daily online; the Slate Culture Gabfest; Fashion Police on E! (I would never dare miss an episode!); Hardball; Rachel Maddow; the ‘At Issue’ panel on CBC’s The National; all the great aggregators on New York mag (The Cut, Grub Street, Vulture, etc); NewYorkSocialDiary.com (where the great gossipist Liz Smith still is going and writing!); Barbara Amiel in Maclean’s (I won’t even try to resist!)…NPR’s ‘Fresh Air’ (I worship Terri Gross!)…AdweekSalonPolitico…Richard Lawson on theatlantic.com…Jason Gay on tennis in the Wall Street Journal…Roger Friedman’s Showbiz 411 column online…and it goes on. (Oh, how I miss Christopher Hitchens).
Special shout-out to Bon Appetit magazine, which, I believe, is the most-improved glossy, with Adam Rapport as editor. In many ways, it’s the best culture mag out there!
Best interview you’ve ever had?
Having tea with Jackie Collins, one-on-one inside the Plaza Athene in New York, was pretty nifty. But maybe ’cause it was just last month that I remember it so fondly. (I’ve been at this for a while!)
Worst?
Linda Evangelista. What a bore! Definitely proof positive that models, in most cases, lose all their power when they speak.
Best advice you’ve ever been given?
Plus ça change. Also: “You’re never as good as your best review, and never as bad as your worst.”e
As Good As Your Best Review, And Never As Bad As Your Worst’ –
What rule(s) do you live your life by?
Oh, why the hell not?
What’s the most important tip you can give PR pros?
Bikram yoga.
Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro? We love to hear about #wins.
All my best experiences with PR pros have occurred through genuine relationships developed over my years of doing this. Let me be frank: in the context of a social column, it’s all about back-scratching and, well, that thing called chemistry. A press release is probably the least effective way of getting my attention. A publicist who can craft a story angle, or at least lead the horse (me!) to water with it, will definitely get my attention faster. A publicist who has given me a scoop on a matter something/someone that’s not a client, or is occasionally the source of intel, will get my attention when they need something from me! More specifically: my particular column is all boldface-oriented, so a fast-thinking PR will mould a story, or a mention, in a way that has boldface potential. In New York or L.A., when I hear from PRs, they’ll often send me the pitch, in proper paragraph form, having boldfaced the names in themselves, so I immediately get the pic. This doesn’t happen often in Toronto.
I hate?
Debbie Downers. And raisins.
I love?
People who can see and appreciate all the colours. And spicy food that makes me weep.
Reading?
Crazy Rich Asians, an advance-copy of a novel that I think is going to be huge. It’s out in June. It’s kind of like a Chinese Dallas meets a Chinese Real Housewives meets a Chinese Royal Tenenbaums. I also have a pretty interesting biography on the go: Constance: The Tragic and Scandalous Life of Mrs. Oscar Wilde.
Best place on earth?
The Maldives – primarily because I’ve never been. (The mind provides the best excursions!)
Hero?
Victoria Grayson.
Pool or ocean?
Ocean.
Voicemail or email?
Email. (Or tweet!)
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Rant: PR Nightmares

As PR pros we try our very best to prevent spelling mistakes, learn everyone’s name and provide media with the information they need for their stories. 

However, we’re not perfect, and we can admit that mistakes do happen. While we cringe when we see them going down and exploding on the Twitterverse, we empathize that everyone has an off day and can make errors.


Today, we’re summarizing some of our worst nightmares that could happen as a PR pro, as inspired by PR Daily. We won’t lie, some have happened in real life, but we work hard every day to ensure that they are avoided. 

Pitching plights 


Pitching a round up or gift guide story idea for a client to an outlet, only to see it come out the next day – and realizing that you missed your opportunity.

When media go directly to the client about a story, even though you pitched the idea – cutting you out of the equation. Hard work for nothing.

When you pitch a great story and the outlet decides to run with it – just not with your client. 

Having to send out 50 personalized emails, but forgetting to take out the FWD in the subject line to a couple of writers.


Sampling sorrows
Sending samples on the wrong courier/UPS choice, meaning it gets there too slowly and misses the media’s deadline. Awkward.

Having FedEx lose your packages, only to have them show up weeks later, destroyed. 

Socializing and social media
Accidentally tweeting something a little harsh from the company Twitter instead of a personal account. Then rushing to delete it before it’s retweeted. 


Embargoed information leaking on Twitter. 


Tweeting a misspelt client handle (not necessarily a nightmare, but still annoying).

Almost falling…or actually falling at fashion week in front of the media lounge.

Wearing a walkie-talkie and making a weird face every time someone talks in our ear, looking to the outside world like we’re confused, crazy, constipated or all of the above.

Release woes


Sending out a release with track changes. Ack. 

Sending
a release to the wrong list.

Having an invite approved by the client with the wrong Four Seasons/Intercontinental, sending out the camera call (also approved) with the wrong address and then showing up at the wrong Four Seasons/Intercontinental, only to then call everyone to tell them to go north.

Realizing you forgot to get a reviewer to sign an embargo letter, after they’d already started screening or reviewing.

Sending out an Oshawa media alert to an Ottawa media list (with the media list attached). Don’t ask how that happened. 

Call me, maybe? 


Addressing an email to the wrong outlet (an editor at FLARE instead of FASHION, for example).
Calling media member by the wrong name. (Example: Derick is not Shinan. Nor is Jian) We’ve seen it happen more often than you think. When a media member forgets ours, we shrug it off. And if we forget? Social media suicide. 

Camera calls vs. breaking news, always a gamble, you never know what’s going to happen.

Planning an event or party for weeks, then day of, pouring rain, blizzard or three other, bigger parties have suddenly been scheduled for the same night. #EventFail


Being quoted as a media spokesperson when we weren’t expecting to be quoted or worst, being interviewed on live radio without realizing until it’s too late. This has happened!

And the rest…

Waking up every hour on the hour in a panic, because you think you’ve overslept for an early morning show segment.


Sending something to print thousands of copies, with a glaring typo. After client approval. 

Having to send through bad coverage is never a good thing. 

Crisis communications. 

Meet Our Client: Jay Klein

Jay M. Klein is the CEO of Action Candy Company, which has developed and brought to market several lines of specialty chewing gum, including the leading brand of naturally-flavoured, aspartame-free gum, PUR.

Klein is also the founder of Drivertise International Inc.,a marketing and advertising firm specializing in the production and installation of large format specialty graphics.

A member of the Board of Governors at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, the UJC Cabinet and a recognized member of the Young Leadership Committee of the Pediatric Oncology Group of Ontario (POGO), Klein also spends much of his time volunteering.

He was recently included on the National Post’s Worthy 30, highlighting Canada’s most eligible bachelors.  

 Flo Rida and Jay Klein.



Find PUR Gum on Twitter.


What do you do?
Indirectly, I freshen peoples breath! Well, actually I am the Founder and President of PUR Gum. We make the #1 selling aspartame-free gum in Canada, and now are starting to KICK ASPARTAME in the US Market. 

How long have you worked with rock-it promotions?
I have worked with rock-it for two months so far, and I have a feeling it is just a start of long term relationship. Based on the results, I feel like we have been working together for years. Not only is the whole team at rock-it beautiful, they also have created a great buzz for PUR.
What do you love most about your job?
I love that we have created a product that benefits consumers looking to eliminate aspartame from their diets. I love that we are gluten and nut-free, so people with allergies can enjoy chewing gum, and lastly, I love that at any given time, there are tens of thousands of packs of PUR Gum in people’s purses, cars, and jackets.

What do you like the least about your profession/industry?
I wish we could be in more places at once. We see such great results in the markets we introduce PUR Gum to, we just want to be everywhere instantly. I need to get a conference call with Doc, from Back to the Future, and Willy Wonka, to see if they can combine the Time Machine with the Wonkavator. I think that would help us out.

What’s your next big goal?
We are about to launch our fourth flavour, which is called EXCITEMINT. But our next corporate goal is to open our 5000th account. We are on our way!

Why is PR important to you (and what you do professionally)?
PR is important to us because we get an unfiltered and unbiased response from the journalist. I think consumers like this as opposed to advertising.

A little more from the fourth floor:
Website:
www.today.com
Designer:
Culturata.
Store:
Anywhere that sells running shoes.
Book:
Harry Potter series.
Snack:  
Celery and Granny Smith Apples with a slight red blemish on them.
Season:
Golf Season.
Sexy:
Profits.
Inspiration:
My Mom.
Drink:
Grey Goose on the rocks with a lime.
Motto in two words:
BLE – BEST LIFE EVER.
Idea of perfect happiness:
Sharing what you have with the people you love.
Indulgence:
Running Shoes.
Greatest achievement:
I’m still working on it!