TIFF’10: Media, Darling: Sholeh Alemi

Sholeh Alemi is a Senior Producer at Entertainment Tonight Canada, and the show’s Project Manager for the Toronto International Film Festival. She has managed ET Canada’s film unit for three years. Prior to her current show, she worked for a variety of programs and genres including Fashion Television, Doctor in the House, and the documentary series Women Behind The Badge.

When she isn’t producing stories from red carpets and movie sets, or interviewing Hollywood’s famous faces, she keeps busy with ballet, container gardening and learning Italian. This year she will be nine months pregnant at TIFF – and producing her biggest story yet!

How can someone grab your attention with a pitch?
By keeping it simple, clear and relevant to the show I am working on.

What do you find most useful when dealing with public relations professionals?
Publicists who “get it” and understand the needs of a TV crew so we all end up with a final product we can be happy about. Some of those needs include having enough time to set up to make it look good, having a location that is visually interesting, interviewing a person that is media savvy or media-trained, and having supplemental footage readily available in a timely manner to add more interest.

What is the biggest mistake PR professionals make?
Not doing their research before coming to me with a story idea. We are all very busy people and it is important to know the show you are pitching to. For example – I work for ET Canada so if someone is going to pitch me an idea for the show there has to be a celebrity angle to it. If it doesn’t, it won’t be something that will air on my show. Pitching to me so that you can check it off your list is a waste of time for both of us and I’m less likely to pay attention next time.

Your pet peeve (pertaining to PR)?
Publicists who have never watched the show I am working on. I have worked on shows in the past that are harder to watch because they have been on specific channels, but my current show is on every night. PR people should be watching it fairly regularly if they want to come to me with story ideas. Watching once last year doesn’t cut it since things change.

Any other thoughts you’d like to add?
I work very closely with publicists and I couldn’t do my job without them. The best publicists, in my opinion, seem to have a thorough knowledge of media, are on top of their own client list, understand my needs and get back to me quickly.