Teacher’s Pet: Portfolios

With the warm weather, and exams but a fleeting memory, many
students find themselves hitting the office instead of the beach, looking for
internship opportunities. Today’s
Teacher’s Pet post is all about how to put together the best portfolio, and
what the heck to do with it once you’ve walked through the door. 

As a general rule of thumb, a portfolio should include a
combination of writing samples, your resume and a selection of references. Choose your
best, most powerful and results-driven pieces; no need to include everything
you’ve ever penned.

If you haven’t sunk your teeth into published work
yet, feel free to use class assignments and course work, but remember to nix
your essays. Portfolio pieces should be shorter in length, and demonstrate
industry-quality writing similar to what you would do on the job. From press
releases to blog posts, include a sampling of your best work that touts your
versatility. The more variety you show, the better we (or the hiring office)
can assess your skills and abilities, hopefully landing you that coveted
internship or first job.

Other good rule of thumb: if it doesn’t fit through the door, your portfolio is too big. 

Is your best work not on paper? Did you plan an event? Write
up a case study, including the event goals, the process you underwent and all
the (great) results.

As always, follow the KISS rule: Keep It Simple, Stupid,
meaning no coloured paper or fancy fonts, especially the dreaded Comic Sans.
While pink, scented paper may have worked for Legally Blonde’s Elle Woods, we
suggest you stick to the plain Jane-style instead. You want us to take you seriously, right?

We’d hire her, just NO pink press releases.

When toting your newly prepped portfolio to an interview,
mention you have brought it along at the beginning of the interview. If you are
asked for examples of when you overcame a challenge, or led a team, don’t be
afraid to refer to specific content in your portfolio that specifically supports
your answer.

Don’t fret if there isn’t time to flip through your portfolio
during your interview. Be a savvy job hunter, and bring a second copy for them
to review once you’ve left. Hopefully you’ve also left a lasting impression!

Rant: Conference Call Etiquette

Whether we like it or not, conference calls are a necessary evil. Okay, maybe evil is too strong a word, but they can definitely be awkward. There are multiple parties involved, and it’s tough to get a read on reactions without any visual feedback. But conference calls can also be a great networking tool and relationship builder, so it’s important to handle them with care. On the fourth floor, we conference with clients and business associates all the time, so we rounded up our best tips to help make the process smoother.


If you’re the organizer and you’re using a conference service for the first time, do a test run with a co-worker to make sure it works effectively. Make sure you send all parties ALL the info they’ll need to join the call. For example, leaving out a conference pin number could hold things up for everyone.

Share a conference line with the rest of your office? Check ahead of time to make sure nobody else has scheduled a call at the same time as you. Multiple parties calling in for two separate calls at the same time could lead to an embarrassing situation, not to mention waste people’s time.

Circulate a meeting agenda ahead of time so everyone has a chance to review and add to it, if necessary. This brings purpose to the call and will help you lead the meeting.

If there are people joining from multiple time zones, don’t forget to indicate if the time of the call is Eastern Standard Time or otherwise. You don’t want the big boss calling in hours before everyone else. 

Be prompt. Joining a call late forces the other parties to make awkward small talk while they wait, which nobody appreciates. Or, they will forge ahead without you, meaning you miss important details. If you do join the call late and someone is speaking, don’t interrupt to announce your presence. Wait for a break in conversation, and then kindly apologize for being late.

Take the call in a quiet space. Eliminate background noise including chatter, music, pen clicking, etc. Oh, and try not to breathe directly into the receiver. It’s annoying. Whenever possible, don’t call in from a mobile phone – there is a big chance you will cut out at some point, and it can be difficult to hear if the connection isn’t perfect.
Find a place that even Mr. Quiet would deem worthy. Image source.
When the call begins, allow everyone the opportunity to introduce themselves by name and affiliation so all know who is present.

Listen closely, and don’t be afraid to ask someone to repeat something if you couldn’t hear. If you’re really having trouble, take notes and ask a colleague after what you missed, if possible. And don’t be afraid to jump in with ideas and information as appropriate.

If the conversation goes off topic, reel it back in firmly – but be polite. It’s important to stay focused, especially when there is limited time available. Schedule a follow-up call if an important new topic arises. 

Be sure everybody is off the line if you continue your conversation with a client, or coworker. It would be really embarrassing if you started in about ‘how badly you want to go for a smoke,’ if one of the other parties is still on the line.

Finally, when the call comes to an end, be sure to thank everybody for their time or wish them a good day. It’s just a nice thing to do.

Got any fave conference call tips? Tweet us @rockitpromo or #conferencecalls.


City Living: Swag Bags Do’s and Don’ts

Whether you’re a fashion week aficionado, a sophisticated girl-about-town or a fellow PR pro, we’re sure you have been handed a swag bag at some point in your social life. Swag bags, filled with branded goodies, have gone beyond being a “nice touch” and are now a standard expectation among attendees of many sponsored events. Not only are they an excellent marketing tool, if filled right, but a well-stocked bag can make an event memorable for your guests.

With LG Fashion Week quickly approaching, it’s likely that industry insiders all over the city are getting ready to start filling bags with treasures. We consider ourselves experts in the swag bag department so we’ve put together some gifting do’s and don’ts for when you’re ready to start stuffing pretty bags with prezzies.

Image source

Do include press materials but keep it short and sweet. This is not the time to include lengthy press docs that no one will read. In this instance, less really is more. Save some trees by including a one-page release or info sheet that gets your point across.

Don’t include coupons. Unless you’re including a coupon for something that is completely free, skip it. If you want to offer a discount on products, try a gift card instead. A $10 gift card will be appreciated but a 10 per cent off coupon is a gift bag #fail.

You won’t find any coupons hiding in these sleek swag bags.

Do include food products but make sure they have a long shelf life. It just makes sense. Make sure that any food is packaged correctly and that there is little chance of spoilage.

Don’t use a flimsy bag. You do not want your guests’ bags to tear as they’re walking home or jumping in a cab. A decorative, reusable bag is a great option because it is another gift for your guests and can easily be branded by one of your sponsors.

These structured bags are sure to make a statement, and a comfortable home for all the goodies. 😉

Do start stuffing your swag bags early. As soon as you have an idea of how many guests you’ll be gifting, start putting the bags together. It seems like it will be an easy thing to manage but you’ll be busy with a lot of tasks on the day of your event. It takes a long time to put them together, trust us on this one.

Finally, pack it with items that are useful and not too heavy. If we’re wearing heels and have had a few cocktails, it’s difficult to lug around a 100 lb. bag. That free coffee maker is great to get, but consider sending it to us after. Most women will give a new gloss or a mascara a try (and we’re fairly faithful – if it’s good, we’ll buy it next round). Our favourite things? Perfume, snacks, shampoo, mascara and razors (we’re looking at you, LGFW).

Best gift bag you’ve ever received? Tweet us @rockitpromo.  

Media, Darling: Bonnie Laufer-Krebs

I have been working in the entertainment/news environment for more than 25 years with extensive experience as an interviewer, executive producer, writer and reporter. Before taking a job at Tribute, I ran the entertainment department at Canwest/Global Television for 10 years.
I have been employed at Tribute Entertainment Media Group as executive producer, writer, interviewer and coordinator for Tribute TV since August 2000. For most of my career I have spent a great deal of time in airports. I travel the world (OK – mostly Los Angeles and New York) to interview some of the biggest stars in the entertainment business. When I am not traveling, I oversee production of weekly entertainment/movie segments, interviews and features for tribute.ca. I conduct all one-on-one interviews for exclusive web content and produce weekly entertainment radio spots for Z103FM radio. 
I am also a senior writer for all Tribute Publishing properties, which includes lining up interviews with some of the world’s biggest stars and directors. In addition I write, edit and produce promotional spots, produce and write numerous half-hour and varied length movie specials for web/ broadcast. Plus, provide interview content to various websites like msn.ca and Tribute affiliated sites.
I also coordinate, set up and conduct interviews every year for the Toronto International Film Festival.
I’ve been married to my husband Jeff for 23 years.We have two boys, Jared (15) and Ethan (19) who is just going into second year at Ryerson in the Radio and Television Arts program, following in my footsteps.

Bonnie with Andy Samberg.


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

It’s funny. Throughout high school, my sights were set on was becoming an entertainment lawyer. When I went to university, I started taking media and television courses and changed my mind thinking a career in the media was my real destiny.

Where would you like to be five years from now?
After winning the lottery? On a beach somewhere. Really? Running my own freelance company – supplying interviews for my award-winning entertainment website.

Any advice for people getting started in your industry?
Intern, intern, intern and be willing to WORK HARD. So many young adults come in expecting to meet Brad Pitt and George Clooney after working for two days. Be open minded, offer your help in any way you can. The more initiative you put in, the better the opportunities. Be open to criticism and never burn bridges! Learn how to create, design, develop a website. There is no doubt in my mind that having that experience under your belt will be invaluable.

What are your favourite media outlets, not including your own?
There are some great entertainment websites like IMBD, Variety and The Hollywood Reporter for research and movie info. I find the Internet the best place to look when I want to know what’s going on, or for research. Still, there’s nothing like a good magazine. I can’t live without my Entertainment Weekly and Vanity Fair

Best interview you’ve ever had? Worst?

So many great interviews over the 25 years I have been talking to celebrities. Favorites that come to mind are Colin Firth, Matt Damon, George Clooney, Gary Oldman, Clint Eastwood, Colin Farrell and my very favorite has to be director Joel Schumacher. Having the opportunity to interview Joel for 90 minutes at a Toronto Film Festival over 10 years ago has to be one of the highlights of my career. He is just so honest and real. I still want to pen his biography if he’ll let me!

Worst: Chevy Chase for Christmas Vacation. Arrogant, pompous ass. Enough said. I’ll take Tommy Lee Jones any day.

Best advice you’ve ever been given?
You work to live, you don’t live to work.

What rule(s) do you live your life by?
Don’t get stressed out (ha ha). Family is my NUMBER one priority. And count to ten before responding to emails that piss me off.

What’s the most important tip you can give PR pros?
Please – I beg you – return my emails or phone calls. Even if you can’t help me out, just RESPOND!!!!

Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro? We love to hear about #wins.
As I mentioned above, I have been producing and conducting interviews for 25 years. There are still some PR folk that I have been working with for the same amount of time, so it’s a comfort zone because we know each other so well and know what to expect from each other. 

The best PR pros (and YOU know who you are) are the ones who are honest with me. If they can’t accommodate a request, they are straight about it. No BS! The best PR pros are the one’s that will bend over backwards to help you out, call you back or return your emails. The best PR pros are the ones who understand what I need and know that I will do my very best to help them in return.

I hate?
When someone asks me for my information (what’s your circulation, where does your stuff air, etc.) over and over again. I gave it to you already. Can’t you keep this information in a file? If anything changes I will make sure you get an update. Sheesh!

I love?

My family. And, when I get upgraded on long flights for work. And, watching one of my favorite TV shows like Curb Your Enthusiasm.

Haven’t really had the time lately to dig into a good book, but I’m just in the middle of Girls Like Us: Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon and The Journey of a Generation by Sheila Weller. Before that I finished reading ROOM.

Best place on earth?
In Mexico, on vacation with my family during Christmas break.

Dinner guest?
Tough one, but I think having Jack Nicholson, Dustin Hoffman and Al Pacino over for dinner would be amazing. Can you even begin to imagine the stories?

Wonder Woman. I can relate to her. 🙂

Favourite app? 
Google Sync, a great invention. And Blackberry Messenger.

Pool or ocean?

Voicemail or email?
Email. No doubt about it.


Media, Darling: Susan Antonacci

Susan has been working in publishing and media for over 25 years.
 Prior to becoming editor-in-chief at Canadian Living, she held the position of 
managing editor of Canadian Living and Homemakers Magazine. Susan is 
married with two children, aged 22 and 25. She is co-chairman of Heart and Music, supports SOS (Students Offering Support), and works with Free the Children, Breakfast for Learning, St. Mary’s Food Bank and other charitable foundations. She also works to promote the importance of the arts in school curriculum’s across Canada.

Canadian Living is a dynamic, contemporary, engaging brand that touches
 on all aspects of the busy lives of today’s Canadian women. Susan believes 
that women choose Canadian Living because the brand works hard to respect who their readers are, how busy their lives are and offers them accessible ideas, solutions and stories that will inspire and engage them and help them make the most of their day-to-day lives.
Did you always want to be in the media? If not, what other careers were on the horizon?
I always thought music would play a role in my life. I sang competitively as a child and was even in a rock band in my early 20s and really wanted to “make it big!”. Unfortunately, it soon became clear that I needed more than $35 a week to live. I was only willing to starve for my art for so long.

I also worked at a radio station for a short time and thought I’d like to be a radio personality. Though it’s been a running joke for years with friends that with my voice, I could have considered call-in centres of an entirely different kind.
Where would you like to be five years from now?
I can honestly say that I would be most happy if I was right where I am now — at Canadian Living. I couldn’t work with a better team, I love the brand, I love our readers. However, I’m fortunate to also love the business side of publishing, so who knows what five years will bring?
Any advice for people getting started in your industry?
Take an internship! I know there’s been a lot discussed these days about the merits of interning, but I really feel that it is the best hands-on experience you can get. It is the only time in your career that you can request working in different sections (of a magazine, newspaper or online) to really get a feel for what works for you and what you enjoy.

It’s also extremely important to understand the online side of the industry, from blog posts to social media. It’s an ever-evolving industry that has certainly experienced a lot of change in the last few years, so it’s important to be able to go with the flow and learn as much as you can to keep up!
What are your favourite media outlets, not including your own?
I am a news junkie, and I always start my day with reading the Toronto Star and the Globe and Mail, and I watch and listen to CBC whenever I can. I am a big Jian Gomeshi fan!

And about once a week, usually on the weekends, I spend time reading the New York Times and the New Yorker online, along with food blogs and guilty pleasure blogs, often ones that mostly show pictures of cute puppies and kittens doing cute puppy and kitten things. 
Best interview you’ve ever had? Worst?
A few years ago I was invited to be a moderator at the Canadian premiere of Food Inc, a documentary about the food we eat based on the book by Michael Pollen. This was at a theatre downtown and some of the people in the film, including Michael Pollen, stayed for a Q-and-A session. The crowd was very receptive to the film and we had a lively discussion about it. I was lucky to be asked to take part.
As for my worst interview, I’d have to say it was when I had a few minutes with Martha Stewart in the middle of the paint aisle at a major retail outlet in Toronto. It was so rushed and hard to settle into, and it was Martha freakin’ Stewart! I was trying to come across calm and cool but instead I was nervous and sweaty. I’d love a do-over. 
Best advice you’ve ever been given?
Salt, tequila, lemon! And if that doesn’t work, treat people how you want to be treated. I know it’s such a cliché but my mom always used to say this to me and I truly believe that in the larger, karmic way of how things go, life is just more pleasant when you treat everyone with love and respect, and it makes it more likely you’ll get it in return.
What rule(s) do you live your life by?
It’s taken me a long time to learn this, but I try to let go of negative things and thoughts. That goes for my personal and professional life. I used to really let it get to me but it’s just not worth carrying that kind of baggage around. Think positive, be positive.
What’s the most important tip you can give PR pros?
I work with many PR reps and I’d say the most important tip I can offer is for them to understand that we must consider editorial integrity first and foremost. Pitch the idea or concept and let us determine whether it’s the right fit for our reader/audience.

It’s also more pleasant when they’re not too pushy.
Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro? We love to hear about #wins.
John MacKay from MacKay and Co — every interaction I’ve had with him has been positive. His approach is a soft-sell, he has great ideas and does his research on the media outlet that he’s approaching. He is the ultimate connoisseur in his field. He’s been bang on in regard to Reitman’s and Tiffany this year. The guy is top-notch.
I hate?
Bananas! And any baked goods bananas can hide in.
I love?
My husband, Greg, my children and my dog Scooter McGee (not always in that order!). I’d also add licorice, fudge, PEI, and farmers’ markets to the list.
Sweetness At The Bottom Of The Pie by Alan Bradley.
Best place on earth?
That’s a tough one, but Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island comes to mind first, so I’m sticking with it. 
Dinner guest?
Izzeldin Abuelaish, a Palestinian doctor who wrote a book that I often refer back to, I Shall Not Hate. And Elie Wiesel, a Nobel Laureate who has written about his experience as a teenager during the Holocaust. I’d have us sit down for dinner and figure this whole Middle East peace process out.
That’s another tough one. I think anyone who sees an injustice and has the guts to stand up to it is a hero. Craig Kielburger, the founder of Free The Children, comes to mind. Here’s a guy who was just 12 years old when he first read about children rights issues in Pakistan. He was so bothered by these sweatshops that he went on a mission to change it. I love that.  His brother, Marc runs a close second.
Favourite app (or whatever you are downloading these days)?
Twitter, and some newspaper apps.
Pool or ocean?
Ocean! I used to scuba dive and I’ve always loved swimming in such vast, open spaces. I love knowing I’m sharing the space with millions of other creatures, many of which haven’t even been discovered yet.
Voicemail or email?
I’m cool with either.

Fashion-able: Fall trending topics

Remember back in August when NYFW Fall 11 took off? We do too…vaguely.
For those that need a calendar reminder, and with fall now actually around the corner (truth can be harsh, we know), we wanted to refresh fashion tastebuds with trends to look forward to and attempt, come the turning of the leaves.Sigh. At least there’s some silver lining to the end of summer.
Glitter gone wild
Sparkles twinked under the flashbulbs on the runway. Be it accessories, a dress, or even a jacket, this fall is your time to shine bright.
Small sprinkles of glitter on pretty Miu Miu shoes… 
Image source.
…and large, stylish sequins by Prada
Image source.
Polka dots lighten any mood and have the ability to air their youthful playfulness to an elegant and classy outfit. Wear ’em well, so as not to look like a junior miss.
Stella McCartney meshes sheer fabric and polka dots to create a stunning, curvy silhouette. 
Image source.
Marc Jacobs takes dotting his “I’s” one step further with extreme patent leather dottage. 
Image source.

Colour me mine
Forget black for your holiday parties. Colour is where it’s at this season. Take this quiz to find out what colours suit you best. (Yes, this links to a Seventeen quiz. You know you want to do one again, for old time’s sake).
Jil Sander matches lips to coat in a hot poppy hue. 
Image source.
Givenchy raunchy in yellow. 
Image source.
So there you have it – lovely colours, prints and textures to look forward to in the coming months. How can you not be excited for a fall that involves sequins?

*Thanks to FASHION Magazine for the photos and trendy reminders!

Media, Darling: Jeni Besworth

Jeni B. entered the television industry over 12 years ago and never looked back. She has met, produced & interviewed some of the biggest celebrities. Highlights include: helping Pink make a new outfit with scissors & tape seconds before her live performance. Accidentally making a pass at Jon Cryer. Interviewing Tommy Chong from the living room floor after he threw his back out. Becoming the voice of Cribs.
Jeni is currently the supervising producer of Oh So Cosmo on Cosmo TV. Other credits include Open Mike with Mike Bullard, Canadian Idol, the Juno Awards, Walk of Fame, Project Runway Canada, MTV, So You Think You Can Dance Canada and Much Music. And, she is not above unpacking Lady Gaga’s shoes for her.

Twitter: @jenibesworth, @Oh_So_Cosmo 

Did you always want to be in the media? If not, what other careers were on the horizon?  
When I was in high school, my dream was to be on radio. So when I went to Ryerson, I finished the first year, thought I wouldn’t need any more schooling, and promptly left. I’ve been working in TV almost ever since!
Where would you like to be five years from now?
I am not aging very willingly so I don’t love looking ahead five years (ha), but if I must, I’d really like to still be working in a job I love. I have had the good fortune of being employed in this industry very consistently and I’d like to continue working on shows that are smart, informative and relevant. And personally, I hope I’m still kicking ass at being a good mama.

Any advice for people getting started in your industry?
Weirdly, it’s not always what you know, it’s how hard you’re willing to work to learn it. I am where I am because someone took a chance on me. Again and again. If you love what you do, and you put your whole heart into it, you’ll see results.

What are your favourite media outlets, not including your own?
I am newly in love with CBC Radio 2 – Drive with Rich Terfry, Q with Jian Ghomeshi, 99.9 Virgin Radio and my girl Taylor Kaye on Kiss 92.5. I watch a multitude of bad television shows – no judgement, it’s “research”. I’m 10 months off Facebook but have fallen in love with Twitter. I also frequent Lainey Gossip, People.com, George Stromboloupoulos’ site. I read Toronto Life, Today’s Parent and I really love Metro when I hop on the subway. 

Best interview you’ve ever had?
Working on the Bullard show was for sure a career highlight. Not only did I get to work with my best friends (and I literally sat across from my BFF every day!), the sheer amount of celebrities that passed through those doors on a regular basis was astounding. When I was the music producer, I not only booked the guests, but of course, pre-interviewed them. One time while trying to get any kind of interview out of Jack Black & Kyle Gass (Tenacious D), they jumped up mid-sentence, started playing air guitar and changed the words of TNT by AC/DC to ‘jeni b’. 

All of the interviews on Cribs have been amazing, as well. These people invite you into their homes and allow you to see them at their most intimate and they’ve almost all been gracious and lovely and kind. Jillian Barberie was a wonderful host. Bif Naked… what can I even say about her? She’s the bees knees. They’ve all exceeded my expectations.
But lastly, my true favourites came from interviewing some of the thousands of competitors that auditioned for Idol & SYTYCDC. My all time favourite thing is talking to “regular” peeps & finding out where they came from and why they are who they are today. Everybody has a story.

I guess the worst interviews are the ones when you are left hanging. I’m so lucky that there are very few of these in my history.

Best advice you’ve ever been given?
My dad told me to “give a firm handshake and look ‘em in the eye.” And John Brunton (CEO of Insight Productions), who gave me my first big job and whom I highly respect, once turned to me while standing on George St. in St. John’s, Newfoundland, after a particularly long and stressful day of casting for Canadian Idol, and said “It’s only TV, baby!”. That has stuck with me for years.

It’s important and it’s wonderful to work in, but we’re not saving anyone’s life here. When everything is going to shit, I always remember that.

What rule(s) do you live your life by?
I’m a type-A, super organized, scheduled kind of gal. So lately I’m trying to be a little more open to living in the moment and realizing that it’s okay to be what I am, with a side of free spirit. One thing I definitely do is live every day with ‘pay it forward’ in mind. I’m the girl that returns my grocery cart to it’s proper place and will change route to help an elderly person up the stairs at the subway. Compassion doesn’t always win in this industry but I will never be able to not play by those rules. Oh, and manners are non-negotiable.

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

I know how busy everyone is, but a simple response to an inquiry goes a long way. I think taking the time to acknowledge people will make them keep coming back to you over and over.

Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro? We love to hear about #wins.
Honestly? Deb and rock-it. Every time I change jobs, there are lots of names I take with me. But I have a special top 10 that’s comprised of publicists and music reps that I know and love and have complete and total trust and confidence in. Deb and her team are polite and responsive and hard workers and, they’re in the know! Deb is always the first person I contact when I start something new and she always has content and suggestions for me.  [Ed. note: The love is mutual. jeni b is a kick ass producer, and an all around cool chick.]

I hate? Bullshit. And entitlement. And people who are mean to old folks, animals and children.  Being late makes me crazy.

I love?
Lola & Izzie. Tattoos. Cupcakes. My family. My friends. Music and dancing (in the comfort of my own living room). Writing in small letters (because I think they’re cuter). Movies, TV, magazines. Chocolate.

I just finished Bossy Pants by Tina Fey and was completely irritating other subway passengers with my loud bursts of laughter. It’s really so funny. Now I’m about to delve back into Of Human Bondage which was a gift from a dear friend.

Best place on earth?
Just outside the door peeking into the place where my girls are singing at the top of their lungs, dancing around the room and playing their little hearts out (followed by huge squeezes). That, or on a tropical beach somewhere being served copious amounts of chocolate by a cute cabana boy.

Dinner guest?
Dad and Elvis and Ryan Gosling.


I admire and respect every single woman in my life for all different reasons, and I’d have to say they’re all my heroes. From my mom & sister to my best friends & co-workers, they’ve all worked hard to become who they are. They’ve all persevered and struggled and they juggle all the things in their lives like no one else (working mamas get extra props for their unbelievable multi-tasking). Advice is never far away and I’m forever grateful to be constantly inspired by them all.

Favourite app? 

What’s an app? Just kidding. Sort of.

Pool or ocean?
Ocean, every single time.

Voicemail or email?  

Email. I’m lightning fast at responding and my Blackberry is never far away.