Interview


Will you accept this rose? Experts weigh in on the ultimate The Bachelorette TV night – Rogers Redboard

Viewing-partyWho could forget when Andi walked out on Juan Pablo in the most dramatic pre-rose ceremony ever! “It’s OK” now because she’s starting her journey as The Bachelorette on May 19 on City.

What does it take to host the perfect The Bachelorette TV night? We asked Cityline host Tracy Moore, City digital media correspondent  Winston Sih and Chatelaine food director Claire Tansey for their hosting tips, including the best ways to use your NextBox PVR to create the ultimate premiere watching party!

How would you incorporate the rose into your night?

TM: Receiving a rose is the ultimate goal for each contestant as they battle it out for Andi’s heart. So, it should definitely be the focal point of the evening. Channel Chris Harrison by greeting each guest with a red rose, or fill your home with rose-scented potpourri to set the romantic  mood. Fresh flowers can be expensive, so seek out fake roses from your local craft store – this way your guests can leave with wilt-free keepsakes.

CT: Offer rosé wine or fill a beautiful pitcher with Rosé Sangria. For even more sweetness, bake and decorate rose themed cupcakes – you can learn how to pipe rosettes from Chatelaine.

WS: Incorporate the rose into your e-vite. Just as Andi will offer the rose to her men of choice, you too will offer it to your preferred premiere viewing attendees! There are many free online programs that let you create your own personalized rose e-vites, and Some Ecards already has pretty hilarious options too.

How do you use your tablet or TV to prepare for, and enjoy, the main event?

TM: Set a romantic, cheesy mood by recording romantic movies using your NextBox or search the classics On Demand (Ch. 100). Play a film in the background while everyone’s getting settled or play a music channel for ambiance.

CT: As a foodie, I’m always seeking out the latest recipe inspiration. You can use the search tool on your TV or tablet and enter keywords such as “cooking” and “baking” for shows that may appeal. I set a bunch of my recordings this way so I’ll have a personal library of shows to check out when I have the time.

WS: Use your tablet to follow fellow fans’ reactions as each contestant is revealed. Seek out Bachelor/ette alumni on Twitter like @AliFedotowsky@EmilyMaynard or even @JuanPaGalavis! Make sure you’re following the popular hashtags and share hilarious updates and trends with your guests … during the commercials of course!

How do you create your dream guest list? Who would you invite and why?

TM: First and foremost, determine which friends are The Bachelorette lovers – no need to have negative guests who may question this “unconventional” way to find love. In a dream world, I would suggest inviting old contestants to provide their thoughts and insights, and of course, Chris Harrison for a personal debrief after the show, and to dish out all the inside scoop! What happens when the cameras aren’t rolling?!

CT: I think the guest list is up to each individual host/hostess, but for me I would truly appreciate the attendance of not only my hilarious friends, but also my favourite female wits. I envision Nora Ephron, Tina Fey and Gertrude Stein all sitting on my couch snacking on my spicy Georgia pecans and providing their two cents.

WS: I’m with Tracy on this one; I’d love to have past contestants in attendance!

What’s your essential viewing party etiquette?

TM: Premiere night may get quite loud, with excited squeals, cat calling, laughter and maybe even some booing for the soon-to-be villains, as your guests ‘meet’ The Bachelorette contestants. To ensure nothing is missed, develop a fun set of rules for when your guests can chime in during the show, you can even write them on post-it notes as reminder.

CT: The evening is all about being social – so serve your guests appetizers, not dinner, so they can mix and mingle with ease. Why don’t you serve snack food with a southern flare, in honour of Andi’s hometown of Atlanta? Might I suggest spicy Georgia pecans – they’re easy to make, delicious and as a bonus they won’t cause any damage if thrown at your TV screen!

WS: As Tracy said, your evening may get rowdy so be sure to ask your guests to keep it down during times of high-stress and drama! However, if this seems like an impossible ask (probably – let’s be honest), this is where Rogers Anyplace TV Home Edition comes in handy. Your friends may think they have control over the remote, but you can pull up your virtual remote on your tablet to pause and rewind the TV without them even noticing.  Also, as a host it’s good etiquette to provide your guests with your Wi-Fi password, so they too can follow along on social media.

How should the evening end?

TM: Once your guests catch their breath after meeting all of the eligible bachelors, invite them to fill out a prediction card. Choose a prize for the person who correctly picks Andi’s future man – a “fantasy date” for two? Or a gift card to the salon to prep hair for a hot date?

CT: Just as Andi had to make tough choices during the premiere, you too can replicate the rose ceremony drama at home and trick your guests into thinking that not everyone will receive a rose-frosted cupcake from you before they leave.

WS: At the end of the episode, while everyone’s nibbling away at their treats, you may want to replay a certain scene. Without interrupting your TV experience, use your tablet again to navigate back to the must-see moments.

Want to share the snark? www.citytv.com/toronto/shows/the-bachelorette will host live chats throughout the season. You can also download the app for online chat and fun facts about the show and the contestants.

The Bachelorette with my friends’ running commentary is my weekly TV ritual, one that my friends are invited to take part in each Monday night. Tweet a photo @RogersBuzz sharing your TV ritual using #RTVNight and you’ll be entered for a chance to win a NextBox set-up and Samsung tablet.

Repost from Rogers Redboard


Cityline visits CES 2013!

The Consumer Electronics Show—more popularly known as CES—is where hundreds of thousands of technology enthusiasts, journalists, and gadget-makers gather to find out what’s trending in the upcoming year in the consumer electronics market, and I had the pleasure of visiting the five-day event in Las Vegas, NV, on Jan. 7 through Jan. 11, 2013.

Among the sea of people were the latest innovations in technology today, including the smartest of smart refrigerators, eco-friendly app-controlled thermostats, and larger-than-life television sets.

Over the next year, the Smart TV Alliance will be working towards creating a connected environment across all of its member television manufacturers, like this curved, OLED television from LG.  The end result will include thousands of applications from weather to news to games to social media—all from the comfort of your television’s remote control.

When it comes to being connected, gadget-makers are pushing even harder this year to keep you connected to the Internet all the time.  For example, the Samsung GALAXY Camera is connected to the cellular network, so no matter where you are, your photos can be uploaded to your favourite social networks from Facebook to Twitter—all without a Wi-Fi network, USB cable, or computer!

Here’s a look at what I found in connected technology for the home:

With parents constantly on the go and kids more digitally connected than ever before (be it at home or in the classroom), families are facing increased challenges to stay caught up with the latest technology. Apps, gadgets, and “smart” technology for the family are largely in focus CES this year.

Busy moms are in luck this year, too.  Baby monitors, like VTech’s Safe & Sound, will allow you to not only hear your baby, but now you can even see your baby from multiple camera angles on a 2.8-inch full-colour screen.  If you are looking for something to keep your child occupied, the MINDSTORM EV3 will bring your LEGO to life!

Check out my web-exclusive look at family gadgets here:

What are you most excited for in the world of technology in 2013? Share them in the comments below!

Camera by Alex Tutt.


The Key to Being AWESOME with Neil Pasricha

NeilPasrichaHeadshot-sized
In our daily hustle and bustle, finding something “awesome” to love in our lives can often be too much for one to ask.  Author of The Book of (Even More) Awesome (Penguin Canada), Neil Pasricha started the “AWESOME Movement” just as his world was starting to fall apart.  CityLine.ca had the opportunity to interview Pasricha to talk about the “Awesome phenomenon,” and to find out about the inspiration behind his three bestselling books.

“My marriage was heading in the wrong direction and my best friend was battling a major depression. I came home from work and said to myself ‘I need a way to focus on the positive,’” he told CityLine.ca.  “So I started up 1000awesomethings.com as a way to focus on the positive – and started writing about warm underwear from the dryer, popping bubble wrap, and flipping to the cold side of the pillow.”

His solution to finding the good in his life was to write about one of his life’s simplest joys, every single day on his blog 1000awesomethings.com, eventually gaining millions of readers internationally.

Following the success of his blog and his original book, The Book of Awesome, Pasricha’s second release – The Book of (Even More) Awesome – is chock-a-block with his must-read “awesome things,” including exclusive never-before-seen moments.

“I was lucky when 10 literary agents came to me after 1000 Awesome Things ended up winning a Webby Award for ‘Best Blog in the World.’ Believe me; I was most surprised of all. I had no idea The Book of Awesome would be on the bestseller list for two straight years.”

The Book of (Even More) Awesome focuses on down-to-earth and everyday stories, highlighting the art of living well.

Readers will find the book very relatable, with many anecdotes most have experienced first-hand –including letting go of the gas pump perfectly so you end on a round number; when your windshield wipers match the beat of the song you’re driving to; waking up to the smell of sizzling bacon; and simply napping with the one you love.

When we asked Pasricha about how one can start to find the small joys in life, he said, “It’s simple.”

“Write down one awesome thing every single day. That’s it! Keep the list in your desk drawer, beside your bed, or on your fridge. Just add one a day. Did you see the same car you had as a kid on the roads? Did you get a spontaneous massage from your husband? Write it down! The list will serve as your own Book of Awesome and looking back at it will remind you of good times when you’re feeling low,” he advised.

The Book of (Even More) Awesome is also very funny, and should bring many smiles to readers.  As for where Pasricha channels his humour from, he says that “perhaps growing up with a different perspective on the world lets us make fun of ourselves a little easier.”

After hundreds of blog posts, Pasricha will be bringing his blog to a close on April 19th, 2012.  He says jokingly, “I plan to smash a smoke bomb into the sidewalk and disappear completely.”

“But honestly, I look forward to taking my own advice, stopping to smell the awesome, and living a simple life where, day by day, I keep focusing on awesome things.”

He’s looking forward to enjoying the small things in life like cooking, riding his bike, and spending more time with his friends.

We concluded our interview by asking him, “If there was one thing you want readers to pull out of the book, what would it be and why?”

His response was simple: “You are already living an awesome life.”

The Book of (Even More) Awesome is available in bookstores now, and you can preview the first twenty pages of it, here.

Repost from CityLine.ca

Pitching the Media: How much is too much? 1

Preface: I deal with PR consultants on a day to day basis, and I recently met Josh Terry, a Toronto-based PR consultant.  We chatted about the dos and don’ts of PR pitching, and how much is too much.  You can read the blog post below, enjoy!

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One of the things that every PR person has an opinion on is how often they should contact a journalist to pitch a story. That said, one of the things I’ve never had the chance to ask a journalist is how much is too much? That is until recently, when the topic came up with Winston Sih.

As a sidebar, let me say that chatting with Winston is an example of the power of social media. It’s where we connected and began chatting. The conversation moved offline and, eventually turned to our respective careers – his as the Technology Expert on Citytv’s CityLine, The Digital Life on Citytv.com, and CTV’s App Central; and mine as the PR person. It’s a shame I didn’t have the opportunity to connect with Winston while I was working on lifestyle accounts in my previous position with an agency, but I’m sure it won’t be long until I’m pitching him something.

Anyways, as I mentioned, we discussed the fact that there are PR agencies who encourage their consultants to be rather, shall we say, persistent with journalists. I can only imagine how annoying that must be. Think about it: what is one of the most annoying things that can come to mind? Prior to the National Do Not Call Registry, it was telemarketers who would call three, four, five times a day. We all know how it felt to be on the receiving end of that and yet, there are PR people who continue to do just that to journalists (journalists with deadlines and multiple assignments, I might add).

When I was working at the agency, in my first go around of pitches for a campaign I would call twice: once first thing in the morning (around 8:30 – 9:30, depending on the program) and again around 11 – 11:30. If I didn’t speak to the journalist I was looking for the first time, I would hang up before voicemail picked up (so as to not leave an annoying hangup on their machine). If they still didn’t pick up on my second go around later in the morning, I would leave a voicemail with a brief explanation of why I was calling and where I could be reached (phone and mention that they had an e-mail from me if they preferred that method of contact).

I found that my approach was, in general, successful. I wasn’t constantly bombarding the people I wanted to take the time to cover what I was pitching but they knew that I had something that might be of interest to their audience.

When speaking to Winston on this topic, he gave me three great tips when it comes to successful PR pitching.

Firstly, as tempting as it sounds to simply send out a mass email – don’t make it a regular habit.   The good ol’ “Insert First Name Here” option in newsletter programs aren’t good enough anymore.  Journalists know when it is a computer automatically putting your name in an email.  Journalists are more likely to answer your emails when there’s personalization to the message.

Continuing, try to make an effort to get to know who you’re working with.  Winston tells me that he’s more likely to work with consultants who he’s chatted with over lunch or coffee, or even socialized with at a party or two.  The infamous Holiday season “Tweet-ups” are a great platform to get to know your “prey,” if you will.

Lastly, when it comes to phone calls, less is more.  The phone is often a touch-and-go place for many journalists.  It is where the most important business is conducted.  If you leave three or four voicemails in a day – perhaps getting in the way of their productivity – they may become irritated; even potentially blacklisting you from their office phone.

In the words of Winston, “At the end of the day, journalists aren’t scary people!  It’s important for PR consultants – new ones, especially – to get a feel for what is enough, and what is too much.  There’s a fine line, and it’s important not to cross it; however, once you’ve figured out your ‘groove’ so to speak, you’re golden.”

So, there you have it – an approach that worked for me on the PR side and some easy-to-follow and helpful tips from someone who is on the “other side” of the phone when we call.

A special thanks to Winston Sih for taking some time to comment on this post and share his thoughts. You can connect with Winston on Twitter, @WinstonSih

Repost from JTerr88.wordpress.com