Fresh on the heels of hosting the red carpet interviews at the Leo Awards last week, Vanguard got the chance to sit down and chat with tv personality Jeremy Szafron. Having interviewed a plethora of celebrities on an off the carpet and just stepped foot into the Vancouver media market after hosting a fashion and entertainment show in Montreal called, Entertainment Spotlight, Jeremy gave us the inside scoop on the Vancouver media industry and what pr no no’s will get an automatic delete from his inbox.
VG: How did you get into fashion journalism?
JS: You know what? Kind of by accident. I always planned on a career in television, and it was my last semester in Broadcast Television when I got head-hunted by a producer, and I haven’t looked back. I didn’t see the fashion side coming though- as I was more into entertainment, but after my first Fashion Week, I started to love it. Fashion is such a growing business, and I love the change, you never get tired or bored.
VG: Do you ever get teased being a guy in the fashion world? Anything uncomfortable ever happen?
JS: I have always been someone who checks his tie before I leave the house, and I’m proud of that. I have read magazines like GQ since my early teens, and fashion has always been something I enjoy because I’ve always thought it would make me stand out in a sea of bland. At the beginning I studied the other successful male fashion journalists, like Tim Blanks- who is a masculine guy that loves fashion and isn’t shy to admit it. I’ve never really had an uncomfortable experience, just unpredictable ones.
VG: Why Vancouver? Why now?
JS: I think Vancouver has a lot to offer, but more to discover… Now that everyone has experienced the “Olympics Fever” I think expansion is possible, and I want to position myself at the front of the gate when it opens.
VG: Biggest difference between Toronto and Vancouver media market?
JS: In terms of media, I think it’s completely different. Out East, we all know each other, and we all know the job we have to do and because of this we are all friends. Media presence is a lot bigger out there, but that’s only natural because more goes on. At first glance I summed up Vancouver’s media market with these words- territorial, close-minded, opportunistic, and very limited. Vancouver is a very small town, and I don’t think that some people in the industry want that to change- but eventually it will have to.
VG: Thoughts on the blogosphere?
JS: I knew this was coming, it is well- interesting. In a way I can understand why it’s so big here- it’s almost all they have! I completely respect people who create their own way in this world, it’s admirable. Unfortunately though I find a lot of these “bloggers” have two terrible traits put together in the industry- little experience, and big egos. Everyone needs to gain more experience in their careers and life, so you should be comfortable to admit it. I have been lucky enough to work with some of the biggest players in the biz, and they can smell these things coming from miles away. It’s unfortunate because I have seen so many talented people come and go from this, squashed like a fly under a newspaper. My biggest tips are to enjoy the moment, don’t ever start to “expect”, remember everyone is replaceable, and for god’s sake- always be careful what you say (you never know who you’re talking to).
VG: The red light goes on and you’re interviewing Kelly Cutrone. First question?
JS: Cut the shit, when was the last time you cried?
VG: Denim. Skinny or bootleg?
JS: Straight-Leg, tailors should be your friend.
VG: Favorite fashion accessory?
JS: I collect timepieces, right now- my Cartier Ballon Bleu.
VG: How do you prepare for award shows? From am to pm give us the low down.
JS: Firstly, a good night’s sleep and I always read over my research before I get shut-eye. I wake up and read it again with coffee. Then comes hair, makeup, and wardrobe. Oddly enough I don’t like to be to prepared for red carpets, I love to ad-lib and not sound like a machine. Most importantly, I like to have fun with the people I interview because they need us and we need them.
VG: Favourite tv personality besides yourself and why?
JS: Well I have to answer it by the beat the cover. Entertainment: Billy Bush, Fashion: Tim Blanks, News: Brian Williams… And I could keep going, I appreciate good journalism.
VG: What kinds of stories do you look for to report on in fashion?
JS: I love to give press to those who work hard and have hit a bump.
VG: What’s an absolute pr no no?
JS: I hate getting mass emails, the most successful PR companies I know personalize their emails, at least put my damn name at the top, and not “Dear Media.” Although some days it feels like it, we aren’t cattle in a field.
VG: Ever have a run in with a pr that’s gotten on your bad side? What happened?
JS: I’ve had a PR company pitch me two stories in the same email, only the companies they wanted profiles on were competitors?!
VG: Does bribery ever really work?
JS: Sometimes this industry brings with it certain “perks,” but if you’re in it to get them.. leave. This kind of thing is what really pisses off people who take their job seriously and worked hard to get it.
VG: Who do you hope to meet in heaven?
JS: Retirement, oh- and a Heineken.
VG: What century would you want to live in and why?
JS: I only live in the present and future, I don’t focus on things I can’t control.
VG: Any final words for those trying to get into the fashion/pr/tv arena?
JS: Work hard, get used to rejection, and keep your ego in check.
One thing you have to love about a media personality is someone who speaks their mind about the industry. All too often I see so many people sugar coat how fabulous their job is and what kind of perks being in TV gets them. At the end of the day, PR and media is not for the faint of heart or for those who like the security of a 9-5 job. Cheers to all the hard-working prs out there. It’s nice to see someone so deserving of such success.
Be sure to follow Jeremy @szafron.