Lauren Wolff – you know, the cool gal you follow on Twitter because her last name caught your attention and then you realized you kind of want her life? – is PR maven and founder of Wolff Public Relations. She reps some of the coolest brands, many of which are drinkable and therefore favourites of the VTV office. Never one to make it by fakin’ it, Lauren Wolff quickly captured our attention (and palates) and we couldn’t be happier to know this rockin’ chick. Find out (a lot) more about what makes her tick…
Give us a snippet about you. What should people know?
You have to be somewhat tough in this field of work because sadly people walk all over you. That said, I have quite a substantial gooey centre. It’s been suggested that the golden retriever is my spirit animal. Dug, the dog from UP!, to be exact. I’d say that’s partially true.
I got into PR more for the social aspect really. Back when I started (*cough* almost 15 years ago *cough*) we talked more, had lunches, took the time to cultivate somewhat meaningful relationships! That doesn’t happen much anymore. I’ve seen it shock people I work with when I show genuine interest or let them in on a little more about me.
I love really knowing people. That’s why I love working so closely with my clients, too. I don’t like superficial and I don’t do it. If you air kiss me, you can’t see it, but I’m rolling my eyes at you.
I’m also a cheerleader. If I’m advocating for someone or something, it’s because I’m so excited to share what I know and think you should know about it, too. In Gladwell’s world, I’d say I’m part maven, part connector. Wouldn’t flatter myself on the salesman front.
That was more than a snippet…
Finish this sentence: I love Toronto because…
…my family is here. Born and raised here, I can’t honestly say that I love it. I’m sad to see condos going up everywhere and losing the green space. And living somewhere that isn’t a shoebox now costs a fortune. I like it, but I’m always energized when I travel, even if it’s just a couple of days in New York. If my parents moved to another city or country, I’d feel more free to move somewhere else, too.
Sorry, am I starting off on a downer note?
You work with some amazing clients, especially some boozy brands. How can we steal your job? (PS You can totally namedrop clients in this answer.)
Um, don’t steal my job, please! Actually, most PR people in the city are quite respectful when clients switch-up. We talk to each other about these things. Those who aren’t and don’t are well-known among the rest…
I do love my clients, I have to say. I only work with ones who I (and anyone I hire) can truly gush about. That excitement comes through in everything we do.
INTERMIX was my first big win as Wolff Public Relations. The brothers Khajak and Haro Keledjian are so inspiring – truly, I could sit there and listen to them talk for hours. Pretty much my whole wardrobe is from INTERMIX so it was a good fit, literally. Do what you will with that pun.
Tequila Tromba is a favourite (and a fan favourite too, judging by our epic tequila tasting party we just threw that had almost 1,000 people in attendance!). Even before I knew (co-owner) Eric Brass as a client, bars would say, “Try this tequila,” and when I asked why, one bartender said, “How could I not talk it up, the guy behind it is such a nice guy.” And it’s true. But Eric demands a lot! He’s worked hard to get Tromba to where it is now and to where he wants it to go; so I respect that he expects that of someone like me. He didn’t even have to ask though – I was all in. Still am. (In my head this sounds like girly PR version of Hair Club for Men: “I’m not only the publicist, I’m also a customer.”) The man is 30 years old! Do people understand how incredible that is? And Tromba is a pure product with a complex palate. It can go up against the big boys any day and win. Almost all party hosts/hostesses get Tromba from me because I love it so much.
LCBO and VINTAGES are also fantastic clients. I mean, they are the largest purchaser of wine and spirits in the world. They are great at what they do, and it’s a very interesting business to work with from so many angles. Working with them is challenging and stimulating and often quite complex. You’re not just working with a small team, but you’re working with marketing, corporate, product managers, events teams, store spokespeople and the layers within all of those are multi-faceted. But across the board, they are great people who enjoy their work; and that makes me feel lucky to work with them.
Crush and Trius – one virtual and one physical winery in Niagara, respectively. I love the products. I get excited when I hear people tell me they love them, too. Supporting local wines and winemaking has become a passion. I can see how much these people love what they do and that makes me love it too! (Do you see a theme here?) With this client, I met her a few years ago and we immediately clicked. Like peas and carrots, we’ve been together ever since. (Aww!) It’s another example of a relationship that has more meat to it than just publicist-client. Sometimes our meetings are 90% talking/10% work. Actually our last meeting was learning to sabre bottles of Trius Brut and then talking business at lunch overlooking the picture perfect winery grounds. Great day.
Saxton Chayse – a small but mighty start-up. They created a foundation garment for women to protect clothing from sweat stains. It doesn’t sound sexy, but wait until you see their redesign. It will be the next SPANX – a must-have for women everywhere. I met the founders, Ashleigh and Lena, because someone randomly recommended me on Facebook. To this day, we don’t know who it was but whomever it was, I thank you. I’ve actually become friends with both of them, one lives a few blocks away from me. So now it’s not only work, but I truly care about and love them. If I didn’t spend so much at client #1 above, I’d become an investor (ditto with client #2 above). Maybe I will convince them both to let me one day, anyway.
On my dream list: Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts. I’m putting that out there in the universe.
What’s the most satisfying part of your job?
Making people happy. There’s nothing better than a client who is excited and grateful that you’re there for them, with them, and helping to make them a success.
The world of PR is a fickle one, how do you find your work/life balance?
You just have to make it happen. When I worked for others, it was sometimes easier to say “I have to go. I have to be somewhere,” and then make sure I saw friends and family. Now that I run my own business, working 18-hour days, 7 days a week is actually quite satisfying, so I don’t feel imbalanced necessarily. I thrive in the busy times and balance better then.
I always make time for the gym – it keeps me mentally clear and feeling good physically. The important people in my life get top billing, always. I find the time. I make the time. Can’t explain how… but I do.
What’s your favourite restaurant(s) and why?
I can’t say I have favourites. So many new places open all the time, I keep trying as many as I can. I can’t keep up! Or maybe I’m just in pursuit of a favourite! I also find that here, either restaurants start out badly and you don’t go back; or they start strong and then they either get lazy or complacent and then it’s just meh. I’ve discovered some incredible places while travelling, so let’s say for sentimental reasons have classified them under “favourites.”
With all that said, I’m always happy with Playa Cabana, Cantina or Hacienda. Fun atmosphere in all three, tasty food, and of course, lots of tequila. I liked it before it became a high school reunion though. Just saying. Take Sushi on Front St. has the best sushi in the city. It’s not snazzy but it’s classic and the fish is just…incredible. Sidecar (see below) – I’m always happy there, even if it’s just for cocktails and fries. I’m a sucker for a potato and they do ‘em really well. Auberge du Pommier just for the little oasis that it is. I loved it when they had a dark, romantic bar off to the side. I also used to think I’d love to get married there. Cart before the horse. Haven’t been there in a while. Pearl Harbourfront – a Wolff family favourite for dim sum and we have to have a table by the window. It’s a solid combination of the food, the staff who have been there forever, and the view of the water.
Fave cocktail and where ya get it?
Anything with Tequila Tromba and I swear I’m not just saying that as their publicist. I was a fan before I worked with them. Classic Tommy’s Margarita (easy on the agave and no salt) is my go-to. I get a perfect one at Sidecar on College. They make incredible cocktails. Sometimes I get my drinks from Robin Kaufman upstairs at TTS and sometimes at the restaurant’s bar. It’s win-win either way. I’ve had nights there when I’ve tried pretty much everything on the menu. They do these slushy style drinks (brambles?) that are dangerously good.
Let’s get social for a ‘mo. How can people stay up-to-date of all your city-trotting?
For a ‘mo? You’re so cute. I’m not big on announcing where I am and who I’m with all the time. If I’m hosting an event or at a colleague’s event/party where they expect that of guests, then I definitely do so. I keep it to the core three: Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Ditched Foursquare, no Vine for me, and I haven’t even bothered to learn Snapchat. I really am trying to be more present with people and not so face-in-phone.
I wouldn’t be so egotistical to think anyone would care to know where I am on any given day anyway; and I resent when people announce they are out with me and where. Why do you need to broadcast that? It’s actually annoying and a bit rude.
I save my social media for work (because let’s face it, it is work), funny thoughts, pictures, moments and ideas. My friends often tell me they think my Facebook is like a diary and my Instagram and Twitter are one-liners… or puppies or muppets. A combination of all the above, I say!