Lena Almeida, a wife and mother of two feisty little boys, is a writer, social media enthusiast and authentic shopaholic. In fact, if it’s on sale – she’s already bought it. Before starting a family, Almeida worked as a corporate trainer and employee satisfaction specialist for a Fortune 100 company. As much as she loved her career, she also yearned to explore her creative side. Almeida started her blog Listen to Lena as a way of communicating the best parenting finds to friends and family, but as she continued to post, it was not long before an old passion was reignited – writing. Her site evolved to focus on her love of creative writing and includes product reviews and features, humorous takes on parenthood and her famous random rants. In 2010, Almeida was named Best Blog and Best Family Blog at the Canadian Blog Awards and is consistently ranked as one of the highest trafficked blogs in Toronto. In 2011, she was once again named Best Family Blog and recognized as Motorola Canada’s Social BLAZR. Today, she is the Official Shopaholic for SHOP.ca
I’ve always wanted to be a writer, so naturally I studied Human Resources and became a Corporate Trainer. Seriously, though – I kind of fell into media while on maternity leave. I was looking for a way to channel my creative energy, so I set up a little blog and began to talk about the things I love. Before I knew it, the blog had become my business. Quite happy to be in this space!
Where would you like to be five years from now?
Five years from now I would like to be as healthy, happy and fulfilled as I am today.
Any advice for people getting started in your industry?
There is no such thing as an overnight success. Don’t start a blog with the sole purpose of gaining popularity or quitting your day job. Post often, frequently engage with your readers (I respond to every comment left on by blog), and if desired, position your blog to brands in a respectful and professional way.
What are your favourite media outlets, not including your own?
I spend an inordinate amount of time watching/listening to the news, so CP24 and 680 News are constantly streaming in the background. The only television show I’ve bothered to PVR in the last six months was The Vampire Diaries. SUCH a fan.
Best interview you’ve ever had?
While I wouldn’t call it the “best”, interviewing four women – all in hiding – at a battered women’s shelter was certainly one of the most memorable.
I’m too polite to say.
Best advice you’ve ever been given?
Fear = absence of faith.
What rule(s) do you live your life by?
It’s quite corny, but my high school motto (Father Michael Goetz, Mississauga) was “Take a risk, get involved, be committed.” Although I rarely subscribed to it in high school, I live by those words today in everything I do.
What’s the most important tip you can give PR pros?
Tailor your pitches and know the blogger (and her/his audience). Most established bloggers have little time, but a lot of influence. Be brief and to the point; let the blogger know in the first paragraph how you’d like to work together (even if it’s simply to communicate a press release). Within 30 seconds of opening your email I want to know what’s in it for my readers, what’s in it for me, and what your expectations are.
Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro? We love to hear about #wins.
Since I often review products, many times PR folk will ask if I’d like to coordinate a reader giveaway as well. Recently, I had the chance to experience Arlene Dickinson’s Persuasion line. In lieu of a reader giveaway, I asked if rock-it promotions would mind donating the prize to a silent auction benefitting Perinatal Bereavement Services Ontario. Y’all agreed without hesitation – knowing that you’d be trading further press and reader engagement in order to help support something that I believed in. That, to me, is a HUGE PR #win.
Anything with more than four legs.
In no particular order: Shopping at Wal-Mart early on a Sunday morning, finding a Joe Fresh dupe for an OPI nail colour, writing with a 0.7mm retractable lead pencil, watching my boys play with cars, enjoying a ripe mango out of season, the smell of crisp, clean sheets hanging on a clothesline, laughing so hard I cry, watching TELUS commercials, realizing my husband already cleaned the kitchen, having someone else wash my hair and this quote: “Success is getting what you want. Happiness is wanting what you get.” – D. Carnegie
Ugh. Don’t make me admit it! I just finished the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy. #mommyporn
Best place on earth?
Niagara-on-the-Lake. I was married there five years ago this July. Yes, I was one of those 07-07-07 bridezillas.
John Cleese. But only if he came as Basil Fawlty, and stayed in character all night.
My two sons. They’ve taught me that unconditional love is not simply a song lyric.
Favourite app (or whatever you are downloading these days)?
Epicurious. It always tells me what to do with bok choy.
Pool or ocean?
Voicemail or email?