Lauren McPhillips is the editor of lifestyle site This Renegade Love, an online space that celebrates the people, places and things that inspire her. Following a career in editorial and then travel PR (which took her overseas to the UK), Lauren launched This Renegade Love earlier this year as a way to encourage readers to live their most fulfilling lives through content on travel, career, style, wellness and giving back. Now back in Toronto, she can be found hopping from coffee shop to coffee shop, dancing down the street to Hotline Bling or on the hunt for her next Renegade profile.
Did you always want to be in the media? If not, what other careers were on the horizon?
I actually started out in editorial working for Style at Home magazine, then moved to the world of travel PR. I worked in the UK for Contiki as the PR + Partnerships Manager before venturing off to do my own thing with This Renegade Love. I always knew I wanted to be in the creative field and I loved writing, but those initial career experiences and the mentors I gained along the way definitely helped to carve out the path that was right for me.
Where would you like to be five years from now?
I would love to take This Renegade Love offline and build it into a full lifestyle brand. My focus has always been on positivity and sharing the stories of ordinary people whose extraordinary lives have the power to inspire others. I think that message could carry on to bigger audiences – conferences, networking events, maybe even retail. Just like it says on my business cards: ‘Anything is possible.’
Any advice for people getting started in your industry?
Network until you simply cannot network anymore (which is never!). Every amazing opportunity that has come to me has happened through putting myself out there, going to events even when I’d rather stay at home in my PJs, and meeting up with industry folks for a face-to-face over coffee.
What are your favourite media outlets, not including your own?
I’ve always been fascinated by storytelling and the lives of others, so Vanity Fair is my go-to magazine every month. I’m also a big fan of Garance Dore’s blog – she’s an excellent writer and infuses a healthy dose of humour into her posts. And the Gawker comments section – proof that the internet is just amazing.
Best interview you’ve ever had?
All of my Renegade profiles so far! I absolutely love sitting down with people and hearing the path they’ve taken to get where they are today (which is usually a totally ass-backwards path, by the way). Each one has left me feeling inspired and so excited to share with my readers.
When I worked at Style at Home I had to interview a designer over the phone and they were giving me one-word answers while they were driving – it was like pulling teeth trying to get any info out of them. It also didn’t help that I was pretty green at that time, so I was already scared shitless that I wasn’t going to get the quotes I needed. I ended up following up via email and their PR rep did a great job of filling in the blanks (thank god for the understanding PR pros of the world!).
Best advice you’ve ever been given?
Stop comparing your beginning to somebody else’s middle.
What rule(s) do you live your life by?
Treat everyone as you would want to be treated. There’s so much to be said for someone who is humble, respectful and appreciative, no matter what position they’re in or who they’re speaking to.
What’s the most important tip you can give PR pros?
Find the balance between professional and personable. It’s about being a rock star at your job and knowing that I can count on you, but also creating a friendly relationship where I’m genuinely excited to see you at events and have a laugh over a cocktail. If you can find that sweet spot, it’s a total win.
Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro? We love to hear about wins.
A few years back, I met a PR pro at an event and we got on to chatting about our dogs. The following week, I received a goody basket for my pup! She didn’t rep any of the brands included in the basket – it was just a sweet gesture that I’ve never forgotten. From that point forward, I would bend over backwards to help her out.
Rude people, tomatoes, wet socks, no WiFi.
Lattes from Boxcar Social, hearty laughs, poutine, head-to-toe black, a solid pinot grigio. Oh and going to events solo. It’s totally uncomfortable, but that’s the point – it forces me out of my comfort zone and allows me to talk to new people rather than use my plus-one as a social crutch.
I’m actually re-reading Contagious by Jonah Berger – it’s a book that deconstructs why certain things catch on, why people talk about some products more than others and how content goes viral. Super interesting and easy to digest.
Best place on earth?
My family’s cottage in the fall. Nothing better.
My dad. Sounds cliché, but I don’t know anyone who has worked harder to build a better life for themselves, despite the odds stacked against them.
Instagram (always), Giftagram and Ritual. I’m super into convenient technology and Ritual allows me to skip the line at my fave food spots downtown, while Giftagram lets me pick from a curated selection of awesome gifts and send/pay via their app. Plus they’re both Canadian!
Pool or ocean?
The ocean. I love the salt on my skin.
Voicemail or email?
Email followed by a face-to-face. I love meeting new people, but I find cold-calling soooo awkward for both parties.