Secrets Of Reality TV + Tips To Getting on a Show

Reality TV has been a hot topic for me lately. While I don’t often talk about work, I spend a lot of time with clients developing reality TV shows from start to finish. It is something I just fell into and wound up loving. While each project is unique and exciting, it has also jaded me from watching TV like a normal person. With every new scene, I watch it through a “man behind the camera” lens.

Last week, I chatted with Mary Mel of WRUW about my love for Erika Jayne, work and the change of going back to school to get my masters in PR/AD. Reality TV, more specifically Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, has always been my guilty pleasure. When I am stressed, I numb my brain with their complaints about their 15 nannies and gossipy glam sessions.

With so many people consuming reality TV and a new show popping up every week, I wanted to share some behind the scenes facts and tips on how to land your own TV show and what really goes down behind the camera, because let’s be real: I know some of you lead crazy enough lives to deserve a camera crew.

1 | Although it is “reality,” nothing is unplanned. Every conversation is sketched out in a plot-line. While this does not mean scripted, there is a general guide of what the subjects will talk about and when. If the producer does not catch a scene exactly as they need it, the subjects may be asked to create it again. On a different note, even late night talk shows are scripted. Producers will check with a celebrities publicist to get talking points and the host will rehearse them with the interviewee.

2 | Reality TV shows seek out “flawed” individuals. Whether it is having a harsh temper or being terrified of flying, you bet that  producer is going to pick on your weaknesses. Take a TV show like The Bachelor for example, there can only be one winner. That means that of the 30 girls in the cast each season, only a few can be “normal.” They have to fill the season with other tune-in worthy stuff to keep viewership high, and that means c.r.a.z.y. Imperfections set you apart- sometimes in a good way.

3 | You only see a small portion of the action. Something that drives me crazy is when I see hundreds of angry tweets about a specific moment on a show and in reality producers are master manipulators. They have 50 hours of video content, and cut together different scenes into a half hour episode. If someone gets eliminated on a talent show for bombing, remember that all of their applause could have been cut out and they could have been eliminated simply because they weren’t as interesting as other contestants.

4 | A show cast or contestants on a talent show are chosen to play specific “characters.” People are cast to fill specific roles, for example “the mean girl” or the “girl next-door.” The cast signs onto these roles and agrees to play to that role for the camera. Ex. Corinne from The Bachelor.

5 | Getting a show picked up by a network isn’t easy. Having a show go from concept to on air can take many, many years. Typically, a production house will fund your concept and then try to sell it to a network. People think it is glamorous, but in reality it is a lot of waiting around! There are many different ways that a network can order a TV show, so it changes depending on the case. Your best bet for getting picked up for a TV show is to send an email directly to a production company, such as Story Monster, to see if they are developing anything.

Obviously every case is different and some shows are filmed with honesty, but a large chunk of the TV we consume on a daily basis follows these steps.

Did you know any of these things before? What is your take on reality TV?

❤ Al

Casual in Nashville

 

This past week I finally got to visit Nashville! DJ frequently takes trips to Nashville for work, but since beginning my masters program at DePaul University in Chicago it has become difficult to travel due to missing class. I had my Spring Break last week and tagged along on DJ’s work trip that he extended through the weekend so we could explore and it did not disappoint.

It felt SO.GOOD. to get away from the cold weather in Chicago and walk around without a jacket most of the trip. I had no idea that there were so many different areas to explore besides the touristy downtown- I explored 12 South and Germantown. 12 South is home to a lot of great, small stores and restaurants as well as Draper James. Draper James is adorable but dangerous because one thing is cuter than the next- more on that in a post to come!

Shop some of my favorite Draper James picks: Totes Y’all, the worlds cutest Easter dress, embroidered cocktail napkin, lace shirt dress.

I stuck to basics throughout my trip, opting for dark denim, my new favorite flats and nontraditional, light tops. I found these flats at Nordstrom in Chicago last month. They are by Tory Burch’s previous designer, Mercedes Castillo. They are SO ingenious because you can wear them as a slide, or slip a leather cord through the sides of the flat for a tie-up style sandal. I already have my eye on these (and every other shoe in her line- lol.)

Top (only $30!) Jeans. Flats.

Some beautiful old houses I snapped while wandering around Germantown. If you visit Nashville anytime soon, I would highly recommend heading to this area! We are thinking that we would like to visit Charleston soon- any recommendations?

❤ Al

Ina Garten’s Aperol Spritzer

There are very few “famous” people that I admire, and it is an odd assortment at best! I love Lori from Shark Tank, Mike + Frank from American Pickers…and of course Ina Garten from Food Network. I do not just admire Ina for her cooking skills, but for her ability to turn something out of nothing: IE the failing Hamptons grocery store she bought all those years ago and then flipped into a cooking empire.

This month, my mom took me to see Ina Garten “in conversation.” She told old stories of when she met Jeffrey and what it was really like opening up that tiny grocery store. I also got a signed copy of Cooking For Jeffrey, which I have already made three recipes out of. They were shockingly simple to follow and came out exactly as they were supposed to.

If you have ever watched a single Ina Garten cooking show, you know two things: she loves Jeffrey, but she LOVES to drink cocktails in her garden. My kind of girl. I made Ina’s Aperol Spritzers for my family and they were a hit. It is the kind of cocktail you want to sit in the warm sun and drink, plus it does not require a lot of ingredients. Here is what you will need:

 

Ina Garten’s Aperol Spritzers:

Ice

1 bottle of Prosecco, chilled

12 ounces Aperol

1 bottle San Pellegrino (any sparkling water will work!)

6 half-round orange slices (I prefer blood orange!)

“For each drink, fill a 14- to 16-ounce tumbler three-quarters full with ice. Fill each glass two-thirds full with Prosecco, add 2 ounces of the Aperol, a splash of San Pellegrino, and an orange slice, and stir. Serve ice cold.”

 

Do you have a favorite summertime cocktail? The Eastern Standard is another one of my favorites.

 

❤ Al

Downtown Chic

Chicago Style Chicago Style Chicago Style Chicago Style Chicago Style Chicago Style

Sweater: Nordstrom (Similar here) // Jeans: Topshop @ Nordstrom // Boots: Aldo

Hair Products: Moroccan Oil and Blowout Sealing Serum

Shampoo: Fekkai // Conditioner: Fekkai

I have been meaning to channel my inner tourist and share some images that really capture the epitome of Chicago. I wanted to live here for a reason, right? One of the most iconic pictures in Chicago is the infamous CHICAGO marquee located at State and Lake at the Chicago Theatre. I work right next door to it so I get to see it every morning and night as I get off and on the redline. State street is great for shopping (I call the Macy’s the Disneyland shopping adventure of Chicago) and you’re in the heart of the city’s Theatre district where you can easily snag student rush tickets to a show.

It has still been a little colder than usual in Chicago, so I went with a black sweater, torn jeans, and ankle boots. I tend to lightly style my hair during the work week and use more products/ heat on it during the weekends, so I think that could be a reason as to why my hair grows so fast (I am in a desperate need of a haircut…). I shared a few of my hair products I use in case anyone is looking for new product recos! Moroccan oil has been my go to for years, and sometimes I mix it with my Korres Wild Rose + Vitamin C Advanced Brightening Sleeping Facial to give my face ultimate moisture before bed. Any must have black clothing items you have spotted? Let me know!

XO.

Lex

Stay-caytion in Chicago

Waldorf Astoria Chicago

I love my city. One of the things I love most is you never feel too consumed from living in Chicago. You can always go to different places throughout the city to get fresh air and clear your mind. One way Bill and I decided to get some savvy R&R was to take a little stay-cation. Our stay was made extra special thanks to the hospitality from the Waldorf Astoria Chicago. We are familiar with the Gold Coast neighborhood and have many memories there but being a guest in your own city for once is pretty fun and something different. Bill and I relaxed, did some shopping, and had delicious dinners during our stay. I think my favorite thing about our short and sweet vacation was the fireplace in our hotel room.. it’s the little things that matter right?

I encourage you to take a stay-cation in your city, whether it be by yourself, with a friend, or lover.

A few tips I have when you are thinking about taking a stay-cation:

  • Plan ahead: Think of where you ideally want to stay, and a few new dinner spots you have been wanting to try.
  • Bring an outfit you normally wouldn’t wear out: I don’t mean bring something outrageous. Just bring a dress you never have a chance to wear but always receive compliments on. Dress up because it makes you feel fabulous.
  • Do something tourist-y: Yep. You read that correctly. Bill and I went to the Lincoln Park Conservatory on an off day when it wasn’t busy. It reminded both of us what a beautiful city we live in and how nice our local attractions are.

I shared a few photos from our stay-cation below: Fireplace, Balcony, Outfits and more.

If it’s not going away from your home for a weekend, find a great movie, make your favorite snack and splurge on that fancy candle you have been dying to try.

XO.

Lex

The Waldorf Astoria Chicago

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Dinner at Merlo Maple
Waldorf Astoria ChicagoMerlo Maple Chicago

Top: Free People (similar here!) // Boots: Steve Madden

A Day as a Tourist at the Lincoln Park Conservatory

Lincoln Park Conservatory

Jacket: Hinge @ Nordstrom (Another fave here) // Hat: BP @ Nordstrom // Leggings: Zella // Shoes: Nike (similarLincoln Park Conservatory Lincoln Park Conservatory Lincoln Park Conservatory Lincoln Park Conservatory Lincoln Park Conservatory

Conference Call 101: How to Chat With Brands

 

In the past few weeks I have talked about the FTC Blogger Guidelines and how Edelman is changing the data analytics game for bloggers- last week was How To Pitch. Your goal after sending a pitch should always be to get XYZ Brand PR person on a call.

A simple phone call is something that is often overlooked, but can make a great impression on someone. One of the things that has stuck with me through my years in PR was Hillary Sawchuk of A Drink With telling me that when you want to work with someone, always try to get them on the phone. It is much, much harder for someone to say no to you on the phone than via email. Phone calls can be scary, especially if you are like me and do not particularly love chatting on the phone.

Below are some helpful tips for brand phone calls and a sample call agenda that I use for calls with clients and the people I work with for my clients. It helps me stay organized and not feel unprepared.

sample call agenda

Organizing a call can be difficult- but including extra information in the calendar invite helps to keep everyone on the same page.

  • Title the call invite with your name and the brands name.
  • Put a quick discussion overview so your team is prepared. If it is just you, it gives you a simple guide so you do not get stuck in an awkward silence.
  • Always put the titles and contact numbers or emails of everyone joining the call. This helps call attendees to know who is from where so there is no confusion.
  • Use a service like FreeConferenceCall.com. FCC gives you a free dial in number and access code. Using FCC looks professional, and helps avoid confusion about who is calling who.

Knowing what to ask can be tricky. Here are some sample questions that you can talk through with your brand:

  • What are their initiatives for the year?
  • What is the brand’s target demographic?
  • How would they describe their current consumer?
  • When does the brand plan their budget?
  • Is social media a top priority for them?
  • What information can you provide them?
  • Do you have any upcoming initiatives you are trying to promote?

 

❤ Al

 

Alexandra Moresco is the owner and founder of A Moresco PR + Digital Strategy.

 

 

I Spy: Custom Cocktail Napkins

 

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Lettermade is a brand for the modern traditionalist, who values classic design and decor stirred up with a contemporary flare,” boasts the Lettermade About page. I would say…I have to agree.

I have always loved picking up small treasures at street markets and boutiques throughout my travels. Putting them in the perfect place when I return home makes me smile and remember the memories that are held with that piece. I stumbled upon the Lettermade Instagram last week, and loved the line “modern traditionalist.” If I had to describe myself in two words, this would be it. I love a classic palette (hello light-grey walls!) mixed with pieces from my favorite street artists.

The next addition to my home-goods collection will be these hashtag cocktail napkins. The dainty design will look great out on a bar cart, as well as scattered over end-tables and beneath unique glassware. Quick tip: steal the idea in the above champagne photo and rim glasses with glittery sanding sugar to kick your cocktails up a notch.

 

 

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How To: Land Your Fashion Dream Job According To An Insider Part II

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In a two part guest series, Ashley Altstadt let’s you in on her tips and recommendations for going after what you want, and ultimately landing a coveted spot in the fashion industry. This is part II.

 

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Do as much as you can on the side.

When I’m not at my current job, I’m writing for online fashion magazines. Start a blog, take photos and show off your work anyway that you can. Companies want to see someone that takes the time to do what they love. Having a blog will also show off your personality and point of view to future employers.

 

Dress the part.

When you’re trying to land your dream job, you want to be taken seriously. I always go for a tailored pant or a midi dress for an interview. Employers want to see that you can put yourself together, but you also have your own personal style. Don’t wear too much jewelry, keep it light on the make-up, and always wear heels that you feel confident in.

 

Research.

Before every interview I always research the company inside and out. You want to impress these future employers by knowing the company background and philosophies. Doing your homework shows that you’re serious about the job.

 

Be smart on social media.

Make sure that you’re putting out a positive image of yourself on every social media platform. Employers will look there first to see what you’re like and who you are. I always stick to classy and respectable posts because you never know who is looking. Social media has become the largest representations of ourselves whether we like it or not.

 

SMILE.

I’ve learned that being nice to people will get you further in life than anything else. Always be pleasant, be nice to everyone you meet and SMILE! Also, HAVE FUN! Fashion is supposed to be creative, artistic and exciting.

 

 LET’S GET SOCIAL: Snapchat: StreetStyleChi / Instagram: Follow Along / Twitter: Tweet Me

How To: Land Your Fashion Dream Job According To An Insider

Ashley Alstadt Post

Ashley Altstadt completed seven internships throughout college, studied abroad, and got her dream job right out of school. With an internship at InStyle and Paige Denim under her belt, it’s no surprise that Joie, Current Elliott and Equipment scooped her up without thinking twice. In a two part guest series, Altstadt let’s you in on her tips and recommendations for going after what you want, and ultimately landing a coveted spot in the fashion industry.

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How To: Get Your Fashion Dream Job

By: Ashley Altstadt

At the age of 24 I’ve just landed my fashion dream job of working as an International Sales Assistant for Joie, Current/Elliott and Equipment. My duties involve helping to manage accounts internationally, while also prepping for appointments abroad. My love of fashion and worldwide travel has finally come into one, and this is how I got here.

 

 

Intern.

 

Throughout my years of college, I managed to complete a total of seven internships. I worked in every area of the fashion industry to not only expand my knowledge, but to really grasp what I was good at. I did internships ranging from Public Relations at Paige Denim to styling on movies to Editorial Intern at InStyle Magazine. Take every opportunity you can, even if it means working for free. The lessons that you will learn at each internship are absolutely priceless.

 

Study.

 

I was lucky enough to receive my Bachelor’s Degree in Apparel Merchandise and Management from Cal Poly Pomona. From sewing to managing my own business, I was set to go into the real world once I graduated. Even if you aren’t doing a four year degree in fashion, taking a class here and there will help tremendously when working at your dream job. Some things you need to know can’t be taught through real-life experience.

 

Study abroad.

 

My last quarter of college was spent studying International Fashion in London. While studying, I also worked as an Editorial Assistant for Verge Magazine. Studying abroad expands your mind to different cultures and how unique the world is. All of my travels taught me so much about myself, but also taught me how beautiful fashion is in other countries than my own. I was able to fully step outside my comfort zone and grow as a person.

 

Never take ‘no’ as an answer.

 

During my life I’ve been told ‘no’ more times than I can even remember. I’ve gone on multiple interviews, sent out thousands of e-mails, and followed up with every employer I could. From all of this work, I’ve usually only gotten a few responses. If I gave up I would have never gotten the dream job that I have today. Always stay positive and know that the right job is out there and what’s meant to be will always find its way.

 

Go for those once in a lifetime opportunities.

 

In college, I was so honored to be accepted to Teen Vogue Fashion University two years in a row. This was a weekend of seminars in New York City at the Teen Vogue offices. The speakers at these seminars ranged from Alexa Chung to Grace Coddington. When I got my acceptance letter, I knew it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up even if it would cost me a pretty penny. I’ve learned it’s worth it to save that extra money and spend it on experiences rather than possessions.

 

Check back on 5.25 for Part II.

What You Need To Know About The FTC Blogger Guidelines

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In 2013, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released updated guidelines and regulations for advertising in relation to social media and bloggers. When the guidelines were first released, there was not much talk of it. In the last week or so, blog readers raised eyebrows when 50 bloggers coincidentally wore the same Lord & Taylor Design Lab dress on Instagram. As it turns out, it was not a coincidence and Lord & Taylor had sponsored the posts and gifted the dress to each blogger. The goal was to cause a social media frenzy, and it worked: the dress sold out by the end of the weekend.

While there is no proven statistical correlation between Instagram and ROI, there is no denying the influential power of social media as the latest advertising tool. With social media being unregulated, it is difficult for the Federal Trade Commission to keep an eye on.

With the recent rules coming to light, here is what you need to know:

  • The largest point: All endorsements, sponsored pieces, and gifted items need to be disclosed on all forms of media, including Instagram and Twitter.
  • The disclosure must be made close to the original post (ex. If you promote a bag on Instagram, it must say “sponsored” in the same post.)
  • Disclosure is required in videos, not just written posts.
  • The FTC leaves it up to the brand to make it clear that they require the proper citations, and will ultimately go after the brand if the blogger enlisted to endorse their product does not follow the rules.

If you are looking for more information on brand/blogger relationships and disclosures, I recommend you check out this link.