Aly's Friday Newsletter: On Anxiety, Insomnia, And Trying To Maintain Focus Anyway
This week, between the wild happenings in the UK government and last night's shocking assassination of Shinzo Abe, it's been a rather rampant wave of insomnia.
Especially since all this news tends to break late at night…
To be honest, all our lives has been a pretty nonstop cycle of anxiety for a few years now. And it never seems to get any better. In fact, for a lot of people, sometimes life feels like one of those house of cards, where you always worry that one more card piled on will be the one that topples the whole deck.
Apologies in advance if this newsletter today feels oddly disjointed, relatedly (and extra apologies to the team I am hosting a lunch and learn with in a few hours -- thank goodness for concealer!).
So, I wonder if, since we all have anxiety and insomnia pretty much...all the time lately (or at least I do), but we still have to be productive, if today's tip should be about ways to stay productive even when our anxiety makes it harder to stay centered and focused on our projects.
I think for me, at least, the issue that lack of sleep and stress have on my productivity is that it make it harder to center myself and stay focused. So, these are a few things I do that help me with conquering that:
1 - Listen to music. I mentioned a few weeks ago I have a soothing workday music playlist. This music actually helps to relax my nerves and for me to maintain focus and not get distracted.
2. BREATHE. Yes, I know you think you are breathing right now. But if you are stressed out, I bet those breaths are kind of short and shallow. (Every time there’s a mass shooting in this country, or when Roe was overturned, tell me if you weren’t breathing differently. Chances are you still are.) Those shallow breaths aren't going to be productive breaths. Take the time to breathe deeply. It'll help you relax and focus! It really works.
3. Stretch. Whether this is a walk around the block or getting up to walk to the kitchen to make a coffee, it will help you center your thoughts.
4. Surround yourself with positivity. Avoid the doom scroll. Avoid discussing the doom scroll. Hell, avoid social media altogether during the workday if you can. Limit your workday conversations to positive discussions with people who make you feel good. And reward yourself at the end of the day with a movie or TV series that is light and fun and makes you feel good.
5. Focus on the present: The world is basically always on fire. It has been for years. But you still have a job to do. Never feel guilty about turning the news and your social media (and those iMessages!) off and getting to work.
Anyway, I'd love to open it up to the floor. How do you cope with anxiety? And, well, while we're on the subject...insomnia? (And yes, I've tried everything from getting good pillows to using melatonin..and yet.)
Speaking of of being productive…
Yesterday, a publicist emailed and asked me if it was possible to get a weekly digest of my newsletter, rather than the normal daily subscription, so that she doesn’t have an email from me clogging her inbox every day.
While that was obviously a bit hurtful (I’d never ask for her to combine her client pitches to one digest email a week!), I’d hate to be a burden on anyone’s inbox. Also, if I am working on a story with only 2 or 3 days to turn around, wouldn’t she miss out on the entire opportunity with a weekly digest? But anyway. It made me wonder.
So, a call to action: Are we enjoying the current newsletter format I’m doing? Am I providing what you need me to provide (or too much or too little of it?) - let me know! I personally love being able to give people updates every day so they can stay on top of everything I’m working on and we can all help each other, but I’m here to be useful to you. So, please let me know if there’s a way I can be more effective.
Newly published stories:
RetailMeNot: Free Beauty Gifts With Purchase Deals to Shop
RetailMeNot: A Guide To 65+ College Student Discounts
Southern Living: I have been working on a fun bunch of assignments this past month where I grab recipes that already exist on the site and add a bunch of long form background information, from ingredient selection and prep to serving and storing ideas, to the page following the recipe. The first one, on Peach Milkshakes, has been updated!
If you or your client are featured in any of these stories, I super appreciate any social media shares tagging @alywalansky and the outlet. Thanks!
What I’m working on now:
Be sure to read the below list carefully. Many are stories I posted about yesterday, but some of yesterday's stories are no longer listed and a few new ones have been added since yesterday. This (below) is everything that is still a currently open opportunity as of today.
Please remember when pitching me: Email me at email@example.com - do NOT just hit reply on this newsletter, or there’s a good shot your email will be lost in the heap. Give your email a subject line that makes it clear which story you are pitching me for — it’ll help you in the long run.
1- Things Nutritionists Actually Order from Panera: Would love RDs to weigh in on various items CURRENTLY on Panera menu (don't tell me about discontinued menu items) that nutritionists order and why they are good choices. Feel free to mix and match if, say, you like to have a soup and salad together or something. But be specific, lots of details, please!
2 - Zero-Prep Products That Make A *Perfect* Healthy Lunch: We have to pick our battles sometimes, right? I'm working on a mix-and-match story stuff you get at the grocery store that you don't have to chop or cook or do anything but open and eat, like this Trader Joe's story I did but stuff you can get at Publix/Kroger/Wegmans or whatever the regional chain you favor. Would love RD input on this!
3 - Best Trader Joe's Items for Easy, Healthy Summer Entertaining - this is very similar to the TJ's story linked above but I'm focusing on summer entertaining - those cheese and charcuterie plates, fun olive or pepper blends, interesting dips, etc. If you are an RD who wants to weigh in (and FINE to weigh in on multiple stories), please reach out!
National Mac and Cheese Day is coming up. I'm looking for bars/restaurants nationwide that have some rather unique/creative spin on mac and cheese on their menu. If you have something (must currently exist on the menu and be available to order), please send me:
Name of dish
Where it is (name of restaurant, city, state, URL)
Quote from chef about dish
High-res image of dish
I’m working on a story on best reusable cups freebies and discounts - establishments that give some kind of BYO cup discount. These types of discounts fell by the wayside for COVID, but have since started coming back.
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Every morning, I share what I’m working on that day and links to newly published stories and send it right into your inbox — for free! I also share productivity tips, job leads, links to volunteer and mentoring opportunities, recipes, and more — all always free.
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Virtual consulting sessions...
Looking for a consult as you plan your next event or trip? Or just want someone to take a look at the pitches you’ve been sending and give some feedback?
I've been popping into a lot of PR team virtual meetings and some other fun stuff (I even recently joined in on an agency’s team retreat right here in Brooklyn — it was so fun and I made so many new friends!) and making myself available to answer all sorts of questions about pitching, events, and trips from a media perspective. I like to keep these things chill and comfortable and relaxed all by sharing perspective and learning from one another.
If you are interested in setting anything up for your own team in the coming months, please email me and we'll get something on the books! This is available for entire agencies or smaller group lunch and learn type concepts. If you are a freelance publicist and want to join in with a few other freelance publicist friends and set something up, we can do that as well!
On the fence over whether this is a good fit for your team? Here’s some feedback I received from people who I have worked with recently:
"Aly’s advice and insight is invaluable to our team, not only is she incredibly knowledgeable, she is approachable, generous, and kind too. While we read every one of her newsletters, we decided to go one step further and invited Aly to host a Q&A with our agency. During the session, we felt comfortable asking her everything and anything. She went above and beyond, providing examples and reasoning for each answer, and the team walked away with an abundance of new insight, tips, and tricks, plus a new confidence in handling some of the most crucial parts of our jobs." Sacha Bell, Rachel Harrison Communications
"Looking for a brilliant writer that always goes above and beyond? Look no further than Aly! She is an incredible teacher, tells it exactly how it is and is so generous in sharing her knowledge. She knows what she wants from publicists, is very clear on her needs and expectations, and how to best support one another. Most of all, her kind personality jumps off the page, and her giggle and smile are infectious. In this consistently changing world of media, it’s so refreshing to know someone so genuine.” Kirsten Wanket
“Aly has very kindly agreed to join a few sessions for us talking to both smaller and larger internal groups, and it has been incredibly helpful for our team to understand more about her process, and garner best practices that we leverage as we work on various programs. From sharing dos and don’ts for virtual and in-person events to pitching tips, Aly is a pro and always so thoughtful in her responses. And her own first-hand knowledge has helped us all to better understand the work process for freelancers and how we can most effectively work with other freelancers like Aly. We always appreciate her time and insights!” Erin Delahanty, Edelman
“I would highly recommend booking a virtual consulting session with Aly for an agency of any size! She offers up to date perspective on everything from the affiliates to how to get your pitches read to timing your pitching correctly. These virtual consulting sessions literally save you time trying to figure out what the media is looking for and give your team an immediate edge. Aly took her time and answered questions from the team. She is super friendly and you can tell she genuinely wants to create a win-win relationship between the media and publicists. Our team loved having Aly on and we cannot wait to have her back! It was a blast!” Leah Cybulski, ChicExecs
“Aly was able to join our agency for a PR Perspectives chat and not only was it so much fun, but it was so informative! Keeping a pulse on the constantly changing media landscape is so important and we loved the insights and expertise Aly was able to share with us. Highly recommend setting up a chat with her!” Jennifer Haile, Dentsu Creative PR
“I am always looking for ways to share new ideas and learning opportunities with our team to improve how we pitch and offer value to journalists and in turn their audience. Aly's no nonsense approach gave us accessible advice about the best way to communicate to media, what formats works best, and basically how we can share our client news in a way that will get us noticed and included in stories. Would do again in a heartbeat!” Samantha Davidson, Say My Name Communications
“For my team’s first hybrid media event for a product launch in the COVID era, Aly quickly jumped on a Zoom and dropped great insights that drove many of the event elements. The direction she provided helped us increase attendance and gave her journalist colleagues a more memorable experience. It was a bonus that she was so easy and fun to talk to.” Apryl Ash, Approach Marketing
Now, it’s your turn! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to get something on my schedule for this summer.
Are you confused about affiliate marketing?
If you are having trouble learning how to navigate issues of affiliate marketing (trust me, we've all been there!), you may want to try out my friend Sarah Karger, a publicist, and former editor Dana Baardsen (and all-around fab girl!)'s Ultimate Masterclass and Introduction to Affiliate Marketing for Publicists. It's a brilliant course and it'll answer all your questions (including some you didn't know you had!)
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