Aly's Thursday Newsletter: On slowing down, and taking the time to be the best we can be
Happy day before Friday!
(Otherwise known as Thursday….we’re almost there…)
International Friendship Day is this weekend, and I love the whole concept behind it. Especially after all the forced isolation in recent years, there's nothing more important to me than to spend time with the people who we love.
Last night, I got to spend time with two of my closest friends, Amber and Lisa. We attended a reception at one of the most historical hotels in NYC (Are you familiar with the Algonquin Round Table? It has some incredible history behind it, especially for writers, and we were in the room!), and after, met up with more friends for dinner. (I even convinced the bartender at a major steakhouse with a pretty established martini program of their own to make a Dirty Aly!) - and tonight, I have exciting plans with another close friend. I’ll share more on that tomorrow!
Of course, an evening that includes a bar opening at a hotel followed by a martini dinner with friends is going to leave even the best behaved among us feeling a bit half-mast the next morning. And, to be honest, I’m not all that well behaved. Still, I had a great time, and I’d not change a thing!
We're all busy, and we all have a lot going on. But I think International Friendship Day should be more than a day on a weekend in July. I think every day we should cherish those special people in our lives, and let them know how much they mean to us. The ones who are always there for us when we need to talk, or who show up for those important moments in our lives. Or even for just a casual midweek drink. They are rare, and beautiful and special -- and I hope everyone gets to have friendships like those in their lives. I’m so grateful that I do.
In less beautiful news, I had some household drama this morning! A bird flew INTO my window. Not an open window, but a closed window...leaving me with a cracked window, feathers everywhere...and a missing bird that I am worried is injured or sick. This newsletter is in fact late this morning because I've been outside near my apartment building looking for this poor bird! I'm not sure how or why this happened, but I HAD just removed a plant from the window, and now I'm so concerned that had I left it there, the bird maybe wouldn't have been as disoriented, knew the window was there, and not had this terrible accident...
What I'm reading:
Check out my friend Lisa's awesome new Forbes piece about her key takeaways after spending three months playing undercover boss at her own company, to get a stronger idea of how each role operated. I think A LOT of leaders could benefit from learning how the sausage is made, so to speak. (BTW, Lisa does NOT make sausage.)
On a related note, today's tip is about...taking your time and looking inward
There's a lot of leadership lessons that can be learned from being involved in every step of the process in any business or line of work. I think we're at a point, in the media, where so many people are trying to get the news out first, or have the most clickable headline, that some are unfortunately sacrificing quality for speed. (Just look at the poor man who was declared dead in the headlines a day before he actually died! And this isn't even the first time in the past YEAR that has happened.)
I think a lot of us can benefit a lot from slowing down, looking inward, learning to listen, and giving more time and energy to what we're working on. We talk often in here about working smarter, not harder, but that to many translates as knocking stuff out faster, not better. But slowing down and taking your time and REALLY getting to know content, or a subject, will always result in better pitches, better interviews, better coverage, and better stories. Take the time to make sure your pitch is accurate. If you are a publicist writing a pitch saying somewhere is the first strawberry-centric cafe in a town, it should actually be true because I can Google that, and so can my readers. If you are a writer saying that a blowout brush is your favorite ever, your readers will notice if you say a different one is your favorite ever tomorrow. Be honest, be credible, be thorough. We as journalists chat a lot about how we hate to be asked to make updates or changes after a story is published. And we do. It causes all kinds of chaos in our editorial realm. But, one way to avoid those problems? Take your time, on both ends. Publicists, double check that your information is correct before sending it. And writers, do your due diligence on your end, too.
And isn't that what we're all here for? Not writing more stories, or longer stories with more words, but better stories. Those stories that resonate with the reader, or make them learn something or appreciate a topic more than they did before. I mean, I know that's why I studied journalism in college. I didn't just want to write. I wanted to write things that matter. I still do want that, and I hope sometimes I do!
Outshine PR is seeking a SoCal-based, full-time PR & Social Media Account Coordinator. They are based in Orange County, CA and specialize in food & beverage and hospitality. Here’s a link to the job!
I’ll be in Vegas for a few days in mid-August. I’m attending the opening night gala of a pretty huge celebrity’s first restaurant. I can’t give a lot of details quite yet, but I hope to be able to have time to meet some friends for coffee or a drink while I’m there!
I also have a few other trips coming up later this summer and in the early fall months, that I will share more information here as they get confirmed and details get ironed out.
Newly published this week…
Food Network: Salt & Straw Brings Back Its Version of the Choco Taco Just When We Need It Most
Clean Plates: The Best Trader Joe’s Items for Easy, Healthy Summer Entertaining According to Dietitians
TODAY.com: These restaurants are giving away free chips and guac for National Avocado Day
TODAY.com: How to get free wings on National Chicken Wing Day
Forbes: 20 Bright Pink Cocktails That Embrace The Barbiecore Trend
Forbes: The Bellagio Conservatory Has Launched A Meal Experience That Is Like No Other In Las Vegas
The Kitchn: Dave & Buster’s Has Just Made Our Childhood Fantasy a Reality
Taste of Home: How to Get the Bacon Smell Out of Your House
Forbes: JetBlue Teams With NYC-Based Legacy Records For New Mint Food Menu
Her Money: Trip Ruined Due To A Nightmare Travel Scenario? Here's How To Get A Credit For That
Clean Plates: The Best Ways to Eat Healthier and Save Money When You’re Flying
If you or your client are featured in any of these stories, I super appreciate any social media shares! Please remember to tag @alywalansky and the outlet.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org - 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.
I'm looking for nutritionists and RDs to share their go-to takeout order and why it's the best way to go in terms of nutritional value, well-balanced meals, being satisfied but not over-stuffed, and so forth. Obviously not specific restaurants, of course. but more like "if getting Chinese takeout, get this..." "if getting Indian takeout, get this..." and so forth. It’s fine to say “I order this but sub out this aspect for this aspect, or get it without the sauce or whatever.” Please reach out if you have someone who can comment!
I’m working on a roundup of great oyster-centric dishes in honor of National Oyster Day. To pitch me for this one please remember to include all the following parameters:
Name of dish
Where sold (restaurant, city, state, URL)
Description of dish
Quote about dish (please remember to give me the name AND title of the person being quoted - you’d never believe how many people forget to do this!)
High-quality image of dish (AND any necessary photo credits). Please be sure to name the image something like the dish’s name or restaurant’s name (I get A LOT of photo galleries of a million unnamed photos…you can imagine the carnage that can ensue if I choose the wrong image!)
2. On August 1, the world will celebrate National Spritz Day! Believe it or not...not everyone loves an Aperol Spritz. (No hate on Aperol, it's just not for everyone...). So I'm doing a roundup of OTHER spritzes to enjoy to celebrate this day. If you represent a bar or restaurant with a great spritz on the menu, please email me and let me know (and you can follow all the same parameters as the oysters story!)
3.Also for Forbes, I’m rounding up the celebrity chef restaurants that opened in the last year or so or are opening later in 2022 that are especially exciting. If you have any that might be a fit, please email me. I’ll need info about the restaurant, and some images I can use, and would LOVE if I could get a quote or two from the chef/owner. This is not a full-length feature on any restaurant but more of a roundup/list. (Though if any sound especially great I can consider for a more focused story down the line!)
I have a few weeks to play with these two, but that's because I need to compile a whole lot of info for these...
The Best Labor Day Sales to Shop Now - This is similar to the sales roundups I did for July 4th, Father's Day, and so forth. I'm rounding up the best Labor Day sales this year, focusing on major retailers such as Amazon, Walmart, Kohl’s, Macy’s etc. When pitching me, please include the details of the sale, if it’s in-store or online, and any cash back offers from RetailMeNot.
Your Guide to Labor Day Store Hours - I'm going to be doing a revamp of this article, about the store hours of major retailers during Labor Day weekend. I want to include the retailers that were in last year’s update (so please email me if you are any of those stores) but will be expanding and adding more in this update. Yes, this is very similar to the hours updates I've done for Memorial Day, July 4th, etc, so you know the drill by now as far as format goes!
I am looking for deals/discounts/freebies at chains for
National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day
If you have any, please tell me what the deal is, when it’s available and where, and how to claim it.
Share the love
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.
Please share this newsletter with a friend or colleague today. Every Friday, I randomly choose one new free subscriber who signed on that week. They will be automatically upgraded to a paid subscription for free — and, if they tell me who referred them to this Substack, that person will as well! These opportunities only get better if we share them with our friends.
Paid subscriptions get additional benefits, such as my weekly industry insights newsletters, subscriber Zoom chats, and much more.
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!
Potential new availability: A few people have reached out to me and asked if I was also open to doing consulting for freelance journalists in addition to the PR consulting sessions I currently do, and I am absolutely considering it. I need to spend some time thinking on what a session like that may look like and be structured, but after 20+ years in the industry, I’ve seen a whole lot change and it may be interesting to share my own experiences with someone just starting out. So, stay tuned!
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 spoke to our team to help us all gain a better understanding of the media side of our business. Whether it was the best ways to pitch media or understanding the editorial process of content, she gave us tremendous insight into a vital relationship for mutual success. We were thrilled and our team came away with not only a deeper understanding, but with greater empathy for our colleagues in the media market. Definitely would recommend Aly for any agency looking to better work with their media counterparts.” Dawn Britt, Founder/Managing Partner/CEO of OneSeven Agency
“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 email@example.com 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!)
Download the Substack App!
Good news! This newsletter is now available via app. That means you can keep up with everything you are reading from your phone. Download the app for iPhone and iPad here. For Android users, sign up for the waiting list here.
Aww poor bird! But not your fault!