Friday: Last night was so fun! Also: Why virtual events are still a really great idea (and what I'm working on today and through the weekend!)
Good morning and happy Friday!
I know…it felt a little like we’d never get there this week, right?
I had so much fun last night hosting a virtual cocktail class for a large group of good friends from around the country.
This event has been in the works since mid-summer, and involved all the facets of a great virtual event — a fun secret ingredient reveal, an interactive element (we all made fun syrups and purees together and then made cocktails and mocktails out of them) and, of course, the most important aspect of all — just time together having fun. We even got to have a toast on-screen for a friend’s birthday that made it extra meaningful. It makes me SO happy that friends of mine from different areas of my life have become friends themselves over the last few years because of these virtual events.
Sometimes when I do virtual consulting sessions, the question comes up about if we’re all Zoom’d out, and if virtual events are done as everyone is doing “real” events again. I couldn’t disagree more. Yes, I’m doing in-person events again — I go to at least one a week. In fact, I’m going to FOUR next week because of NYCWFF - but I do believe that virtual events still very much are important and have their place. I think, ultimately, the best course of action for any brand planning a launch or an event is to imagine some kind of a hybrid structure — perhaps a cooking class that people can participate in live at a site but also “attend” virtually from their own kitchen.
But virtual events offer so many opportunities that we can’t ignore. It allows people to attend an event without having to travel to an event, and for those of us who GETTING TO an event requires more time out of our schedule than being there, it’s an important consideration. But perhaps even more important — it allows you as a brand to have an event that people from anywhere can attend all at once.
During the pandemic at one point I hosted a mocktail event for a brand where we hired my friend Kristin to lead a meditation portion - at the time she was living in Barcelona! So here, we had a brand based on the west coast, a host (me!) based on the east coast, and meditation led by someone on another continent — and there were guests that represented 15 different states. That’s just a personal example. But last night too, I had friends from all over the country join in. You can’t say that for a local event, and that’s why it’s so great to have both virtual and IRL events as a hybrid option.
Speaking of IRL - have exciting plans for tonight! My brother’s birthday is this weekend, and Fogo de Chao invited me in to try out an authentic CHURRASCO experience, and I’m going to take him as my guest. I got to do this kind of dining once before, when Amber and I were on a press trip to Brazil many years ago, and loved it, but haven’t since — so excited to be able to have him experience it for his birthday, and have me re-experience it for, well, journalism. And also, well, deliciousness.
Since people are often asking about the status of stories from a while ago, and I only share stories in this newsletter that were published or updated in the current week, I have created a list of my author pages at various publications to which I contribute. Bookmark it and make your life a bit easier.
This list will live on my Substack URL and be updated as necessary. That way, you can see what I’m doing at any publication, at any time, from types of stories to general structure of stories to even volume and frequency of my content at that outlet.
This can also help you to target pitching a bit better. That makes your job easier, and mine too!
Food Network: After 6 Long Years, McDonald’s Brings Back Its Happy Meal Halloween Pails
Food Network: I Tried Rao’s New Frozen Pizzas
Food Network: Walmart’s Rollbacks and More Sale Is Coming — Just in Time for Early Holiday Shopping
Her Money: 5 Biggest Holiday Travel Budgeting Mistakes
Yahoo Life: Chili crunch is the versatile condiment you need to be using. Learn the best brands to try, plus how to make it at home.
The Kitchn: I Tried the Avocado Slicing Hack Going Wild on Social Media and I’m Not So Sure About It
Food Network: Where To Get Tyson’s Too-cute Halloween Nuggets
Food Network: Find M&M’s New Character, Purple, on New Caramel Cold Brew Packs
The Kitchn: These Super-Easy One-Cup Eggs Will Make Breakfast Meal Prep a Breeze
Food Network: Compartés’ New Care Bears Chocolate Bar Is Giving Us Sweet Nostalgia
Forbes: Molly Yeh’s New Minnesota Restaurant Celebrates The Flavors Of The Midwest
Yahoo Life: What is mulled cider? Get a recipe — and tips — for making the spiced drink at home.
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.
Please consult my industry insights guides on submitting expert commentary, sending emails that will catch a journalist’s attention, how to craft pitches journalists will say ‘yes’ to, and the right and wrong way to submit photos, if you need any extra guidance before sending your pitches.
The best apps for better sleep: I’m looking for experts to speak to stats on women not getting enough sleep, and that leading to stress. And also roundup a bunch of apps for getting better sleep - please when pitching me an app let me know if it’s free or paid, and some details about features and how it works. This is a quick turnaround one, so please get responses to me by tomorrow EOD.
I’m starting to put out preliminary feelers for deals/freebies at restaurant chains for National Pasta Day, National Dessert Day, and Halloween. If there’s a roundup for these days it’ll largely depend on if there’s a bunch of great deals that come my way - so if you have anything brewing, drop me a note!
In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month, I’m rounding up restaurants and bars who are supporting BCA with pink drinks. These CANNOT just be drinks that happen to be pink in color, but must also donate some proceeds to breast cancer charities. If you have anything, please send the details, including name of restaurant/bar, where they are located, a description of the drink, and a quote about the drink (remembering to tell me the name of the person who is being quoted.) And please remember to include how they are supporting BCA (who they are donating to, how much, etc)
Also, I’m rounding up fun, spooky cocktails restaurants nationwide are doing for Halloween. When submitting, please do same parameters as for the story above.
What makes a recipe recession proof? Working on a probe which/what ingredients see the least amount of price fluctuations, inspired by this thread:
I’d love to chat with someone who specializes in consumer trends or food price trends or something along those lines and find out if there are ingredients that are less-likely to rise in price and pretty much stay around the same cost. I know dried beans is one...but also canned goods? All canned goods or certain ones but not others? Dried pasta? Ramen? Things like that? Chefs and restaurant owners would work well, too!
I’m also doing a story on mince meat - would love a chef to weigh in!
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.
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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 (This summer, I even 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 fall.
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Have a great day!