Happy Hump Day! Today's Productivity Tip, New Pending Assignments, And Recently Published Stories...
Last night (despite having a to-do list a mile long) I found myself engrossed in a Netflix series about a vampire that falls in love with a slayer. (Sound familiar???) It, of course, had NOTHING on Buffy, which is one of my favorite shows of all time, but is still a fun, light, sort of campy view. It's called First Kill, and I recommend it!
I'm starting to accept some press travel for summer and it seems like there's some exciting things in the works. As of now, I'm tentatively in Wisconsin in late July, Vegas in mid-August, and Louisville in early September. Perhaps there’ll end up being a few other fun cities in the works at other points this summer. These are all pretty quick in-out sort of media trips, and none are 100% confirmed yet, but to those who live in the area, I'll for sure keep you posted if I have any downtime to grab a drink or a coffee. I'd love to make this the season (or continued season) of reconnecting with friends far and wide.
I got so much of a positive response to the productivity tips I've been sharing occasionally lately that I'm going to try to make it more of a regular feature. Today, I want to take a minute to discuss my undying love of Google Docs.
I want to be honest. I was a bit late to the Google Docs party. People were into it for years, and always encouraged me to give it a try. I would always respond, though, I love Microsoft Word. I have always had Word. Why would I use or need anything else if I have that?
And yes, I still do have that and use it nearly every day. But I use Google Docs far more, and here is why:
1 - Much like yesterday's email discussion about writing and responding to emails offline, you can work on a document offline and then share it when you are back on wifi. This is so great for productivity when in an area without wifi available.
2. You don't need to choose it OR Microsoft. I use it to edit Microsoft documents all the time.
3. Emailing documents. Email or share a document from within the document, without ever opening your email. They don't even have to be a Google/Gmail user to receive it and work on it!
4. Editing PDFs - I just did this this morning. I was working on an embargo'd story for one of my outlets and the publicist sent me the information I needed as far as retail info in a PDF. I just wanted to grab it to insert in my own draft. In Google Docs, I was able to!
5. Inserting images/maps/graphics - I use this a lot. You can insert a handwritten signature rather than printing out and then signing (which is great if you, say, are me and don't have a printer). You can also insert an image into a story, if perhaps you are writing a how-to or step-by-step recipe, or even insert a map! Also use that drawing function you use on the signature to modify an image, say, if you want to circle or point to a specific aspect.
6. Assign edits! This is great if you are collaborating with a bunch of people but want to tag a specific person in a comment or to insert information.
7. Change history. GOD. We all do this. We are editing documents and make changes we wish we hadn't. Google Docs doesn't just save the current version of what you are working on, but a complete document history that you can go back on. Being able to tap into your revision history at any time can save A WHOLE LOT of drama and panicking.
8. VOICE TYPING. I did an entire post about this once but it bears repeating. For those of us who conduct interviews and spend a lot of time transcribing after, there's an easier way. You can can transcribe any audio files using the voice typing feature. As my prior practice was to play an audio file from my phone or my computer and just pause it every few seconds to type each word, this is an epic time saver. To use it, just go to go to “Tools” and then “Voice typing." Is your microphone enabled? Google will transcribe it all for you. You can even use voice commands for stuff like "period," "question mark" and "em dash."
This is all the tip of the iceberg and there's SO MUCH MORE, from using it to dig up definitions, adding citations, creating a table of contents, to finding links without leaving the page, to accessing and inserting entire notes files, to even turning any document into a live webpage instantly. But I'll stop for now. We have a lot of work to do today!
OK, now moving on to today's story leads!
Note: You'll see there were a handful of July 4th pieces for several outlets that are no longer listed under pending stories below. They all got wrapped up and submitted yesterday and will probably publish in the next few days! While updates are indeed possible, they will be at my editor's discretion, and not mine, so please hold all July 4th pitches you have not already sent for now. Thanks!
PS: Last night’s Instagram video cooking exercise was salmon and broccoli in a Thai red curry. Go check it out now!
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Newly published or freshly updated stories
RetailMeNot: 13 Stores That Let You Bring in Old Clothes for Recycling
Oxygen: How to Incorporate Your Dog Into Your Workout Routine
The Kitchn: You Can Make Almond Milk at Home and All You Need Are Two Ingredients and Your Juicer.
If you or your client are featured in any of these stories, I super appreciate any social media shares tagging @alywalansky and the outlet.
Here's what I'm working on:
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.
There's a Sriracha shortage coming. If you are a fan of keeping things hot, what are some other great products to try? (Personally, I always have Sambal, Gochujang, and Chili Oil in my arsenal) Would love pitches and links to where they are sold. Also, if someone wants to try to make their own Sriracha at home (or a close substitute, tastewise), how could they do that? Would love a chef to weigh in on this one with an easy step by step. Thanks!
How to save money and get a better deal when booking/planning a cruise - I'd love travel experts and personal finance experts to weigh in on this one.
Are meal kits a good value? I love them so much, and I think they can be amazing for people who live alone and aren't super comfortable being creative in the kitchen or tend to overbuy ingredients and end up with a lot of waste (I'm looking at you...produce!). These kits were so popular during the pandemic, but are they still? How to know if you are getting a good deal...(also, are some better than others? What to look out for. I absolutely know I've personally had a range of experiences.) Would love experts to weigh in on this one.
10 surprisingly affordable last-minute vacation deals/destinations for your summer vacation. For each one, I want to mention a hotel in each that is a good find and/or a few restaurants that are known to be great but aren't pricey, too.
I'm writing a roundup of student discounts. I am updating this article, so if your client is listed among the existing deals, I’d love it if you can confirm for me whether it has changed or not. But I’m very open to new deals too!
I’m also 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.
Virtual consulting sessions...
I've been popping into a lot of PR team virtual meetings and making myself available to answer all sorts of questions about pitching, events, and trips from a media perspective. 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 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!)
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Appreciate and value all those updates. Sent you a brief idea surrounding National Lasagna Day (July 29th). It has a feel-good component, but also wraps in notable brands including Carrabba’s Italian Grill (which does have a deal) and RAGU, among others. Would love to collaborate--it feels right up your alley, Aly! :)
Hi Aly! I have a new brand you can include in your student discount writeup. Just let me know the best way to get you that information.