TGIF! Here's what I'm working on for the weekend.
Good morning and happy Friday!
What a long week this has been...
I wanted to take a second to do some quick housekeeping that may help ALL of us help each other more successfully.
1. Please remember that even if we want to, it's not likely we as freelance contributors can "squeeze" your product/client/ice cream day deal into an already published story. Freelancers usually don't even have access to stories once they've been published. I say this because there were nonstop emails yesterday asking this about an ice cream deals story. The best way to get into a story like this? Fit the story's format and meet the deadline.
2. It's also not helpful to me to write me emails about how "disappointed" you were I did not include your client in a story. I can't even begin to tell you how many more pitches I get for each story than those items/deals/products I can end up including. For example, for the mac and cheese dishes roundup? I got hundreds of pitches. I included 25. And gift guides? There’s often thousands of pitches for 12 spots.
3. Please remember that my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Please email that address when emailing me, not my Substack address. And please remember to start a new thread and not just respond to this newsletter. I say this all the time when I post new story leads, but every single day, dozens don't follow instructions, so it needs repeating.
While this may sound like a laundry list of gripes, I'm really hoping by us all better understanding each other, we can ALL have a more productive experience when we work together. Everyone wins <3
…and I suppose that also counts as today’s productivity tip. More gets done when we do things right the first time. Then, everyone’s job is easier and we all get better results.
Last night, I made a summery pasta with shrimp and veggies I roasted in the air fryer, tossed with a homemade basil pesto. The recipe is currently active in my Instagram stories!
Newly published stories:
RetailMeNot: Free Beauty Gifts With Purchase Deals to Shop
Southern Living: How to Extend the Life of Your Nonstick Cookware
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.
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!
I'm working on a roundup of tips and product suggestions for stocking your kid's dorm fridge/freezer as they had back to school (or to the dorm for the first time). These fridges/freezers tend to be smaller and not hold as much, so you want to make sure you use their real estate best -- keeping in mind the common appliances you'll find in a dorm kitchen (and those you probably wouldn't). I'm looking for value, so good stuff that you can get at a good price vs. fancy stuff a kid wouldn't need (so, no wagyu or caviar or lobster for this one, think stuff that they could really get a lot of use out of...say...chicken parts or chopped meat you can order online), but also, commentary/ideas for what they will need, and what they will actually use. So, think, foods that will fill them up and keep them healthy and happy and will be easy to pull together to make meals they'll actually enjoy (tall order, I know!)
Many know I began my career as a beauty writer, and I ultimately segued into more of a culinary travel writer. That makes this particular topic feel rather close to my heart: For HerMoney, I’m rounding up must-have beauty/hair/skin products for your travel bag - this is beauty products, hair products, maybe a blowout brush (always travel with one because i hate hotel hair dryers), travel-friendly makeup palettes, a good brush, etc., that are great to keep in your toiletries bag in your suitcase at all times. (And yes, I do maintain a specific travel beauty bag that is distinct from my home one!)
I am looking for deals/discounts/freebies at chains for:
National Hot Dog Day
National Chicken Wing Day
National Avocado Day
If you have any, please tell me what the deal is, when it’s available and where, and how to claim it.
Here’s an interesting one for you (I think!): Believe It Or Not, DNA Testing May Help Save Your Cat’s Life - I have a list of questions for this story I’m working on and I'd love vets to weigh in (unaffiliated with a brand, please).
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 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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