Thursday: I have a pretty INSANE story to share.
Also: Some new stories pending!
Wow, do I have a story to tell all of you.
So, yesterday — shortly after I sent out the day’s Substack, actually — I was about to settle in and enjoy my Laser Wolf leftovers for lunch when the phone rang.
It was a “No Caller ID” number — and for that reason alone, I shouldn’t have answered the phone. But when they called 2x, I figured I had to see what they wanted…
I wish we could embed Facebook posts here because I told the whole story there yesterday, and I could avoid rehashing it for people who already saw it there, but anyway, here’s how it went down:
He claimed to be an official from a federal court in NYC, and said I had failed to appear for federal jury duty (which I had never received any notice for), and now I was in trouble.
He said I had to come to the court and deal with the situation (whatever that meant, was not clear at the point) but otherwise he’d send out a “detainment unit” to grab me — but here’s the crazy part…
I was not allowed to break the chain of contact, and I was not allowed to hang up the phone with him until I got there. I had to stay on the phone, not mute him, not disconnect him, and not contact anyone else — and if I did, I was violating federal law and they’d send the detainment unit after me.
I was like…but how do I get there while staying on the phone with you? And also, how do I get dressed? (I mean, real talk.)
Ultimately, I asked if I could text a relative or friend to take me, and he said that by doing that I was violating the rule, because I wasn’t allowed to tell anyone…whereupon I realized something was fishy.
I texted my mom while I was on the phone, she called the court, and discovered there was no federal jury notice in my name, or summons, and my record was clear. I hung up on him.
(Note: I had served jury duty fairly recently, so I kind of knew all along this shouldn’t be happening - and also I’d NEVER ignore a jury notice.)
Needless to say, even though I GET now it was a scam (or an evil prank, I haven't figured out which yet), I was absolutely terrified.
And I had to summon all my inner false calm because MINUTES after all this went down, when I was still for real terrified I was minutes away from an FBI raid for a crime I didn't commit (SO Lifetime movie, I know), I had to go attend a Zoom and then immediately after...be a guest on a podcast.
(Think that's something? A decade ago, I was in the ICU and very ill following a freak health scare. I was booked to host a Twitter party. I still hosted it. WHILE STILL RECEIVING BLOOD TRANSFUSIONS. Aly does not play when there's work to do. I'm not making this up either. Lots of my friends from back in the day totally remember this story and can share in the comments how RIDICULOUS I was.)
Anyway, somehow I got through the day without day drinking...In retrospect, there were like 12 red flags on the call, I should have immediately hung up, and I should have known better...which shows, no matter how aware you think you are, you may forget everything you think you know in the moment.
And, yes, the podcast went GREAT. I had so much fun and it should air (be live? publish? be online? what's the podcast lingo?) later this month or early next - I'm excited to share the link here once it is available!
And, man. Is it the weekend yet? Gosh. I’m so ready.
OK...enough drama for today. there's other things to share...
I don't know if you caught my dear friend Alice's newsletter post yesterday, but she's hosting her December AMA next week on December 13, and asked me to be one of her guest hosts. Zlata will be onboard too!
We're going to be having a pretty big-time state of the industry chat, and I'm really excited. Alice's AMA is only for subscribers, so make sure to subscribe for her to tune in and hang with us! It'll be fun!
Newly Published or Freshly Updated
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: This Twist on Panettone Sold Out In 8 Hours – But Now It’s Back
Brides.com: 20 Unique Bachelorette Party Destinations
The Kitchn: IHOP Is Finally Releasing a Mini Pancake Cereal and It Tastes Like Their Famous Blueberry Pancakes
RetailMeNot: 12 Ugly Christmas Sweaters That Really Are Fabulous
Forbes: 6 Hanukkah Cocktails Perfect For Celebrating The Festival Of Lights
The Kitchn: These Cranberry Cookie Sticks Are Just as Delicious as They Are Beautiful
Tasting Table: 10 Salmon Myths It's Time You Stopped Believing
YourTango: 8 Best Hanukkah Books For Kids
RetailMeNot: 12 Best Home Organizational Products to Set Up Your New Year Right
SPY.com: Don’t Show Up Empty-Handed! Check Out the Best Hostess Gift Ideas
HelloGiggles: 10 Travel Gift Ideas For Your Friend Who Has Serious Wanderlust
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.
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.
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.
Trader Joe’s Frozen Foods Perfect for Valentine’s Day at Home: I’m looking to round up people’s Trader Joe's frozen items that would work well for a Valentine's Day celebration at home. This could be either for a date night or for a girl's night in. It’s a crowdsource but I’m also very open to those from RDs or nutritionists, as well.
Costco Foods Nutritionists Love for Valentine’s Day: I’m looking to ask nutritionists to share some of their favorite Costco finds that work well for a healthy Valentine's Day celebration.
More "food debate" goodness: I’m looking to talk to couples who argue over the correct way to load the dishwasher (and, no, you don’t have to be a foodie couple, I’m looking to get comments from anyone here in a couple who has a dishwasher that causes fights.) Why is it such a point of contention? Why does everyone believe their way is right and all other ways are wrong? And of course, I’d love to also talk to experts — a dishwasher manufacturer or maybe a home cleaning expert and find out how the dishwasher is "officially" supposed to be loaded/what goes where? (This will be similar to the butter debate story I recently did if you want to scroll to recently published stories for an idea of what it will look like.)
Leftovers storage guide - I’m looking to speak with food safety experts to find out answers to some popular leftover storage questions. How long are leftovers good in the fridge? Do you need to let leftovers cool before you put them in the fridge or can you put them in hot? What containers are best? Etc.
I’m working on two new gift guides pegged for - not holiday 2022 - but new years and Valentine’s 2023. I DO have a bit of time to play with on these, but the topics are:
Products to help you sleep better in 2023 - everything from bedding to supplements and more.
Sexy things to gift yourself this Valentine's Day - everything from underthings to more fun things, whether you have a partner or not.
Stores Open Christmas Day + Christmas Eve Store Hours - I’m working on a big update of this annual story (that includes DOZENS of stores of all types. It’s an update of this story from last year - so if you were included last year, and you can email me and confirm you are open (or not) and your hours, that would be a huge help. Otherwise, you’ll be hearing from me soon!
Stores Open New Years + Store Hours - Similar story, similar update! It’s an update to this story from last year. Same as above, if you were included last year (or think that you fit into the categories that you would be this year), please send me any updates to your info.
I do a lot of stories like these for them, so you probably already know the drill if we’ve worked on one of these together before - I’m not looking for one-off stores and their hours but more major chains and such.
I’m working on a roundup of standout hotel bars in New Jersey. Are they rooftop? Have a celebrity chef doing the food menu? Have gorgeous, unique cocktails? What makes it special? Email me and tell me more!
As you may have heard, Pantone recently announced the color of the year, and it’s MAGENTA. I’m looking for cocktails at bars and restaurants nationwide in this sexy shade of pink. To pitch yours, please include name, where available, description and a quote from the bartender — obviously a great photo is a MUST for this one.
I’m also looking for online spots you can have your whole holiday dinner this year ordered and shipped to your door, both recipe kit options and reheat and serve options. If you represent any, please email me.
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!
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.
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Have a great day!
OMG that got my heart racing just reading it!!!!! Glad your mom is so quick to act and confirm. What a horrible thing to do to someone. And to what end even?! Did they want to kidnap you!?!?! I cannot.
I got a voicemail similar to that about a month ago. I never replied, but I reported it to the Marin County Courthouse out here in N. California. They told me that these courthouse scams are everywhere. So, Aly, you are doing a great public service by reminding people about them.