Tuesday: Learning how to ritualize your writing, and why that matters
HAPPY NATIONAL TACO DAY!
Last night, I had a really fun dinner date with my besties Amber and Lisa. We've had a standing tradition for a few years now where once a month we get together for dinner to just chat and catch up on life.
I may see one or both of them here and there between those monthly dinners and we text/speak nearly every day -- but this monthly tradition that we all make a priority no matter what other craziness is going on in our life/work/travel schedule is a sacred one for us. It being a constant has really saved me these last few years, as life (for all of us!) has been filled with all sorts of dramatic twists and turns.
Tradition is really important -- as is ritual. And that's true too when it comes to maintaining our productivity. When we're working, having certain systematic habits can save us from those times or days when we are tempted to zone out and binge some TV or mentally check out for the afternoon. Writing is a very cerebral activity. That means it is ripe for distractions and also for loss of focus. But having productivity rituals is that angel on our shoulder reminding us to get to work and maintain focus even if the devil on the other shoulder really wants to go get our nails done or a blowout.
So, my tip of the day -- try to find a way to ritualize your writing, or any other work task you need to do. Now that ritual can take any form -- I know people who free write at the beginning of the day before starting to write what they need to write for work so as to clear the clutter from their mind. I also know people who set a tone by going for a morning to get a coffee (as if they were commuting to an office, even though they work from home) - so they can then "arrive" at their desk and start their day.
My own writing ritual is one I've discussed here before -- I have a specific workday music playlist that I listen to when I'm working, wherever I'm working. If I'm working out of a hotel room in Vegas or from my couch in Brooklyn, I have the same playlist going.
It's very Pavlovian - I know when the music is playing, I work. And I work until the music stops!
Your ritual can be customized to your own specific need, but find a tradition and a ritual that works for you.
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!
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.
Clean Plates: The Healthiest Costco Frozen Dinners To Buy Right Now
Yahoo Life: 'The Drew Barrymore Show' co-host Ross Mathews' simple 'Hocus Pocus'-inspired sandwich is perfect for using up leftover poultry. Get the recipe.
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 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.
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.
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!
How To Travel With Food This Thanksgiving -- I'm wanting to look at both air travel and car/automobile. Train? I dunno. But focusing on any rules for air and any best practices all the way around. Anything you absolutely shouldn't travel with? A lot is possible! Would love some experts to weigh in.
National Pasta Day is coming up and I’m looking to roundup the most unique/inventive/drool-worthy pasta dishes on menus nationwide. To pitch me for this story, please send me: Name of dish, restaurant where severed (location, URL, etc), description, quote from chef about the dish — please remember to give me the name and title of the person being quoted! — and a high res image of the dish. By Friday, please!
Also, I’m rounding up fun, spooky cocktails restaurants nationwide are doing for Halloween. When submitting, please do same parameters as for the pasta story above.
Working on a gallery of the Best Peacock Green Clothes & Accessories, Because It's *the* Color of the Season — have fun peacock green clothes/accessories to pitch me? Email me asap!
Clean Face Masks You Can Make With Food: I'm looking for both original recipes and to share recipes from bloggers that allow photo permissions. If a recipe comes from a bigger publication, I can also link out.
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!
Fruit Cakes We're Absolutely Nutty For - I'm actually updating a story I wrote last year. If you represent any great fruitcakes sold online that are shippable in time for the holidays (or just have a favorite I should know about), please let me know! And if you represent any of the ones already included, and there's updated information I should have (pricing, availability, ingredients, what have you, please contact me as well.)
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 firstname.lastname@example.org to get something on my schedule for this fall.
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Have a great day!
Peacock Green?! Want a photo of my closet? :)