Tuesday: SUPER timely pitch needs and my guide to how to edit your email list
A few quick admin notes before I get started on today’s productivity topic…
1 - I have just listed a VERY time sensitive new ETNT assignment to the pending stories section below. This is a story I need to wrap up before tomorrow morning - so if you rep cookbooks, please scroll down to that section and email me if you have a potential fit. (There’s also a bunch of other stories pending for this week, but that is the one that is the most time-sensitive!)
2 - I’ll be a guest speaker on my friend Alice Dubin’s Zoom AMA later this morning and I’m so excited. The focus will be on big-picture planning and state-of-the-industry discussion, and she’ll even have a spiritual teacher onboard to discuss mindfulness and vision boards. You need to be a subscriber of her newsletter in order to join in, and all the info is here. I love so much how Alice always tries to turn her AMA Zooms into very targeted actionable advice and discussion, and I’m so excited to get to be a part of this one!
Today, I wanted to chat a bit about editing your email list…
I had a long chat with a close friend recently about the war zone that is our email inboxes. Especially around this time of year, it can get out of hand in a HURRY. At the height of gift guide season, we may be getting 1,000 emails in a day sometimes. That means you take a quick break to refill your coffee and return a text message - you may have a few dozen new emails awaiting you.
Things are starting to slow to a simmer, as the majority of holiday content is written at this point. (Well, at least for THIS holiday season, there's another one just around the bend!). But even normal-bulk inboxes are pretty hefty.
No one wants the emails that contain on-target pitches to go anywhere. You need to send them, we need to receive them. We co-exist in an essential symbiotic relationship. BUT: This is a good opportunity to discuss how you may, as the year winds down, want to take some time to edit your own email lists -- make sure your emails are going to current, active email addresses - who are on the beat your pitches need to reach.
1. Years ago, when I was still a beauty writer (Fun fact: Those of you on this list who go way back with me know I started out as a beauty writer before I segued to more F&B), there would be some people we'd see at events who hadn't covered beauty in YEARS but were still on invite lists and receiving samples. This is of course an unnecessary waste of your client's resources -- and this is NOT calling out the beauty industry at all, I think this exists in all industries, it's just where it first came up and I was part of the conversation.
Take some time to edit your list, and eyeball the names on it. Do they currently write for the beat you are pitching? This is also a good time to verify their address and contact information has stayed the same. A good way to do this would be a simple opt-in Google form, where people can update their info. For reach journalist, you should have:
a - their name and publication(s)
b - email address
c - If you are sending samples - their current address that they wish to receive packages at, and if they are open to receiving packages
d - some quick bullet points about the kind of content they tend to cover - make this specific so that if you want to keyword search your list, this section will helpful when cultivating pitches.
2. Is their email address still active? If you are getting a lot of bounced emails, this isn't great for the currency of your list. Try a service like ZeroBounce, they have a free email verifier who you can run your list through and let you know if you are emailing real, active accounts, or not.
3. Sending a mass email is never a great plan. Keep your pitches personal. It's always very obvious to me when I have gotten a mass email bcc'd to a thousand people (or, worse, cc'd!). A huge indicator? Greetings like "Hi, you!" But personalize it beyond a name. Build a relationship. Take a sec to show them you know them and their work. This isn't just for personal relationships: But a great way to not end up automatically filtered to the spam folder.
4. I strongly believe in working smarter, not harder. Unlocking the potential of your email list allows it to work for you, and not you to constantly be working on it. If you spend your time researching media, their track record, and their outlets, and building your list so you have current and correct contacts, you'll get better responses -- and we'll get less off-topic emails we really can't do anything with.
In our realm, our contacts are precious. Treat them that way and they will make your job easier, not harder.
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!
RetailMeNot: Stores Open Christmas Day + Christmas Eve Store Hours 2022
The Kitchn: These Triple Layer Peppermint Brownies Will Put the Joy Back into Your Holiday Season
HelloGiggles: 13 Sexy Stocking Stuffers You Can Buy Online
Forbes: Viva Magenta: Pantone’s Color Of The Year 2023 Has Inspired Gorgeous Cocktails Nationwide
Eat This, Not That: This Is the Best Way To Cook Brisket, According to Chefs
YourTango: The Actual Best Time Of Day To Work Out So You Can Finally See Results
YourTango: 32 Beauty Gifts That'll Drive A Woman Wild (In A Good Way)
RetailMeNot: 16 Fruitcakes We’re Absolutely Nutty For (2022)
RetailMeNot: 12 Ugly Christmas Sweaters That Really Are Fabulous
Taste of Home: Martha Stewart Just Shared a Genius Hack for Removing Garlic Smell from Your Hands
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 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.
Eat This, Not That
New Cookbooks We Can't Wait to Get Our (Oven) Mitts on in 2023 : I'm working on a roundup listicle of upcoming cookbooks scheduled to be released in 2023. This is a RUSH (I'm writing this story today and will be finishing it by tomorrow), so please pitch me ASAP with a little bit of info about the book, highlighting what is particularly exciting or interesting. If a presale link is available, please remember to include that as well.
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.
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 New Years + Store Hours - It’s an update to this story from last year. Same as the Christmas hours story, 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!
I’m rounding up fun sparkling cocktails for NYE. This, as with the Pantone color of the year cocktails story that published recently, must include the following:
1 - Name of cocktail
2 - Where it’s on the menu (so name of restaurant/bar, city, state, URL) - this cocktail must exist, either on the permanent menu or as a special, somewhere where people can go and order it.
3 - Description of drink (please do not send a recipe, it’s not necessary!)
4 - Quote from a bartender/bar manager/chef about the drink (and please don’t forget to include their name and title)
5 - image of cocktail (and please include any necessary credit info)
Would love responses for this one by Friday, please!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org to get something on my schedule.
Looking to up your affiliate marketing game?
Affiliate marketing is complicated, and it seems that the landscape keeps changing. If you are looking to be prepared for gift guide season and all other shopping-related content, you may want to try the 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!)
Have a great day!