Wednesday: A few words in memory of Julie Powell. Also: A bit of an explainer on the Substack app's new chat feature.
Scroll down for that promised white bean chicken chili recipe from yesterday!
I wanted to start today by saying a few words about Julie Powell, who died this week. Most of the world knew her as the writer of the food blog and later, the book, that inspired the movie “Julie & Julia.”
But within the rather intimate NY-based food journalism community, we knew her as sort of a founding mother. She was writing a food blog about cooking in a small NYC apartment a decade before the rest of us were doing stuff like that — in fact, she wrote a food blog before “food blog” was a thing. She didn’t only create a lane for herself in the journalism landscape, but she developed what was in a sense a highway that every single one of us has been incredibly lucky to follow the path of since.
She was so admired and respected and will very much be missed. And for anyone who has not read her writing, I really encourage you to take some time to now in her memory — it’s really quite incredible.
In other news…
In recent days, social media has had a lot of discussion going on about the dangerous ramifications when one person takes ownership of a platform. The result being watching that platform derail in real time as that person, who may have questionable intentions, has way too much power and the capacity to do way too much damage as a result.
But, ultimately - social media should be about community.
To that end, if you consider a Substack post by an individual as someone chatting from a panel or a stage or a platform, the concept of comment threads, or chat rooms, or even AMAs, is that we're having an afterwork happy hour of sorts. This is where we can chat about things on our minds or just to get to know each other better. I want to have those intimate conversations where everyone can bring their own experiences and thoughts to the table.
That's sort of the concept of the chat feature in the app I teased yesterday. If there's a topic that comes up here in the newsletter - maybe it's gift guides, maybe it's pitching or follow ups or events -- the chat feature in the app allows us to continue the conversation and all collaborate, rather than me just sharing my thoughts and feelings on a topic that ultimately is about all of us.
The chat feature will ultimately be opened up Substack wide (so every Substack newsletter will have the ability to set it up for their audiences, if they choose to), but for now it's still in a prelim stage where it was only opened up to a select group of Substack creators.
So, let's do our best with it and see what we can make of it. (And, no, this by no means is meant to replace the comment threads or AMAs or anything else - those are all here to stay, this is sort of just another fun option to share thoughts casually in a short-form way.)
How to get started
Download the app by clicking this link. Chat is only on iOS for now, but chat is coming to the Android app soon.
Open the app and tap the Chat icon. It looks like two bubbles in the bottom bar, and you’ll see a row for my chat inside.
That’s it! Jump into my thread to say hi, and if you have any issues, check out Substack’s FAQ. It’s my hope that we can use this chat so that we can have ongoing threads concerning topics and themes that impact us all. So it’s not just about how I feel, but what everyone is seeing and experiencing.
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!
Forbes: Holiday Gift Guide 2022: The Best Culinary Gifts For Fans Of The Royal Family
Food Network: Kraft Real Mayo and Juicy Couture Come Together for a Smooth Collab
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.
My White Bean Chicken Chili Recipe
I promised yesterday I'd share this recipe today - so here it is for anyone interested!
I often make variations (like if I have one type of bean and not another, I'll modify to use the ingredients I have on hand -- this was especially helpful during the pandemic when I wasn't going to the store and relying on grocery deliveries!)
2 cans of any white bean, (sometimes I sub one for corn or hominy (even better if you have the frozen southwestern corn from trader joes, i love that!)
1 can of diced green chiles (i love the ones from trader joes, but, whatever you like)
1 packet of trader joe's taco seasoning (if you don't have, a generous amount of chili seasoning + some extra cumin + cayenne will do)
2 shallots or one small onion diced
A few cloves of minced garlic
2 chicken breasts (or boneless skinless chicken thighs if you prefer)
Enough broth to cover the beans (it'll make more liquid as it cooks) - i use low-sodium chicken broth usually - but vegetable broth is FINE.
I also add either a tbsp. of harissa (red or green doesn't matter, you can get it at trader joe's) OR chipotles in adobe - depending on which
i have. but don't do both. your head will explode lol.
Put it all in your slow cooker, on low, in the morning, before starting your day. toward the end of the day, maybe an hour before you are ready to eat, shred up that chicken (but it may have fallen apart on its own by then), add one package of frozen spinach and if you like your soup thicker, you can make a simple roux to add in (the easiest is cornstarch or flour with oil, but whatever you generally do as a thickener) - and then let the roux mixture cook out for about an hour.
And it's done! Whenever I have fresh herbs I’ll sprinkle some cilantro on top at the end!
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 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.
Have restaurant chain food deals in store for Veterans Day? Email me!
A reminder: I’m interested in deals other than stuff like free delivery or extra rewards points in the app. Deals should involve a dollar amount off a purchase or a BOGO of some sort or an actual freebie. And they should be available everywhere, not just at a single location. Please also explain how someone claims the deal and exactly how long the deal will be good for.
Best Home Organizational Products to Set Up Your New Year Right -- To pitch me for this one, please be sure to include product name, details, specs, cost, and retailer link(s).
Products That Will Actually Make You Excited to Workout: Believe it or not, some people actually DO get excited about workouts!
As promised, I have my first (of more to come...) batch of Forbes holiday gift guides. The topics I am working on in this batch are:
The Best Gifts For Seafood Lovers: I'm looking for both shippable seafood gifts, but also spices, kitchen tools, accessories related to preparing, cooking, and serving fish.
The Best Gear For A Starter Kitchen: Think starter appliances, multi-taskers, appliances, utensils, etc, that are good for small spaces.
For any of these, this is how I need to be pitched --
1 - Please start a NEW email, and make clear in the subject line which one you are pitching. Email that email to email@example.com
2 - Tell me the name of the product, URL where it is sold (if it's sold at several retailers, feel free to share links to a few), and price, and a brief description
3 - Include a LINK to a high res image (and please clearly mark and designate those photos)
All items pitched must be currently in stock and have online retail and be shippable nationwide.
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 for this fall.
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 <3
So going to try out the chili recipe!
I'm adding this chili recipe to our menu! It sounds delicious!