Wednesday: I tried that new AI headshot website and...this is not the future we were promised. Also: Need chef commentary for a new story!
Happy Hump Day!
So, I went down a kind of weird rabbit hole last night, and we absolutely need to discuss.
Recently, I have been reading about how a lot of people are using AI-generated headshots for everything from LinkedIn to online dating profiles. This intrigued me because headshots are something I’m often asked to submit - from profiles to podcast appearances — and I honestly don’t have any proper official ones. Generally, when someone asks me for a headshot I email them some selfie I took one day after a blowout while in a restaurant with good lighting.
Not all that professional, to be sure. However, it gets the job done. The reality is having actual headshots taken is quite the investment - from hair to makeup to time with a photographer.
But this AI-generated headshot option was interesting. At the site I used, you pay $17 (ultimately tax deductible if you are using it for work!), and upload some photos of yourself. Then, in a matter of hours, they generate a bunch of what they say will be professional quality headshots of you (using AI!). It feels like…even if ONE of those photos is decent and ready to be used in a headshot capacity, it’s WELL worth the investment, right? It’s like a photo shoot without a camera, and $17? I easily spend that on happy hour.
So, I tried it.
You can scroll through the Instagram I posted last night and see some of the photos that I received as a result. But honestly - there’s only a few of those that I feel like REALLY look like me, and those were the best option of dozens I didn’t post at all that looked NOTHING like me. Not even a distant cousin version.
An old friend of mine has a song called The Future, and it was playing in my head as I downloaded my photo shoot and scrolled through the results. This is most certainly NOT the picture we were painted and this is absolutely not the future that AI keeps attempting to promise.
But…I guess this is another example of, you get what you pay for. And, as a good friend sagely pointed out last night, your results may be dependent on the material you give them. If you send great photos in a variety of settings and lightings and angles, maybe you get better headshots in return. But then again, if I had all that…I’d probably not need this service, right?
This all goes back to the extended conversation we had about AI a few months back…the personal touch and the original creation will always be better and more authentic than the robot-generated one. We can use things like AI as backup or a co-pilot of sorts, but once we start letting it take the lead, that’s when we start to get into trouble…AI headshot-generating websites will NEVER be able to replace real photographers and apps like ChatGPT will never replace authentic journalists.
And….thank heavens for that.
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!
In case you missed it, I was recently a guest on a podcast. Check it out here — I share some easy-to-follow tips on how emerging brands can get the attention of busy editors.
Speaking of podcasts, I was a guest on the Pitchin’ and Sippin’ podcast last month (I ADORE Lexie Smith!), and you can still catch it here. We chatted at length about pitching, the ever-changing landscape of the editorial process, and more.
(Also, if you host a podcast that has anything to do with media/PR/writer content or food/bev/travel content and are interested in me coming on as a guest, I’d love if you reach out!)
Food Network: Magnolia Bakery’s Legendary Desserts Are Coming to Your Local Grocery Store Aisle
Forbes.com: Wahlburgers Will Open Exciting New Location On The Las Vegas Strip
Forbes.com: Capture The Spirit Of The Season With Whimsical Easter Cocktails
Forbes.com: Food-Themed Easter Baskets Add A Touch Of Whimsy To The Celebration
Forbes.com: Orchard Park By David Burke Offers High-End Fare In The Most Unassuming Of Locations
The Kitchn: These Are the 3 Key Ingredients Alex Guarnaschelli Says Will Elevate Any Dish — And They May Already Be in Your Pantry
The Kitchn: This Grilled Cheese Stroopwafel Recipe Is the 2-in-1 Dish You Didn’t Know You Needed
YourTango: 40 Best Energy-Boosting Foods & Drinks To Make A Part Of Your Diet
Clean Plates: 20 Quick and Healthy Air Fryer Snacks You Can Make in a Snap
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.
My first assignment for this outlet and let me tell you, all that wine drinking I’ve done in my life suddenly feels validated. I’m rounding up Passover Wines to Make Your Seder Shine, and I’m both interested in hearing from great kosher for Passover wines and also hearing an expert (kosher somm, perhaps?) who can chat with me a bit about the distinction between kosher wine and kosher for Passover wine and what to look for on the label, etc.
Eat This, Not That
Steakhouse Chains That Serve the Best Fries - I'm looking to round up the biggest and best steakhouse chains and compile a slideshow why their fries are considered the must-have side with steak. Are they hand-cut, double-fried, made with specific potatoes, etc. Have they gotten awards, do chefs talk about them, or do they have their own Reddit thread etc…Happy to hear from chains, but also would love to hear from celebrity chefs as to what their favorite steakhouse chain fries are and why.
Mother’s Day Jewelry Under $100: This is an update of the story I wrote last year. In your pitch, please include a product description, stones used, etc, as well as the general aesthetic of the piece, as well as retailer and price. I’m totally fine with including some small businesses and lesser-known brands because I want to include cool and unique things that will make great gifts — but obviously also would love pitches from items available on Amazon, Walmart, Target, Kohl's, Macy's, Kays, and similar.
The Best Easter Sales for 2023: I’m updating this article from last year. For this story, I’m trying to focus on last-minute sales, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be pegged to Easter, as there’ll also be a ton of spring sales going on, too. So, really anything that helps you get Easter Basket stuffers, clothes, table decor, spring decor or whatever else for Easter is fair game. Trying to include some major retailers in this, such as Target, CVS, Walmart, Michaels, Macy's.
Stores Closed on Easter Sunday (+ Easter Store Hours for 2023): You may recall this is a giant guide I do for RMN every major holiday, and Easter is getting the treatment again this year. I’ll be updating this story from last year — so if I included you in last year’s story and you have updated info for me, or want to tell me the info is not updated and is the same, please email me. I’m looking to mostly keep the same format, and simply adjust for 2023.
I’m beginning to round up Cinco de Mayo food deals at chain restaurants. I’m not looking for free delivery or reward point type of deals at this time but more BOGOs, freebies, discounts, etc. Please be sure to tell me how to claim the deal (i.e. coupon code, downloading app, etc) when responding.
I’ll be working on a story on great wines, snacks, and products to buy for Passover 2023. It is IMPERATIVE for this story that everything I include be certified as kosher for Passover (not just kosher - it’s a distinct certification). Please be sure to confirm before pitching.
I’m also looking for Passover-inspired cocktails you can find at bars and restaurants. This one is trickier because I realize for this one a lot of submissions will probably come from places not kosher for Passover or even kosher — that’s fine for this story (but not the other one). This one, I need name of drink, where served, a description, a quote about it, (how is it inspired by Passover?), and an image of the cocktail.
Looking forward, I am looking for bars/restaurants around the world that have created specialty cocktails in honor of the coronation of King Charles III this May. I’ll need the usual — where it is, what’s in it, why it’s a perfect cocktail for the occasion, a quote from a bartender/owner/chef, and a high res image. I’m really excited about this one, so lets try to find some great cocktails!
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!)
Virtual (and now in-person!) 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 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. Note: I’m also available to travel for consulting sessions as long as travel expenses are covered. We can chat!
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!
Have a great day!
I like the pic you chose for the profile and I like that you mentioned and linked "The Future". I had forgotten about that tune. That Tom Brislin is so good, isn't he?
Wow - I had no idea that there was an option for AI headshots...Very, very interesting! Yours looks great. And Congrats on Wine Enthusiast :)