Aly Walansky: Freelance food writer as seen in Food Network, Travel + Leisure, Southern Living and many more

 

Angela Tuell: 0:05

Welcome to Media in Minutes. This is your host Angela Tuell. This podcast features in-depth interviews with those who report on the world around us. They share everything from their favorite stories to what happened behind the lens and give us a glimpse into their world. From our studio here at Communications Redefined, this is Media in In today’s episode, we are talking with Aly Walansky. She Minutes. is an award winning food and travel freelance journalist with more than 20 years experience writing for outlets such as Food Network, Travel + Leisure, Forbes, Southern Living, Today.com, and many more. Aly was rated number one food journalist in 2022 by Muck Rack, and her substack newsletter, which goes out six days a week to 1000s of subscribers, was recently rated a substack best seller. Hi, Aly. I’m so looking forward to talking with you today.

 

Aly Walansky: 1:04

Hi, thanks so much for having me.

 

Angela Tuell: 1:06

Yes, I know, we’ve emailed for many years so I’m excited to actually have a conversation. And I’m interested to know, did you always want to be a journalist?

 

Aly Walansky: 1:16

Always. I didn’t necessarily knew I wanted to be a food writer but I always wanted to write.

 

Angela Tuell: 1:23

Okay. Okay. So tell us a little about, you know, give us some background into your career and how you got to where you are today.

 

Aly Walansky: 1:30

Sure. So I was a journalism major in college, and I actually ran the campus newspaper for most of my time in college. I took it over as a sophomore. And so I totally saw myself as like myself is like, you know, the Gabrielle Carteris of real life. I’m gonna run like, you know, my school’s version of the Beverly Hills Blaze and then a crack reporter. And then I realized writing about like, breaking news is super depressing and I do not want to do that. So after I graduated from college, I started doing like copy editing and proofreading and more editorial work.

 

Angela Tuell: 2:03

Okay.

 

Aly Walansky: 2:04

And then I was, that job didn’t last very long. It was for a children’s educational publisher, and everyone got laid off, because apparently children don’t read educational books. Go figure.

 

Angela Tuell: 2:15

We need that to happen.

 

Aly Walansky: 2:16

We need our children to be educated. But so I decided until I got my next quote, “real job,” I would try doing freelance writing. And that is honestly how the evolution started to this. I was a beauty writer. And so I was like trying beauty products and hair salons and spas. And when you check out spas, you ultimately travel to check out spas. So I became a travel writer. And then I discovered – or realized – that the best part of travel is eating and I became a food writer.

 

Angela Tuell: 2:47

The spa wasn’t the best part, too, or maybe they’re a tie?

 

Aly Walansky: 2:50

I love it all. Every time I travel, if it’s an option to me, I’m all about having the facial and their massage. And also a really good dinner.

 

Angela Tuell: 2:59

Right. Right. So then you were working, you know, covering spas and then started the traveling. And that’s what got you to where you are.

 

Aly Walansky: 3:06

Yeah, basically. And so at this point now, even though I guess I would call myself more of a lifestyle writer than a food writer, I definitely focus mostly on food, and then a little bit of travel and I do still dabble here and there on beauty and style and that it’s the lifestyle of umbrella. But my predominant focus would be food.

 

Angela Tuell: 3:28

Okay, so what does a typical and it’s kind of funny, right – but a typical day look like for you? I saw that you write three or more stories on an average day.

 

Aly Walansky: 3:37

Yeah, I mean, but a lot of those stories, to be fair, are really quick hit stories. Like oh, there’s these new prepared food options at Costco or Aldi has really fun new pops for Halloween. So those are like a story, but you could write it in, like under 40 minutes. But I do write like, yeah, I’d say on the average day three stories like maybe a story that size but also like a longer story that might be like a round up or a gallery or one that involves like expert sources. So in the morning, very first thing I do I wake up I have a giant cup of coffee because I am nothing without my caffeine.

 

Angela Tuell: 4:16

You’re not Aly without it, right?

 

Aly Walansky: 4:17

Yeah, I am the biggest grump. And then I like scroll through my emails, see if there’s any, like really hot breaking news in food that I have to, that I was pitched. And then I send out the day’s substack and then I work on whenever I’m writing on that day. I get a lot of assignments that I’m assigned in the morning that I have to turn around by later that morning. So I sometimes wake up and don’t necessarily know what I’m going to be writing about that day.

 

Angela Tuell: 4:42

Okay, so how does it go, you know, what’s your breakup, really of assignments, or stories that you get assigned versus you having to pitch them to editors?

 

Aly Walansky: 4:51

Oh, um, I would say probably about 75/25. I do mostly the pitching. Like whether, yeah, so I might be searching Tik Tok for really fun, like food hacks, or I might be looking at the hot finds from various like grocery stores on Instagram. Or like I may do a cool recipe roundup or I might like in my sleep, come up with an idea and pitch it. I do a ton of pitching. But also when you’ve been working with editors for years, and I have some editors that I’ve been working with for a decade, they know what the kind of stuff you write, and they email me and they’ll be like, Can you cover this thing? Are you interested in this assignment? So that happens also regularly.

 

Angela Tuell: 5:31

Okay. Okay. So what have been some of your favorite stories to write? Or what are your favorite to write?

 

Aly Walansky: 5:37

Oh, well, I’m really, really into the royal family. I mean, especially the Megan and Harry era. So a couple of years ago, I was covering Royal Wedding things a lot like everything from well, this is the wine at the royal wedding. This is the flavor of the wedding cake to this is my interview with the person who designed the wedding cakes. I did, I really, really love when I could combine my interests, whether it’s like stuff like that, or I just interviewed Sam Heughan who’s the star of Outlander, he came out with a gin line. So I got so like combining like, you know, the spirits and the wine and the foods that I focus on with like, just things I enjoy, because they’re fun and interesting. I really like doing that.

 

Angela Tuell: 6:18

That’s awesome. And I know some of the things as you mentioned, our products, you know, whether it’s food or travel. Do you have to focus on affiliate marketing very often?

 

Aly Walansky: 6:28

Um, depending on the outlet. To be honest, I am not a big fan of affiliate marketing. It’s a necessary evil that depends on publisher, they might be like, oh, you know, this roundup of products has to be from Amazon or Walmart or Nordstrom or on ShareASale. I do it if I’m told to do it. I’m always very grateful when I get an assignment that doesn’t call for it. Because I feel like you could write something a lot more sincere that way you could choose the best product and not the product that fits into a box.

 

Angela Tuell: 6:57

Yes, yeah. Say no, we’ve worked with a few clients that are smaller, that had products but didn’t have it on Amazon or couldn’t get it on Share A Sale or that sort of thing. And so it’s really tough for them to get attention, you know, for a lot of the outlets. And that’s, that’s tough when they’re a local small business, you know?

 

Aly Walansky: 7:16

Yeah, absolutely. And like, I’m an old school journalist. I mean, I was in journalism school 20 years ago. And I remember when I first started out, if I was doing the round up of great red lipsticks, it would be my job to get eight different red lipsticks when try them all out and be like, Well, this one lasted really well. And this one stayed on when I drank and this one didn’t feather. Yeah, but I actually had to experience the product and write about the pros and cons and the specs. And nowadays, every single article that’s a roundup of lipsticks is just well, these are Amazon bestsellers. And I think we’re doing a disservice to the reader by focusing on profit instead of quality.

 

Angela Tuell: 7:53

Yes, yes. I completely agree with you. I’m, I’m old school. I hate to think that I’m that old, but I’m old school journalist as well. I did it. I don’t want to say how old I am do I.

 

Aly Walansky: 8:01

I totally feel old all the time. I’m definitely at the age where you like wake up, you’re like your ankle’s randomly hurting and you have no idea why. But I didn’t feel that way until probably 43 Which I’m not much more than that. But um, yeah, that was definitely at that point. Like, wait, I thought I’m still in my 20s or I feel like I’m still in my 20s. Actually, I am still in my 20s and I’m about the same age as you. And I still in my 20s and yet, physically I’m not.

 

Angela Tuell: 8:31

Right, right. So for products, you know whether it’s food or travel, or do you have those, do you have any favorites right now?

 

Aly Walansky: 8:39

Um, I am definitely right now very much a martini girl so I’m all about like spirits and trying boxes and like, I’m all about like getting all the different olives and trying the olives and seeing like, which of the ones that go in it. I’m really into as far as food products, anything with Calabrian chilies, Calabrian oil, Calabrian chili paste. I cook with it all the time. I’ve been using naan bread a lot like the frozen naan bread to make everything from pizzas to like wraps. Like they are my current favorite ingredient. And I’m obsessed with air fryers. Air fryer is my favorite thing in my entire kitchen. I became obsessed with it join the pandemic when I was cooking it every day on Instagram and now, if I like ever had to get out of my house in a real hurry and I had to save two things, other than my dogs, of course. Yeah, my dogs would be number one but after my dogs it would be my airfryer, my passport and my laptop.

 

Angela Tuell: 9:37

I love that. You know, the only thing I don’t like about the airfryer is we have five in our family so I do have two but when we’re cooking in it sometimes I feel like I have to do multiple batches and it takes forever but I do love airfryer as well.

 

Aly Walansky: 9:49

So much easier. Especially I live in a really small apartment and it gets really really hot during the summer months. Turning on an oven is not a good idea. You’re like schvitzing before it even gets done. So I, all summer long, do not turn on my oven and I just use my airfryer.

 

Angela Tuell: 10:05

I love that. I love that. For travel writing, to talk a little bit about that, you often connect food with travel, as you have said and have had experiences such as truffle hunting in Italy or foraging in the countryside of Ireland for botanicals that go into gin. What, you know, what do you look for in in a travel story? Obviously, the connection with food, but what do you look for what have been some of your favorites?

 

Aly Walansky: 10:29

the olive harvest in Italy. It was actually the same trip. And that was fantastic. I do love to go to different wine regions and try their wine. I like doing things that are different and interesting. Like, you know, I grew up in New York City, which is such like a hodgepodge of so many amazing flavors from so many cultures, that it’s so great to go to a place and experience it where it is where it came from, like, and then you could look like it like this started here. But then it ended up everywhere else. And this is how it was interpreted in different places. Food is almost like a form of language in that way.

 

Angela Tuell: 11:11

Yes. And I feel like it tastes so much better where it originally originated. And it might I mean, I’m assuming it normally does. But even when we have you know an amazing Italian restaurant in the US, I still feel it even if it’s you know Italians that started it. And they’re from Italy. They live there recently whenever I feel like it tastes so much better in Italy. But maybe that’s just me.

 

Aly Walansky: 11:31

Yes it does. Like anytime I go to Italy, when I come back to America and try to go to the grocery store and buy a tomato. I’m just so sad because yes, tomatoes here taste nothing like the tomatoes there. Like it’s a completely different experience. I mean, those tomatoes have taste. Or like, yeah, or fruit vegetables basically anywhere in spite of our genetically modified fertilizer using country.

 

Angela Tuell: 12:00

I know I know. It’s yeah, that’s one thing I love about travel as well. What have been, you know, what has been the most surprising destination when it comes to food?

 

Aly Walansky: 12:10

I went about 10 years ago on a hotel press trip to Melbourne, Australia. And I knew nothing about the cuisine of Australia. And I remember the very first day there I ate at an Indian restaurant. I’m like, Well, this is random. I’m in Australia eating Indian. The best Indian food I’ve had in my whole life. And then later that day we ate at another restaurant that was another completely different culture than what you would associate with the Outback. And I discovered Melbourne had an incredibly diverse, fantastic food scene.

 

Angela Tuell: 12:43

Huh, but I didn’t think of that either. That’s

 

Aly Walansky: 12:46

I mean, I loved it. I totally went to Australia great. being like, well, it’s gonna be cool. I’m gonna see kangaroos and and I actually never saw a kangaroo. I mean, they’re there. I just didn’t. They’re there. They’re definitely there. I just didn’t see them. But I discovered incredible food, amazing wine. It was one of my most memorable trips.

 

Angela Tuell: 13:09

Wow, that’s something to keep in mind. Did you write about it, too?

 

Aly Walansky: 13:12

Oh, yeah, yeah, I wrote about I think this is like 10 years ago. So I only wrote about it like three different places. So I remember the hotel that I was in had like the most epic, like buffet restaurant I’ve ever seen in my life. And I mean, I’ve been to a lot of buffets. And like, buffets have a weird connotation, especially in the post pandemic era.

 

Angela Tuell: 13:35

Yes.

 

Aly Walansky: 13:35

This was obviously years before the pandemic when I was there. And it was beautiful. Like there were a butcher stations with like, any type of meat you could imagine. And like every click was incredible. It was crazy. It was like buffet Wonderland. And so I wrote about that. I remember there was like, all these different elements that I wrote about, because I kept on seeing things that blew my mind. I mean, it took six hours to get there. But then I didn’t want to leave.

 

Angela Tuell: 13:58

We’ll see if we can find those articles online. So we can link to them in the show notes. Definitely.

 

Aly Walansky: 14:02

Yeah, they still exist. I mean, we’re talking about another era. point, I get invited I would say without – this is not a humble brag – I get invited on probably a half dozen media trips every day. And I say, Yeah, I see

 

Angela Tuell: 14:24

A half dozen every day? Sorry to cut you off.

 

Aly Walansky: 14:26

Yeah. No, I know.

 

Angela Tuell: 14:27

Wow. Okay. I knew it was a lot, but…

 

Aly Walansky: 14:30

Yeah, it’s a lot. Like I get a lot of press trip invites. And I say yes to maybe one a month.

 

Angela Tuell: 14:34

Okay.

 

Aly Walansky: 14:35

And it’s because partially because I do write like a handful of stories a day and I don’t have the luxury of getting an assignment and turning it around. Like you know, three days later when I’m on the plane, I have to write it that day. And press trip itineraries. Sometimes they start early in the morning and end late at night. I have completely been that girl who’s been on a press trip and written a story in the back of a van between stops on a press trip and I’ll always do it if I have to. But it’s the reason that I’m super selective. I’m going to go on a press trip, if it’s something I really want to write about or experience it. But also, it’s going to depend on timing and scheduling and the itinerary. And I always I ask a lot of questions before I say yes. Because I want to be there for them what they’re looking for in me, but I also want to make sure it’s the right fit for me.

 

Angela Tuell: 15:21

No, that’s great advice. And when pitching you in general story ideas, what is your best advice for PR pros how they can get your attention? Because obviously, you get a lot of emails, if it’s, if it’s even six a day just for, you know, media visits, I can’t imagine how many our story ideas in a day.

 

Aly Walansky: 15:38

I would say the average day, I get at least 500 emails and it goes up from there when it’s like during holiday gift guide time.

 

Angela Tuell: 15:45

Wow.

 

Aly Walansky: 15:46

it’s easily double that some days, it’s insane. I’ll go in the shower and come out and have 50 new emails, and they won’t even have been there long enough to wash my hair. So it’s insane. I would say because there’s so many emails, having a strong subject line is going to be really, really helpful. It’s frustrating to me if I get an email that has a title, like Got a Sec or A Quick Question, because that tells me absolutely nothing about what’s inside it. But if it’s like, if I say in my substack I’m working on a round up of Barbie inspired glassware to give someone for Christmas, and then you pitch me Barbie martini glasses pink, then I know instantly what you’re pitching me. And if it’s something I need to open up right then for a story I’m working on or something that I might want to come back to when I am working on a story because I might get that assignment tomorrow.

 

Angela Tuell: 16:38

Yes, yeah. So do you try to skim through or at least look at subject lines? I mean, that’s a lot of emails, aside from what you’re working on, you know, so do you at least try to look at the subject line?

 

Aly Walansky: 16:50

Yeah, even if I don’t answer an email, I scroll through all my emails every day, whether or not it’s like, you know, a weekday or I’m on a plane or whatever, I’m always scrolling through my emails. And that’s why the subject line is so important. And once I open it up for the same reason, the first paragraph is incredibly important, because it lets me know if I want to go further.

 

Angela Tuell: 17:12

Yep. And probably the the shorter, the better. In the email.

 

Aly Walansky: 17:16

The way I so what I tell people often is I kind of looked at it as when I was in my journalism classes, we learned about the inverted news pyramid style, right? Yeah, the first paragraph is basically like the who, what, where, when, why, like the like nuts and bolts of whatever you’re pitching, like, if you’re pitching like a destination or product or a restaurant, like tell me what you’re trying to tell me in that first paragraph. And then if you want to expand beyond it, that’s totally fine. But I want to know if I want to read further in those first couple of sentences.

 

Angela Tuell: 17:48

Yes. Yes. Great advice. Going back to our training, or training in college.

 

Aly Walansky: 17:53

It really works. It’s amazing how so, so many things about journalism and PR are two sides of the exact same coin?

 

Angela Tuell: 18:00

Yes. I always say there’s nothing in after being a journalist. There’s nothing else I could do besides, I mean, but because it really is the same. You know, it’s one in the same sort of along those lines, and I think, um…

 

Aly Walansky: 18:12

We’re just doing two sides of the same job.

 

Angela Tuell: 18:14

Right, right, exactly. Something else I wanted to talk about. You mentioned the substack newsletter, you send it out six days a week, which is so impressive. And it includes your current project, source needs, industry insights. What has been your experience with it, you know, how it’s been and how you juggle it all?

 

Aly Walansky: 18:34

I love it so much. I started doing my sub stack about two years ago. And it was honestly a response to – For years, publicists had been emailing me asking me if I had a distribution list where I send out my story leads. And I always responded, Oh, that’s a really interesting idea. But no, because in my head that sounds like a ton of work. Yeah. Then I found out about substack and it wasn’t a matter of me importing all the emails from my contact list, but people choosing to subscribe from their ends. And I was like, well, that’s that’s extra work. And it makes my life easier because rather than having to go to the Facebook groups, or Haro or Cision, or all those other things and be like, Hey, this is what I’m working on. I just send out an email every morning. And this these these are the stories that are currently pending. This is how to pitch me for, this is what I’m looking for. And also these are the stories that have gone live this week. So if you already pitched me for a story, here’s how you know if it’s out there so you don’t have to do all the legwork.

 

Angela Tuell: 19:32

Or ask you has it published yet?

 

Aly Walansky: 19:35

Yeah, I get a lot of emails has this published even though I send out a daily email stating it is published, and I’m gonna make nice in my life easier. I’m trying to make everyone’s life easier.

 

Angela Tuell: 19:47

Yes, I love it. That has been such a blessing I guess I would say having the sub stacks and then getting and it also gives us insights into personalities and what you like and talks about some personal things sometimes. And I feel like, it’s just been a great way to get to know the journalists we work with even more.

 

Aly Walansky: 20:04

Right?

 

Angela Tuell: 20:05

We’re really thankful for it.

 

Aly Walansky: 20:06

I tried to make it as personal as possible. I know that there’s a lot of subjects out there that come off as like preachy or condescending. And that’s fine, if that’s their vibe. But I don’t want to tell people, oh, you’re doing this wrong, or whatever. I want to be more like, you know, we’re all in this together, we’re all a community. And none of us – my side, or, you know, the journalism side or the PR side can do about each other. So let’s just try to make each other happier and get to know each other better.

 

Angela Tuell: 20:32

Yes, and right. And we can really help each other. Very…

 

Aly Walansky: 20:36

We really can. And I’ve developed so many good relationships. And I mean, I think that was true as soon as we became more active on social media, and when we started using Facebook groups like SARS that created like a sort of community. But like, since I started doing the substack, like, I’ve done happy hours for like, local people who subscribe. When I’m in different cities, I’ll be like, hey, I’ll you know, I’m in this city. And I have like, an hour free on my itinerary, if anyone wants to meet me at the hotel bar for a drink or a coffee. And so I yeah, I’ve been able to make, like so many legitimate in real life face to face connections, that it doesn’t feel like, you know, typing into a void like a newsletter could possibly feel it feels like you know, we all know each other, and we’re all working on the same stuff. And we’re just trying to do it all together in a way that works.

 

Angela Tuell: 21:21

Yes, I love that. And you have 1000s of

 

Aly Walansky: 21:24

And honestly, when it first started out, I was subscribers. like, no one’s gonna be interested in this. And then it shocked me to see like, people are interested in this.

 

Angela Tuell: 21:33

Yes, I love it. So do you have any specific pet peeves when it comes to PR professionals?

 

Aly Walansky: 21:40

I definitely don’t like when people pitch me on social media. I have no problem with people like, you know, message me and like, Oh, I really liked your Salmon Recipe or I really liked that cocktail bar you went to on your Nashville trip last week. I’m down with that. But someone DMS me a pitch or texts me a pitch. I just had someone today that like I had gone to their event last week and they texted me a follow up. That feels invasive, almost like they’re trying to skip the line and get ahead of my other pitches, but to their end. Also, if you’re in my inbox, and you send me an email, I can find you. So if I’m working on a story if I’m, if you pitch me roller skates today, I’m not working on a roller skates story. But who knows. Next week, I might get a roller skate assignment. I can go back to my email search for roller skates and find your email and open it then. If your pitch is in a Twitter DM or sorry, an X DM or a Facebook or an Instagram or a text. I won’t be able to find it. So it’s not serving you.

 

Angela Tuell: 22:43

Yeah, that’s great advice. The hardest part is is everyone is so individual. I’ve had others tell me. Yeah, I love to be pitched on DM so dearly. So try to keep it straight is definitely I wouldn’t like to be either. So I completely get that. But trying to keep it straight is hard, sometimes.

 

Aly Walansky: 23:00

It is hard. And I guess it’s part of like, you know, in any sort of relationship, whether it’s a friendship, or you’re dating or whatever, it’s getting to know each other and how you best together. Yeah, yeah. And I guess it’s the same thing with that, like, definitely, for me, as far as pitching, email is the way to go because it’s all in one place. I’m super like an organized, structured visual person. You have to be when you have so much going on. And but I’m sure there are people who are like, Oh, DM me, my DMs are open and God bless them. But if I had my Facebook Messenger pinging at all hours, it would go crazy, I don’t think it is.

 

Angela Tuell: 23:39

And they’re also the people that can just delete emails or not even look at their email. I’m like, how does that happen?

 

Aly Walansky: 23:46

Oh, I know, I’ve seen out of offices where people say things like, Oh, I’m on vacation for the next two weeks any emails received will be deleted. I was – how do you live your life like that?

 

Angela Tuell: 23:57

Right. I thought most of us in PR, live in journalism, were type A that sort of thing. So I don’t know how you could do that.

 

Aly Walansky: 24:05

I could never do that. If I’m on a plane. And it’s that rare plane that does not have Wi Fi or has Wi Fi that doesn’t work, as soon as I land, the first thing I’m doing is checking my email.

 

Angela Tuell: 24:15

Right? I know that is so true. So aside from all of your writing, that we’ve been talking about, you also offer consulting sessions for PR pros. Would love to hear more about that.

 

Aly Walansky: 24:26

Oh, of course. So this actually, during the pandemic, a couple of agencies had asked me to like pop on in Zoom and talk to their team about, you know, pivoting during a national situation, or in that case, a global situation, and sensitivity and pitching and like how roles had changed. And it was really – It felt like an important moment in time that we were all learning how to do this differently together. Like virtual was a whole new thing. We didn’t know what a virtual event was or virtual made together and I think over time between that and the sub stack where I do a lot of like, you know, industry commentary too, people started to reach out. And they like, Oh, I’m planning an event or I’m planning a trip, I would love if you could, like, you know, come on Zoom, or come visit our office and chat with our team. And so that started to become like, a little like a side gig of mine. And I actually really like it. Like, I feel like, it’s also, you know, part of learning from each other because I learn things when I consult, even though I’m the one allegedly playing teacher, I learn things. And, you know, by, you know, teaching people the way that it works better for you and your colleagues to have things done if it comes easier for me to do my job too

 

Angela Tuell: 25:41

Yeah, yeah. What is something you learned from the PR side that you didn’t know?

 

Aly Walansky: 25:46

I mean, definitely, the frustration that a lot of publicists feel about journalists not answering their emails. I don’t think they totally, always understood that journalists feel the same way. Like, we pitch editors, and we often don’t get responses, we’re left hanging. And I have publicist friends who might follow up and think I’m ignoring them or think that like, I’m blowing them off. And really, I’m usually waiting on an editor to get back to me and my hands are tied. So I think we’re all playing the same sort of escape room game, and just don’t know what we really all are doing the same thing. Just with different people.

 

Angela Tuell: 26:27

Yes. Yes. That’s, that’s great insight. Definitely. What sort of things are you currently working on?

 

Aly Walansky: 26:33

So I’m definitely in Holiday Gift Guide time. I’m working on a few gift guides. They’re all food and kitchen related. So I’m doing a couple of food stories right now for Southern Living. And I just wrapped up a couple of Thanksgiving pieces, believe it or not, because Thanksgiving comes super quick now. It’s always new stuff every day. Like, it’s kind of interesting, because like, you could never get bored because you never know what the new day will hold. Like, whether it’s going to be a fast food story or a weird new quirky, like trend.

 

Angela Tuell: 27:06

Yeah, how do you find your stories that are in store, you know, products in stores? Is that from PR professionals with those stores, or – ? I was like, Well, that sounds interesting.

 

Aly Walansky: 27:14

A little bit of both, I definitely get pitches where like, you know, a fast food chain might be like, oh, so we’re going to be coming out the new ghost pepper burger next week under embargo if you want to, like, you know pitch it to your editor, or if you want to, like sample it and write about on a try that’s that’s definitely happens with both like, you know, restaurant chains, but also with like, you know, products. Okay, all the time, but also will be a matter of scrolling social media a lot. Where I’ll be like, you know, spotted on the shelves at a Walmart in Des Moines. Is this like, fun new chocolate haunted house for you know, Halloween? No, actually, I think Aldi does, but or maybe it was Costco, I And then I’ll be like, Oh, it’s my editor. Like, oh, look, Walmart has a chocolate haunted house. They actually don’t – I’m totally making this up. don’t remember. But like, and then my editor, if you’re interested in it, then I’ll like, look for more information on it. And that’s what I get a lot of storage is or like I saw there was like, last month, this hack on Tic Tok, where people are adding lemon to their coffee. So I pitched one of my editors, and I was like, this is really interesting, but also sounds like it’s really bad for you. And she’s like, okay, you know, talk to a doctor or a dietitian, and like, you know, get to the bottom of it. So a lot of my pitches come from that just like, you know, scrolling through Instagram and Tiktok. And like, you know, seeing what people talking about and posting about.

 

Angela Tuell: 28:44

So I have to ask, is the lemon in the coffee bad for you?

 

Aly Walansky: 28:47

Uh, yes. So basically, people were using it as like a weight loss thing. Almost like you know, spa water meets caffeine. And but the thing is, lemon is acidic and so is coffee, so it’s bad for your teeth. It’s bad for heartburn. It’s bad for indigestion. And the only way it might possibly make you lose weight is you’ll be nauseous.

 

Angela Tuell: 29:08

Oh, wow, that sounds bad.

 

Aly Walansky: 29:10

Yes, I actually tried it I like you know, made a cup of coffee and put lemon in it and it was just so bitter and then I tried adding a bunch of sugar to offset the bitterness.

 

Angela Tuell: 29:20

And then that’s not good for you either.

 

Aly Walansky: 29:22

No, I’m like, this is a bad bad plan. But honestly, even back when I was a beauty writer, sometimes I tried face masks that made me breakout. It’s part of, its part of the game.

 

Angela Tuell: 29:33

Yeah, it’s part of the actual journalism part of

 

Aly Walansky: 29:35

Part of not being like you know, beholden to it. whatever the best seller is.

 

Angela Tuell: 29:42

Yes, or whatever Tik Tok says.

 

Aly Walansky: 29:44

Yeah, exactly.

 

Angela Tuell: 29:46

So before we go, I have to ask at you sound like you don’t have a lot of free time with how busy you are. But what do you like to do in free time that you do have?

 

Aly Walansky: 29:55

Okay, so I really liked to hang out with my adorable puppies. They’re my best friend.

 

Angela Tuell: 30:00

Awe. How many, what kind?

 

Aly Walansky: 30:01

I have two. I have a Shorkie and a Shitzu. And they’re technically not puppies. They’re actually senior dogs. I like the Golden Girls of dogs, but they’re awesome. One is 17, one is 16.

 

Angela Tuell: 30:13

Oh, wow.

 

Aly Walansky: 30:14

So I have senior dogs because it’s such an experience. I like to do that I still watch daytime soap operas. I watched General Hospital every day at 3pm.

 

Angela Tuell: 30:23

Is that still on?

 

Aly Walansky: 30:24

Yeah – it’s be on for like 60 years and that I when I was a little girl after school, I would watch with my grandma until my mom got home from work. And that was my thing, like, grandma would make me a snack and we would watch General Hospital together. And now decades later, I am doing that with my senior citizen dogs.

 

Angela Tuell: 30:43

That’s awesome.

 

Aly Walansky: 30:46

So nothing really changes. So I like that I am really into like, binging on Netflix like everyone else. And I really enjoy trying out fun new cocktail bars and restaurants. What’s even though that is job adjacent, it’s also fun.

 

Angela Tuell: 31:00

Yes, yes. So how can our listeners connect with you online?

 

Aly Walansky: 31:04

I’m definitely in my sub stack which is AlyWalansky dot sub stock.com. I love that and Instagram, I post on Instagram a lot. I usually post what I’m eating for dinner that night, what my dogs are doing and basically a lot more information about myself than you would ever want.

 

Angela Tuell: 31:20

Wonderful. We will have those links in our show notes. And thank you so much Aly.

 

Aly Walansky: 31:25

Of course. Thanks for having me.

 

Angela Tuell: 31:29

That’s all for this episode of Media in Minutes, a podcast by Communications Redefined. Please take a moment to rate, review and subscribe to our show. We’d love to hear what you think. You can find more at CommunicationsRedefined.com/podcast. I’m your host, Angela Tuell. Talk to you next time.

From beauty to spas to travel to food, listen for the evolution of Aly Walanksy’s career, and the joys she’s found in freelance lifestyle writing and the substack.

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