PR pros love a peek inside the minds of the journalists they pitch and work with on stories.
Muck Rack had the opportunity to chat with Aly Walansky, a freelance journalist with bylines in Forbes, Men’s Journal, Bravo TV, POPSUGAR and Today.
Read on to get to know Aly a bit better.
1. Give us a brief Twitter-sized (280-character) history of your journalism career.
I was a journalism and creative writing double major in college (with a minor in classic Greek lit because I'm totally a nerd!) - but I never really wanted to cover hard news (it's not me!) so I went for the fun news!
2. Now, you're a freelance journalist with bylines in Forbes, Men’s Journal, Bravo TV, POPSUGAR and Today. Why did you choose the freelance life over working in-house? What has it been like?
I like the freedom of working for myself. Don't get me wrong -- I keep a strict schedule every day (I'm at my computer all day every day) but I also can work from anywhere, which gives me freedom to travel and cover many different types of stories.
3. Tell us a bit about your day-to-day as a freelancer. How do you get your assignments? How much of your day is spent pitching editors vs. writing stories?
I treat it like a staff job in that I'm at my computer by 9 a.m. every day and often work until evening.
I have a few "anchor" outlets that I expect assignments from a few times a week, but I also do a lot of pitching (I say my work is about half and half, getting assignments and cold pitching - but there's days I write as many as 3 stories in one day, but usually 1-2.
4. Where do you typically find sources for your stories? What do you look for in a source?
There's some great spots on social media, networking and such groups like PR and Media Czars, where It's great to get sources and leave leads for publicists to get back to you -- but I've also at this point amassed a pretty large contact list, so I have lots of people to email for specific info, like if I need a nutritionist for a story.
5. You were recently included on Muck Rack's list of most viewed journalists of all time on the platform. I'm going to guess you receive a lot of PR pitches! Walk us through your email inbox. How many emails do you receive a day? What advice would you give to PR pros hoping to get your attention?
Oh god. Around 500 emails a day, especially during gift guide time, when it's more.
I don't get to answer every email but I do read them all! It's time consuming, I won't lie! Please never text/Facebook message as a follow up. I once had a publicist try to video message me through Instagram. It felt so invasive -- especially since it was very late at night!
6. You write for some very well-known publications. How did you build relationships with the editors and publications you work for? Do you have any tips for freelancers who hope to follow in your footsteps?
I think it's important to treat editors as we wish to be treated ourselves, and the same with publicists. I know a lot of writers who see publicists as a transactional relationship, where they are only as good as their current clients, and our current assignment needs. There's publicists I have had relationships with for years, even when I'm not writing anything about who they are representing at the time...at the end of the day, people are people, independent of if they are currently are "useful or not".
So, follow each other on Instagram. Comment on my videos about my cooking or my dogs. It's important to remember we are all people with interests and passions at the end of the day. Same for editors, too. While it's super hurtful when editors ghost on us (and it happens) stalking them is not going to make it better. See it as an opportunity to to cultivate new relationships.
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Jessica Lawlor is the features editor for the Muck Rack blog and handles content initiatives and social media for Muck Rack.
Photos via Aly Walansky