Impact Insights Blog

Media Moment – LA Sokolowski

March 25, 2024

The Impact PR team recently worked with LA Sokolowski on behalf of one of our clients and took the opportunity to learn more about her and her decades-long career in journalism. Continue reading to get to know LA!

Thanks for being our guest this month! Can you tell us a bit more about yourself and your current roles?

Thanks for having me. I always feel most at home in the Hudson Valley, where I earned my first published byline before I was a teenager in the Greene County News. More than a decade ago, I trademarked the term ‘equinista’ (fashionista + equestrienne) to define and shape my place in the horse/sports niche and I’m happy to say that last year, American Horse Publications, the leading professional organization for equine publishing, debuted a media award for best equestrian lifestyle article, giving recognition to this important market (okay full disclosure, I finished in second place with a travel piece about dressage in Portugal created for one of my clients, Active Riding Trips). But as the publishing – and sports reporting – worlds continue to change I’ve evolved, redefining myself as #sherocksnrides. I write for horse/racing magazines, still have my column, His & Hers, in Elite Equestrian since 2012, but also belong to the Numismatic Literary Guild, contribute to Rock & Gem Magazine, and oversee social media and cultural strategy for a fun and interesting stable of companies.

How long have you been writing/reporting and what led you to this field? 

I’ve been doing this for 40 years. I started at 12, I’m 62 now. What led me to equestrian journalism really was my inability to be happy doing anything else! I earned my journalism degree at SUNY Albany when Bill Kennedy was an English professor, so I was lucky to learn from the local best, but when I graduated I didn’t really have a plan. I’d grown up riding and showing horses so I gravitated to Saratoga; I started volunteering at the local cable TV studio and began covering racing topics. When my mom died, I decided to return to school for the degree I wanted – Equine Business Management at Johnson & Wales University. Yes, the hospitality/culinary school. I’ve lost count of how many times I was asked if I was learning how to cook horses. But the truth is, when I graduated summa cum laude the head of the department said there was a job waiting with the Olympic equestrian team’s PR department. I said yes and never looked back. The horsemen who had been my heroes as a kid became people I knew on a first-name basis. And I learned to crunch out a results release in minutes flat in the middle of a noisy stadium!

What topics or stories are you most excited to report on for your audiences?

Audiences surprise me with their reactions. For instance, I had a great day getting down and dirty in a Herkimer quarry for a Valentine’s Day story about conflict-free choices in gems, but never expected it to become the ninth most popular article of the year for Rock & Gem! While another, on horse training methods applied to safer, better zoological animal management (I worked in development at Zoo New England), that I was really proud of, didn’t raise a blip. But overall, I’m grateful for the career I have made for myself and get excited about every assignment. Everyone and everything has a story.

What is one of the most memorable stories you’ve written so far?

While all of us were navigating COVID-19, I kept talking to horsewomen ‘of a certain age’ who were putting an increasing importance on legacy. You can only chase and catch so many accomplishments before you start thinking well, what do I do with them now? So, I pitched to Horse Illustrated Magazine to do an article looking at 10 of the industry’s most influential horsewomen for its March issue (Women’s Month) and at the same time, why not do a podcast, too? There could not have been more emotional highs or lows – two women, Dressage Author Jane Savoie and Long Rider Bernice Ende, passed away during production, teaching us how fleeting our opportunities are. Mustang Heritage Foundation Director Patti Colbert had the smartest, sauciest mouth this side of late-night TV, Ebony Horsewomen Inc. Founder Patricia Kelly delivered a masterclass in cultural competency, and probably the most ardent voice was from Dr. Temple Grandin. It won best podcast of the year at the 2022 American Horse Publications Media Awards but what mattered to me were the judges praising it as a “true legacy piece for the industry.” I think we all wanted to feel like we did something important during lockdown. This was it for me.

Tell us – we promise not to hold it against you – what is your biggest PR pet peeve?

LOL! Truthfully? A natural disaster or national disaster, anything that is not only going to command the cover of section 1 but robs Opening Day of “my event” of any chance at the cover of section 2, literally or metaphorically. All the other PR stuff? I think that’s under the ‘wrangling of cats category.’ I don’t get peeved about what I can anticipate but the stuff I can’t control? I have been known to mutter, whether the guy upstairs or downstairs is listening first, en route to my event with my coffee in fist, “Don’t you dare let something happen. This is MY day.”

What is one thing most people might be surprised to learn about you?

I was the fat kid bullied from kindergarten through high school. #itgetsbetter

What are your favorite Capital Region hotspots that all locals and visitors alike ought to check out?

  1. Thacher Park. It’s not only a historic and geologic draw but from up there, you can see the Empire State Plaza and marvel (true story) at how Nelson D. Rockefeller seriously pondered building the plaza along its cliff face, inspired by architecture he found among the nearly impenetrable temples of Tibetan monks. And while you stand at its top and look out at Albany, remind yourself that this was once the bottom of an ancient ocean.
  2. Saratoga, but not the obvious. Head over to neighboring Stillwater for free Sunday and weekday polo matches at the Saratoga Polo School. Hot tip: We have an amazing team of young women from the Albany Boys & Girls Club, so pack a tailgate or picnic box, a few chairs for the raised platform seating, and enjoy Saratoga at a ‘Gilded Age’ pace. Leave the frenetics to Broadway.
  3. For me, dining is location first, menu second, so two spots that never disappoint along the Hudson River (it may stretch the ‘Capital’ but they’re 100% Hudson Valley) are Frank Guido’s on the Water in Catskill, and Patrick Henry’s Waterfront Tavern in Coxsackie.

After a long day or week, how do you unwind and relax?

If I’m traveling, my “pre-emptive strike” is to pack light – like ‘backpack light’ – to begin with, so by the time I come home and collapse, there’s a universe of difference between tossing off a backpack or lugging a suitcase! Otherwise, as someone who has worked remotely for over 30 years, I joke that yes, you work your own hours: all 24/7 of them. And that’s true. So I try to carve a piece out of every day where I stop to be present with our new (6 months) cat and play a little, or as the weather warms, I’ll start gardening. I’m quite proud to be on second and third-generation hot pepper and tomato plant seeds; and my Tulip Festival bulbs are popping up. And of course, horses – any time we can ride, or even do groundwork around these therapeutic beasts, you feel what another of my ‘great horsewomen,’ Linda Tellington-Jones, describes as the ‘heart resonance.’ You can’t be around horses without leaving everything else behind for at least a little while.

If someone wants to follow you, where can they connect with you and/or connect on social media?

Take your pick:

Find my His & Hers interviews with some of today’s leading horsemen, in every issue of Elite Equestrian magazine here: https://eliteequestrianmagazine.com/. You can also email H&H suggestions to latheequinista@gmail.com.

I bring the ‘back stories’ about some of my articles to my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/sherocksnrides/

I’m also on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/L.A.Sokolowski/, Instagram at @la_sokolowski, and if TikTok survives, @sherocksnrides

For a wider breadth of my writing materials, you may enjoy: https://muckrack.com/la-sokolowski.

Last but not least, my LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/latheequinista/