Year in Review 2023: Jess Allison

Each year, StopPress asks a group of talented professionals in the local industry for their reflections on the year that was. This year, we speak to individuals who made their mark on 2023 and brought us truly impactful work.

Jess Allison recently moved back to this side of the Tasman to take up the role of General Manager of PR and communications firm Herd MSL New Zealand, after a decade working for leading agencies in Melbourne. Here, she gives her thoughts on 2023 and what we can expect to see this year.

If 2023 were a brand, what would its slogan be?

Good things take time.

You made a big move across the ditch this year. How would you sum up your professional year in three words?

Big bold change.

What shifts do you foresee in the New Zealand PR world for 2024 based on 2023’s trends?

We’ll see an increasing focus on creating authentic, empathetic engagement.

2023 has been a tough year for many people, and we’re suffering from a sort of collective burnout. Rising inflation, global conflicts, climate events. It’s been a lot. People don’t want to be bombarded with irrelevant sales pitches; they want to be communicated with intentionally.

Whether it’s helpful advice, a bold provocation, a flash of inspiration or just a good giggle, brands and organisations that can create memorable moments in our daily lives are the ones we’ll keep coming back to.

What was a key change that Herd MSL made this year in response to 2023’s challenges.

We re-introduced our agency to the local market under the Herd MSL banner, joining forces with our formidable Australian team to bolster capabilities across consumer PR, corporate communications and sustainability.

This shift means we can tap into some of their deep subject matter expertise and combine it with what we know makes kiwis tick to deliver real impact for clients.

What technology made the most impact on your day-to-day life this year?

Look, it’s not sexy but I have a huge appreciation for the Storypark app. I work full-time with two kids in daycare, so I love the ability to drop in on their day and watch them having fun. It’s a small moment of delight.

What were the biggest lessons brands learnt in 2023?

Increasingly we’re seeing a lot of brands putting PR at the heart of their marketing and communications activity. There’s a much better understanding about how PR professionals can help organisations navigate a progressively complex range of business transformation issues.  

Who inspired you in 2023 and why?

Global Women and their kaupapa to drive diversity in leadership across Aotearoa.

They tackle big, important issues like the gender pay gap, and the motherhood penalty. This year we were proud to support their research into the impacts of menopause in the New Zealand workplace.  

Unfortunately, there is still so much silence that exists around something that roughly half of our workforce experience, so it was great to help open up dialogue about what it means to normalise menopause.

What are you most looking forward to working on in 2024?

Since starting my role in June I’ve had the pleasure of working with some incredibly generous, passionate and smart colleagues across Publicis Groupe. I’m looking forward to doing more of the same in in 2024.

A personal achievement I am proud of this year…

This year has been a rollercoaster. In the past 14 months I’ve had a second baby, sold a house, moved countries, and started a new job… basically all the major life changes you shouldn’t attempt to make back-to-back. And I lived to tell the tale!

Quick fire 10:

Most impactful local campaign of 2023: Team Heroine: Correct The Internet.

Most underrated international campaign of the year: At a time when independent journalism is more important than ever, the Guardian’s ‘Not for Sale’ campaign felt beautifully simplistic, yet more urgent than ever.

Campaign I wish I worked on: DoorDash Self-Love Bouquet. I mean, this campaign has everything: flowers, sex-toys and happy endings. What’s not to love?

A news event that didn’t get the attention it deserved: the ongoing debate about what constitutes ethical, impartial and fair reporting – and what we expect from our news media.

Most listened to artist of 2023: MF Doom.

A 2023 trend you’re ready to bid farewell to: Nepo babies.

Most innovative use of social media in a campaign this year: Olaplex ‘Oladupe’.

Most bingeable TV series of 2023: The Bear.

Biggest flop of 2023: The Twitter X re-brand.

Best piece of advice you’ve been given: Manage your energy, not your time. I haven’t mastered the art of this year… but I’m trying.

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