Year in Review 2023: Kelly Bennett

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.

Kelly Bennett is Managing Director of communications consultancy One Plus One Group, which works with a range of public sector organisations and household name brands. We asked him for his thoughts on 2023, and what he expects to see in 2024.

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

Living the dream.

How would you sum up your professional year in three words?

Expansive. Rewarding. Celebration. 

Favourite PR campaign of 2023?

With how dire the cost of living crisis has become, my favourite campaign is one that is actively trying to address it. ‘Pitch In’ by The New Zealand Food Network (NZFN), which aims to fill Eden Park with meals for hungry Kiwis, is such an important initiative in these trying times. It’s also quintessentially Kiwi, as we’re always talking about how many rugby fields XYZ fills.

What shifts do you foresee in the New Zealand comms sector in 2024 based on 2023’s trends?

2023 was filled with a lot of turbulence in the media sector, for big outlets, the smaller guys and individual practitioners. Obviously the closures of Today FM and The Project come to mind, with countless other newsrooms cutting down their staff. This will have an impact on the traditionally symbiotic relationship between PR and media.

What was a key change that One Plus One made this year in response to 2023’s challenges?

Between bouncing back from Covid, rising inflation rates and a tight labour market, the challenges we faced as an agency were by no means unique to us.

However a key change in approach this year wasn’t to increase demand – as is often the case – but instead maintaining stability. We made a big effort to minimise stress and disruption, so we could more easily convert opportunities while still going above and beyond for existing clients.

And it feels that this paid off, with one especially proud moment being when we won the Silver award for Large PR Consultancy of the Year at the 2023 PRINZ awards.

What technology made the most impact on the comms landscape this year?

AI – we’re curious to see how this pans out and if the hopeful opportunities play out, or if we should be treading with caution.

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learnt this year?

This year we celebrated our 10th anniversary. This came with lot of reflection and feeling grateful for everyone who has been part of the business and my professional life over the last decade.

It has taught me that a decade goes by really quickly, and the key takeaway from all of this is to enjoy the ride. That isn’t always that easy when it’s your business, because things invariably go wrong. However, the tough times will pass, so remember to hold a big picture view.

Who inspired you this year and why?

I’m always inspired by watching all the individuals in my team grow into the best practitioners they can be, and regularly ask myself how much we can encourage each and every team member.

This is especially true for the younger members of the team. Coming from another generation, it’s easy to get stuck in your ways so I’m grateful to always be challenged and energised by the unique perspectives that they bring.  They are the next generation of our industry and I’m excited to support them as they flourish.

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

Looking ahead, I’m excited to work alongside my colleague, shareholder and General Manager Max Burt, who’s made an incredible impact to the business over the past year or so.

We’re feeling pretty bullish about continuing our growth over the next few years, and with a couple of exciting new hires in the new year, paired with encouraging client conversations, we’re excited about what the future holds.

Quick fire 10:

Most impactful local campaign of 2023:

‘You’re Cooked’ by Fire and Emergency NZ.

Most underrated international campaign of the year:

‘Self-Love Bouquet’ by DoorDash.

Campaign I wish I worked on:

Tourism Fiji work by Special PR.

A news event that didn’t get the attention it deserved:

Climate change.

Most listened to artist of 2023:

The Blue Nile.

A 2023 trend you’re ready to bid farewell to:

Anti-Māori rhetoric.

Most innovative use of social media in a campaign this year:

Our post about hiring Damien Venuto.

Most bingeable TV series of 2023:

Wes Anderson’s Roald Dahl Series.

Biggest flop of 2023:

The All Blacks’ RWC loss. 

Best piece of advice you’ve been given:

Don’t sweat the small stuff.

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