The 2023 Sally-Logan Milne Young PR Practitioner of the Year award was awarded to Jessica Chaplin — an outstanding young practitioner who has demonstrated the value of public relations in her career to date. We recently spoke with Jessica about her work and commitment to the profession.
”It was an honour to be named the 2023 Sally Logan-Milne Young PR Practitioner of the Year!
I started my career in public relations around nine years ago at Ara Poutama, Department of Corrections, and I have never looked back. Since then, I spent four and a half years as a Senior Media Advisor at Fire and Emergency; did a secondment as Communications Manager at the New Zealand Parole Board; was the Communications Lead for the Public Safety Network project for New Zealand Police and have recently started as a Principal Communications Advisor for Immigration New Zealand at the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.
A major career highlight to date has been leading a live house-burn on Seven Sharp that demonstrated the reality of a house fire. Seven Sharp dedicated the whole 30-minute episode to the burn and live streamed it all online. A follow up piece aired the next day where a specialist fire investigator talked through fire safety advice at the remains of the burnt house. Pulling off such a big event and seeing that it made a difference was a very proud moment.
My love of public information and emergency management started by being part of the public information team at the Tasman fires in 2019. I have since been Public Information Manager for the Lake Ohau fire in 2020, Waiharara fire in 2021, worked in the DPMC COVID-19 Public information team and was deployed as Public Information Manager to support the flood response in New South Wales last year. Being part of these responses really highlighted the power and importance of effective communication and it’s been a privilege to see the life-changing impact of best practice communications first-hand. Having public information as a core role in an emergency response team shows how valued communication skills and experience are, especially by senior leaders. Aotearoa’s recent responses to Cyclone Gabrielle and COVID 19 pandemic have also shown to the whole country, and world, how vital good communication is during a national emergency.
Last year I also completed my PRINZ Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) – something I would recommend to any public relations professional. During APR I was able to reflect on all aspects of public relations, and the valuable contributions communications professionals make across the board.
I’m really excited about the opportunities for all of us in the professional to continue making a difference to our communities, and for our contributions to be seen and valued at all levels.”