Next of the Best: Paramount’s Tess Fisher on the importance of uniting teams in a post-covid world

next of the best tess fisher

Plus: Seeing under-40s challenge the status quo

On May 26th, Mediaweek’s Next of the Best awards celebrated the best of under 40s talent across the media industry – including TV, radio, media agencies and PR.

Taking home gold for PR – Media was senior publicist, Paramount ANZ / Network 10, Tess Fisher.

Mediaweek caught up with Fisher about her Next of the Best win and the future of the industry.

Congratulations on winning gold! How do you feel about the win? 

“Thank you! It’s absolutely surreal. When I saw the news that Mediaweek was launching the Next of the Best Awards, I thought it was such a great initiative and I was crossing my fingers someone I knew would make the shortlist. When that shortlisted person turned out to be me, I thought my excitement was peaking. To be recognised with gold – especially alongside such esteemed competition – was a true pinch-myself moment.”

How does this award reflect the work of you and your team?

“As Publicists, we’re considered ‘wallpaper’. What we do is not about us and if you’re doing this job for the limelight, you’re going to run out of juice pretty quickly. We’re the busy bees behind the scenes showcasing the work of others. It’s incredibly rare and exceptionally special to have that spotlight turned around!

“My colleagues and peers do remarkable work that extends well beyond their job descriptions (and the 9 to 5). It takes empathy, intuition, EQ, persistence and patience – think journalist, counsellor, mediator, teacher, strategist, mother and salesperson all rolled into one. Because this job is so multi-faceted, it’s often hard to explain what we do (my nan thought I dressed store mannequins for a while there), so it’s very special that Mediaweek has created a space for recognising all the hard work, talent and determination that fuels this one-of-a-kind industry.”

In your view, what are some of the major hurdles the industry is facing?

“Talking about Covid feels so 2020, but it has a long arm that just keeps taking – and it can’t be ignored.

“During lockdown, many professionals experienced ‘WFH’ for the first time. This change saw us implement lots of tactics to keep teams together. Yes, Zoom trivia or Paint & Pinot (which was always 75% pinot) might be activities that make us shudder now, but they glued us together when everything around us was falling apart.

“Post-Covid, we’re seeing the advent of the hybrid workplace. This means flexibility and improved productivity for many, but our workplaces remain fractured. Just because Covid is ‘over’, we shouldn’t jettison the team building exercises that help unite workers. Culture-building tactics foster a sense of workplace community, which in turn helps employees feel more engaged with their peers and their jobs. When people enjoy being at work, they’re more likely to put in extra effort and not seek employment elsewhere.

“Whether it’s a coffee run in the morning, drinks after work, team WIPs that cover more than just work (read: yes, I want to know the backstory of your wild IG stories last weekend!), uniting teams in a post-covid world is an essential part of futureproofing our industry.” 

The Next of the Best is an under-40s award, how will today’s upcoming talent impact the industry in the future?

“One of the best parts of working with under-40s is seeing them challenge the status quo. I love hearing young people say “But why do we do it that way?”, making others (myself included!) rethink antiquated approaches and processes.

“I genuinely feel like younger generations care about amplifying voices that matter and are striving for positive impact. Studies are already showing Gen Z’s distrust and scepticism of corporations is forcing brands and influencers to ‘do better’ and act more authentically, consciously, and transparently. I believe this push for better can translate to workplaces, and that younger generations have the power to dismantle business practices that are at best murky or misleading, and at worst, unethical.

“There is so much good coming from upcoming talent, but I also get a lot out of seeing older mentors buddy up with emerging talent. When fresh ways of thinking meet proven strategic experience, that’s the nexus for real evolution in the workplace.

What’s your outlook for the year ahead?

“Martinis, martinis, martinis.

“Kidding. That’s just this weekend’s outlook.

“Working at Paramount ANZ I’m constantly inspired by our programming and our commitment to heroing diverse, creative voices. My job marries my love of finding great content with my desire to spread the word about it. I get to talk about binge-worthy entertainment and I get paid? Now that’s an outlook to get excited about.

“On the personal front, I’m living for my mum’s daily dog pics, keeping on with my Masters of Creative Writing, trying to read, relax and bubble bath more, and am always on the lookout for a hot new restaurant opening. If you have any leads, you know where to find me!”

See Also: Mediaweek’s Next of the Best Awards: Winners Revealed

Top Image: Tess Fisher

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