We speak to our Senior Account Director - Jess Slevin
As Senior Account Director, Jess is responsible for heading up the team at Accela PR. Before joining the company, Jess held roles in agencies for the past decade in New York, working with a range of lifestyle clients from luxury hotels to wine, spirits, coffee and more. Aside from the traditional media relations experience associated with PR, Jess also spent time focused on events and the trade side of the F&B industry, working with bartenders on behalf of spirits brands. After relocating to Singapore in June 2018 and joining the Accela team shortly thereafter, Jessica has been getting to know a completely new pool of media, whilst taking her relationships built in the states to Asia.
Did you know all your life you wanted to be in PR?
Not exactly! I originally went to school for Business / Management, but also always thought I would like to do something more events-focused. I attended a seminar on event planning on a whim, and the presenter suggested Public Relations as a path into event planning. After researching a bit more, I decided to do a double major in Public Relations (my university was one of few in the US that offered it as a proper major) and Business. Pretty quickly I realized there was more to PR than planning events, but it’s still one of my favorite parts of the job!
What drew you to work for the Accela Group?
Accela represents an incredible group of clients that I’m so proud to work with. I’ve been working in the F&B space for my entire career, specifically focused on wine and spirits for the last 8+ years so it’s really cool to work with world-renowned venues and brands.
What’s the best professional advice you ever received?
Come with solutions, not problems. It’s something you can think about in all elements of life really – look at issues as a challenge you can solve, don’t just point out there’s a problem. Communication will always be much more productive that way, and it shows resourcefulness which is super important in any situation, but especially in a client services role like ours.
What does a typical day look like for you?
My role is a mix of working with existing clients and recruiting new ones. For existing clients, I’ll handle anything from overall PR strategy to pitching and hosting tastings. Otherwise, I spend a lot of my time brainstorming fun and creative programming for potential new clients, working on proposals and contracts as new inquiries come in, and thinking about ways we can promote Accela (Instagram strategy, updating the website, etc.). No matter what I have going on in the office, the day more often than not ends with cocktails – either at one of the bars we work with, or I’ll be checking out the newest cocktail bars and supporting industry events.
What’s your favorite cocktail?
Anything with whisky – I love a Manhattan or a Boulevardier! But with the heat in Singapore, I’m much more likely found drinking something a bit more refreshing like a whisky highball.
What’s the most memorable meal you’ve ever had?
Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy. I had just started watching Chef’s Table and the chef there, Massimo Botturo, is featured in the first episode. I was visiting Italy that summer and signed up for the waitlist, assuming we would never get in – and then got a surprise phone call a few days before we left saying a table had opened up! I had to change our entire trip itinerary to include Modena, but it was all worth it. The food was absolutely incredible, it was such a beautiful, intimate restaurant – and Massimo came out to greet us towards the end of the meal! That one is going to be hard to top.
Where did you take your favorite trip?
It’s hard to pick a favorite, I think I’d be between Iceland and safari in South Africa. Both were so memorable and just felt like once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.
What’s on your bucket list in terms of drinks, foods to try and places to visit?
It might sound ridiculous, but after I went to South Africa I realized I’d been to 6 of 7 continents – so now I’m dying to go to Antarctica! I’ve had a few friends who have gone and said it was incredible, so definitely want to make that happen.
What would you say truly differentiates Accela from the many competitive choices?
Because we’re so specialized in our field (lifestyle/hospitality), it allows us to truly be experts in the types of clients we deal with. Being knowledgeable about the industry you’re working in is incredibly important so you can speak intelligently about the offerings to media, and also forge deeper relationships with media who cover that specific industry.
From your experience, what do you see in the future for the PR industry?
I think it’s inevitable that PR will continue to evolve as everything becomes more digitally focused, however with that said I’m hopeful that print media will still hold on and remain an important fixture. People are quick to say that print is dying, but I’m old school in that I still just love reading the hard copy of a newspaper or a magazine! I hope that’s something we’ll never completely lose sight of as things evolve.