Kerrison Media

John Kerrison on media, news and the digital disruption

Everyone has a story

Mine goes something like this. 

In 1992, aged 18, I waited for one postman who would deliver my Tertiary Entrance Rank in a plain, white, A4 envelope. I opened it at the front gate with my mother hovering over my shoulder where we both read a score of 55 out of 100. My story starts with a lot of numbers which is intentional: I’ve never been a fan of them. ‘Just get a job,’ dad said, so I went to work in the mail room at AMP General Insurance. 

I became determined to turn my story around. A manager and mentor at AMP, Genevieve Vignes, suggested I go to university as a mature age student. If numbers weren’t a strong point, words would be. I packed my bags and went to Bathurst to study broadcast journalism. 

This round peg found a round hole. Storytelling just made sense to me and it reflected it my grades. I walked straight from university into the Seven Newsroom at Epping as a news producer. Determined to try a stint in front of the camera, I moved to Orange where I became Prime TV’s local newsreader.

So many powerful stories spring to mind across that four years in the Central West. There was one job I’ll never forget. I was asked to wear the Prime Possum costume at the Central West pet expo. The receptionist who normally had the starring role was sick. ‘Just smile and wave’, they said. The suit had a huge tail, and colleagues forgot to warn me not to turn around quickly when greeting the toddlers. Carnage.

I moved to Adelaide to work for the ABC (not because of the Possum suit, thanks). I fell in love with hot summers of the south and how the sun would set over Henley Beach, painting the sand and seaside cafes in a gold hue. I was asked to join Nine News in Adelaide before making the big switch to Nine in Sydney in 2008. I miss Adelaide but I was happy to be going home.

Nine News

Nine News was an adventure: I covered courts and learned to have a thick skin. I was faced with so many heart-wrenching stories of broken lives and bad decisions. Politics was better, and a three month stint in Canberra meant learning from the best: Laurie Oakes.

I studied a Masters in Organisational Communication. News was still a driving force for me but I was fascinated by new channels and how people experienced the world through constructed stories. 

Social Media

I discovered social media around the same time I moved to Sky News. The reporting changed, and most of the work was now in a studio. I presented Technology Behind Business and Business Night but I was growing interested in what social media and communication would mean for the wider community. 

In 2012 I made the big decision to leave the studio and walk back into an office. Transport for NSW took in this refugee reporter and gave me a mammoth task: building the agency’s first social media strategy, policies, content plans and employing two teams to help deliver it.

The building blocks of me

We’re complex creatures, we humans. I could include swathes of text about discovering running but I’ll keep in short. I’ve been CoPresident of the LGBTQ Sydney Frontrunners running club and in November 2015 I ran the New York Marathon. 

I’ve become a passionate advocate for mindfulness leadership.

I’m a speaker on communication theory effectively applied in organisations. I recently addressed the NSW Crisis, Risk and Readiness Conference where I spoke on ‘managing social media in the first hours of a crisis’. 

Service NSW

All the pieces of the puzzle have started to fall into place. I joined Service NSW in 2017 and I’m now Director of Communication. This agency hums like a well oiled machine because its people are so passionate about customers and giving them great access to government services.

My story isn’t over but let me finish the way I started, with numbers. I have 15 years of communication experience, 23 running medals on a display hook on my wall, responsibility for a wonderful team of 21, and I have one moment: This moment. It’s the power to determine where the story goes next. 

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