Allison North Jones says that she thinks she was born talking. “I’ve been a communicator my whole life.” Nosey, curious, always wanting to know “why.” These are the attributes she thinks led to her love of journalism and now her expertise in helping clients tell their stories. As founder of North, Jones has established clients throughout Florida and several other states. Her dream is to keep growing and in particular to use her knowledge of the way politics works to further the agenda of people she represents.
But first she’d had to “earn her chops.” Jones says she started out as a journalism graduate from Indiana University. She’d been a thespian in high school and, at first, had gravitated toward psychology or literature. But a journalism professor who was passionate about newspapers set her on the road of communication.
“I was hired as a paid intern at Bloomberg in Washington, D.C. I think I was slightly aggressive, hungry, and not jaded.” She also arrived in the capital during a heady time for news. She helped cover the Clinton sex scandal for the news service as well as wrote reports on stocks and the market.
After serving under Ari Fleisher on Elizabeth Dole’s presidential campaign, the 25-year-old Jones, was hired by the New York Times’ Washington bureau as an Editorial News Assistant. She loved the feel of being at the beating heart of news, and she also got a taste of writing her own columns with her own byline. “That was pretty addicting,” she laughs.
When a job working for the Tampa Tribune’s Tallahassee bureau came along, she jumped at it as the chance to do the kind of print journalism she’d dreamt about since college. Suddenly she was thrown into the middle of Florida politics, hurricanes, and histories she was learning on the fly. But again she loved it. Until after several years of deadlines, short-form stories, and the shift from print to constantly breaking news, she decided it was time for a real change.
Jones said she took a gamble and with one other person, began the North firm she heads today. “The Pennington Law group gave me my chance,” she says, and there was a lobbying firm that gave her “great advice,” but the rest she did on her own. “I drove all across the state, making presentations and cold calls.” And quickly her reputation began to grow.
Specializing in everything from government affairs and grassroots coalition building, to media outreach, speech writing, event planning, marketing, brand development and social media marketing, North works with clients big and small. From branding to crisis management, the team at North are with their clients every step of the way. But Jones says she takes nothing for granted.
“Being a leader takes discipline and it takes passion. You must be excited every day about what you’re doing. Giving your clients respect and consistency is vital.” She also says that media of all kinds can be fickle. “Every day may not be a win, but that doesn’t mean it’s a defeat either. The trick is to be agile. Always be willing to adjust to changing methods, needs, and interests of the public and the clients you serve.”
And where will Allison North Jones be in five years. “I would love to have a branch in Washington. The energy there is amazing. But Tallahassee will always be home and my business will always be rooted here. No doubt, Tallahassee is home.”
If you go
Join the Tallahassee Democrat to celebrate the 2016 “25 Women You Need to Know” as well as the “5 Young Women to Watch” at a reception in their honor at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, April 4, at Goodwood Garden’s Carriage House. Tickets are $25 for one or $300 for a table for 10. To order tickets, visit https://tickets.tallahassee.com/
See videos of Allison North Jones at Tallahassee.com/25women