Jessica Morris is an internationally published Journalist, Author and Editor who lives between Melbourne, Australia and Nashville, Tennessee. With a passion for pop culture, religion and mental health, she hosts the Between You & Me Podcast and has worked with non-profits including The Salvation Army and To Write Love On Her Arms. Her memoir, When Hope Speaks, is available on Amazon now. You can connect with her on Instagram @jessicakmorris.
What made you pursue a career in journalism?
As a teenager, I experienced severe anxiety and was afraid of the outside world. I found purpose and meaning in magazines, books and TV shows, so I became a journalist because I wanted to give other people the same hope I found through these mediums, by telling stories that matter. In the last decade, I’ve had the privilege of working as a music journalist in Australia and the US, working as an editorial coordinator and running social media for a non-profit, writing mental health and news related content for global charities and local businesses, and reviewing music, TV and books whenever I get the chance!
You released a memoir in 2016 titled ‘When Hope Speaks’. What is it about?
When Hope Speaks is a memoir about my diagnosis with severe depression, anxiety, OCD and suicidality from the age of 13. It is a collection of stories, essays, letters and memories from my travels, as I reflect on how my mental health journey has shaped me as a human. Each section of the book is divided into a specific location, and I love that I am now able to tell a brave, adventurous story after experiencing so much fear as a kid. I am so grateful that Salvo Publishing, the publishing arm of The Salvation Army in Australia, believed in my story and released it in paperback.
Are there any work challenges that arise from being based out of two very different locations (Melbourne, Australia and Nashville, Tennessee)?
I have lived overseas, and specifically in Nashville, on and off for some years now. I currently live in Geelong, and prior to COVID-19 would commute to Melbourne once a week for work with a non-profit. Logistically, working between time zones has been a real challenge in terms of managing my work/life balance, as is navigating visa qualifications as I would love to make a permanent move to Nashville one day. But the hardest part is the distance between myself and my community in both cities. This has been amplified during COVID-19, and in light of this, I have to be very intentional about building genuine relationships with people no matter where I live.
Tell us a little bit about your ‘Between You & Me’ podcast.
The Between You & Me podcast is a bi-weekly podcast where I talk to musicians about the things that hurt, heal and change us in Evangelical culture. I started this in 2018 after living in Nashville where I worked as a Christian music journalist. I was feeling disillusioned with the nationalism, hypocrisy and pain I heard about and witnessed in Evangelical circles. So instead of becoming jaded, I decided to use my tools as a journo to create conversation and ask musicians to be blatantly honest about faith, doubt, sexuality, race, marriage, politics – you name it! We are nearly 100 episodes in now, and I’m so grateful for the global community that has joined me as we pursue honesty, integrity and healing.
What does a press release need to contain to be of interest to you?
– Make sure the subject matter interests me, and that I currently write for a publication that would publish the story. My niches are in music, mental health/wellness, non-profit work, religion and pop culture – so anything outside of this is unread and sent to my rubbish bin.
– Highlight what makes the subject different and interesting – if they aren’t well known, tell me what makes the person or subject so remarkable (it gives me an angle immediately).
– I love action points! My favourite presser kits include downloads to high-res photos, music or film to download/stream, talking points and links to the subject’s social media.
– Feel free to follow up with a secondary email if you think your press release would be a great fit, but try to keep it personable if you can. I know time is short, but my favourite publicists are the ones who speak to me like both a professional and a friend.