If you spend any time at all in plastics circles on the internet, you've probably encountered Allyson Wilson's work.
As the strategist behind the American Chemistry Council's Plastics Make it Possible campaign, social media outreach and other digital initiatives, Wilson has led the creation of popular videos and other content made for sharing within the industry and beyond. She also helps guide how industry communicates on critical topics like marine litter, industry innovation and sustainability.
"When I saw the job description, it looked really exciting because one thing I think I've always been really good at is taking technical information and translating it for audiences," Wilson said.
The role was a professional reinvention for Wilson, a former TV news reporter who found herself looking for other opportunities amid challenges to the journalism job market. Before joining the ACC team, she worked in communications for a couple of political campaigns in Virginia, during which time she received some memorable advice. When it became clear the candidate was not going to win, a colleague urged her to "always figure out how to run the metrics on your impact."
Wilson explained: "Even if you're linked to something that is not considered successful, you can show how your contributions moved the needle."
The advice stuck with her as she moved forward in her career, joining ACC in January 2010.
In her role at ACC, Wilson said she focuses first on understanding the audience and the goal for the communication.
"For consumers, it's more about getting them to understand all of the good that plastics is doing in the world," she said. "And for that to happen, you really have to help them connect emotionally with the story."
Under Wilson's leadership, Plastics Make it Possible emphasizes personal storytelling to show consumers the benefits of plastics, from energy-saving construction materials to food storage at a holiday feast. Consumers, she said, connect well to real-life examples of how plastics help you do more with less — "tangibles," as she calls them.
Even her kids — 12, 10 and 3 — have absorbed how plastics can make it possible, calling out examples that they see, like a foam pool noodle.
"My 12- and 10-year-old know everything about plastics," Wilson said, adding that she hopes to bring them to a future NPE.
For people interested in getting into plastics — or any industry — she suggests interning at an industry association, a more comprehensive education than working at a company focused on a particular area. "There's an industry association for everything," she notes.
"When you work at an industry association, you are learning about everything that has anything to do with that industry, and that to me was sort of mind-boggling," she said. "There's no way to overstate the value of understanding an industry."