Fast Five: PRSA and American Marketing Association Q & A – Donna Ayer

Fast Five: PRSA and American Marketing Association Q & A – Donna Ayer
March 17, 2019 Kelly McFalls

Today, with every agency saying it is full service, CMOs are starting to ask, what exactly does full service mean? PR firms offer influencer marketing and social engagement, but so do ad agencies.

More than ever before, CMOs have options, and everyone knows it. An agency can be hero and savior or muck-up and short-timer. It’s all on the table March 21 when two CMOs and two agency chiefs go head-to-head in a panel you won’t want to miss. Join us as the American Marketing Association, Boston and the Public Relations Society of Boston host “The CEO’s Dilemma: Leveraging Agency Partners for Maximum Success.”

One of our panelist – Donna Ayer, Senior Manager of Integrated Communications, agreed to give us a preview of what attendees will learn at the program.

  1. What do you like the most about being in Communications and PR? The undeniable impact it can have on a business. Communications and specifically, PR, is truly a fundamental strategic driver for growth, competitive advantage and employee recruitment/retention. When communications is at the table, it makes a tremendous difference. PR leaders often find themselves on the front lines in both positive circumstances to drive amplification and in crisis to protect reputations – and to me that is exciting!
  2. As the lines between earned, owned and paid channels continue to blur, what is your take on how communications pros should approach the new normal? It is an exciting time to be in communications and marketing. We have been managing to the 24-hour news cycle for some time now, but I think the layering of content across channels is where we, as an industry, need to do more. People no longer go to one channel for a certain piece of information – they are looking across channels and devices and the knowledge experience needs to be seamless and cumulative. Competition is fierce so you better be telling me something new and offering a perspective that resonates with me regardless of the channel I am on. Communications practitioners need to embrace analytics-enabled micro targeting and think about what they want their audience to know and how you want them to respond versus what works for that channel – they all morph into one digital landscape.
  3. How does your background in PR help you in your daily activities leading collaboration across teams and large enterprises? PR teaches you a lot, especially about being tenacious and creative and most importantly how to be a team player. I have been in communications with a primary focus on PR my entire career – on both the agency and corporate side. I’ve had the privilege of working across a wide range of industries and businesses, ranging from start-ups to Fortune 100 brands – throughout it all, I always pull on my PR fundamentals. You need to act with integrity, approach challenges with a creative spirit, invest the time and energy to maintain relationships and always look around the table to see who is missing – look for the gaps in perspective and invite the diversity in background and thought to be part of the discussion.
  4. Did you find your job – or did your job find you? I guess you could say, it was a little bit of both. I started my career on the agency side. I loved the energy and variety of agency work but recognized early on that if I was going to make a career in communications I was going to need a variety of experiences. I have always followed my instincts and purposely pursued roles that would expose me to new and different industries or disciplines. As a native Bostonian, I was familiar with Raytheon as it headquartered in Waltham and has been a presence in the greater Boston community for decades – so when an opportunity came up to join the PR team, I jumped on it!
  5. In keeping with the theme of the panel, what are your suggestions on best practices to make the most of your agency partnerships? Executing strategic PR and communications campaigns takes a village. Throughout my career there have been key milestones where it was critical to the success of the effort to lean on an agency’s unique perspective and/or staff to help scale an initiative. In my opinion one of the most important elements of a client/agency dynamic is the partnership. Both sides need to work at breaking down the silos and truly collaborating. I have also found agency partners help you to see the broader communications industry trends and help you see around the corner to what’s next.

Get your ticket HERE!

Bio: Donna Ayer, Senior Manager of Integrated Communications

Donna Ayer is a passionate communications leader who strives to balance the art and science of marketing. Donna has over 15 years’ experience across disciplines and industries. She is a PR pro at heart who loves to create a narrative and activate an audience. Donna lives in the Greater Boston area and you can follow her at @PRskey



About Fast 5

This is a feature of PRSA Boston’s Hot Topics blog page. The expert subject is someone who is clearly in demand or on the go. But we know leaders like to share, so check back for insights, wisdom, author’s books about to hit the stands and other valuable tips. @prsaboston #prsabos

Do YOU have a candidate for a FAST 5 interview? Email: Joshua Milne at and

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