Ann Marie Mayuga: Founder, AMM Communications

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Founded in 2008 by Ann Marie Mayuga, and her husband and business partner, Ed Mayuga, AMM Communications has extensive experience working with professional service, financial service, healthcare and technologies mid-sized businesses, not-for-profits, and government entities nationally and internationally. AMM Communications is short for “All Marketing and Media Communications.” Headquartered in St. Louis, the firm provides public relations, content marketing, digital marketing, media relations, crisis communication, strategic communication, social media consulting, communication skills training and talent acquisition. The firm has been voted by the readers of Small Business Monthly as one of the “Top PR Firm in St. Louis” for eight consecutive years from 2010-2017, and has been Woman-Owned Business Enterprise (WBE) by the State of Missouri since 2011.

How did you get into the industry?

While in college, I remember my parents encouraged me to earn a marketable degree where I could land a job quickly after college graduation. I attended a University with a well-known journalism program, in fact it was the first J-School in the world, and I received a Bachelor of Journalism. My first couple of jobs after college was working for several not-for -profits, where I worked on a variety of marketing and communication matters. Eventually, I went to work for an international PR firm, and have been in the PR and marketing industries throughout my professional and entrepreneurial career.

Any emerging industry trends?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) will have an incredible, life-altering way humans secure their information, interact with one another, and make decisions. For marketers and communication professionals, we need to understand how to integrate and implement AI strategies for our clients to help share their stories with their target clients and customers.

Any industry opportunities or challenges?

The opportunities and challenges facing the public relations, marketing and communications industries are the same. It’s a matter of which perspective you take. I always take the glass half full perspective. Within the past two years, the different disciplines within the marketing umbrella have merged to the point where it is hard to understand what individual PR, digital marketing, and advertising agencies do. I think more firms are falling into the situation of “Jack of all trades. Master of none.” It is more important in today’s marketplace for a business, regardless of industry, to be as clear and specific as possible as to why they exist. Dream big and have a clear understanding of your specific role. In the PR and marketing industries, we need to take stock of our strengths, keep up with the trends, and know when we are at our best for serving clients.

Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the Business?

When Ed, my business partner and husband, and I founded our company in June 2008, we didn’t have a grand plan. We had clients before we decided on a company name. Clients knew our core strengths were in public relations and media relations, and we were early adopters with teaching businesses how to use social media to engage clients and customers. Our inspiration from when we founded the company to now is to build a marketing and communication firm that helps our clients become wildly successful by sharing their stories with their prospects, clients and team members, and to build a virtual team of professional partners and produce incredible value to clients.

What's next for the Business in the near future?

During the past year, we’ve gone through an extensive rebranding of our company, and identified three areas where our team has the proven talent, experience and reputation to make our clients successful in the areas of new business development and sales training; PR & strategic communication; and executive recruitment and placement. In 2018, we launched two new services – communication skills training for professionals and executives, and talent recruitment and placement. The reason for launching these services is that companies cannot grow unless they have the best person for the job. We have a proven method to find the strongest qualified candidates to fill a client’s open position. The other service is communication skills training. Many professionals and executives of all ages lack the interpersonal and written communications skills necessary to achieve in the workplace. We provide one-on-one coaching and work with small groups to improve writing and presentation skills, learn now to become better active listeners, and improve an individual’s critical thinking ability.  

Your key initiatives for the success of the Business?

The key initiatives for the success of our firm is to continue to invest in ourselves through industry education and participating in master mind groups that hold us accountable. Also, we continuously seek out other companies where we can develop deep and strong virtual bench of professionals to help with any client need. Building a strong virtual company is the best way for boutique firms to compete with international firms.

Your most difficult moment at the Business? (and what did you learn?)

AMM Communications was founded in June 2008. At that time, many small businesses were closing while our business was rapidly growing. We experienced 15% - 18% growth for eight consecutive years, and then over a period of several months we lost some of our anchor clients from when we first started. What we learned is that you must constantly have a plan and process in place for new business development no matter how productive you are serving your current clients. My business partner and husband, Ed, and I stepped back, and leaned that we had to invest in ourselves, and define our value proposition more clearly to our current and prospective clients. We became involved in the communities of a couple of nationally known PR and marketing influencers to learn from them, we rebranded ourselves, and we became focused on offering fewer services that have a deeper impact for clients. Lesson learned: No matter how big or small your business two things must occur simultaneously to succeed – Deliver work your clients value. Never let business development fall off your radar.

Ideal experience for a customer/client?

The ideal experience we want for our clients is for them to consider us a partner who has contributed to the success of their company with increased sales, recruitment and retention of top talent, and a partnership where they know we have their best interest at heart.

How do you motivate others?

The first step is to approach any project or situation by asking the individual, “What is your why? What are your priorities?” If I understand what makes people excited and can put it into the context of why working on this project will help reach their long-term goals, it gives all of us involved the opportunity to become better active listeners, develop respect for different working styles, and focus on achieving value for the client and the team members involved.

Career advice to those in your industry?

John Wooden, UCLA legendary basketball coach, said, “Be more concerned with your character than with your reputation. Your character is what you really are while your reputation is merely what others think you are.” We’re in the industry of managing reputations. As PR professionals who have been given the huge responsibility to help build, guide and protect a client’s reputation, we must each possess core values of integrity, honesty, and perseverance so that we can be the best versions of ourselves for our families and friends, our clients, our business partners and team members, and our communities.