WWPR Board Member, Agatha Aramayo is a dedicated marketing and communications professional with a diverse range of experiences spanning 14 years. From her background in the film industry to her expertise in consulting federal government agencies, Agatha brings a wealth of knowledge and skills to her current position as the executive director of the Foundation for Total Recovery. Utilizing her PR and marketing background, Agatha is passionate about driving the organization’s mission of finding a cure for chronic illnesses caused by brain inflammation. We sat down with Agatha to learn about her professional journey, her perspectives on the PR industry’s latest trends, and her inspiring book recommendations.
Tell me about your background and what drew you to your current position.
I’ve worked in marketing and communications for 14 years. I’ve also worked in the film industry (I have my B.A. in film and video studies), which always goes hand-in-hand with my work as a communicator. Naturally as a Washingtonian, most of my career entails consulting federal government agencies in the agency world, but I’ve also worked in conferences marketing for a nonprofit membership organization, consulted for large companies, c-suite executives, and have been working independently as a PR and marketing consultant for small businesses and restaurants for many years.
I’m also currently the executive director of the Foundation for Total Recovery, a nonprofit whose mission is to help find a cure for the 20+million Americans that suffer from chronic illnesses that stem from brain inflammation. The Foundation performs research and hosts conferences to better educate healthcare providers and patients alike so that those that suffer can get better diagnosis, treatment and hopefully achieve full recovery. It is a seemingly left turn from my 14-year resume, but I actually get to utilize my experience in PR and marketing and all the skills that come with that to this position to take us to the next level. I love boot-strap work where I can be entrepreneurial the most.
What is the most exciting or rewarding project you’ve done recently or in your overall career?
In my last position as an account director for a PR firm, I led an executive visibility strategy for a Fortune 500 client that did very well—always a good feeling! We determined what categories of awards we wanted to focus on and which employees and executives to amplify. As you can imagine, there are tons of awards and speaking opportunities out there for any given topic, so I implemented an evaluation process to hone in on the opportunities that offered the best chances for winning and best benefits. We won 19 awards in one year, ranging from sustainability and technology to individual spotlights. Having a tangible “win” definitely helps measure success but most importantly, seeing the client happy and able to celebrate their accomplishments was a great feeling.
As a board member for WWPR, what have you gained from your experience?
I love being the content co-chair for WWPR! I’ve learned it truly takes a team to make great things happen. Being able to tap into the talents of different communicators, leaders, writers, and speakers across different industries is invaluable; I feel fortunate to have access to all of these brilliant people in our network and on our board. WWPR creates a community that expands beyond our own organizations and colleagues at work. Just like many others in our community, I tend to take lots of things on and can get overwhelmed (why are we like this?), but it’s great having others to collaborate with and make things fun.
What PR trends have you seen happening in 2023 and what kind of influence has it had on professionals in the industry?
The biggest trend I would say is artificial intelligence (AI). There is an AI tool in nearly every digital app we use for work these days, and Chat GPT and others have been huge disruptors to many industries. Of course there is a lot of fear in regards to what that means for job security, but from what I’ve gathered, it can be very helpful when used effectively, especially for our industry. That being said, I’m personally “old school,” so I don’t really use it much. Instead, you will most likely find me with a pack of highlighters and notebooks until they’re gone, but I also realize time is money!
I tend to take way too long on ideating the perfect opening to communications plans or related work, but using AI to help create a starting point I can edit profusely has saved me hours of time spent staring at the same sentences.
However, AI emits an egregious amount of greenhouse gasses, so I hope advancements in reducing its carbon footprint can be just as rapidly made as AI itself. Apparently, training just one AI model can emit more than 626,000 pounds of carbon dioxide, which is nearly five times the lifetime emissions of an American car, according to MIT.
I surmise that using AI sparingly is best, at least for me personally, but hopefully more balance can be achieved as overall technology develops. At least the alarming data makes a good case for us to not lose our jobs to AI.
Is there any particular book, podcast or influencer you would recommend? How has it impacted your life?
I recently read, “How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life” by Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert, a book I finished feeling very kindred to. In a world where we celebrate success and seek optimal formulas for it, his book celebrates his failures more than anything, which contradicts the norm. I have perfectionist tendencies (meaning I’m further from perfect than most; it’s a misnomer), and as I got older I realized it just isn’t the way. You need to fail and fail often to win. Even if you feel that you “fail” more than others, it’s rewarding because it teaches you more than winning does. I’ve learned to celebrate my fails along with my wins; it thickens your skin and makes for a great story.