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March 2020 #CommsMom: Mary Ann Burns

#COMMSMOMS

March 1, 2020

FUN FACT: Mary Ann was my boss way back in 2004 and considering she is one of the most talented PR and marketing pros out there, I had to feature her as our first ever #CommsMom of the Month!

Read on to learn more about this dynamic woman.

NAME: Mary Ann Burns

AGE: 50ish

JOB TITLE: Communications Director

YEARS WORKING IN COMMUNICATIONS: 34

CHILD(REN): John, 13

TELL US ABOUT YOUR PROFESSIONAL BACKGROUND:
When asked, what have I done in my career, my first thought is, what haven’t I done?!

Starting as a secretary in the marketing department of New England’s largest theme park gave me exposure to the numerous aspects of the field, (not to mention getting my foot in the door). From working with the in-house ad agency, the PR manager to the marketing director, it helped to open my eyes to the industry while laying the groundwork for the opportunities to come.

As time went on, I moved up the ladder working as a media buyer for the in-house media agency then transitioning to the PR department. This gave me my first taste of being interviewed during live remotes! By the time I was 29, I moved on to a large retail chain where I managed sales promotions for over 1,500 stores. I would eventually move on to a family-owned business and later, global corporations, but I won’t go into every detail.

What I can tell you is, as I changed jobs, and the roles varied, it provided me with the experience and confidence to do just about anything that came along.

Today, I am a communications director for a national non-profit where I find myself drawing on those skills and expertise daily and it never gets old. I love it!

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE CAREER ACHIEVEMENTS OR SUCCESSES?
I don’t tend to measure my accomplishments by awards, although I’ve had a few through the years; I measure my success by what I’ve learned from my experiences and the growth I’ve made as a woman and communications professional.

I have found my greatest accomplishments to be those times when I was able to overcome obstacles. I can recall moments where I was most challenged as a woman, trying to fit in a man’s constrained, corporate world. Where I would find myself to be the only woman in the conference room, trying to break through and be heard, while not being objectified. Those times were difficult and breaking through was rare. But, when I did, it was HUGE personal win and motivator.

Some people might say, “What does that have to do with an accomplishment within the field of marketing, communications and advertising?” Hey, if I can sell myself, communicate while breaking through the clutter and leave someone with a lasting impression, then I’m successful at my craft!

DID YOUR CAREER GOALS AND/OR OUTLOOK CHANGE ONCE YOU HAD A CHILD? IF SO, HOW?
I defy any mother to say that when they had a child, their career and perspective on everything didn’t change! Yes, life becomes so hectic taking care of everything, everyone and then having to show up for work giving 100 percent. But becoming a mom for me, gave everything purpose.

My son is my reason for everything I do. I wanted nothing more than to give up the corporate world of sitting in a cubicle and feeling guilty for ONLY working 10 hours! But, I have been so blessed to have found myself working in communications for an organization that understands work-life balance. It has given me the opportunity to work around pediatrician appointments, sick days and school closings. I am also fortunate to work from home 90% of the time which allows me to do some of my best work, not only as a professional but as a mom.

WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT WORKING IN COMMUNICATIONS AND WHY DO YOU THINK IT’S A GOOD INDUSTRY FOR MOMS?
What I love about a career in communications is being able to do my job anywhere. Every aspect of the field, from journalism to corporate communications is different, but regardless, you can write, pitch and brainstorm anywhere. I usually do my best creative thinking at 11pm after everyone is asleep!

WHAT DO YOU DISLIKE ABOUT OUR INDUSTRY AS IT RELATES TO WORKING MOMS?
This is a tough question. Mostly because there isn’t much I don’t like about communications as a working mom!

It might sound silly, but the one thing I did find difficult was when my son asked what I did for a living. It wasn’t easy for a three- or four-year-old to understand what I meant when I said, “I talk to media people and try to get them to come to my event.” Or, “I am writing a script.” I can still see his perplexed face while I was trying to explain the importance of my work and my words. When you are a firefighter, lawyer or even an accountant, I think it’s easier to explain what your contribution to the world is. The work that we do is just as important. But now I think he gets it.

WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE THINGS TO DO AS A FAMILY?
Now that my son is a teenager (ack!), the upside is that he is interested in doing the types of activities my husband and I enjoy. Not that I didn’t love taking him to kiddie shows (well, for the most part) or the local carnival, but being able to do things on the same level is more fun!

The one activity that we have liked to do as a family since he was a little boy is going to tag sales and flea markets. Whether we are riding the neighborhoods in our community or going to the world-famous Brimfield Antique Show and Flea Market in Massachusetts – every stop we make is like a treasure hunt!

WHAT’S YOUR BEST ADVICE FOR MOMS WORKING IN COMMUNICATIONS?
So many things come to mind. I think the most important thing is to live in the moment. Don’t worry about how the house looks, or if the dishes are still in the sink. Stop and enjoy the time you have when they are young. Put down the electronics and play a board game or just find out what kind of day they had.

The time goes so quickly as we all know. I spent so much time worrying about what other people thought or if my house was clean. And it’s still not perfect – but my little boy is now a young man – and that happened in the blink of an eye. I’m taking more time to sit and talk, make him laugh or just look at him!

And remember, you are doing it right. Don’t compare yourself to the mom next door, at work or the one who seems to have it all together (who probably doesn’t by the way). And don’t beat yourself up so much. You are the perfect mom, just as you are. And I’m sure your kids think so too!


Thanks for the great advice, Mary Ann, and I’m sure our #CommsMom family loved getting to know you!

Click here to connect with Mary Ann on LinkedIn.

Interested in being featured as a #CommsMom of the Month?
Please fill out this questionnaire and we’ll be in touch soon.

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