Board Spotlight: Ally Balcerzak

Role/years with AAF Buffalo: VP of Communications / 2 

Ally Balcerzak

Occupation: Marketing Manager

Twitter handle: _allyb

Instagram handle: buffally

Let’s hear about your day job.

Where do you work, and what does your role entail?

I’m the Marketing Manager for lloyd (and Churn). My days involve styling tacos and ice cream for photo shoots, fielding media inquiries, and managing all of our creative projects and social accounts. Sadly, it never involves driving a taco truck (yet).

What drove you to get into the advertising/marketing biz?

My mom has worked in advertising my entire life so it was one of those careers that always felt like an option. I seriously considered law school and journalism, but about halfway through grad school I realized that as much as I appreciate journalists and the news, I really enjoy persuading people to see my point of view. That’s how stumbled into content marketing — it allows me to combine advertising and journalistic tendencies into one career.

What trends or insights are you finding in your field/market?

Content marketing is exploding in popularity but few companies have a solid strategy that defines their goals and execution plans. It takes time to develop content that will resonate with consumers and eventually lead them down the sales funnel. If you jump into creating content without solidifying a strategy that outlines how you’ll get from idea to ROI — and how long it’ll take to get there — you’re in for quite a few awkward conversations with leadership.

What advice do you have for emerging talent in your field?

Develop your personal brand and build a strong portfolio to support it — then put it all online. An up-to-date portfolio is crucial for content creators, and an online portfolio makes it easy for employers to get a sense of your work before any conversations take place. In the long run that saves everyone time and can lead to unsolicited work when you least expect it.

Tell us about organizations/charities you’re passionate about.

I volunteer with the American Cancer Society and am on the planning committee for Relay for Life of Buffalo. ACS is a national organization that raises money for cancer research, provides resources for community education, and works to create a support system for those battling cancer. I’ve been involved with the organization since college and find volunteering for the various events throughout the year (Relay, Making Strides, etc.) to be very rewarding.

What are three things you use at work every day?

In no particular order: a DSLR, some sort of vessel to drink cold brew, and my cellphone (it’s practically glued to my hand).

What was your first job?

A cashier at Target during the holiday shopping season. By January I knew I never wanted to work in retail again.

When you’re not working, how do you spend your free time (hobbies, side projects, etc.)?

Most of my free time is spent doing something active. I’m working towards a black belt in Krav Maga, the Israeli art of self defense, and also kickbox multiple times a week. If I’m not at the gym, I’m usually out walking, hiking, and exploring with my girlfriend and our two dogs: Luna and Charlie.

What’s one thing not many people know about you?

I have six years of technical ballet training and used to dance competitively. You’d never know it from looking at me now — I have the grace of a one-footed duck.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Movie musicals. They’re generally some of the cheesiest movies out there, but they are hands down my favorite genre. And yes, I typically sing along.

What’s your favorite app or social media outlet? Why?

App wise, Google Keep is the center of my life. It links to your Gmail account so it’s easy to keep work and personal to-do lists and notes separate. You can also color-code things to add another level of organization.

Social wise, I’m a big fan of Twitter even though I don’t post much. A quick scroll lets me stay up-to-date on world, national, and local news without having to sort through individual websites. It’s also a great way to connect with other people in the industry.

Describe yourself in one word.


What’s your favorite restaurant?

lloyd Taco Factory. No, really, I didn’t get paid to say that. I literally talked about how much I love tacos and margaritas in my cover letter when I applied for my job.

Duff’s or Anchor Bar?

Anchor Bar, specifically the original one on Main Street. I’m aware I’m in the minority around here, but hey, that means a shorter wait.

Now, let’s talk a little about AAF Buffalo.

What role(s) do you play on the AAF Buffalo board?

I am the VP of Communications, which is a fancy way of saying I’m in charge of communications, membership, and sponsorship. #sorrynotsorry for spamming your inbox and social feeds.

What’s your favorite AAF Buffalo event?

Professional development wise, the Skillshops. It’s helpful to hear how others tackle things like analytics and content development, and I find the discussions afterwards to be just as enlightening.

“Fun” wise (even though everything we do is fun), my favorite event is the ADDYs. After a long, cold, Buffalo winter, it’s nice to get out and see everyone and check out all the work we’ve been cranking out the past few months. Plus it’s always entertaining to see what shenanigans everyone gets into when there is a well-stocked open bar.

What do you enjoy most about AAF Buffalo?

Most people know that in Buffalo, the six degrees of separation thing is really more like three or four. At AAF events, that easily drops down to two degrees, or even one. The industry networking opportunities are great, but AAF also gives you a chance to meet people your friends and coworkers have mentioned in passing. I really enjoy that moment when I’m talking to someone and we suddenly realize we share a mutual friend — it opens up the conversation in news ways and leads you to topics that have nothing to do with advertising.

What differentiates AAF Buffalo from other groups?

The variety of programming is what attracted me to AAF in the first place. Right out of college I wasn’t completely sure what path I wanted to go down in the advertising industry, so the opportunity to learn about the various roles available was very beneficial to my early career development.

What’s one pro tip you can share with our membership that will make their lives better or easier?

Always carry mints or gum at networking events. You’ll be surprised who you meet simply by being able to offer someone something to cover up the scent of garlic on their breath.

Why would you encourage others to join AAF Buffalo?
Of course we’d love it if every ad pro in town joined and came to every event, but we’re realistic and know that people have very busy lives outside of the office. Our events are designed so people can pick and choose what they attend without feeling lost because they didn’t make it to the previous Skillshop or speaker. Also, we try to host events a cool, local places so you get to “productively” explore all the new places popping up around town.