Women Business Owners Series: Laura Gross, President of Scott Circle Communications
As part of our series on Women Business Owners, we recently sat down with Laura Gross, President of Scott Circle Communications, to learn about her founder’s story and her agency’s focus on “PR with a Purpose.” Read on to learn about Laura’s path to ownership and her advice to other women who are thinking about starting their own businesses.
TorchLight: Laura, thanks for joining us and sharing your story. To get started, what prompted you to found Scott Circle Communications after working in strategic communications for political and government organizations and NPR for many years?
Laura: Initially, I was laid off from a job and needed to make money, so I found various communications projects here and there. I‘d been thinking about becoming a consultant for about two years before I started SCC. I kept interviewing for jobs but none of them appealed to me. Any of the PR firm jobs I was looking at would’ve required bringing my own book of business to the position so I decided I would just do it for myself.
TorchLight: That sounds very exciting—and brave. Given your focus on “PR with a Purpose,” what different types of clients do you work with and what kinds of services do you offer?
Laura: We have very purpose-driven clients including non-profits, associations, advocacy groups and some corporations focused on specific mission-related projects in DC. We offer communications and public relations soup to nuts. A majority of our clients rely on us for strategy, messaging, media relations, stakeholder engagement, digital support, content creation, awards and speaking needs.
TorchLight: I’m really interested in your focus on mission-driven PR. We’d love to learn more about some of the projects you’ve taken on. What are some particularly successful or unique initiatives Scott Circle Communications has worked on?
Laura: Three important projects come to mind:
- First, we challenged the Scott Circle Communications team to come up with a way to give back to the community. So, we now have an “Internal Purpose” program to help small, local organizations with communications and PR. The program includes six months of communications training free of charge to enable these groups to handle their own communications needs.
- I’m also really proud of our role in the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington – we were in charge of the media relations – managing media, credentialing, messaging and arranging interviews. It was a huge event at the Lincoln Memorial including past US Presidents, the White House, the King Center, half of Congress and even celebrities like Oprah and Jamie Foxx. And, of course, a huge number of media people.
- We worked with the National League of Cities to have funding for homeless veterans reinstated. Our client learned that $500 million dollars was about to be cut from funding for homeless veterans’ services, so we went to the Washington Post with an exclusive pitch and the reporter ended up writing about it. Within 24 hours, the funding cut was withdrawn.
TorchLight: Those sound like amazing projects with huge impact. To switch subjects, so many businesses have experienced the dramatic shift to remote work this past year. How has remote work changed the way you and your team work together and with clients?
Laura: We help clients in the local market and all over country and the remote work set up has made us even more willing to go outside the comfort zone of DC-area clients. We’re very comfortable working remotely with clients and talk through project goals and plans on Zoom instead of in person. It works well.
We have more internal team meetings than before. We try very hard to maintain company culture in a virtual environment through monthly happy hours, ice breakers, casual conversations—it’s not the same as being together in person but it does help.
TorchLight: What is your favorite part about being an entrepreneur? What’s the most challenging part?
Laura: As a business owner, you lead your team in a different way than when you work for someone else, and that’s been particularly hard during the pandemic.
When you run a business, you are truly responsible for your own destiny. I select the clients, pick team members and grow the business how I see fit. And I can say no to clients that don’t fit. I really like the sense of accomplishment—getting to employ people and bring leadership to the table.
TorchLight: What advice do you have for women who are thinking about starting their own businesses?
Laura: Just do it. If you are hemming and hawing over a job or business you don’t like, just do it! And if you are really hankering to do it, then it’s meant to be. You need a plan, an idea of where you are going and the people you want to hire. Make sure you hire the right people. It may be hard to get your head around the big salaries you may need to pay them but it’s worth it in long run. Even if you have to sacrifice something yourself.
TorchLight: That sounds like great advice—just do it. So, what are your plans for Scott Circle Communications in the future?
Laura: We plan on being in the office by the end of year so we’re budgeting for the right space where we can focus on client needs post-COVID. This includes growing a team of experts so we can continue to offer the quality and results our clients have come to expect for years to come.
TorchLight: It sounds like you have exciting plans for Scott Circle Communications this year and beyond. Thank you so much for your time and for sharing your story. We look forward to seeing more big things from you and your company in the future!
To learn more about Scott Circle Communications, visit scottcircle.com.