Public relations (PR) like any other industry today is changing rapidly due to the digitalization and scope of digital marketing. That’s what many organizations miss when planning their strategies. PR is not direct marketing, but it helps to build the reputation and public image of the organization or an individual. In the era of digitization where new technologies are raising with every new dawn, it is a need for businesses to have a trustworthy, reliable, and visionary PR solution provider to accelerate their growth.
Laura Gross, a determined leader in the PR industry is transforming organizations with creative, scalable, and smart PR solutions through Scott Circle Communications (SCC).
Scott Circle Communications helps mission-driven organizations and causes make the world a better place. With a focus on PR with a purpose, Scott Circle Communications helps nonprofits, associations, foundations, think tanks, corporate social responsibility programs, and others to raise awareness and advocate for issues that matter.
In a candid talk with Laura Gross, President and Founder of Scott Circle Communications we dive into lets what Scott Circle Communications is all about and what the future holds for Scott Circle Communications.
Brief us about Scott Circle Communications, what inspired you to start the company?
Scott Circle Communications is a byproduct of accident and passion. After getting laid off from a job, I worked as a freelancer for PR agencies, political campaigns, and small nonprofits as I interviewed for jobs. I had been fortunate to have a lot of fun jobs before I was laid off—working for interesting organizations and traveling the world.
Many of the jobs I was interviewing for just seemed “meh”—nothing too exciting. And when I interviewed at PR agencies, I was going to be required to bring in business. I started thinking about it—if I had been making a living cobbling together work, why not do it full time? After all, why should I create business for other firms when I could do it on my own?
When you first start a business, everyone says not to turn down work, so I didn’t. I did PR for a nail salon, a clothing boutique, tech startups, and authors. Our firm didn’t have a specialty. After a while, I decided to follow my passion—let’s work with organizations making a difference. About five years ago, Scott Circle Communications focused our efforts on nonprofits, advocacy organizations, and associations. Our firm stood for something—we were able to attract the right type of client and the right type of staff too.
As a business owner, it is hard to only focus on one type of client—so many questions went through my head—will we still be able to grow and thrive if we narrow our focus? Is it a good idea to turn away business? Everything I read about entrepreneurship said to follow your passion and the business will come. I learned that’s true. Ever since Scott Circle Communications became more focused, our business has grown.
What are the products or services Scott Circle Communications focuses on? How are your services different from those in the market?
As we like to say, our agency focuses on “PR with a Purpose.” Our clients are making a difference in the world—whether advocating for women’s equality or access to health care, the work Scott Circle Communications are doing has a direct impact on people.
Our services are focused on raising the profile of these organizations through communications strategies, media relations, content creation, thought leadership campaigns, and social media.
What sets us apart from other agencies is our sole commitment to mission-driven work. Our work isn’t just a division or practice area—it is the entirety of our agency. The purpose is not a trend for us—it is who we are, and I am proud to say that it sets us apart from others.
Please tell us about your team.
Overall, Scott Circle Communications hires people that are passionate about the work we do. Our team ranges from some of the most seasoned professionals with over 25 years of experience to junior staff members who just graduated from college. And our team’s experience runs the gamut—including experience with political campaigns, Capitol Hill, nonprofits, and other PR agencies.
Another important aspect of the Scott Circle Communications team worth mentioning is that our senior leadership is 100% comprised of women. As a certified woman-owned business, it has always been important to me to see smart, qualified women in leadership positions. It has been incredibly rewarding to build this agency. Having a great team has been a huge part of its success.
Please brief us about your professional experience.
After graduating from college, I was part of many advance teams for the White House and the Clinton-Gore campaign. In this role, I would travel in advance of the president, vice president, first lady, and second lady to help plan their events. After the campaign, I worked at Robert F. Kennedy Memorial (now RFK Human Rights) as director of the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Awards.
After RFK Human Rights, I worked in the press office at the U.S. Agency for International Development as a press officer. My boss was my former supervisor from when I interned at the White House. Then the same supervisor went to work in the communications division at National Public Radio (NPR) and I went with her. I loved working at NPR—I was able to promote correspondents like Nina Totenberg and Susan Stamberg, along with news programs including Morning Edition and All Things Considered.
Eventually, an old political campaign friend came calling and I went back to politics—moving to Vermont and working as the communications director for Democracy for America—the political action committee former Governor Howard Dean started once he dropped out of the presidential race. Soon, Dean ran for chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and I was his communications director for that campaign and then worked in the communications office at the DNC.
What are the key achievements of your business journey?
To keep it simple—I’m proud I have started a business, work with clients I care about and I have the privilege of employing other people too.
Of course, I’m proud of the work we do with our partners too. And, Scott Circle Communications have won over 20 awards for our work. In 2021, we received recognition as one of the top 18 boutique PR firms in the U.S. by Insider and were recognized as a top PR firm in Washington D.C. by Clutch. co.
Our agency growth also earned us #247 on the Inc. 5000 Regionals list of fastest-growing privately-owned companies in D.C., Maryland, Virginia, and Delaware. Not to mention that despite the immense challenges that accompanied the COVID-19 pandemic, Scott Circle Communications’ survival and continued growth is something I count as a huge accomplishment.
Getting the agency to where it is today taking a significant amount of time and learning. A key component of my success was expanding and engaging with my network. I have attended training, read books, and most importantly joined organizations like the Public Relations Society of America’s Counselor’s Academy, Her Corner, WBENC, and the Women’s Presidents Organization. These groups and their members have been tremendous resources for me.
The final achievement I want to highlight is tied to living our brand and mission. We want to help make the world a better place—not just say we do. That is why, after discussing how we could use our expertise to help others, we launched an annual six-month mentoring program in 2019 called the Purpose PRogram. Through the Purpose PRogram, we provide free training to small nonprofits in the Washington, DC area on all things PR and coach them so they can create and implement their own public relations plans.
This year’s program focuses on supporting nonprofits addressing housing security, safety, equity, and inclusivity. At the end of the program, our nonprofits—Main Street Connect, SCAN of Northern Virginia, Bright Beginnings, and the Wanda Alston Foundation—present their plans to the class.
Any client experience you would like to highlight?
Since mission-driven organizations comprise of 100% our work, there are many clients worth mentioning. The National Organization for Women (NOW) is one of our oldest clients. For over 13 years, we have ensured that the president of NOW maintains a high public profile as a leading feminist organization. Our firm’s work with NOW started conversations surrounding the culture of domestic violence within the NFL and called for Harvey Weinstein’s removal from the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.
We’ve been able to support some remarkable events and organizations over the last 15 years—the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, the CDC’s first conference on vaccines in 2021, and saving over $500 million in federal funding for homeless veterans through our work with the National League of Cities.
What is your favorite quote?
A few years ago, I read Congressman John Lewis’s autobiography, “Walking with the Wind.” I grew up in Georgia and he had always been one of my heroes. He was courageous and always stood up for what was right and just. So, one of his quotes is my favorite. I believe it also speaks to the work we do at Scott Circle Communications:
For our clients, we advocate for what is right and what is fair. We are willing to get into good trouble and there is nothing better than that.