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PR PROfiles: Laura Gross, Scott Circle

Laura GrossLaura Gross

Principal and Founder, Scott Circle (Washington, D.C.)

Your most memorable campaign: I was the communications director for Gov. Howard Dean after he dropped out of the presidential race. I was able to work with him to communicate his 50-state strategy to get Democrats elected at all levels of government and also for his race for chair of the DNC. It was great to see him recover so well after the unfortunately famous Dean scream.

Most poignant professional moment: When news of the Baltimore Ravens’ Ray Rice domestic violence issue just started to break, I was at a meeting with my client, the National Organization for Women (NOW). We immediately decided to ask for the NFL commissioner’s resignation because he had allowed a culture of domestic violence to continue for too long at the NFL.  After this initial statement, NOW was at the forefront of the issue – going toe to toe with the NFL. We were a staff of four responding quickly and efficiently up against the NFL’s big team of communications professionals, lawyers and team owners. This story led newscasts and was the front page of newspapers and there were breaking news daily. NOW helped moved the NFL and the issue of domestic violence beyond just the sports page. In the long run, the commissioner did not resign—however, there were major changes to NFL policy and the issue of domestic violence was elevated. Even if the work we did helped one woman escape domestic violence, what we did had a real impact.

Favorite journalist to work with: You think I’ll name just one? How will I maintain my relationships with all the journalists I know?

Laura Gross and Scott Circle Team at Wash. Women in PR AwardsNumber of 2 a.m. calls from a client this month: No 2 am calls. There have been 10pm calls and 7am emails. Those clients are dealing with breaking news from The White House and President Trump sends tweets at all hours.

Biggest complaint about social media: There’s just too much to monitor. I think that’s partially on me—when I first joined Facebook and Twitter, I followed too many people. Once I joined Instagram and Snapchat, I really made an effort not to follow a lot of people.

Best thing about working at your agency: Of course, our staff and our clients are outstanding. We encourage the team to learn a new skill and attend trainings. We also have monthly happy hours, fresh fruit delivery on Mondays, and we just launched a new partnership with a local non-profit so we can give back to our community.

Last time you didn’t do any work all weekend: Well, I must say—I don’t work “all” weekend, but I’m usually answering a few emails here and there and a little bit of work. Nothing too taxing though, unless there is breaking news.

Most misunderstood thing about PR: One time, I was at a reception and I told someone I majored in public relations. His response to me was: What did they teach in your PR classe—how to take a journalist to drinks? Needless to say, he got an earful from me.

What got you interested in a PR career? I was in my Journalism 101 class at The University of Georgia. Each week, the professor would focus on a different type of journalism: radio, print, TV, etc. The last week he spoke about public relations and said that in PR, I could have the opportunity to work with all types of journalists and actually be able to take a stand on a certain issue and to work on something I cared about. I was 19 years old and haven’t looked back since.

Number of meetings you were in last week: 16

Scott Circle teamRate your math skills from 1-10: Six. I actually scored higher on the SAT in math, than verbal. However, there’s a reason I am a PR professional and not an accountant.

Best advice to a PR student: Be a team player, offer to help out, manage up, learn to say yes instead of no right away, everything is not just a text or an email – a lot is building relationships and interacting with people on the phone or in-person. And of course – practice your writing.

What do you read daily? Washington Post, POLITICO, Washington Business Journal. I listen to NPR a lot and watch MSNBC and CNN.

Favorite way to de-stress: I have never loved to exercise, but I really enjoy going to Pure Barre—it’s a barre-based exercise class about seven minutes from my house.

Worst PR crisis in the news this year so far: The Muslim ban.

Last book you read: I’m in the middle of reading Gloria Steinem’s My Life on the Road. It was recommended to me by my friend, Frank Davies, who occasionally reviews books for The Miami Herald. Frank was actually one of the first reporters that offered to take me to lunch when I was working in the press office at USAID and we have stayed in touch ever since.

Favorite movie this year: Does seeing a movie on a plane count? I finally saw Spotlight while on a plane. A perfect example of why need journalism – not fake news.

Your first “real” job: I was part of Vice President Gore’s advance team for official White House trips and the Clinton-Gore 1996 campaign. I got to travel around the world on behalf of the vice president—worked my tail off for little or no money, but made great friends, had a great time and experienced things I would never had seen just sitting at a desk.

Childhood “dream job”: I wanted to be just like Murphy Brown – a journalist in D.C.  Now, instead of a journalist, I’m doing PR – working with journalists – in DC.

Your next big adventure: Taking my kids to New York City to see Hamilton (shhh – they don’t know yet).

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