Today we’d like to introduce you to Charlotte Lassos.
Charlotte, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I’ve always liked to write. Storytelling comes naturally to me. For a third-grade class project, I wrote a collection of short stories that were bound into a handmade book with cover art I created – I was hooked!
As a communications major in college, my emphasis was broadcast journalism – I wanted to be a reporter. I learned how to film and edit my own videos and did a lot of writing to hone my craft. However, after graduating from college, admittedly, I did not want to pay my dues in the competitive world of journalism and learned about the field of corporate communications, which seemed much more stable to me.
I worked at several Fortune 100 companies, mostly writing internal communications and employee newsletters. In 1996, I landed a position at Toyota’s U.S. headquarters where I worked for ten years in various capacities, including the editor of the company’s flagship publications. I also had the opportunity to work on various public relations activities for the Lexus brand launching and introducing new vehicles to auto journalists.
At Toyota, I periodically hired freelance writers to supplement the work we were producing in-house. It was through that experience that I learned there was a lucrative market in corporate America for freelance or contract writers and that my experience with well-known brands would serve me well as a freelancer. So I took the scary leap in 2006, leaving my job at Toyota and launching my communications consulting business.
Two weeks into my new chapter as Straight Up Communications, I secured Toyota as my first client. I never looked back.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It is definitely not always a smooth road as an entrepreneur. Work/life balance is a challenge for me because of my work ethic. When you own a small business and are committed to your clients, you can’t always walk away at the end of the day like you might do at an in-house job. If your client is on a tight deadline, so are you.
Timing can also be an issue. I launched my business in 2006 and the recession came in 2008. At first, I was concerned that my business might take a hit. However, during a recession, many corporations will cut back to run lean, and they often look to outsource creative work through freelancers and contractors.
In addition, work can be contracted for finite time periods. Small businesses or boutique agencies can be well positioned to compete with large agencies for work because they can often be more competitively priced. I’ve only experienced one truly lean year in the 12 years since establishing Straight Up Communications. For a short time I had only one client, so I had to watch spending.
Everything turned around in time and I secured more clients. Like most freelancers, my client roster varies, but I have been fortunate to have ongoing work with several clients for many years.
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Straight Up Communications – what should we know?
Straight Up Communications is a marketing and communications agency. While I have many areas of expertise that span internal and external communications for a number of industries, most of my consulting work is concentrated in automotive, higher education, consumer goods, healthcare, insurance, and technology. I provide many communications services, from basic writing to social media management to strategic communication planning, but also have niche expertise in producing diversity and inclusion reports for companies. I work with organizations and businesses, both large and small, that have limited time and resources to handle all writing and content development needs in-house.
I think Straight Up Communications differs from other small agencies in that I provide the peace of mind that comes from a business partner that can step right in, “get it” the first time and provide concise, accurate messaging to the appropriate audiences, delivered when promised. I understand corporate culture and have first-hand experience working in-house for the types of organizations that are now my clients.
I want to pass my business approach to the next generation. One of the ways I personally give back, and something I’m most proud of, is a grass-roots mentorship program I offer to college students majoring in communications or journalism in the form of paid internships. I offer hands-on experience by assigning writing projects. I spend time with them by offering critiques and helping them hone their craft, while also talking to them about the different career paths available in the communications field.
We also discuss job search techniques and even do mock interviews. This type of mentorship and guidance is something I wish I had access to when I was preparing to graduate from college and enter the workforce.
Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
I believe relationship building with clients is very important and is the reason I have secured long-term partnerships with most of my clients, in addition to consistently delivering a quality product.
- Website: www.straightupcomm.com
- Phone: 310-529-7098
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Facebook: @StraightUpComm