Being the quintessential problem solver is not an easy task, but Susan Lavenski makes it seem simple. Alongside being the CEO and owner of Charles Ryan Associates (CRA), one of the region’s oldest and largest communications firms headquartered in Charleston, West Virginia, and with offices in Richmond, Virginia, Columbus, Ohio and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Susan is an expert in issues management and has spearheaded the communications efforts for transportation campaigns, utility, energy and manufacturing projects, controversial elections and health care certificates of need.
" Charlie Ryan had a vision to grow this business from a one-person public relations shop to a multi-disciplined agency, serving clients across the country. "
Susan’s decades of experience have given CRA the perspective to craft solutions that they know will drive results. “Charlie Ryan had a vision to grow this business from a one-person public relations shop to a multi-disciplined agency, serving clients across the country,” says the steadfast leader. “We are proud to be part of that history. Today, we are the largest communications and women-owned firm in our region.”
Susan has seen numerous changes in more than two decades that she has worked at CRA. According to Susan, from communication to technology, everything has transformed making it absolutely necessary to utilize the appropriate communications tools in order to reach their targeted audience. She knows people are overloaded with messages and implementing a targeted communications plan is of extreme importance. “It’s not enough to be flashy — you have to be relevant. It’s not enough to pop — you have to sustain. It’s not enough to jump onto the latest trend — you have to know your audience,” says Susan. “When the right tactics are combined with proven experience it is more than just marketing, it is smart brand communications.”
Susan says that when new clients come to CRA, what they are looking for varies while some know exactly what they want, some know little about they need. “They just know they need to communicate a message. So that’s why it is important for us to take the time to listen to a client – really listen – and understand their goals,” she explains. “We tailor communications plans to each and every client. We don’t believe in the cookie-cutter approach. It certainly doesn’t work in today’s world of communications. Every client deserves an individualized plan, born of experience and tailored to meet specific needs and budget.”
It is important for CRA that their executive management team and staff have time to volunteer and give back to the communities. The company offers their employees paid time off to volunteer with organizations of their choosing as they want to inculcate a nature of passion in them towards their own causes. CRA believes every business has a responsibility to give back to its respective community, because if people want their community to thrive and be a great place to work, live and raise kids, then each one has an obligation to help with that effort.
The goal for CRA is to be a great place to work and do business. It is pertinent to mention that clients hire CRA for their expertise and dedication and retaining the best talent is the life blood of the agency. “I am privileged to work every day with smart, dedicated and hard-working individuals,” says Susan. Motivating the young women entrepreneurs, Susan says that a young woman especially the working mom has always been characterized as Super Woman, but that is not the reality. “Women need to understand that it is not easy! They need to be bold about what they want. Work hard, work smart, make yourself invaluable and find a company that appreciates that and will provide you flexibility to have a work/family balance,” elucidates Susan, who is truly a role model for all women around the globe.
Susan Lavenski, CEO
Charles Ryan Associates (CRA) offers full service advertising, public relations, digital, video and social media strategies to our clients.