LaToya Evans, Principal Founder and Communications Director of Agence LEPR, has spent years leading public relations and crisis communications for the world’s largest corporations and communications agencies.
As a spokesperson for companies, in particular IBM, Walmart, Bank of America, Compass Group, and Cisco, she quickly rose through the executive ranks, leading some of the company’s most high-profile public relations. But for Evans, 35, who worked full-time in his international public relations firm just before the pandemic was about to end. And with its success in such a short time, we understand why.
She worked with all family members of George floyd and lawyer Ben crump to the Biden-Harris campaign and big business, including Coca-Cola; politicians such as Michael bloomberg and Andrew Yang; rappers like Big sean; religious leaders such as the pastor John gray; record companies; small enterprises; and big celebrities in the United States, Europe and Australia.
Evans built a seven-figure business in less than four years – a fledgling empire frequently referred to as one of the nation’s premier black-owned PR and crisis communications firms.
BLACK COMPANY had the opportunity to chat with Evans about her most recent accomplishments, including being inducted into the Hall of Woman at PR Week, expanding her agency, and voicing some of today’s most historic moments and iconic people ‘hui.
What does your induction into the 2021 Hall of Woman at PR Week mean to you?
I was very blown away. Be inducted into the same class as Judy Smith in particular (who is the inspiration behind scandal Olivia Pope) and other very talented women who lead communications for some of the biggest companies in the world, made me feel very visible. It was especially meaningful to receive this honor at only 35, and as a black woman, when there is so much more career ahead of me. I recognize that many others in my class have had almost twice as long to accomplish their respective accomplishments, so I am honored to stand by their side in this honor while realizing that they have paved the way for me in as a woman.
It also really validates my work over the years, especially when I reflect on my time in corporate America. To also be recognized as one of the main responsible for crisis communication in the country is surreal. It’s hard to believe it’s me, but I’m definitely pinching myself to make sure!
What was your background in the world of public relations? How and when did you realize this was the career path you wanted to take?
I started my career in journalism as a reporter, freelance for publications like Charm and People in New York, while I was still an undergraduate student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. When I graduated in 2008, the financial crisis was looming, and as I received offers for full-time editorial work for a magazine, I found the PR vacancies I received. more interesting. IBM offered a permanent move to New York and the opportunity to work with its executives. I figured I would take the job until the financial crisis “ended” and then I would go back to the magazines. But the euphoria I felt when I saw my name on a signature in Cosmopolitan or any other print publication, was the same euphoria I felt when I landed my first big story at IBM. I never looked back! And from there, I got a masters degree in Crisis Communications and held senior public relations and communications positions at Philips, Walmart Corporate, Bank of America, and Compass Group. In some of these roles I have led large teams and reported to the CEOs and Marketing Directors of these companies which allowed me to really learn to lead in public relations, not just get the job done. at the highest level.
In 2017, I started a consulting firm while working at US companies, and moved into full-time consulting after hiring staff in 2019. Since then, we have worked with Fortune 500 companies, politicians, professional athletes, television personalities, musicians and so many other notable people and entities.
Can you tell me more about your experience portraying the George Floyd Jr. family? Have you found them or have they found you? Why was it important that you support them as a customer?
Like many of our prominent clients and celebrities, I received an unexpected call one day. My biggest breaks came just like that, and that says a lot about people putting your names in rooms even when you’re not around. It was summer 2020, at the height of the protests. I was on vacation and on my way to dinner when my phone rang, and he was a member of the Floyd family. Prior to this call, I didn’t personally know any members of the Floyd family, but they were referred to me by another prominent client they had met. The next thing I knew, I was on a plane bound for Minneapolis for the prepping.
Working with the Floyd family as they prepared for trial, and now as the family strive to preserve the site of his death, has been one of the most meaningful jobs of my life. My focus is deeply tied to what I do in communications and public relations, and I will always feel it was a special mission. I always ask if not me, then who? My own experiences working with discrimination and marginalization prepared me for this moment when I was called to act for one of the most memorable social justice cases in our country’s history, and I am grateful to have answered the call, both literally and in terms of taking on the mission.
What has it been like to run one of the nation’s largest black female-owned PR and marketing firms?
I am certainly one of the largest independent black owned businesses. We also have a professional affiliation with the largest public relations firm in the world, and I am very fortunate to also have clients around the world and to work with great brands. We’re invited to work on some of the hottest PR and crisis programs of our time, and I think that says a lot about what we’ve built in a short space of time. This is exactly what I imagined in my wildest dreams.
What are you looking forward to in your professional future?
We are in the process of building our new office in the heart of Uptown Charlotte. It’s in a historic building just steps from the headquarters of the nation’s largest banks and Fortune 500 companies. I hope my career and journey will continue to be an inspiration to young women wondering if they can move from a career in business to entrepreneurship and who dare to turn their passion into a goal. This is what I was able to do, and it gave me the best and most rewarding career I could ask for.
But it will never mean so much to me, unless I can replicate this result at least 10 more times for at least 10 other young women who are just waiting for the opportunity to learn from me and surpass myself. Our country needs it, but our culture and our communities need it even more. In my life, giving back has already started now, although I continue to learn and grow. I also believe that my background also demonstrates the value of building your own table, even if you have had the opportunity to sit down with others. Especially for young black women who feel invisible in the workplace, I hope my career path is an example that when we build our own tables we can make room for everyone.