In preparation for the upcoming Mamizi Media Relations Luncheon, panelist LaToya Evans shares how she developed a unique and highly successful career in public relations.
It’s quite difficult to fully cover the broad scope of LaToya Evans’ success in media and public relations. Many of the most recognizable daily magazines, technology companies, and financial institutions have been graced with her expertise for over ten years. A native of Fayetteville, North Carolina, Evans did not initially picture herself in the public relations and communications field. She began her time at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as a biology major in hopes of becoming an OB/GYN. However, this would all change after a chance meeting with Andre Leon Talley, former editor-at-large for American Vogue. Though she would later walk the halls of Vogue and work in the magazine’s famous accessories department during Talley’s tenure, it was after this pivotal moment that Evans quickly realized her strong writing skills were more than a mere addition to her long list of qualities – they were the foundation of a flourishing career.
After the chance meeting with Talley, she quickly switched majors to begin focusing on her journalism career. Even from a young age, Evans had the drive to essentially reinvent herself and create a course of action that matched the new vision she had for her life. She set her own standards and refused to be held back by the restraints placed on a typical college student. By her junior year at Chapel Hill, Evans would fly to New York City regularly to attend meetings for publications she wrote for such as Cosmopolitan, People, and Glamour, starting her first business as a freelance writer.
Upon graduation, Evans had countless job offers from major companies for both journalism and publishing positions. This wasn’t surprising to hear, considering her captivating nature and ability to pull you in with the power in her words. When LaToya Evans speaks – everyone listens. She decided to take her talents to IBM working in internal communications in hopes of avoiding the turmoil many magazines were in because of the 2008 recession. With her new home in New York, Evans was ready to solidify her position as one of the foremost young people in communications and publishing.
In her true go-getter fashion, she would later return to school to pursue her Master’s in Organizational Leadership Communications, with a specialization in crisis communications. And throughout her tenure as a publishing and public relations expert, she has noticed many changes with how the industry operates. “Relationships are more fluid, yet more important than ever” she says of the work between companies and their use of social media and traditional public relations. “That, in a way, challenges and undermines PR because many people believe that just because they have a connection to a reporter they don’t need a publicist or an expert in media relations. And that’s just not true.” However, this major change has not damped her success in any way. As one of the first employees to build on IBM Research’s Facebook page, Evans has not only followed the trends, but she has set them as well. “There are real positives and negatives as our world continues to transform.”
Since IBM, LaToya has worked as a spokesperson and communications professional at companies including Philips, Walmart, Bank of America, Compass Group and Cisco. She’s also known for being the driving communications force behind current Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles during her 2017 mayoral bid. Yet, a driving factor in her career today is still journalistic integrity. She encourages those in public and media relations to continue adhering to the “ethics of the practice” to keep their personal brand and relationships in good standing. “To be a truly good publicist, to be among the best in your field you have to not just be outspoken and aggressive at times. At the end of the day you have to represent the brand and your clients with integrity. You have to do the right thing.”
While speaking with Evans, her passion and interest in the well-being of public relations radiated through the phone. Her knowledge and skill will undoubtedly continue to inspire the next generation and push them to uphold the standards of great public relations and communications professionals.