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TALA agency co-founders discuss benefits of being friends and business partners

TALA co-founders Jocelyn Coley and Chandra Lewis (Photo credit: Kennette Lamar of Annistique Photography)

Best friends and marketing experts Jocelyn Coley and Chandra Lewis started The Allen Lewis Agency in 2015. TALA, as it is known, offers a variety of services, including brand development, communication planning, experiential events, marketing and more.

Rolling out spoke with Coley, the chief executive officer, and Lewis, the chief operating officer, about how they run their marketing business.

What was the driving force for each of you behind creating The Allen Lewis Agency?

Jocelyn:¬†Before we started TALA, Chandra and I had been best friends for about 15 years. We were both in communications and marketing in the auto industry. We both walked away from corporate America in early 2015. We were at dinner one night and it hit me that here we are two very accomplished women, both in the same field at this crossroads together. I don’t believe in coincidences. I thought we can either take a break and go back into corporate America and give all that energy to someone else’s company or we can take this energy, passion and we can put it into something for ourselves that hopefully will stand the test of time and that our kids can be proud of.

How important are diversity and cultural authenticity to your marketing, branding and community relations strategies?

Coley: Diversity and inclusion [have] become pillar[s] of the offerings that TALA can bring to our clients. Because of our team and our experiences, we really try, as is our mission, to be really full service and make sure that we bring an integrated, comprehensive approach to the clients in whatever it is they’re seeking to do. That’s our promise as part of our promise.

How do you balance friendship and your relationship as TALA co-founders when you disagree?

Coley: Because we had this foundation, there’s a lot of trust here. We’ve learned new things about one another and about ourselves. I think because we started from a place where we could trust one another, and because I know no matter what this person has my best interests at heart, that’s really helped me get through those moments.

What productions has TALA developed that created cultural moments and helped brands achieve your marketing objectives?

Lewis: We’ve been working with the Detroit water and sewerage project for four years now. We started off working as a consultant with them to assist their public affairs department with implementing a billing change. We had to create a program where we met face-to-face to provide messaging and collateral to help the customers understand this change, embrace it and pay the charges. It had varying effects on different audiences. Many churches and faith-based organizations were affected. We created a program called Outreach Credits, where a church or a faith-based organization could allow us to use their facility to have a meeting to educate residents, and they would get a credit on their water bill.