Ebony Vaz’s path to PR was a bit untraditional.
“I’ve had quite an interesting background, but it’s funny how it all comes together with what I do now,” she explains.
In college, Ebony studied industrial engineering — an area she was inspired to pursue after watching the movie “Short Circuit” as a kid.
Today, though, Ebony owns Above Promotions, a digital marketing and PR agency based in her native Tampa, Florida. She started the company in 2004 as a side hustle before taking it full time five years ago.
Through Above Promotions, Ebony is able to combine her interests and has one key goal in mind: to be a leader in the market for implementing science and technology into storytelling and customer experiences.
From engineer to PR pro
After graduating from the University of Central Florida, where she conducted research in virtual reality and password information security, Ebony took a job with 7-Eleven as part of the real estate department. She would help scout possible locations for the gas station in Florida and pull permits for the store’s signage. That role enabled her to work alongside the company’s marketing team as well.
Ebony also worked at the UCF Arena for a few years and got to meet a slew of interesting folks, including James Earl Jones.
Eventually, Ebony started to shift into the world of PR and media.
“One of the things that transitioned me more into being on the customer side of public relations was when someone sent me their music CD to review wrapped in toilet paper,” she recalls.
Ebony realized people could use some assistance in how to present themselves well and put together dynamic press kits.
Now, through Above Promotions, she’s done just that and much more for hundreds of clients.
Taking clients above and beyond
A key focus for Ebony’s business, which consists of six team members, is crisis communications for cybersecurity clients.
One thing she especially enjoys about this area of work is that it’s never the same, although there are some basic principles. It’s also challenging work. Ebony believes what makes her excel in crisis communications is her innate ability to pivot and move a situation through crisis mode.
Above Promotions has also created website and social media content for big-ticket clients such as AOL, AT&T, Coldstone Creamery and Verizon Wireless. The agency has worked with smaller B2B and B2C companies, consultants and startups, too.
Every day is different, Ebony says, and just depends on the client. Some need help with marketing, others hope to be thought leaders in their industry and need help writing content.
Regardless of how she and her team partner with a client, Ebony aims to guide them on a path to success.
Giving back to her passions
Aside from her work, Ebony is a highly sought-after speaker. She’s been invited to speak on panels and at events about emerging technology for marketing and PR strategies, crisis communication issues, cybersecurity, STEM and diversity and more.
In fact, the latter two areas are ones Ebony is particularly passionate about. When she’s asked to join the cause for initiatives that involve STEM or the underestimated community — people of color and women, especially — Ebony has a hard time saying no.
“I tend to say yes to things that involve innovation, STEM, equity and inclusion,” she says.
This commitment has led Ebony to be involved with organizations like the Tampa Bay Association of Black Journalists, Cyversity, the Growing Resilient Communities Advisory Committee, Synapse Florida and For(bes) The Culture, which creates equitable pathways for Black and Brown professionals.
Additionally, Ebony is currently part of the first cohort of Goldman Sachs’ One Million Black Women program. She recently attended the Congressional Caucus on Black Innovation on Capitol Hill organized by the Blackstone Innovation Alliance Group.
Not only does her involvement in these types of organizations help Ebony advocate for causes she believes in, but it also enables her to scratch her itch for continual learning. She’s a true lifelong learner.
“I think that’s what makes you a good entrepreneur is that you’re okay with recognizing what you don't know,” she says. “I think I have a learning addiction.”
As for Above Promotions, Ebony feels she’s finally at a place where it all makes sense. And she’s eager to continue growing.
“I’m excited about this time right now when there’s so much innovation going on,” she says.