Hattiesburg – Twenty years ago, Beth Taylor appeared on the Hattiesburg scene. A New Orleans native and LSU graduate, Taylor had already worked in print, radio and television in Louisiana when she came to WDAM-TV to become the first woman sports reporter/anchor ever on Mississippi television. Thus, early on Taylor`s public persona was set – determined, confidant and aggressive.
So, it may come as a surprise to some that today Taylor, now owner, consultant and a one-person driving force behind Letter B Productions in Hattiesburg, credits her success to family, friends and colleagues, admits to the humble beginnings of Letter B and reveals her private side – open, fun-loving and personable.
“I started this business with $25, and I had to borrow that,” Taylor said when asked about Letter B`s success. “I had friends who took me in, let me live – rent-free. My parents were supportive. I was fortunate enough to work with some great people; people that I learned from. I`m having a lot of fun and I`m very, very grateful.”
For Taylor, the founding of Letter B was the culmination of years of experience and observation. Over her 11-year career with WDAM, Taylor rose to the rank of editor. And over time she began to understand how to make a creative piece and wanted to try her own hand at it.
“I saw how it happened, and I wanted to make it happen myself,” she said.
Acting on the idea, Taylor left television for Forrest General Hospital and director of marketing for psychiatric services. Taylor said her stint at FGH allowed her to realize what was possible in the arena of creative public relations and advertising work.
After leaving the hospital and going back to Louisiana for three months due to a family illness, Taylor returned and formed Letter B, offering video production, marketing, public relations and advertising, in Dec. 1990. She said she was fortunate in her early days to cultivate some loyal clientele, some of whom remain so today. She has built her current customer base from mainly area businesses, but she said she does a lot of work with attorneys as far away as Houston, Texas, and also does some special events/occasions.
And over time Taylor/Letter B has garnered a truckload of awards, honors and recognitions. Since 1995, Taylor has been honored 42 times, including 18 awards and listing in three Who`s Who publications. Taylor said her proudest achievements are her two Telly Awards and an Addy Award from The Advertising Federation of South Mississippi.
Looking to grow and expand her services, in 1997 Letter B added Web site design to its menu. And as a small entrepreneur, the costs of trying to keep up with ever-changing and expensive technology are steep. So, Taylor formed an informal network with others, such as graphic artists and illustrators, who have the technology and she outsources the work to them, further augmenting her services.
Taylor said this growth is essential to keep up with the local dynamics.
“It`s an exciting time to be in Hattiesburg,” she said. “The whole community is growing and moving forward. It`s very progressive. And customers` needs are changing, too.”
When asked her future vision for Letter B, Taylor said she has wondered if eventually she might want to do something safer, maybe go back to school and teach in higher education. But not now.
“I`ll think about it when it`s not any fun anymore. Right now, it`s a blast.”