By: Chania Crawford and Camryn Lanning
Joseph V. Baker (1908-1993)
Our first pioneer, Joseph V. Baker, is accredited as being the first Black public relations firm owner.
Baker was born August 20, 1908, in Abbeville, SC. He began his media career in 1920s Philadelphia studying journalism at Temple University. He was the first Black writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer, one of the oldest daily news publications in Philadelphia.
After his career in journalism, he then worked as a PR consultant for the Pennsylvania Railroad. Shortly after, he found Joseph V. Baker and Associates, paving the way for generations to come. The historic PR firm emerged in 1934 and initially focused on Black media and audiences.
Some of Joseph V. Baker and Associates' most notable clients include the American Tobacco Company, Carrier Corporation, Chrysler, the Gillette Corporation, Scott Paper Company, RCA, Procter & Gamble, NBC, U.S. Steel, Western Union and the Association of American Railroads.
As for Baker’s work with PRSA, he was elected president of Philadelphia’s chapter in 1958. Along with being the first Black president, he was also the first Black individual to earn his Accreditation in Public Relations (APR).
Bayard Rustin (1912-1987)
Our second pioneer, Bayard Rustin, is famously known for being one of the key advisors to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and helped to organize MLK’s “March on Washington.”
Rustin was born March 17, 1912, in West Chester, PA. He attended Wilberforce University and Cheyney State Teachers College. In the 1930s, he moved to New York City to study at City College of New York.
Before his work with MLK, Rustin had a long history of protesting various civil rights and anti-war issues. He lived his life as an openly homosexual man during a time when homosexuality was criminalized.
He began working with MLK in the 1950s, organizing many micro-protests during the civil rights movement. He became a key organizer of MLK's most famous, “March on Washington,” in which MLK delivered his “I Have A Dream Speech.”
After MLK’s death, he continued to assist civil rights protests and lived out the rest of his days advocating for human rights.
Inez Y. Kaiser (1918-2016)
Our third pioneer, Inez Y. Kaiser, is accredited with being the first Black woman to own her own public relations firm.
Kaiser was born April 22, 1918, in Kansas City, KS. Initially, she studied economics at Pittsburg State University and worked as a columnist for various newspapers around the country.
Her career in public relations began when she leased an office in downtown Kansas City to open Inez Kaiser and Associates. Some of her most notable clients include the Jenkins Music Company, Burger King Corporation, Sterling Drug, 7UP (J. Walter Thompson), Southwestern Bell Telephone Company and Sears Roebuck & Company.
Along with creating her own PR firm, Kaiser was a great contributor to the civil rights movement. She has a history of doing work for the NAACP and helped to spread crucial messages during the civil rights movement.
Due to her great achievements in public relations, Kaiser was awarded an honorary Doctorate in Law from Lincoln University in Jefferson City, MO.
Patricia L. Tobin (1948-2008)
Our fourth pioneer, Patricia Tobin, co-founded the National Black Public Relations Society and remains a prominent figure in the world of public relations today.
Tobin was born February 28, 1948, in White Plains, NY. She studied journalism at the Charles Morris Price School of Journalism and moved to Los Angeles in 1977.
After moving to Los Angeles, she worked for KCBS-TV Channel 2 as an event organizer. In 1983, she formed her own firm, Tobin & Associates, one of the most successful PR firms in the country.
In 1987, she co-founded the National Black Public Relations Society, a communications group focused on amplifying Black individuals in the public relations industry. To this day, NBPR remains a crucial support system for providing insight and mentorship for Black individuals.