As the ever-evolving field of public relations continues to expand, many contributors who helped shape the industry are often forgotten due to lack of awareness. Earlier this month, The Museum of Public Relations held its third annual Black PR History event at the Joseph I. Lubin House in New York to discuss several PR pioneers who broke down barriers for people of color in public relations. As we close out black history month, it is important to recognize the active role minorities played in contributing to the public relations industry. .
Inez Kaiser, founded the first African-American female owned PR firm, Inez Kaiser & Associates. Kaiser was born and raised in Kansas City during a time where African-Americans weren’t necessarily welcomed in schools, however she didn’t let that stop her from getting her bachelor’s degree from Kansas State Teachers College in the 1930s, and later, a master’s from Columbia University Teachers College. Upon her completion, she taught home economics for several years in Kansas City as well as to her community. In addition to being an educator, she started a local column called Fashion-Wise and Otherwise, covering fashion shows in New York and Paris and advocating for an increase in representation of black models in print and on the runway. She didn’t know it at the time, but that column would soon change her life. Her witty and intriguing column became so popular that it landed her in various papers across the country. With Kaiser gaining notoriety with each published column, her editor suggested she look into a career in public relations.
In 1957 Inez opened Inez Kaiser & Associates, the first-ever PR firm owned by an African-American woman, and the first African-American owned business in Kansas City, Missouri. Known for being a determined leader who was able to deliver results, her firm represented several big name companies including 7-Up and Sears. She also became a White House advisor during the Nixon and Ford administration on the matters of minority women and business.
Inez Kaiser not only set an example for African-American women in the ‘60s but for minority business leaders for generations to come, paving the way for many trailblazers in the communications industry today. She once said in an interview “Always be thoughtful and thorough with your clients, and try your best to develop a personal relationship with them,” advice that still upholds as a core principle for public relations firms and client service companies to this day.