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Black History Month: Impactful People in Public Relations

By: Sierra Worden 
There has been a lot go talk about how the public relations industry could possibly become more inclusive, but lets take a look at the influential African American figures that they do have. Three very important figures in the world of public relations, that have created a path for the minority are Dr. Jesse J. Lewis, Sr., Patricia Tobin and Moss Hyles Kendrix.

Jesse Lewis

Dr. Jesse J. Lewis, Sr. started off his life in World War II where he was an infantry soldier. He became enamored with the world of marketing and advertising, even though these ideas were essentially nonexistent in the black community. He started the first black-owned advertising agency in 1954. In 1963, he started the first weekly black oriented newspaper called the Birmingham Times. This really opened the door for so many people of color in the world of advertising and marketing. 

Patricia Tobin

Patricia Tobin started off as a news broadcaster in Los Angeles. She started hosting something known as a “journalist jams,” these would be essentially networking events. Being located in Los Angeles really enable Tobin to be able to be in contact with many different, big names. She began to realize that there were not as many opportunities for people of color in her field of work, and this did not feel right to her. This lead her to create her own public relations agency in 1983 known as Tobin and Associates. Her agency went on to be nationally known.


Moss Kendrix

Moss Hyles Kendrix was a public relations pioneer and made a major impact on the way African Americans are portrayed in the media, but specifically advertising. He created dozens of advertising and public relations campaigns that promoted African American visibility. He wanted to rewrite the history of the derogatory images of African Americans that were depicted in the past. He wanted to she the busy of the African American culture, and he wanted to cater to an audience that had previously been disregard when creating advertisements. He educated his corporate clients about the power of the African American consumer.