Today, black-women-owned public relations firms are plentiful. But in the late 1950s, there was only one—the first one.
Inez Yeargan Kaiser, the 98-year-old pioneer who was the first black woman in the U.S. to own a P.R. firm, has died. She was 98 years old.
Kaiser, who began her business in public relations after teaching home economics for many years, was apparently a formidable woman who didn’t take no for an answer.
“You didn’t mess with her,” said son Rick Kaiser. “She would harass you, badger you, hound you until she got what she wanted.”
She only stood 5 feet tall, but she was relentless when she thought she was right.
“You got to be ready for my momma,” said Kaiser.
According to the Kansas City Star, Kaiser was born April 22, 1918, in Kansas City, Mo. She earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Pittsburg State University in 1941 and taught home economics in in Evanston, Ill.; Kansas City, Kan.; and Kansas City, Mo., schools. She later earned a master’s degree from Columbia University and was awarded an honorary doctorate from Lincoln University.
The Museum of Public Relations notes that she founded Inez Kaiser & Associates in 1957 after writing a column in black newspapers for years (“Fashion-Wise and Otherwise”); her first big account was 7-Up.
Kaiser, a lifelong Republican, advised the White House on matters of minority women and business during the Nixon and Ford administrations, but her son notes that she did vote for Barack Obama.
She was married 58 years to Richard Kaiser, who died in 2003.
In other firsts, Kaiser was also the first African American to start a business in Kansas City, the first black woman to join the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce and the first black woman to join the Public Relations Society of America.
For P.R. practitioners she had this advice: “Always be thorough and honest with your clients, and try your best to develop personal relationships with them.”
Read more at the Kansas City Star and the Museum for Public Relations.