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Patricia Tobin: The LA Queen of Public Relations

The Self-Professed Go-Getter that Became a Pioneer in the Black PR World

By: Sarah White


When I was in high school, I realized public relations was the field of my calling. As someone who enjoys creative writing, seeing the journalism aspect accompanied by event planning, networking, and other strategic skills all encompassed in one area fascinated me. The real selling point was being able to see someone who resembled me, a Black woman, not only excel in this field but also create a prominent name for herself. Patricia “Pat” Tobin is among nine others recognized as a Black PR pioneer in the Museum of Public Relations. She was a member of the National Association of Black Journalists, Black Journalist Association of Southern California, and a co-founder of the National Black Public Relations Society. Her work penetrated through several fields, and her legacy still stands today. Tobin enhanced the PR world and impacted everyone around her in many ways, such as:

  • Building her own PR firm

  • Remaining connected to her community, and

  • Opening doors for other Black Americans in the corporate world

Through these accomplishments and characteristics, Tobin made herself a role model to pr professionals and Black women across the country. Her influences helped shape the journalism world we all know today.

Self-Starter to a Legacy

Patricia Tobin, prominent Black pr professional

Knowing that a Black woman like myself could pave the way to her own legacy is genuinely inspiring to learn. Realizing the climate she lived in did not cater to providing many opportunities for Black Americans like herself, Tobin created her pr firm in 1983, Tobin and Associates. The success that came from this firm was due in part to her tenacious attitude and her target focus being on the power of Black Americans and consumers. For the most part, this specific group was ignored by major corporations and companies, so Tobin fed off of that and let it propel her business. She saw an opportunity to jumpstart her career, and it later paid off tenfold. Throughout her time being there, she went on to work with multi-million-dollar companies, such as Toyota Motor Corporation, Wells Fargo, and Nestle and shone a light on ways to better connect with ethnic minority groups. Building something for yourself in a world that seems determined to keep you down is very inspiring and a notable recognition to be made of Tobin. The drive she displayed to make something of herself instead of settling for what was handed to her is something I look forward to achieving myself.

Remembering Where You Came From

Tobin with Florence LaRue, Ja'net DuBois and Sheryl Lee Ralph

Tobin with Florence LaRue, Ja'net DuBois and Sheryl Lee Ralph Often times when someone from a “lowly” community ends up becoming very successful, they forget about their roots and change their entire social network. Tobin made sure she did not fall into this group. Besides her strong business profile and connections, she excelled at maintaining healthy relationships with those in her community. Tobin took part in many charity events and helped with fundraising for specific causes. Those around her mentioned how she made them feel part of her “inner circle.” She recognized being connected to those outside of the business world was vital. This later grew to her having unwavering support from an entire city. Tobin took advantage of her personality and made sure to remain a familiar and loved face in her community. Seeing such a successful icon live a lifestyle that did not boost their ego and make them appear larger than life is just a reminder that we are all human and can learn something from one another.

Gatekeeper to Black Americans

A striking difference, earlier mentioned, between Tobin and other pr professionals was her dedication to actively pursuing the needs and voices of Black Americans. Her firm focused on this aspect, which later set them apart from others. Because of this, she was able to break down walls and open doors for many other Black Americans with hopes of pursuing careers in this field. The drive and “go-getter” attitude she displayed were seen as an inspiration to those around her and pushed for an influx of more Black professionals in the journalism world. It even extended to the overall rise of corporate roles among this group as she touched the lives of so many around her. She used her voice and passion for showing the youth that looked like her what could be done with the right mindset.

Patricia Tobin is an icon to Black journalists and pr professionals everywhere. The effort and attention she put into her work, community, and youth around her were inspirational. I have goals that align with what she had accomplished during her lifetime and am determined to meet them just as she did. Tobin came into a world destined to hate her and turned the table in her favor. As a Black American, a woman, and aspiring pr professional, I aspire to follow in her footsteps and pave the way for my own future while positively influencing those around me as well. Tobin deserves an outstanding round of applause for her achievements and contributions to the pr world.



About the Author:

Sarah White is a senior at the University of North Texas, pursuing her bachelor’s in public relations with a minor in sociology. This Houston-native will be attending grad school in the summer to obtain her master’s in business administration and management. She plans to work at a pr agency following graduation and hopes to one day start her own agency.