Inez Kaiser, born in Kansas City, KS in 1918, began her career teaching home economics after graduating from Pittsburg State Teachers College in southeast Kansas, but soon after she became an avid and successful writer.
While she was still teaching, she began writing the columns “Fashionwise and Otherwise,” covering fashion shows in New York, California and Paris for African-American newspapers across the country. She also wrote a column called, “As I See It,” that ran in the Kansas City Star and a cookbook called “Soul Food Cookery.”
In the late 1950s an editor at an African-American newspaper suggested she go into public relations, a field she had never heard of. By 1963, she was the first Black woman to open a national public relations firm, Inez Kaiser and Associates, Inc., in downtown Kansas City. She was also the first Black woman to join the Public Relations Society of America.
Seven-Up was Kaiser’s first major account. She said she won the contract because a Seven-Up executive liked that she admitted she didn’t know the answer to one of his questions. She promised to get him the answer the next day.
After securing Seven-up, she began securing other major accounts like Sterling Drug, Sears & Roebuck and Lever Brothers after they began to show interest in her firm.
In an interview with The Museum of Public Relations in 2015, Kaiser’s best advice for those practicing PR: “Always be thoughtful and thorough with your clients. And try your best to develop a personal relationship with them.”
Kaiser was also passionate about civil rights and helping the Kansas City community. In the 1970s, she founded Del Sprites, an organization that helps disadvantaged African-American junior and senior high school girls in pursuing higher education. She was also an advisor to the White House on minority women and business matters during both the Nixon and Ford administrations.
Kaiser died in 2016 at age 98.
The Greater Kansas City chapter of the Public Relations Society of America, began a scholarship fund in Kaiser’s memory this year that will become available in 2022 to undergraduates interested in pursuing a career in public relations.