|Photo by Vinnie Ratcliff
Photo L to R: Pat Tobin, the consummate networking public relations agent, third from left, shares a special moment with celebrities Florence LaRue, Ja’net DuBois, and Sheryl Lee Ralph at a recent Beverly Hills event..
Pat Tobin, president and founder of Tobin and Associates, the premiere, Black and female-owned Public Relations firm in Los Angeles, one of the world’s largest media markets in the world, has demonstrated that with vision, a plan, hard-work, and perseverance, success is entirely possible.
In an industry that had been dominated by non-Black males over 20-years ago, Pat Tobin, president and founder of Tobin & Associates, had the vision to step into the little-understood world of community, media and public relations and established a business that has withstood the ‘test of time’ and evolved into one of the premiere public relations public relations firms in the nation.
The vision Tobin demonstrated came when she chose to focus on the value and power of the Black Consumer, at a time when Blacks were largely ignored by top multi-national corporations in their product outreach, community relations and marketing and advertising programs.
Now, after humble beginnings on the kitchen table of her small apartment, Tobin & Associates is recognized as one of the most prominent Black-owned, full-service, public relations firms capable of delivering a broad range of image-enhancing programs to small and start-up operations, entertainers, non-profit organizations as well as some of the largest and most dominant companies in the world.
“This industry requires nurturing key contacts and relationships,” Tobin said. “knowing your craft and then exceeding your clients’ expectations!”
And that is exactly what Tobin and her professional staff of consultants, staff-support, and contract professionals have managed to accomplish over the years such that she is able to boast of owning and operating one of the most long-lasting and successful public relations enterprises that has achieved near ‘icon’ status among the clients she has served.
In responding to a question about the reason for so few Black-owned public relations firms, Tobin explained the difficulty of winning clients and helping them understand the value of engaging a specialty firm capable of expanding their image, reputation and sales among ethnic consumers.
“Public Relations is a highly competitive industry and it is hard to win new clients.” Tobin explained. “Many large corporations are expanding their internal community and public relations departments and many do not, or choose not, to see the value of an outside agency.”
Toyota however, the world’s leader in the manufacture and sale of well-built automobiles, in all automotive categories, determined over 20 years ago that a business association with Tobin & Associates, was not only good for their gross sales and profitability, but also good for helping them establish a superior level of brand-loyalty among Black consumers.
“In the late 1980’s the Prime Minister of Japan made some derogatory, public remarks about Blacks that, for a time, created a negative backlash among Black towards products manufactured in Japan.” Tobin recalled. “Many of our Black leaders at that time, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Ambassador Andrew Young, Rev. Al Sharpton, and others spoke-out against the Prime Minister’s comments, and I determined that the situation created an opportunity for Tobin & Associates.”
After ‘pitching’ to a number of Japanese consumer product providers, Tobin landed a contract with Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc., where her firm, for over 20 consecutive years, continues to consult with Toyota on their community and public relations activities in the Black community.
Established on the principles of networking and close relationship-building with client management, effective execution of programs, and consistently focusing on goal attainment, Tobin & Associates provides its clients with strategically positioned access to the Black and mainstream consumer markets locally and domestically.
In addition to the well-established relationship Tobin enjoys with Toyota, her client list over the years includes other multi-national companies, non-profit organizations, small firms, undiscovered talents and a host of others.
From nationally syndicated cable TV personality Tavis Smiley and award-winning filmmaker Spike Lee to Shell Oil, AT&T, Fitzgerald’s Casino and Hotel in Las Vegas, to name few, Tobin & Associates has likely been involved in countless community and public relations campaigns which have advanced the concept, product, film, book, or other consumer product in the Black community.
In addition to Tobin’s day-to-day involvement with some of the most exciting projects in our community, Tobin has contributed to the inspiration, establishment, and advancement of the Black-owned public relations firms throughout the United States, as the co-founder of the Black Public Relations Association where she served most recently as immediate past president and board member. “As I traveled across country I encountered many of us who were performing a broad range of public relations services to their clients.” Tobin described. “It seemed appropriate to establish a networking organization for us to exchange ideas, share views, and work towards the establishment of programs to further develop and advance our industry.”
Her nurturing is also evidenced in the business founded and lead by her only child, daughter Lauren Tobin, who is the president and founder of Panther Public Relations. “After working for ABC-TV for 11 years, Lauren established Panther Public Relations which specializes in entertainment-related public relations and promotions programs and clients.” Tobin said.
“In a relatively short time, she has established a solid business and currently represents clients on some of the most recognizable programs on television including, “Ugly Betty, Grey’s Anatomy, Dancing With the Stars, Tavis Smiley,” and others.” Tobin added.
Tobin admitted that she is grateful for the long list of clients she and her staff have been privileged to serve over the years and acknowledges that winning the contract is only the first step of building a long and mutually beneficial business relationship.
“We continue to strive to help our client’s meet or exceed their objectives in the markets that they serve.” Pat said. “We must execute each task as if were the best opportunity to advance our client’s product, image or community and public relations programs.”
She made special mention of one of her most significant clients, Chairman and CEO Don H. Barden, the Black owner of Fitzgerald’s Casino and Hotel in Las Vegas. “Mr. Barden is an extremely successful entrepreneur.” Tobin said in describing her firm’s efforts to publicize their 4th Anniversary Celebration where they recognized the achievements of African Americans. “He made history by becoming the first African American to wholly own a casino in Las Vegas and he also owns Casinos in Tunica, Mississippi, Blackhawk, Colorado, and Gary, Indiana.”
As far as advice for aspiring public relations consultants is concerned, Tobin admits that the profession is not one for those who may lack self-confidence or a passion for public relations.
“Do not be discouraged.” She urged. “Complete internships and get experience wherever you can. With your preparation and perseverance, you will be in a position demonstrate potential clients that you have what it takes to help them properly reach their consumers and produce a rewarding career for yourself.”