PRWeek Hall of Fame 2016 Honorees

Article by PRWeek Staff at

Patrice Tanaka, cofounder, Patrice Tanaka & Co., CRT/tanaka, and PadillaCRT.


What are you most proud of over the course of your career?

Cofounding three highly respected, award-winning PR agencies – Patrice Tanaka & Company, CRT/tanaka, and PadillaCRT – all recognized for being among the best places to work in our industry. The last one, PadillaCRT, is the largest employee-owned PR agency in the U.S. I am extremely proud of that.

Lessons you wish you knew before starting a career in PR?

I didn’t realize until much later in my life and career about the power of setting intentions as the first step in manifesting goals and dreams. Rather than worrying about what happens if something doesn’t go well, set an intention for the positive result you want, whether it’s running a productive brainstorm, helping a client solve a problem, or achieving a big hairy audacious goal [BHAG]. We’re far better served by setting the positive intention we want and putting energy into making that happen instead of frittering away our life force worrying.

What would you tell your 20-year-old self?

Think about your purpose and what you want to achieve in life. Discovering and living your life purpose is the single most efficient and powerful thing you can do to unleash your leadership potential and the joy of a fulfilling and rewarding life. Moreover, discovering your life purpose earlier in life rather than later will likely give you a longer time horizon to accomplish those things that matter most.

What has you most excited about the next 10 years of public relations?

The continuing evolution of digital and social media in heightening our global collective consciousness. Ten years ago, Twitter was founded, and we’ve seen its power to connect us globally in celebration of events like the World Cup, to communicate during disasters, monitor epidemics, and even organize revolutions. I’m excited to see how the next 10 years in digital and social media will further enhance life in this global village in terms of our connectedness, compassion, and ability to quickly mobilize and help one another, including disaster victims a hemisphere away.

What has you most concerned?

That bad actors, leveraging enhanced digital and social media, will be able to wreak global havoc more efficiently and effectively. And that being more closely and viscerally connected to the suffering of others globally will make us more inured to their suffering.

Talk about an important mentor in your life.

My mom. She taught me that love and sharing your cookies and toys were the secrets to getting along with others. She was right.

Do you have a golden rule of comms?

Do the right thing.

You are going into a very important meeting. What is your warrior song?

Beyoncé’s “Run the World (Girls)”.

Born in Hawaii, Patrice Tanaka’s career is a tribute to the power of positive thinking and inspiration, culminating in a long and entrepreneurial career in the PR agency sector in the industry’s capital: New York City. Her eponymous full-service PR firm, Patrice Tanaka & Co., was founded in 1990 and based in New York.

Tanaka led a group of colleagues in a management buyback from Chiat/Day Advertising to cofound the employee-owned PR agency with 12 colleagues. Clients included Mercedes-Benz USA, Target, and Charles Schwab. Carter Ryley Thomas Public Relations & Marketing acquired Patrice Tanaka & Co. in 2005, creating a 72-strong firm called CRT/tanaka with then combined revenues of $10.5 million.

In 2013, Padilla Speer Beardsley acquired CRT/tanaka and the firm was renamed PadillaCRT, with Tanaka as chief counselor and creative strategist. Last year, Tanaka departed the firm to launch career-coaching company Joyful Planet.

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