Harold Burson's Blog

About Ed Ney (1925-2014)

January 13, 2014

Ed Ney is a man for whom I had deep and genuine affection. Actually, I loved the guy. We met in the early 70s, not long after he became Y&R’s CEO. It was at a 4 A’s annual meeting at the Greenbrier. I was flattered that he knew who I was and that he was ...


‘Being More’: A Part of Burson-Marsteller DNA

October 15, 2013

Unknowingly, the term “Being More” has been an apt descriptor for Burson-Marsteller’s underlying aspirational goal from its start in 1953 as a firm offering public relations services to business-to-business clients. Since our clients were technology-based, we mainly hired engineers/writers as account executives — individuals who knew the clients’ business and understood their products. We aimed ...


A ‘Modern’ Definition of Public Relations? Why?

March 5, 2012

Receiving more recognition than it deserves is a recently-voted ‘modern’ definition of public relations, resulting from a competition sponsored by the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). It was selected in a voting process in which 1447 votes were cast, presumably most of them members of PRSA and the International Association of Business Communicators. According ...


Steve Jobs Remembered

November 4, 2011

I spoke with Steve Jobs twice, the first time soon after the Apple board fired him. The first time he cold-called me to ask if Burson-Marsteller could represent his new company, NeXT, after he was ousted as Apple’s CEO in 1985. Unfortunately, we had a conflict; he said he understood. I would have cherished the ...


The Nuremberg Scripts

October 19, 2011

On Monday, October 1, The New York Times Op-Ed Page columnist, Joe Nocera, titled his offering “The Nuremberg Scripts.”  He used the next 750 or so words to comment on my reporting on the Nuremberg Trial for American Forces Network, the military radio network in Europe.  October 1 was the day the trial of major Nazi war ...


Of all Brands: Rolls-Royce

July 1, 2011

In its daily news summary, PR Week (June 20, 2011) reported that "Rolls-Royce Motor Cars of North America is issuing an RFP in mid-July for the first time in its history." How unbecoming! Sort of like walking into a Rolls-Royce showroom and bickering over the price. Admittedly, never having been in a Rolls-Royce showroom, I ...


Public Relations Defined

April 20, 2011

Based on the comments I read on web sites, blogs and the trade media, I am appalled that so many who profess to be public relations or communications specialists are so far off the mark in their attempts to define public relations. Sadly, this applies even to some students at communication colleges specializing in public ...


On Reaching 90

February 11, 2011

To tell the truth, I never gave any thought to how long I would live. My father, a victim of the first poison gas attack in the first World War, made it to 68, a victim of stomach cancer; his two brothers reached their early eighties. My mother, who survived a half dozen serious heart ...


Credibility and the Internet

January 20, 2011

Marshall McLuhan got it mostly right when he said the medium is the message; certainly, how and where a message is received accounts for much of its credibility, impact and ability to persuade. While articulated decades before the advent of the internet, its application is no less to this new medium than to now so-called ...


Bette Burson (March 11, 1925 – September 16, 2010)

October 22, 2010

So it started with a fender bender, an ordinary occurrence that can happen to anyone behind the wheel in a crowded parking area. A squish of cold-rolled steel initiating a damage claim that gets settled and then forgotten. But this one was different. One could credibly call it a life changer. For the driver, her ...