Harold Burson's Blog

2009: Summing Up a Year of Recession

December 8, 2009

As the end nears for the first full year of the first global recession and the deepest U.S. economic downturn since the 1930s, taking time to assess its impact on the public relations/communications function seems worth while to both fellow practitioners and our employers and clients. As with most cataclysmic events (when trillions of dollars […]


What a Dumb Question

October 30, 2009

A recent website question aimed at public relations professionals (and, presumably, their bosses) was “What’s the role of public relations when traditional media die?” Obviously, the person posing such a question has little or no understanding of what public relations is or what tasks are implemented under the rubric of public relations. The tragedy is […]


Memories of a Former B-Mer

September 17, 2009

For almost half a century, the Peter, Paul and Mary trio endured as one of the world’s best known folk-singer group. For pioneer B-Mers (going back to the late 1950s and 60s) the success and acclaim of Peter, Paul and Mary has had special significance. For four years Mary – Mary Travers – was a […]


The Medium is the Message

September 15, 2009

Back in the mid-1960s, Marshall McLuhan, a scholarly English professor who morphed into a “media theoretician,” startled the media world, including advertising, public relations and other affected disciplines, with his theory “The Medium is the Message.” In his best selling book, “Understanding the Media” his basic thesis is that different media invite different degrees of […]


Bonus or Commission: A Matter of Semantics

August 13, 2009

Much has been written about the $100 million bonus Citigroup energy trader Andrew J. Hall insists he is owed. But ponder this question: Would such widespread outrage have been expressed by media, politicos and the public-at-large if the princely sums promised to Mr. Hall and other high income producers had been positioned as commissions (instead […]


Amazing! How the Dots Connect

July 30, 2009

The Congressionally-inspired Eisenhower Memorial Commission recently announced at a reception that the celebrated architect, Frank Gehry, will design the monument that will honor the two-term President (1953-1960) and victorious Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in Europe in World War II. It will occupy a four-acre National Mall site opposite the Air and Space Museum, the […]


The Fallibility of the Infallible

June 5, 2009

The General Motors bankruptcy has a special poignancy for me. By my reckoning, our landing General Motors as a client in 1970 was one of the two most defining moments in Burson-Marsteller’s 56-year history.* It was the catalyst for our extraordinary growth during the decade of the 70s — from $5.2 million to $35.1 million […]


A Tough Year for the Class of 2009

May 20, 2009

For a good part of my business life I have made two or three visits a year both in this country and when traveling abroad to speak to students and faculty at colleges of communications and graduate schools of business. My two most recent talks were at Boston University and City University of New York […]


News and the New Amplifiers

March 31, 2009

Not too many years ago, a negative article in a small newspaper or on one of the cable news programs at a non-peak news hour usually elicited a “who cares” shrug of the shoulders and life moved on. But not now. A posting of that once obscure clipping or that 50 seconds of damaging reportage […]


How Much is a Trillion?

March 23, 2009

Few people can relate to a million of anything, especially dollars. Even fewer to a billion. A trillion? Here’s a clue: One million seconds equals 11 1/2 days. One billion seconds equals 31.7 years. One trillion seconds equals 31,700 years.