Harold Burson's Blog

WANTED: CEO’s Who Will Speak Up for Business

July 18, 2008

On October 19, 1987 the Dow-Jones Industrial Index tumbled 508 points to 1739, a drop of 22.6 percent, the steepest ever. Five days later, Bill Schrier, Merrill Lynch CEO, in a “talking head” television commercial explained to a World Series audience why “Merrill Lynch is bullish on America.” Soon other CEOs chimed in, proclaiming their ...

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A “Sunday Morning” Wake-up Call

June 11, 2008

You can just imagine how many e-mails and telephone calls I’ve gotten in the wake of the recent unflattering and untruthful CBS “Sunday Morning” diatribe on the behavior and characteristics of public relations professionals – and coming from a lawyer, at that. Usually, I see “Sunday Morning” – I’ve been a fan since Charles Kuralt ...

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Charity Begins at Home

March 30, 2008

It’s annual report time and you can be sure that many, if not most corporations, have made a special effort to report on their CSR (corporate social responsibility) initiatives, some with separate documents that highlight their actions to preserve the environment and maintain the planet’s sustainability. CSR has, in fact, become an active subset of ...

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On Being 87 and Still Engaged

February 27, 2008

My only thought on how long I was going to live was that, with luck, I would make it to the biblical three score and ten. Genetically, I had a good shot: my Father fell short by two years, my Mother made it to a couple months short of 90. Nor did I ever give ...

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A Matter of Definition

January 3, 2008

Not long ago at a Q&A session following my talk to college majors in public relations, one of them asked, “Mr. Burson, do you think the Internet will replace public relations?” Along a similar line of thought, PRWeek recently published an article headlined “Word of Mouth, PR are a good fit.” It described a survey ...

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Who’s Counting?

September 19, 2007

An article in a recent New York Times Magazine (Sept. 2) about Mark Penn’s compelling new book “Microtrends” described Burson-Marsteller as a firm “which likes to call itself the world’s largest public relations firm.” Admittedly, there was a time when we used those words to describe ourselves. But for the past five years or so, ...

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“Lobbying” is Not a Dirty Word

July 30, 2007

The First Amendment to our Constitution – the first of the ten amendments in the Bill of Rights – reads as follows: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people to ...

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Let’s Not Sell Ourselves Short

June 6, 2007

The notion of “free publicity” or “great results with a ridiculously low budget” troubles me. It troubles me even more when public relations media make a virtue of the cost advantages of public relations (publicity) over advertising and other methods of disseminating information. My concern is that it discourages the best and the brightest to ...

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A Time of Renewal

May 20, 2007

At this time of the year, literally thousands of newly-minted public relations practitioners are entering the work force, most of them who describe themselves as communicators. The fact is, attendance at schools of communications is at an all-time high and public relations – usually one of three courses of study alongside journalism and advertising – ...

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Storm Warning for U.S. Corporations and CEOs

March 28, 2007

Today’s challenge for global corporations and their CEO’s, especially those of U.S. origin, is finding safe harbor from an amalgamation of circumstances that are the equivalent of a perfect storm. Consider the following: At no time in more than two centuries of nationhood have overseas public attitudes toward the United States been at so low ...

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2008