Harold Burson's Blog

About Job Titles and How We in PR are Perceived

March 13, 2007

In speeches, articles and interviews over the past 20 years or so, I have bemoaned the use of "communications" as a replacement for public relations. While communications plays an important role in what we public relations professionals do, it is only one aspect of our job. Equally, if not more important, we have an overall […]


America’s First Chief Public Relations Officer

February 2, 2007

Public relations was practiced in Boston long before the first publicity firm opened for business there in 1900. What we would nowadays recognize as a public relations campaign whose objective was separating the 13 colonies from England was launched in 1776 – 12 years before the formal Declaration of Independence. Though the term ‘public relations’ […]


Regulatory Agency Reversals: It Happens Sometimes

December 6, 2006

It doesn’t happen often, but during the past couple of months two powerful regulatory agencies reversed previous major positions affecting literally millions of people. One was the World Health Organization (WHO) which said it would promote the use of the pesticide DDT to combat malaria in developing nations. More recently, the U.S. Food and Drug […]


Assumption: U.S., Cradle of Public Relations; Rest of World Catching up — FAST!

October 30, 2006

Just recently, I did a two-week tour of five Burson-Marsteller offices in three countries on two continents: New Delhi, Zurich, Bern, Geneva and Milan.* B-M colleagues at each office updated me on current client assignments. I also spoke to client, public relations professional and student groups. A frequent question was "how does the work we […]


An Award that Means a Lot to Me; An Opportunity to Address a Significant Issue

September 13, 2006

The last thing I need at this stage in my life is another award – especially one requiring a 6,000 mile journey to accept it. But the award I accepted in London on September 11 has special meaning for me. It’s the Alan Campbell-Johnson Medal recognizing lifetime achievement in international public relations. Though most of […]


Blowin’ in the Wind

June 26, 2006

An article in The New York Times a week or so ago* on Mary Travers of Peter, Paul and Mary fame got me to thinking about the life-long bonds that have developed among my Burson-Marsteller colleagues over the past five decades. We estimate more than 25,000 public relations professionals have graced one of our 50 […]


Who Speaks for Business? No Voice, No Influence

June 6, 2006

Although many of my associates are under the false notion that I know almost everyone in corporate America, I have never met Hank Paulson, the new Secretary of the Treasury-designate. But having known several of his predecessors* who both contributed to and reflected the Goldman Sachs culture that has long inspired its leadership to embrace […]


Public Relations and Advertising: The Choice is Not Either/Or

May 21, 2006

My bona fides, I believe, are pretty solid when it comes to integrated communications. Indeed, that was the basis upon which Bill Marsteller and I formed Burson-Marsteller 53 years ago. Bill was in the advertising/market research business; my business was public relations. We termed our newly combined services "total communications" which we offered to industrial […]


Brussels: Europe’s Pulse

May 9, 2006

A couple weeks ago I spent two days in Brussels, by my estimate my 70th visit to the first European city I got to know way back in the cold, cold winter of 1944-45. My army unit, a combat engineer group, was stalled on the Holland-German border and our commanding officer decided to set up […]