School of Journalism and New Media

The University of Mississippi

The Hands-on Management of Harold Burson

Posted on: August 9th, 2010 by

Harold Burson at Burson-Marstellar offices in New York

It is difficult to imagine a more accomplished public relations professional than Harold Burson. Indeed, PRWeek named him the “most influential PR figure” of the 20th century.

On Tuesday, March 30 Debbie Vaughn of the University Foundation visited him in his corner office at Burson-Marsteller, the company he and Bill Marsteller formed in 1953.

In so doing, they established the concept of integrated marketing as the standard of the industry. He is a hands-on professional in more ways than one. When he was awarded the Silver Em from the Department of Journalism at the University of Mississippi, his wife told the guests at dinner at the Warehouse that Harold still drove himself to work every day.

The students at the table that night were shocked that the CEO of a major corporation would take time to cope with the stress of braving New York traffic instead of preparing for the day’s meetings while riding in the back seat of a limo. It was not only a lesson in frugality, but it was a lesson in being early to rise. Harold usually was in the office before the traffic had become impossible.

Last September, as we discussed the new Integrated Marketing Communications program in the Overby Boardroom, Harold gently guided the conversation with comments from his years as a policy-maker at Burson-Marsteller. He wanted our students to benefit from his insights, developed over long years of hands-on leadership.

What a great heritage for students in the Meek School of Journalism and New Media.