Oral Histories

Harold Burson

Interview Segments on Topic: Challenges/Accomplishments

Harold Burson Biography

Harold Burson, described by PR Week as “the century’s most influential PR figure,” began his professional career as a stringer for a daily newspaper, eventually entering the military to become a public information officer for the American Forces Network during World War II.  Burson opened his first PR agency following the War, which developed into Burson-Marsteller in 1953 by joining with Chicago advertising executive Bill Marsteller who needed public relations expertise for his clients.  Their relationship resulted in a unique enterprise with advertising and public relations operating as equals for the good of their clients.  Currently, Burson-Marsteller provides clients with strategic thinking and program execution across a full range of public relations, public affairs, advertising, and web-related services.


Interviewer: What do you believe is the single greatest challenge facing public relation executives in today’s business climate?

Burson: In being, in having a knowledge base that qualifies them to be a counselor to the senior management; the CEOs. To be a to have the knowledge base in the business that qualifies him to be a peer of those people they serve with on a management committee.