2008: Harold Burson

2008 Pub­lic­ity Club of Chicago Life­time Achieve­ment Hon­oree:
Harold Burson

Con­grat­u­la­tions to this year’s Life­time Achieve­ment Award recip­i­ent Harold Burson.

Harold Bur­son, in a sur­vey con­ducted by PRWeek, was described as “the century’s most influ­en­tial PR fig­ure.” PRWeek’s sum­mary of his career reca­pit­u­lates his role as pub­lic rela­tions’ pre­em­i­nent practitioner:

The archi­tect of the largest pub­lic rela­tions agency in the world today, Burson-Marsteller chair­man Harold Burson’s con­tri­bu­tion is immense in many other ways besides. He started prac­tic­ing the con­cept of inte­grated mar­ket­ing decades before the term was even invented. He brought PR into the adver­tis­ing busi­ness at Young & Rubi­cam as an equal (it’s arguably never been achieved again). His devel­op­ment of train­ing pro­grams set the bench­mark that other agen­cies have only recently caught up with. He has per­son­ally spon­sored and sup­ported pro­grams, indus­try bod­ies, uni­ver­si­ties and char­i­ties to improve the pro­fes­sion. His men­tor­ing of tal­ent has spawned a whole wave of ex-Burson PR agency start-ups. He cre­ated a unique Bur­son cul­ture that still unites for­mer employ­ees. And last but cer­tainly not least, his per­sonal coun­sel has enlight­ened the think­ing of board­rooms at many For­tune 100 com­pa­nies and across the globe.”

He was CEO of Bur­son Marsteller for 35 years. It became the world’s largest pub­lic rela­tions firm in 1983.

Boston Uni­ver­sity hon­ored him with a Doc­tor of Humane Let­ters degree (hon.) in 1988 and a Chair in Pub­lic Rela­tions was estab­lished in his name at Boston Uni­ver­sity in 2002. He is a grad­u­ate of the Uni­ver­sity of Mis­sis­sippi and was elected to the Alumni Hall of Fame in 1986. He is a vet­eran of World War II with ser­vice as a com­bat engi­neer in France, Bel­gium, Hol­land and Ger­many. As an Army news cor­re­spon­dent for Amer­i­can Forces Net­work, he cov­ered the Nurem­berg Trial of lead­ing Nazi war criminals.