Honoring the Legendary Harold Burson
Harold Burson, the man who literally created the modern PR industry, passed away today, thus ending an era where communications came to be a critical element of organizational and societal thinking. Burson was the go-to person for presidents of corporations and presidents of the United States and maintained a low-key persona and behind the scenes approach. His counsel and advice especially during crises always balanced legal with logic taking into consideration the human equation.
I had the pleasure of meeting him a number of times during my career. Always gracious and always attentive to my life and interests, he provided incredible perspective on priorities both personal and professional. The number one thing he shared with me was the importance of ‘Family.’ As you grow in your career or business, travel is inevitable. With that in mind, keeping your family at the center while respecting the larger community you influence such as being a mentor, leading your team, and growing your staff must not be ignored.
Another area we shared was healthcare. Burson respected healthcare, the core of W2O, having built a strong international practice and reinforced this with me every time we met. Further, the people and places he saw including the Nuremberg trials and the history of WWII were always topics of discussion during our intermittent meetings.
But more importantly, he did everything to ensure business operated with integrity seeing PR as a means to connect context, reflection, and decision-making that improved the greater good.
Harold Burson was a monumental figure not just in our profession but in the evolution of our society and our country. There will never be another Harold Burson. All of us who have benefited from his wisdom over his lifetime are better as people and practitioners.
May he RIP!