An audience with Harold Burson - to celebrate his 60 years in PR
22nd May 2013
I attended an evening with Harold Burson last night to celebrate his 60 years in public relations. It was “an audience with” format than any sort of formal thesis on the future of PR. Burson has clearly seen much change in the world of public relations over the past 60 years, but the overriding theme was one of positivity. He predicted a bright future for PR and believes its plays an important role in helping organisations behave ethically with a good moral compass. Here are the few of Harold Burson’s reflections that I managed to scribble down:
- When asked who he thought was the individual who had walked the walk of PR rather than talked the talk, Burson suggested that Bill Gates was perhaps the best example. Gates is a business leader who has used his enormous success to become perhaps the world’s greatest philanthropist.
- Interestingly Burson also suggested that PR degrees have become a cash cow for universities. As a result they are churning out more PR graduates than there are jobs.
- Responsible, profitable and ethical businesses should pay their taxes. Large successful business should show moral leadership on this issue.
- What is the worst example of PR Harold Burson has ever seen? The banks and the financial regulators during the financial crisis.
- The 1960s was the definitive decade in which PR went from a minor to a major business service.
- Business CEOs have got themselves into a difficult corner by promising endless growth. This is not sustainable.
- Business should be ethical and give shareholders a fair return on their investment, not the maximum return, to the detriment of all other stakeholders.
- One of the most important changes in PR has been that the communications director now reports directly to the CEO.