FULL DISCLOSURE: I am a proud former Burson employee.
That said, the Washington Redskins lost whatever integrity they had left when they hired Burson-Marsteller yesterday. Don’t get me wrong, the hire made sense. If B-M is known for anything, it is a powerful one-two combination of public affairs and crisis communications.
Those are two things that team and its thick-headed owner sorely need.
The problem is that Redskins owner Daniel Snyder didn’t hire them to help his football team do the admirable thing. He hired B-M to help his team continue to do the wrong thing.
And there goes his credibility, swirling down the drain.
Thanks to Politico, we had the news about former White House “TV Whisperer” Dag Vega leaving the Obama administration to go the PR route several days ago. Now we have the press release.
First: Vega will be managing director of Burson-Marsteller’s Washington, D.C. office effective August 4th, and he will report to Ann Davison, U.S. Chair of Public Affairs & Crisis Practice who joined the firm last month, as well as Jano Cabrera, worldwide executive vice president.
Thanks to a Politico exclusive, we also know that Friday will be his last day at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and that he will take a vacation in Puerto Rico before starting the new gig.
What did Vega do at the White House?
In a perfect world, would the answer to the question “What does the future of journalism look like?” include the word “Politico?”
We’re not sure as we don’t live in a perfect world. But this related conversation between King of Poli-Blogs Mike Allen, Burson-Marsteller’s Worldwide Chair/CEO Don Baer and Alan Murray of the Pew Research Center is still interesting, particularly in the wake of White House “TV Whisperer” Dag Vega’s move from politics to corporate PR. A couple of key quotes from Baer:
“The vast majority of journalists and news organizations still think of themselves as content producers…I think you’ve got to turn that upside down and say ‘what service am I providing you, the reader?’”
“Being provocative to the point of being hostile gets you noticed.”
While we certainly don’t disagree with Murray, we have to wonder whether this is really a good thing (if it means Kara Swisher being bolder in her reporting, then yes. If it means more hyper-partisan op-eds, then no). And if you speculated as to whether political coverage would, in general, grow more or less partisan in coming years, this interview serves as an unfortunately definitive “yes.”
I have been blessed in my career. I cut my teeth at an uber agency — second largest in the world, as a matter of fact. Working and growing there provided me with priceless experience. During that time, life changed and I became a daddy.
Okay, so I’m a big sap and that changed everything. I determined that 85 to 90 percent travel was not going to be a welcomed addition for fatherhood so I was honored to become part of a team a boutique agency, where I have been for the last five years. Needless to say, it was a good choice.
That said, size did matter.
Does it for clients, employees and the media as well? Here are a few things to consider when working with or hiring one sized agency over the other:
Donald A. Baer, who served as White House communications director under President Bill Clinton, has been named global chief executive officer of Burson-Marsteller. Baer joined the public-relations firm four years ago and has been serving as vice chairman and chief strategy officer. He succeeds Mark Penn in the top spot at B-M, which boasts 73 offices worldwide.
Meanwhile, Penn, who has been CEO of Burson-Marsteller since 2005, is set to join Microsoft as corporate vice president, strategic and special projects. He has served as an adviser to Microsoft chairman Bill Gates, and was also senior strategist for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
Tommy Bahama has chosen Burson-Marsteller as its international AOR, raising awareness for the company as it expands across Asia in 2012 and 2013. Stores are planned in Macau, Hong Kong, and Singapore, with an additional store/restaurant planned for Tokyo.
B-M regional MD Jackie Prince, based in Hong Kong, is leading the account in Asia. MD Danny Phan is a senior rep in Singapore. B-M has been beefing up its consumer roster recently.
Tommy Bahama has 96 locations in the U.S., but these are the first abroad. The company is working with DKC for the launch of its new New York location, which also includes a restaurant and a bar. And Los Angeles-based Orsi PR has been the company’s domestic AOR for14 years.
Sabrina Guttman (right) has been named Burson-Marsteller‘s U.S. technology practice chair. She joined the firm in August 2011 as deputy tech practice chair. She’s also the lead on the company’s SAP account.
Guttman went to B-M from Ruder Finn, where she spent a few short months as that firm’s tech and innovation practice leader. She had previously worked at B-M between 2005 and 2007.
The firm has also named Michelle Stevenson MD of the U.S. consumer and brand marketing practice. Her focus in the position will be on sponsorships, celebrity spokespeople, events, and overall brand building. She’ll also be leading the Saban Brands U.S., The San Diego Zoo, and Konami.
Stevenson was previously SVP and global co-chair of Fleishman-Hillard’s FH Entertainment practice where she led the North American communications for Tourism Australia. Her prior experience at The Lippin Group included work with the Emmy and People’s Choice awards. She’ll be based in Los Angeles.
Burson-Marsteller has launched Burson Campaigns, a corporate issues management division that will be based in Memphis, TN. Areas of expertise will include corporate reputation and business development.
The group will be led by Maury Lane, previously the director of issues, crisis, and public affairs comms at FedEx, which is also based in Memphis. He was also president and principal at Hill Country Communications, which specializes in PR for the hi-tech, telecom, and manufacturing areas, and public affairs.
Lüfkens will be based in Geneva and will oversee a team that handles digital efforts including comms strategy, online reputation, and mobile marketing across Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.
In addition to his work for the World Economic Forum, Lüfkens has worked with a number of Fortune 500 companies, writes a column for a business magazine, Bilan, and speaks at tech events.
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