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Burson Marsteller

Guttman Rejoins Burson’s Tech Practice

Sabrina Guttman has been named U.S. deputy technology practice chair at Burson-Marsteller based in San Francisco and reporting to Jim Goldman, the U.S. chair for the firm’s tech practice.

Guttman had previously worked in the Burson tech group as a director from 2005 to 2007. Most recently, she was at Ruder Finn, where she spent a few months at the leader of the firm’s new tech and innovation practice. It was announced just a couple of weeks ago that she’d left the firm. Ruder Finn will be seeking a replacement.

She has also previously worked at Axicom U.S. where she served as a strategic counselor to Dell’s VP of global comms. During her 15-year career, Guttman also worked with tech companies including HP and Sun Microsystems.

B-M Launches China-Focused Specialty

Daisy King

Burson-Marsteller continues its focus on China with a new specialty group focused on the country, led by Daisy King. The practice will be based in New York.

King, the firm’s former market leader in the Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Chengdu offices will serve as MD in the corporate practice reporting to Jason Schechter, the practice chair. She joined the firm 11 years ago.

The new group will work with U.S.-based companies with comms needs in China, and Chinese companies seeking PR help here.

B-M China Launches Digital Practice

Burson-Marsteller China has launched D/BM, a digital and social media influencer practice. Zaheer Nooruddin, the firm’s lead digital strategist for Greater China, will lead the new practice.

The practice will provide online engagement and digital strategies, measurement and monitoring services, and identify influencers.

We spoke with Vibrant‘s Jonathan Gardner about digital trends across Asia. Gardner has lived and worked in the region, and recently paid a visit (just for fun). Check out some of that info here.

B-M Launches Global Energy Practice

Burson-Marsteller has launched a global energy practice, pulling from the expertise of 100 of the firm’s international consultants.

Using oil issues in the Gulf of Mexico and the nuclear energy issues in Japan as examples, worldwide CEO Mark Penn said in a statement, “With energy demand anticipated to rise 40% in the coming decades and energy challenges becoming more extreme, strategic communications will be even more vital to success.”

The practice will be led out of B-M’s Beijing office. Leadership for the practice will include Bob Pickard in Asia Pacific, Mike Lake in North America, Ramiro Prudencio in Latin America, Bill Royce in Europe, and Stephen Worsley in the Middle East.

B-M launched a new tech practice, North of Nine, a couple of weeks ago.

Burson Backlash Continues on the Firm’s Facebook Page

The backlash against Burson-Marsteller‘s botched media campaign for Facebook continues today with commenters piling on negative responses (in a variety of languages) on the firm’s Facebook page. Appropriate.

Comments not only express acrimony over the effort against Google, but also about news reported on Wired.com that a negative comment posted on Burson’s Facebook page had been deleted. According to a spokesperson who talked with Wired, the post will be put back and the page has received “a lot of profanity.”

The question now is how long the backlash will continue and who it will impact. Burson is an award-winning firm with lots of top international clients (including some controversial clients). But this episode has really angered a lot of people, including many in PR, largely because of how it reflects on the entire industry.

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The Many Layers of the B-M/Facebook Smear Story

The news that Burson-Marsteller/Facebook whisper campaign story unfolded before our eyes this week. And as it did, there were so many details that added so many layers that reaction, understandably, has been tremendous.

At this point, Facebook and Burson are no longer working together, The New York Times reports. And, The Daily Beast writes (h/t to PRWeek) that  the two Burson publicists that handled the campaign, former CNBC reporter Jim Goldman and former political writer John Mercurio, will receive another copy of the firm’s code of ethics (along with everyone at the firm) in order to get a refresher course on right and wrong. Interesting that two former reporters couldn’t clearly see the impropriety of this from the beginning, but we digress.

Reaction from the PR industry has been both critical and exasperated, with many on Twitter expressing a “you know better than that” tone with both the situation and Burson’s statement in response.

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B-M Says Facebook Assignment “Should Have Been Declined”

News broke last night on The Daily Beast that the client behind Burson-Marsteller‘s bungled Google “whisper campaign” was Facebook. A Facebook spokesperson confirmed the social network hired B-M;  The Daily Beast writer Dan Lyons says that B-M refused to say until Facebook confirmed the information.

A statement PRNewser received via email from B-M this morning reads:

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B-M Pitch on Behalf of Unnamed Client Raises Ethical Questions

USA Today reported this morning on a “whisper campaign” launched by Burson-Marsteller on behalf of an unnamed client that targeted Google’s Social Circle feature for Gmail. (The USA Today article and this one from Business Insider has a bit of detail about the feature, which taps into your info to make “social connections.”)

Citing consumer privacy concerns and Google’s issues with the Federal Trade Commission, two of Burson’s high-profile publicists — former CNBC anchor Jim Goldman and former political columnist John Mercurio — sent a pitch to reporters suggesting an op-ed slamming Google. One of those pitched reporters, Christopher Soghoian, a former FTC researcher and blogger, posted the pitch online. And, actually, according to the email, Mercurio said, “I’m happy to help place the op-ed and assist in the drafting, if needed. For media targets, I was thinking about the Washington Post, Politico, The Hill, Roll Call or the Huffington Post.”

USA Today says Goldman was in contact with them about the story. And the paper writes, “After Goldman’s pitch proved largely untrue, he subsequently declined USA TODAY’s requests for comment.”

We were in touch with the firm to find out if this is standard practice and how the firm will address the obvious ethical issues this situation raises. We received this statement from the firm: “The situation that led to the USA Today story is highly unusual and does not represent standard practice at Burson-Marsteller. We regret that it was not handled well and we are reviewing it thoroughly.”

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B-M Announces New U.S. Digital Lead

Michael Bassik has been chosen to lead Burson-Marsteller‘s U.S. digital practice as MD and practice chair. He will be based in New York, reporting to Pat Ford, the firm’s U.S. president.

Bassik was previously SVP at Global Strategy Group, where he was a leader in the public affairs division. While there, he worked with clients including Google, Al Jazeera English, and O, The Oprah Magazine. Other prior clients include John Kerry for President, Hillary Clinton for President and Obama for America.

It was just announced that Dallas Lawrence has been selected as B-M’s chief global digital strategist. Like Bassik, Lawrence also has a strong public affairs background.

Lawrence Appointed B-M Digital Strategy Leader

Dallas Lawrence has been chosen as Burson-Marsteller‘s chief global digital strategist. He was previously MD of digital public affairs, a role he assumed in May 2003 when he joined the firm from Levick Strategic Communications. He was also a member of the comms team during the presidency of George W. Bush, serving as the director of the Office of Community Relations and Public Liaison for the U.S. Defense Department.

In his new role, he will report to CEO Mark Penn.

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