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Burson Marsteller

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.

B-M Throws a Birthday Party

Burson-Marsteller celebrated the 90th birthday of namesake Harold Burson at Guastavino’s in New York City on Tuesday. (Beautiful space, BTW, if you’re looking for a new place to host an event.)

Among the distinguished guests we saw: Mark Penn, Karen Hughes, Kelly Cutrone (who like our funky-fresh bird sweater!), Julia Hood, and, of course, Mr. Burson himself.

A couple of other snapshots after the jump.

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B-M UK Launches Be More

Burson-Marsteller UK has launched Be More, the firm’s brand marketing practice led by managing director Philippe Pendaries. The practice team is composed of 20 members including traditional consumer practitioners, digital specialists, content creators, and designers. Recent additions include Joe Sinclair, head of digital and Dan Humphries, director of audiovisual comms. The practice is looking for new hires.

Accounts include Sony Ericsson, Activia, Shell, and De Beers. And recently, the practice was awarded the Ford consumer business, according to PRWeek UK.

Research: ‘Fortune’ Global 100 Tweeting More Often

Burson-Marsteller has released the findings from its Second Annual Social Media Check-Up, finding that the Fortune Global 100 are relying more and more on Twitter to directly engage with their audience.

According to the study, 67 percent of these top companies are using Twitter to speak with consumers or mention other users, and 57 percent are retweeting content from their corporate accounts. This is more than a 75 percent increase in both of these activities.

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Burson’s COO Heading to Bloomberg

Richard Powell Jr., Burson-Marsteller’s worldwide COO and chair of the firm’s global corporate practice, is heading to Bloomberg to serve as that company’s chief communications officer.

Powell will oversee Bloomberg’s comms strategy and infrastructure as it expands in both new and existing markets. He will report to Bloomberg’s head of government relations and public affairs, Kevin Sheekey.

Burson’s statement, which talks about who will be handling Powell’s responsibilities, is after the jump.

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Burson Partners with Targeted Victory

Burson-Marsteller has partnered with Targeted Victory, a political and advocacy firm that specializes in online and mobile communications, data management for political and advocacy campaigns, and other digital comms. Targeted Victory also has a proprietary technology that it developed with a separate partner, Lotame Solutions, called Audience Targeting Platform that is used throughout the duration of a campaign.

Edelman’s Deri Joins Burson China

Chris Deri has been appointed CEO and market leader of Burson-Marsteller China. Deri was previously with Edelman, serving as EVP and head of the global CSR and sustainability practice.

Burson-Marsteller China also promoted Cindy Tian from president to executive chairwoman. She was appointed president in 2006. Both executives will report to Bob Pickard, Asia-Pacific president and CEO.

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