Harold Burson, APR, Fellow PRSA

A Memphis native, Harold Burson is one of the founding fathers of public relations with more than 70 years of experience. His career began in high school, where he studied journalism and worked for his school newspaper and The Commercial Appeal. In 1940, he graduated from the University of Mississippi, after serving as the managing editor of the student weekly and the acting director of the Ole Miss News Bureau. Between graduation and serving in Word War II, Burson worked for The H. K. Ferguson Company in New York City. He returned to the city after his service as a combat engineer to start his own firm, Harold Burson Public Relations. In 1953, he merged his company with Bill Marsteller from Chicago to create Burson-Marsteller.

It became one of the first ever multinational communications firms and currently has 73 offices and 85 affiliates operating in 110 countries. Known by PRWeek as “the century’s most influential PR figure,” Burson has received many of the industry’s highest honors including the Public Relations Society of America Gold Anvil Award, the Arthur W. Page Society Hall of Fame Award, and many lifetime achievement awards. Burson is also the founder of the Cor­porate Fund for The Kennedy Center of Performing Arts in Washington D.C.