“To begin, let me tell you how happy I am, to be here with you all in New Delhi… In fact, at my age, I am happy to be anywhere at all!” began Harold Burson, the 80-something Founder and Chairman of Burson-Marsteller.

And with these opening remarks, he not only disarmed and connected beautifully with an audience of senior people used to holding centre stage themselves. CEOs, but reminded us all at the ICCO Global Summit why he’s called the ‘Father of Public Relations”.

But listening to him speak that morning, and remembering things he said over dinner one evening before the Summit (yes I had the honor, and am indulging in blatant name-dropping) I would rather call him the ‘Grand Master’ of Public Relations – as ‘Father’ has rather benign connotations.

Here is a man who’s not just been on top of his craft for decades, but one who has had insights and vision, of understanding and depth, to take his industry of previously called (and often maligned today as) spin doctors, to a highly respected position of corporate reputation and strategic advisors.

Yet, what he said at the Summit, was nothing new or mind blowing – but simple and deep. I won’t elaborate, but simply crystallize what he said. You think about it.

  1. PR is an Applied Social Science
  2. PR professionals have to play an advisory role in policy making and business
  3. PR is about crystallizing public opinion
  4. PR professionals need to constantly educate themselves, test themselves
  5. Proper research public opinion/decision making is important
  6. You can’t talk the talk, if you can’t walk the walk
  7. PR professionals need to educate the clients as to how the business works, and how much goes into it – to get them to appreciate and value remuneration
  8. Do good, and get credit for it
  9. PR firms need to think about and manage their own reputations and public image.
  10. PR firms need to have a good relationship with their clients, where they add value by providing a broad, independent perspective on not only corporate reputation, but the overall business as well.

To know more about the man, and get insights on what’s on his mind, visit Harold Burson’s blog here.

To get a proper PR professional’s perspective on the session, click here.