The IPR Lifetime Achievement Award is IPR’s highest honor given to an individual who has made major contributions to the practice of public relations, including effective use of research. It honors the person whose character exemplifies leadership through demonstrating the power of effective use of public relations and research while living the values of integrity, humility, and stewardship.
The award is for an individual who has:
- Acted as a leader, possessed character and a record of nationally and internationally recognized achievements noted by peers in the professional community and worthy of emulation by younger professionals. Exemplified leadership through demonstrating the power of effective use of public relations and research while living the values of integrity, humility, and stewardship.
- Made significant contributions to advancing the industry through thought leadership, service in professional associations, and mentorship.
- Strongly advocated for research and improving the use of research in the profession.
- A minimum of 15 years of experience in senior-level public relations positions for corporations, agencies and research consultants in the U.S. or internationally.
2023 Winner: Margi Booth, M Booth
Margi Booth, Active Working Chairman of M Booth, will receive the 2023 IPR Lifetime Achievement Award for her unparalleled contributions to the field of public relations and commitment to the power of research. Her consistent dedication to exceptional leadership, marked by integrity, humility, and stewardship, embodies the spirit of the award. Booth will accept IPR’s highest honor at the 61st Annual IPR Distinguished Lecture and Awards Dinner on Nov. 30, 2023, at The Lighthouse at Chelsea Piers in New York City.
Linda Rutherford, Chief Administration & Communications Officer at Southwest Airlines, will receive the 2022 Institute for Public Relations Lifetime Achievement Award for her significant contributions to the industry of public relations. Rutherford accepted IPR’s highest honor at the 60th Annual IPR Distinguished Lecture and Awards Dinner on Dec. 1, 2022, at Current at Chelsea Piers in New York City.
Maril MacDonald, CEO and founder of Gagen MacDonald, received the 2021 IPR Lifetime Achievement Award for her leadership and significant contributions to public relations. MacDonald will accepted the Institute’s highest honor at the 59th Annual IPR Distinguished Lecture and Awards Dinner on December 2, 2021, at Current at Chelsea Piers.
Andy Polansky, Chairman and CEO of Constituency Management Group and Executive Chairman of Weber Shandwick, will receive the 2019 Institute for Public Relations Alexander Hamilton Medal for Lifetime Achievement. Polansky will accept the Institute’s highest honor and speak at the IPR Annual Distinguished Lecture & Awards Dinner on November 19, 2019 at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City.
“Like Alexander Hamilton, the namesake of this great milestone award, Andy is a ‘founder’ with revolutionary goals,” said Gail Heimann, president and CEO of Weber Shandwick. “Andy’s particular revolution has been one of leadership. Leadership that has not only shaped the modern global communications agency of today, but that has demonstrated, beyond doubt, that relentlessly focusing on people is what matters most. Andy has laid down this most human of legacies for all of us to follow.”
Polansky is the Chairman and CEO of IPG’s Constituency Management Group, which comprises over 25 specialty marketing firms across a wide range of disciplines. He also is Executive Chairman of Weber Shandwick, an award-winning communications and marketing solutions firm. Previously, Polansky served as CEO at Weber Shandwick from 2012 to 2019. Polansky was a member of the IPR Board of Trustees from 2003 to 2014.
Roger Bolton, President of Page, received the Institute for Public Relations Alexander Hamilton Medal for Lifetime Achievement. Bolton accepted the Institute’s highest honor and spoke at the IPR Annual Distinguished Lecture & Awards Dinner on November 28, 2018 at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City.
Bolton is the president of Page, the premier global professional association for senior corporate communication executives. Previously, Bolton served as senior vice president of communication at Aetna, with responsibility for all internal and external communication, advertising and brand management. Before Aetna, Bolton led IBM’s global media relations and directed communications for the IBM server and software groups.
Prior to his business career, Bolton was assistant secretary of the Treasury for public affairs under President George H.W. Bush; assistant U.S. trade representative for public affairs under President Reagan; and special assistant to President Reagan in the White House, with responsibility for the president’s relations with business and labor.
Wendi Strong, retired executive vice president of corporate communications at USAA, will receive the Institute for Public Relations Alexander Hamilton Medal for Lifetime Achievement. Each year the Institute for Public Relations presents its highest award to someone who has made major lifetime contributions to the practice of public relations, including effective use of research. Strong recently retired from USAA, a Fortune 200 financial services company serving more than 12 million current and former members of the military and their families. From 2000 to 2016, Strong served as executive vice president for enterprise affairs, chief communications officer and a member of the senior leadership team directing the strategy and operations of the company.
Patrick Ford, Burson-Marsteller’s vice chairman and chief client officer, will receive the 2016 IPR Alexander Hamilton Medal, awarded for lifetime contribution to the public relations profession. Ford became Burson-Marsteller’s vice chair and chief client officer in 2012, following six years of driving extraordinary growth in North America as Burson’s regional president and CEO. For 27 years, Ford’s clients have included world-class companies in industries as diverse as automotive, energy, express delivery services, financial services, food and beverage, management consulting, technology, and telecommunications, to government clients in the U.S. and Asia.
Download Full Acceptance Speech: Alexander Hamilton Medal for Lifetime Achievement in Public Relations: Acceptance Remarks by Mike Fernandez
Mike Fernandez, Corporate Vice President, Corporate Affairs, Cargill, received the Institute for Public Relations’ (IPR) highest award, the Alexander Hamilton Medal, at the 54th Annual Distinguished Lecture & Awards Dinner. The Hamilton Medal is given for major contributions to the practice of public relations including the use of research. Fernandez currently leads Cargill’s global corporate affairs activities, including government relations, global issues management, brand and marketing services and corporate social responsibility. Before joining Cargill, Fernandez served as the chief communications officer for four Fortune 500 companies and was a senior aide to a United States senator. Fernandez is listed on PRWeek’s Power List of the top 50 PR professionals in the U.S. and the Holmes Report’s Influence 100 list of the top 100 PR professionals in the world. Fernandez serves on the boards of IPR, where he is a former co-chair, and the Arthur W. Page Society.
Ray Kotcher, Chairman and Senior Partner of Ketchum, received the 2014 Institute for Public Relations (IPR) Alexander Hamilton Medal, awarded for lifetime contribution to the public relations profession on November 13 in NYC.
Kotcher spoke about how organizations must communicate across religions, races, cultures, languages and borders to thrive in the world we live in today. His full speech “PR at the Speed of Light: Transformation, Opportunity, Responsibility” is now available.
PDF: Björn Edlund Acceptance Speech
Björn Edlund, Edelman Chairman, Europe & CIS, is the first person from outside the U.S. to receive the Alexander Hamilton Medal, IPR’s highest award for contribution to the practice of public relations.
Edlund is the former Executive Vice President, Communications of Royal Dutch Shell. He has supported 11 CEOs as Head of Communications for Shell, Sandoz AG and ABB Ltd. He created Edlund Consulting after retiring from Shell.
Photography by Robert Adam Mayer.
Edlund’s acceptance speech can be found below.
PDF: James E. Murphy Acceptance Remarks
James E. Murphy, Chairman and CEO of Murphy & Co., received the 2012 Alexander Hamilton Medal, IPR’s highest award for contributions to the practice of public relations. Murphy was Chief Marketing and Communications Officer for Accenture. He led the effort to rebrand that company and was named Business Marketer of the Year by BtoB magazine. He received the Public Relations Professional of the Year Award from PRSA and was elected to the Arthur W. Page Society Hall of Fame.
Watch James Murphy’s remarks from the Annual Distinguished Lecture:
Bill Nielsen retired after 17 years as the Corporate Vice President, Public Affairs, of Johnson & Johnson and 18 years as a public relations agency consultant with Carl Byoir & Associates and Hill & Knowlton. Nielsen supervised programs which went on to win four PRSA Silver Anvil awards.
Nielsen is a former Chairman and Trustee of the Institute for Public Relations and was inducted into the Arthur W. Page Society’s Hall of Fame after serving two terms as president. He served on the Board of Directors of the Global Public Affairs Institute and was a Trustee of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra.
A veteran of over 50 years in the public relations industry, Al Golin is Chairman of Chicago-based GolinHarris, which has 32 offices around the world.
In addition to handling the McDonald’s account for over 50 years, GolinHarris represents such companies as British Petroleum, Disney, Dow Chemical Co., Florida Department of Citrus, General Mills, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Nestle, Nintendo, Playtex, Texas Instruments, Toyota and Wal-Mart.
As a consultant to the U.S. Department of Commerce, Al’s work centered on a major public relations awareness program for U.S. companies on the benefits of exporting to help our economy, increase employment, and reduce the balance of trade deficit.
Al is a member of the board of trustees of The Goodman Theatre of Chicago and Roosevelt University, a founding board member of Ronald McDonald House Charities, and is public relations advisor to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
He is also a member of the Arthur W. Page Society, the Public Relations Seminar and the Public Relations Society of America.
He has lectured at Princeton University, Dartmouth College, Yale University, Northwestern University, New York University, and the Annenberg Communication School at USC.
Al Received the Gold Anvil Award from the Public Relations Society of America and it’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
Al was named one of the 100 most influential public relations people of the twentieth century by the industry trade magazine PR Week, and he received the Arthur W. Page Society Hall of Fame Award.
His book, TRUST OR CONSEQUENCES, published by Amacon Books, is currently in distribution.
Video: Steven J. Harris Award Remarks
PDF: Steven J. Harris Remarks
Steve Harris has spent more than 40 years in communications, the vast majority of it with U.S. auto manufacturers. In his current capacity as head of global communications at General Motors, he leads of team of professionals who provide a wide variety of communications services in support of GM’s operations and brands in 12,000 communities and 200 countries around the globe.
Harris first joined GM in 1967 as a lecturer with GM’s Previews of Progress educational program after graduating from the University of Southern California with a BA in Journalism.
In late 1979, he joined American Motors as head of product public relations, moving on to Chrysler as the director of corporate public relations in late 1987. He was named vice president-communications for Chrysler in January 1998. Following the merger of Chrysler and Daimler-Benz in late 1998 he was named senior vice president-communications.
In early 1999 Harris returned to General Motors after a 20-year absence as vice president-global communications, a post he held until the end of 2003 when he retired and opened a communications consulting practice. He was asked to return to GM in his current role in February 2006.
Harris has served on the boards of the Arthur W. Page Society, Institute for Public Relations, Foundation for American Communications and the University of Southern California Annenberg Center for Strategic Public Relations.
In February 2008, Harris was one of the first recipients of the SABRE Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Public Relations. In 2007, he was inducted into the Arthur W. Page Society’s Hall of Fame and named an Automotive News’ All Star for automotive public relations for the eighth time. The Detroit Chapter of the Public Relations Society for America named him to their Hall of Fame in 2002 and he has also received awards from Inside PR for crisis management and the University of Southern California’s Outstanding Journalism Alumni award.
PDF: Larry Foster Remarks
Larry Foster was a reporter, bureau chief and night editor of New Jersey’s largest newspaper before joining Johnson & Johnson in 1957 to help form the company’s first public relations department. Over the next thirty-three years he reported to three Chairmen/CEOs and retired as Corporate Vice President of Public Relations in 1990. During his years at Johnson & Johnson the company grew forty times larger.
He directed Johnson & Johnson’s public relations response to the Tylenol crises in 1982 and 1986. PR Week named him one of the ten most influential public relations executives of the 20th Century.
His professional awards include the Gold Anvil (PRSA), the Atlas Award (PRSA) for lifetime achievement in international public relations, and the Hall of Fame Award from the Arthur W. Page Society. He was president of the Page Society (1990-92) and Chairman of The Wisemen (1986-90). In 1990 he helped organize the College of Fellows at the Public Relations Society of America, and became a founding member.
Foster is author of A Company That Cares, the history of Johnson & Johnson, and the biography, Robert Wood Johnson: The Gentleman Rebel.
A graduate of The Pennsylvania State University, he served as a University Trustee, President of the Alumni Association and Chairman of The Fund Council. He received Penn State’s Distinguished Alumnus Award, was an Alumni Fellow and the 1999 recipient of the Lion’s Paw Medal for service to the University. For sixteen years he was a Trustee of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in Princeton, NJ, the nation’s largest health care philanthropy.
He has joined with two founders of the Page Society, Edward M. Block (AT&T) and John A. Koten (Ameritech), to form The Arthur W. Page Center at Penn State’s College of Communications. It is the largest accredited college of communications in the nation. Endorsed by the Page Society’s Board of Trustees, the Page Center is dedicated to improving the performance of corporate communications and to perpetuating the Page Principles.
PDF: Marilyn Laurie Remarks
Marilyn Laurie was president of Laurie Consulting and retired executive vice president-brand strategy and marketing communications for AT&T.
Marilyn was responsible for AT&T’s brand-building worldwide, including several billion dollars of advertising and sponsorships. Prior to that, she led the company’s 500-person communications organization as senior vice president and then executive vice president of public relations. She also chaired the AT&T Foundation.
She was a co-founder of Earth Day, which launched the environmental movement in America. She was vice chairman of the Board of Columbia University and was a director of the New York City Ballet and New York Presbyterian Hospital. She was inducted into the Arthur W. Page Society Hall of Fame in 2002, previously served as president of that organization and chairman of the Public Relations Seminar.
PDF: Grunig Acceptance Remarks
Dr. James E. Grunig is the first educator to win the highest award of the Institute for Public Relations – especially fitting because his professional career from early on has been intertwined with this institution.
Jim Grunig is professor emeritus of communication at the University of Maryland, where he served on the faculty beginning in 1969 after earning his Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin. Widely recognized as one of the world’s leading public relations scholars and theorists, he has edited, authored or co-authored five books and more than 200 book chapters, journal articles, reports and papers.
During his 36-year career, he advised 75 master’s theses and 24 doctoral dissertations. His protégés are themselves now teaching and conducting research at universities around the world.
In the 1980s, Dr. Grunig directed the IABC Research Foundation’s Excellence project, universally regarded as the most significant original research ever conducted in the public relations field.
While he was still in his early 30s, the Institute awarded the young professor three research grants, each of which resulted in a journal paper. For six years, Jim served as associate editor of the Public Relations Review, founded and at that time published by this organization. In 1984, he was the first winner of the Institute’s Pathfinder Award, given each year for excellence in academic research.
Finally, Jim was a founding and long-time member of the Institute’s prestigious Commission on Public Relations Measurement and Evaluation. Some of his most cogent recent papers, reminding us that public relations at its heart is about public relationships, have been written for this Commission.
PDF: 2004 Felton Remarks
John W. Felton served until 2004 as President and CEO of the Institute for Public Relations headquartered at the College of Journalism and Communications at the University of Florida.
A past national president of the Public Relations Society of America, Jack retired in 1995 as Vice President – Corporate Communications for the $1.8 billion McCormick Spice Company in Baltimore, Maryland. At McCormick, Jack and his staff were responsible for communications and public relations activities at 85 locations around the world.
Jack is a native of Roanoke, Virginia, and graduated from the University of Michigan in 1951 and received his Master’s there in 1952. During the Korean War he served as Public Information Officer with the U.S. Air Force Strategic Air Command.
He joined Interstate Brands Corporation as Director of Public Relations and Public Affairs in 1969, after a variety of assignments with United States Steel Corporation in San Francisco, Chicago, Salt Lake City, Los Angeles and Pittsburgh.
At Interstate, his responsibilities included the promotion of the “Charlie Brown Specials” sponsored by the bakery-food firm on CBS television. He joined the McCormick Company in 1975, and was elected a Corporate Vice President in 1977.
His professional writing includes eight plays published by Baker’s Plays, Boston, and an award-winning film, “The Bread Winners.” He is editor of two books: “Pepper People” and the “New McCormick-Schilling Spice Cookbook.” In 1974, he was awarded the George Washington medal from the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge for a play, “Segments in Stained Glass.” Another of his plays, “Peace is an Olive Color,” was produced for public television to celebrate the sesquicentennial of the state of Michigan.
In 1989, he was the first to receive the award as “Outstanding Public Relations Professional” for the state of Maryland. In 1991, he was named “Outstanding Professional of the Year” by PR News and was the 1992 recipient of the Gold Anvil, highest award of the Public Relations Society of America. He was awarded the David Ferguson Award in 1999 for “outstanding contributions to PR education” from the Educators Academy of PRSA. In 2002, he received the Arthur W. Page Society Distinguished Service Award, and in 2004, the Alexander Hamilton Medal for Lifetime Achievement by the Institute for Public Relations.
PDF: 2003 Block Remarks
Edward M. Block was Senior Vice President — Public Relations, Advertising and Employee Information for the AT&T Corporation for 12 years until his retirement in 1986. He was responsible for corporate communications during AT&T’s historic divestiture of the Bell telephone companies and its expansion into international markets. He also held the additional post of assistant to the chairman of the board from 1980 until his retirement and was a member of the Office of the Chairman.
While at AT&T, Block was a director of AT&T International and AT&T Information Systems. He established the AT&T Foundation and was its first chairman of the board and it was on his initiative that AT&T provided the funding ($10 million a year for five years) to establish the MacNiel-Lehrer NewsHour on PBS. He was a director of C&P Telephone Company and a director of Electronic Associates, Inc. (NYSE), a New Jersey based maker of simulation computers for defense and aerospace applications. He was also a director of NCR Corporation. He was President of the American Council for the Arts, a director of the National Arts Stabilization Fund and a trustee of the Joint Council on Economic Education. He was a member of the Public Information Committee of the Business Roundtable. He also served very briefly in the White House in the early days of the administration of President Gerald Ford.
Block twice received the Blue Ribbon Award of the University of Missouri School of Journalism and, in 1980, he was chosen Public Relations Professional of the Year by PR News. In 1993, he received the lifetime achievement award from Inside PR and, also, the Hall of Fame Award of the Arthur W, Page Society. In 1997, he received the Gold Anvil, the highest recognition conferred by the 18,000 member Public Relations Society of America. Most recently, he was cited by PR Week as one of the 100 most influential public relations people of the 20th century.
In addition to his career with AT&T and the Bell companies, Block has been a newspaper reporter, a radio news producer and a creative director with a major advertising agency. While with Southwestern Bell, his civic activities included terms as Alderman and Deputy Mayor of Des Peres, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis. He also served in the U.S. Marine Corps.
From 1988 until 1996, he was President of the Block, Macdonald Group, Inc., consultants to a number of multi-national corporations. For many years he has been a regular lecturer at the University of Texas, Johns Hopkins University, the Sloan School of Business at MIT and Florida International University. He is also associated with the Foundation for Public Relations Research and Education at the University of Florida, Gainesville. He is a Program Chairman of the San Francisco Academy, a management development program supported by major corporations, mainly based on the West Coast.
Mr. Block and his wife, Shirley, have owned a home in Key West since 1970 and have been permanent residents since his retirement from AT&T. He is a member of the board of directors as well as the executive committee of the Greater Miami and Florida Keys Chapter of the American Red Cross. He is the founding chairman of the board of the Community Foundation of the Florida Keys and remains a Special Advisor to the board. He is treasurer of the Key West Literary Seminar and a member of the board of the Performing Arts Centers for Key West, an organization created to sustain the Tennessee Williams Theatre. He is a member and past vice president of the Navy League and, most recently, he helped lead a citizens committee to create an inspiring military memorial on the harbor in Key West. He is a past member of the Board of The Friends of the Library. He chaired an Economic Development Committee established by the City Commission in 1994. He also led a successful effort to retain the Naval Air Station in Key West when the base was threatened with closure. He was also operations director of the Commission to plan the Centennial of the Spanish American War. He also chaired the Monroe County Telecommunications Authority for four years. Currently, he is a member of the editorial board of Key West’s daily newspaper, The Citizen, where he writes the lead editorials on local issues.
Block attended the University of Notre Dame and Dartmouth College. He earned his journalism degree at St. Edwards University, Austin, Texas, where he also received an honorary doctorate. He was born in Houston, Texas, where he married the former Shirley Ross Young. They have three sons. Mark is a film and television editor in New York City. Stephen is a long time corporate advertising executive who recently established his own firm specializing in new product introductions. Stuart is a partner in McClain & Co., a CPA firm in Miami. Ed and Shirley now have eight grandchildren.
Daniel J. Edelman is founder and Chairman of Daniel J. Edelman, Inc., parent company of Edelman Public Relations Worldwide; PR 21; Strategy One (Research); Blue (Advertising) and Edelman Creative Solutions (Interactive). Edelman is the largest privately-held independent and sixth largest public relations firm in the world.
A native of New York City, Edelman was graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Columbia College in 1940 and earned an M.S. degree from Columbia Graduate School of Journalism the following year. During the Second World War he was an officer in the U.S. Army Psychological Warfare and Information Control Divisions, serving in England, France and Germany and received four battle stars and the Commendation Medal. He was a newspaper reporter and later radio news writer for CBS before moving into public relations in New York. He became public relations director of the Toni division of Gillette in Chicago in 1948 and started his firm there on October 1, 1952.
Edelman is the recipient of Columbia University’s Distinguished Alumnus Award and John Jay Award. He is the 1992 Jewish United Fund of Chicago “Communicator of the Year.” He was voted the 1993 “PR Professional of the Year” by readers of PR News and was an Inside PR Creative All-Star for 1994. He received the Ball State University 1996 National Public Relations Achievement Award. He was awarded the 1997 Top Gun Award from the Chicagoland Public Relations Society of America and the Lifetime Achievement Award from Inside PR magazine in 1998. The Arthur Page Society inducted him into the Hall of Fame in 1997. He was selected for the Chicago Business Hall of Fame by Junior Achievement in 1998. Edelman was the 1999 Gold Anvil Award Recipient from PRSA. In 1999, he also received the first-ever Outstanding Achievement Award from the China International Public Relations Association “for bringing modern public relations practices to China.” He was awarded the Lion of Finland for professional public relations services to that country.
Edelman served on the first Illinois Lottery Control Board; was President of the Chicago Chapter of the Young Presidents’ Organization; and is a member of the Chief Executives Organization. He’s a former Board member of Save the Children Federation, served as Chairman of the University of Chicago Library Board and was a Board member of the Northwestern University Music School. He was formerly a member of the Board of Illinois Children’s Home and Aid Society and is a current member of the Board of Lyric Opera of Chicago. He’s a member of the Public Relations Society of America, the Publicity Club of Chicago and former Chairman, Counselors Academy, Public Relations Society of America. He’s a member of the Arthur Page Society and PR Seminar and is a PRSA Fellow.
Jackson founded Jackson Jackson & Wagner, a behavioral public relations and management consulting firm in 1956. He became one of the most widely known and respected practitioners in the field of public relations and was often referred to as “the public relations counselor’s counsel.” Peers will always remember Jackson for his passion to advancing the profession and the on-going education of practitioners and students.
He founded Jackson Jackson & Wagner’s research subsidiary, Dudley Research in 1982. Its philosophy is based on the premise that true public relations research — beyond statistical calisthenics — is rooted in what motivates a person to act. Jackson felt few firms were doing this essentially behaviorally-based, qualitative research.
Jackson served as editor for pr reporter for over three decades. pr reporter is one of the foremost international public relations newsletters in the field of public relations featuring cutting-edge theories and hands-on advice.
Jackson was elected in 1980 to serve as President of the now 20,000 plus membership, Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and was active on many boards and organizations throughout the United States. In New Hampshire these included; The Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests; Giving NH Task Force; Statewide Program of Action to Conserve our Environment; The Environmental Coalition; Rockingham County Cooperative Extension Service; one of 16 charter members of PRSA’s local Yankee Chapter.
Throughout his career, Jackson received numerous awards and honors distinguishing his career. These include; PRSA’s Gold Anvil, the highest honor awarded to a public relations counsel; Arthur W. Page Award; Inducted into the Defense Information School Hall of Fame, 1999; 1978 Lincoln Award for “Outstanding Contributions to the New England Community”; PRSA Educators Academy David Ferguson Award, for significant contribution for public relations education; National School Public Relations Association President’s Award.
As both a woman and as a public relations professional, Plank has achieved a career of firsts. She was the first woman to be elected president (1973) of the Public Relations Society of America, the first person to receive both of PRSA’s top honors – the Gold Anvil and the Lund Award, and the first woman to be elected Professional of the Year by Public Relations News, which also named her one of the world’s 40 outstanding public relations leaders in 1984.
She is also the only professional to have served as president of all four of Chicago’s communications organizations.
Plank began her public relations career as executive vice president and treasurer of Daniel J. Edelman Inc., an international public relations counseling firm. She joined the Bell System in 1973, later becoming director of public relations planning for AT&T before going to Illinois Bell, where she was the first woman to head a company department, directing external affairs and a staff of 102.
Harold Burson, in a survey conducted by PRWeek, was described as “the century’s most influential PR figure.” This recognition is a culmination of more than fifty years of serving as counselor to and confidante of corporate CEOs,
“The architect of the largest public relations agency in the world today, Burson-Marsteller chairman Harold Burson’s contribution is immense in many other ways besides. He started practicing the concept of integrated marketing decades before the term was even invented. He brought PR into the advertising business at Young & Rubicam as an equal (it’s arguably never been achieved again). His development of training programs set the benchmark that other agencies have only recently caught up with. He has personally sponsored and supported programs, industry bodies, universities and charities to improve the profession. His mentoring of talent has spawned a whole wave of ex-Burson PR agency start-ups. He created a unique Burson culture that still unites former employees. And last but certainly not least, his personal counsel has enlightened the thinking of boardrooms at many Fortune 100 companies and across the globe.”
Mr. Burson has contributed to the public relations industry and worldwide community as a member and leader of several organizations, among them: Presidential appointee to the Fine Arts Commission, Washington, 1981-1985; Chairman of the National Council on Economic Education; trustee of The Economics Club of New York; Chairman of the USIA Public Relations Advisory Committee, and board member of the World Wildlife Fund (Geneva). He was elected to the Horatio Alger Society in 1986 and is an Executive Council Member of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi.
Mr. Burson is founder of the Kennedy Center Corporate Fund, Washington, D.C., a director of Kennedy Center Productions, Inc., and a trustee and founder of the Fortas Chamber Music Fund. He is a member of the New York Society of Security Analysts, the New York Academy of Medicine, the President’s Advisory Board of the New York Academy of Sciences and the Advisory Board of the Business Council for International Understanding. He was Chairman of the Public Relations Seminar in 1984.
Mr. Burson has received numerous honors and awards, including The Public Relations Society of America Gold Anvil Award (1980), and the Arthur W. Page Society Hall of Fame Award (1991). He was named Public Relations Professional of the Year by Public Relations News (1977 and 1989). He received the Alexander Hamilton Medal from the Institute of Public Relations (1999); the Athena Award from the Partnership for Women’s Health at Columbia University School of Medicine (2000); PRSA Atlas Award for International Achievement (1998); the John W. Hill Award for Leadership from the New York Chapter of PRSA (1993). He also received the Millennium Award, University of Florida, College of Journalism (2000), and was the First Executive-in-Residence at the University of Kentucky, College of Communications (2000).
Burger spent most of his 48-year working career in the communications field, establishing many firsts. He retired in 1988 from Chester Burger & Co., Inc., the nation’s first communications management consulting firm. In 1995, the U. S. Government awarded him the Medal For Outstanding Service to the United States.
Burger joined the Columbia Broadcasting System in 1941 as a Page Boy, and left in 1955 as National Manager of CBS Television News. During World War II, he served in the U. S. Army Air Corps. After V-J Day, the Army assigned him to experiment with newly-developed television. He produced the Army’s first TV broadcasts.
He returned to CBS as a visualizer, and developed methods for reporting world news on TV news broadcasts then beginning. In April 1946, he became the nation’s first television news reporter. He was first president of the Radio-Newsreel-Television Working Press Association of New York.
During the years of the civil rights campaigns, Burger served the National Urban League as an officer and member of its Board of Trustees. He was a founder of the Black Executive Exchange Program, and received the Outstanding Mentor Award for 21 years of counsel and support to minorities in public relations. The United Negro College Fund awarded him its Distinguished Service Citation. He is a Life Member of the NAACP.
The United States Information Agency presented Burger with its Award for Outstanding Service to America public diplomacy efforts. The Public Relations Society of America gave its highest award, the Gold Anvil, and its Counselors Academy designated him The Counselors Counselor. The United States Marine Corps awarded him its first Drew Middleton Public Affairs Award for Distinguished Service.
He is the author of six books on management subjects, including The Chief Executive. His lifetime work in photography was acquired for the permanent collections of the New York Historical Society and the New York Public Library. His lifetime papers are in The Center for American History at the University of Texas in Austin.