Harold Burson
Harold Burson

Harold Burson's passion for client service, insatiable curiosity, humility and rock-solid values are why the Memphis native is a PR legend, said Pat Ford, ex-vice chairman of B-M, at last night's Museum of Public Relations event to honor the 98-year-old executive.

He said Burson was the "most disruptive force in the room" and widely admired by the 35K to 40K Burson-Marsteller staffers that he employed during his career.

Burson Joseph
From left: Harold Burson, Pat Ford, Jim Joseph

Jim Joseph, global president of BCW, introduced Ford and thanked Burson for his wise counsel and support.

They spoke at the unveiling of the Museum's collection of papers and mementos of B-M's co-founder.

The exhibit includes the 1953 press release announcing the launch of B-M; a can of New Coke, which B-M introduced; personal notes from presidents Carter through George W. Bush; PRSA's Gold Anvil Award; and the distinguished alumnus award from the University of Mississippi.

Spector Burson
Shelley Spector and Harold Burson

Shelley Spector, founder of the Museum, kicked off the affair that was held at the WeWork meeting space at 85 Broad Street.

She profiled Burson's career path from stringer at the Memphis Commercial Appeal to combat engineer following the invasion of Normandy to covering the Nuremberg Trials for the American Forces Network to creation of B-M to crisis communications work for Tylenol and Coca-Cola.

Spector gave Burson the ultimate compliment, saying he's simply known in the profession by his first name, just like Beyonce and Cher.

Burson Papers
Part of the Museum's collection of Burson's papers and mementos

More than 100 PR students (New York University, City College, New Jersey City University, Syracuse University, Baruch College) and interns (BCW, FH, Porter Novelli, M Booth) attended the event.

Burson spent about 40 minutes fielding questions from the audience from topics ranging from Nuremberg to agency life.

He also took group selfies with the appreciative audience members.