Harold Burson
Harold Burson

Harold Burson, 98-year-old founding chairman of Burson-Marsteller, has decided to relocate from New York to Memphis on July 23 to enjoy the slower pace of his hometown and be closer to his family.

That will end an extraordinary 73-year run in NYC for one of the most influential people in modern public relations.

The O'Dwyer Co. has much admiration for Harold's communications skills and his all-out commitment to serving and anticipating the needs of clients.

But we especially appreciate the generosity and graciousness that Harold showed us over the years.

Jack O'Dwyer viewed Harold as the consummate PR professional, a guy who always was available for a phone chat about the goings-on at B-M and throughout the world of PR.

I accompanied Jack on lunch dates with Harold at B-M's Park Ave. South headquarters, where we were treated to first-class dining and updates from B-M's top managers.

To Jack, Harold was PR's gold standard. He frequently suggested to other PR firm CEOs that they should follow Harold's lead and invite him and his sidekick to lunch at their HQs. Unfortunately, we didn't get many bites. We always had Harold.

In the July 17 press release announcing Burson's return home, BCW CEO Donna Imperato praised him as a master of influence, true icon, extraordinary business leader and an incredibly kind, generous and worldly man.

She hit the nail right on the head.

BCW sponsored the July 8 Museum of PR event that marked the unveiling of its collection of Harold's documents and mementos. Burson talked about his career for about 40 minutes.

In covering the ceremony, I spoke with PR interns and college students who were in absolute awe of the great man.

They reminded me of myself many years ago when I was a cub reporter at O'Dwyer's placing a call to Harold. The PR legend would get on the phone to take my sometimes off-the-wall questions as if they were the most thoughtful inquiries that he had ever received. He made me feel like I could make it in PR.

I'm sure BCW is planning a bash to mark Harold's 100th birthday on Feb. 15, 2021. 

I can't wait to go.

Until that time, O'Dwyer Co. wishes nothing but the best for its friend, Harold Burson.