Burson-Marsteller Reviews

Updated August 22, 2014
Updated August 22, 2014
118 Reviews

3.1
118 Reviews
Rating Trends

Recommend to a friend
Approve of CEO
Burson-Marsteller President & CEO Donald A. Baer
Donald A. Baer
36 Ratings

Review Highlights

Pros
  • Smart people, friendly work environment, great clients (in 9 reviews)

  • A great place to start out and learn from some of the best in the business (in 7 reviews)


Cons
  • Work/life balance is a difficult juggling act anywhere, and this was no exception (in 10 reviews)

  • Long hours, billable hours pressure (in 8 reviews)

More Highlights

Employee Reviews

Sort: Popular Rating Date
  1.  

    Truly rewarding professional experience that offered growth and advancement.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Director
    Former Employee - Director

    I worked at Burson-Marsteller full-time for more than 8 years

    Pros

    Excellent colleagues, top-notch clients, and continual exposure to new trends and opportunities. Clients come to B-M because they have a challenge, and readily know they will get the best minds surrounding their issue. Strategy, problem solving, evidence-based methodologies, these are just some of the tools of our trade that separates us from the competition.

    Cons

    Teams have a tendency to get locked in a silo. The practice structure is one that extracts the best within a specific discipline; however, it denies the rest of the company having a talented individual working on another piece of business.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Continue to invest in your talent at all levels. Achieving the right mix of talent and price with a global reach and local roots continues to be an attainable goal that will allow us to grow in this competitive environment.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  2.  

    Great place to learn and grow for a couple years

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Associate  in  San Francisco, CA
    Former Employee - Associate in San Francisco, CA

    I worked at Burson-Marsteller full-time for more than 3 years

    Pros

    - Excellent training and skills development
    - Smart and supportive colleagues
    - Huge, global network and overseas opportunities
    - High level of responsibility and accountability
    - Client portfolio is top-notch

    Cons

    - Compensation is a little lower than industry average
    - Long hours (but that is normal for the industry)
    - As with most big organizations, it's slow to change

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    - Focus more on employee retention

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  3.  

    Finance Manager

    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Burson-Marsteller

    Pros

    they all nice people.

    Cons

    you need to show your boss what you know.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    talk to staff and discuss any issue.

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  5.  

    Good, but could be great

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Director
    Current Employee - Director

    I have been working at Burson-Marsteller full-time for more than 3 years

    Pros

    Great opportunity to work with major corporate clients and high-profile senior managers. Advancement potential if you are proactive in pursuing career-broadening assignments. Management supports employees through personal challenges such as illness.

    Cons

    Work-life balance for the most part depends on the client. Must be prepared to put in whatever hours are required to meet client expectations. Burson leaders are great people, nice to work for them and with them as individuals, but agency overall is inconsistent about following through on staff growth and development paths for those who work remotely.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Compensation is quite good, but disappointing that bonuses and raises are not directly tied to performance reviews. Unclear what performance metrics are to earn a bonus or get a raise. Advice to management: Make criteria/process for awarding raises and bonuses more transparent.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  6.  

    Good company to learn the industry ropes & skills to make you valuable employee elsewhere

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Associate  in  San Francisco, CA
    Former Employee - Associate in San Francisco, CA

    I worked at Burson-Marsteller full-time for more than 3 years

    Pros

    Some talented managers/directors really shine and are willing to take time to teach junior staff instead of simply editing work or redoing it themselves. The company provides some good trainings on social media, specific databases/technology, which are helpful to round out overall skills. Big name clients mean that there are high-exposure campaigns and opportunities to work on, which helps build skill and can look impressive on a resume. My personal experience was working with non-hierarchical managers, which allowed me to work on some really high-level, challenging things even as a junior staff member. This directly impacted my growth and gave me skills I otherwise wouldn't have ever had. Basically, Burson is like getting paid to go to PR grad school. You learn the ropes of big-name clients, how to interact with huge companies, how to be managed and manage (junior staff are allowed to informally manage those below them), and the basic skills and tenants of PR. You get 3 weeks of vacation after your third calendar year, which is great.

    Cons

    Unfortunately, the teams and practices are extremely siloed. In spite of asking for years to work some of my hours on a different tech client or in a different practice, I only ever worked on one major tech client (this experience is one shared by nearly everyone I worked with). Management says they are open to working with employees to put them on things they're interested in/provide opportunities for growth, but at the end of the day I never saw this happen (except if someone threatened to quit). The workload is often totally unmanageable; managers don't do a good job of pushing back on clients, and junior staff end up working 60 hour weeks as a result. Most of the talent has quit or is quitting, and the employee morale is at an all-time low. Upper management seem more interested in making themselves look good than working to retain talent and ensure that their teams are working well/are happy.

    More than everything above, the biggest con is the culture of unpleasantness. Some employees are of course nice, however the overall tone is one of instant annoyance, stress and irritability. It feels toxic to be in an environment where that is tolerated/thought of as the norm.

    Pay is fair, although promotions and raises are often delayed by 6-7 months or completely cancelled due to overall poor agency performance.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Work with staff to diversify their clients and and fewer of them will leave. Give raises and promotions when you say you're going to instead of stringing people along. Continue offering trainings and opportunities for junior staff to work on new business. Focus on retaining the managers who are truly gifted teachers and PR professionals.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  7.  

    Burson-Marsteller - a great learning experience

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at Burson-Marsteller full-time for more than 3 years

    Pros

    Excellent way to get a breadth of knowledge across the marketing, PR, communications function and to use time efficiently in a billable environment. New business development helps you understand if you're "born to do sales" or not.

    Cons

    Long hours, billable hours pressure

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Spend time one-on-one in reverse mentoring roles. Don't just win business and move on - stay in touch.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  8.  

    Great clients and talent, but lacking opportunity

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee  in  Chicago, IL
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Chicago, IL

    I have been working at Burson-Marsteller full-time for more than a year

    Pros

    Clients are great-- Whether you have 1 year or 25 years of experience, at Burson, you'll always get to work with top tier corporations.
    Great people--the opportunity to learn from your colleagues is always there

    Cons

    While the office is more "open," the culture is lacking. Majority of the office rarely stay past 5:30 or want to venture outside the office for social events.
    Office politics are alive and well-- if you aren't in a good position with the favored employees, good luck. Promotions and raises happen twice a year-- and still WPP can take this away and the cycles are normally delayed a few months.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Invest in junior staff-- and don't expect us to do a 60 hour work week in 40 hours-- its not fair. If you want to keep talent, have conversations with talent about their interests.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  9.  

    Ok

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Senior Associate
    Current Employee - Senior Associate

    I have been working at Burson-Marsteller full-time for more than 3 years

    Pros

    Global firm that commands client respect and high billing rates
    Was able to discover that small/mid-size independents provide more hands-on learning/working opps

    Cons

    Not really an agency setting (in terms of how account teams are set up)
    Super-high billability expectations with workloads out of the control of those below director

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  10.  

    Good PR training and client roster

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Associate  in  San Francisco, CA
    Former Employee - Associate in San Francisco, CA

    I worked at Burson-Marsteller full-time for more than 3 years

    Pros

    Burson's global aspect makes it a good place to learn PR skills to support a global client. It's a great place to learn the inner workings of PR and client relationship management. They also provide good training for employees. At least for the tech practice, you are dedicated to one client so you really get deep knowledge and association with their business (vs. random short-term projects).

    Cons

    Some management (lower level) are brand new at managing people and do not know how to be constructive. This might be an industry thing where more junior people get promoted to manage a team without proper training on how to do so well. The company doesn't help junior staff see what their options are and from that front retention is not always the best.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Make sure you train junior managers as they will help with retention and team productivity / morale.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  11.  

    HBSI Program - North of Nine

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Harold Burson Summer Intern  in  San Francisco, CA
    Former Employee - Harold Burson Summer Intern in San Francisco, CA

    I worked at Burson-Marsteller as an intern for less than a year

    Pros

    Internship program is nicely structured. Everyone is very smart and wants you to succeed. Colleagues are always willing to work in a team and there are a lot of opportunities for learning. Very welcoming office culture

    Cons

    Huge company, which can be a con for some people

    Recommends

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