Burson-Marsteller

  www.bm.com
  www.bm.com

Burson-Marsteller Reviews in San Francisco, CA

Updated September 17, 2014
Updated September 17, 2014
138 Reviews
3.2
138 Reviews
Rating Trends

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

Review Highlights

Pros
  • Big name clients and high profile projects (in 6 reviews)

  • Numerous opportunities to work on high-profile, top-notch clients (in 6 reviews)


Cons
  • lack of work-life balance since many work beyond office hours everyday (in 13 reviews)

  • Long hours, billable hours pressure (in 10 reviews)

More Highlights

11 Employee Reviews Back to all reviews

Sort: Popular Rating Date
  1.  

    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 (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
  2.  

    It was pretty mediocre

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

    I worked at Burson-Marsteller full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    As a Client Executive, I still qualified for "overtime pay" which was nice but a double edged sword. The company tried to instill a fun culture with fun Friday happy hours and occasional team lunches.

    Cons

    I worked 7am to 7pm many days and was rarely the last person to leave. This was because the work was never ending. I was on 7 accounts for a year and often worked weekends at home. Performance reviews were petty.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    This is the nature of PR agencies, especially the larger ones. Keep it up, but don't expect young talent to stay long.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  3.  

    Great Intern Program

    • Culture & Values
    • 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 (less than an year)

    Pros

    There was a lot of room to work on other projects if you raised your hand and asked for them. They ask what your interested in which is a huge plus, but can be a little intimidating at first when you're just starting your career.

    Cons

    There was a lot of overtime work. Other than that it was just the commute.

    Recommends
    Approves of CEO
  4. Is this helpful? The community relies on everyone sharing – Add Anonymous Review


  5. 1 person found this helpful  

    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 (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
  6.  

    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 (less than an 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
  7.  

    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 (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
  8.  

    Good, But Not Great Company

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

    I worked at Burson-Marsteller full-time (more than 5 years)

    Pros

    The founder of Burson, Harold Burson is a legend. The company has done some amazing work and has many great case histories to use when pitching new business.

    Cons

    There has been a lot of turnover in upper management in the SF office. Also, the company has tended to shut out all employees over 50.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Listen to your employees.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  9. 3 people found this helpful  

    I wish I could give 0 stars.

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

    I worked at Burson-Marsteller full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    There are certain people in the organization that are great, forward thinking, and helpful but, they are often bogged down by the other leaders in the organization who aren't willing to change. Immediate coworkers are often great people. Infrastructure staff is great. There are a lot of opportunities in PR, just usually out of reach.

    Cons

    Compensation is a joke. Promotions and raises don't make sense and are often not fair or clear who/why they got them.

    The office cultures are "okay," there are farewell parties weekly. The overall sense is that everyone hates their jobs there, you can't make a doctor's appointment without people thinking you are interviewing elsewhere. The company has had massive turnover and isn't hiring the same quality of people which brings extra stress to people that have been there for a long time.

    People don't usually work smarter, they work harder. This might be because leadership is lacking from mid-level to senior management. When you try to suggest change or innovation you are met with huge egos and doors in your face.

    Work-Life balance is a joke. I work late evenings and every weekend. I can't remember the last time I had an entire day to myself.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    CEO's both Global and North American should step down. They have the mindset of old management theories that have been proven over and over to fail. Try to read some up-to-date management books, try to widen your view and realize that people are what make organizations these days - junior and senior. BM North America seems to be the only organization who hasn't quite figured that out yet.

    Compensate fairly. You all are HQ in all major cities around the US yet you pay junior staff minimal salary so it's a scrape to get by, since we get over time one way to get by is working 70-80 weeks but, that doesn't engage or keep employees for very long...does it?

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  10. 2 people found this helpful  

    snooooooze

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

    I worked at Burson-Marsteller full-time (less than an year)

    Pros

    able to work from home

    Cons

    boring, bland coworkers, dull work enviornment

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    quit

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  11. 1 person found this helpful  

    Top-notch agency for a PR newbie or a seasoned PR pro, but so-so for those in between.

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

    I have been working at Burson-Marsteller

    Pros

    The company is excellent in regards to global reach, name recognition, variety of opportunities within and between practices and teams, great leadership, recruiting great talent, benefits package is okay for a large agency, not making employees feel guilty for taking a holiday, and the review process is fair and straightforward.

    Cons

    Relatively low pay, no annual bonus, lack of transparency in promotions/raises/salaries, etc., reputation as large, slow-moving agency with equally established client base/no innovation, really bad retention, the PR for our company is -ironically- pretty bad for a PR firm, the same people keep getting the high-profile projects, not very active in PR world outside internal functions.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Make it a priority to get everyone involved in new business instead of just the same people over and over again. You'd be surprised how people you never would have considered can shine and bring a lot to the table. Keep encouraging and follow-through with reasonable suggestions on improving the work culture and other subjects of employee feedback.

    Recommends
    No opinion of CEO

Burson-Marsteller Photos

lobby

+ Add Photo

Work at Burson-Marsteller? Share Your Experiences

Burson-Marsteller

 
Click to Rate
or

Your response will be removed from the review – this cannot be undone.