Burson-Marsteller Reviews in San Francisco, CA | Glassdoor

Burson-Marsteller San Francisco Reviews

12 reviews

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San Francisco, CA

1.3
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Burson-Marsteller President & CEO Donald A. Baer
Donald A. Baer
5 Ratings

12 Employee Reviews

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Pros
  • You can learn a lot buy serving different clients (in 9 reviews)

  • Good opportunities to work with sharp public affairs professionals and to do work on behalf of some outstanding clients that have global footprints (in 9 reviews)

Cons
  • Work life balance essentially depends on team associated with (in 20 reviews)

  • When pitching new business, that reputation is hard to shake in the room (in 16 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. "It was pretty mediocre"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Client Executive in San Francisco, CA
    Former Employee - Client Executive in San Francisco, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Burson-Marsteller full-time (More than a 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 Management

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


  2. Helpful (8)

    "Avoid this place. You can do better."

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Director in San Francisco, CA
    Former Employee - Director in San Francisco, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Burson-Marsteller full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    -Really smart veterans of the old-school PR world who know crisis comm and public affairs very well.
    -you can be a big fish in a small pond
    -Bagels on Fridays (in SF and DC)
    -Solid pay

    Cons

    -Absolutely zero understanding from executive/senior leadership on how integrated marketing works and how to apply anything other than a traditional model of old school media relations
    -Junior staff are often over-worked and not empowered. In fact, senior leadership cares more about the dollar than cultural improvements.
    -Lot of talk, little action when it comes to employee concerns.
    -Average work. Aside from a few superstars, the agency leadership has created a culture of being satisifed with what outsiders would consider pretty average work.
    -No real concept of team and building each other up

    Advice to Management

    I mean - where to start? You are so out of touch with modern communications it's scary.

    Having a job is not an incentive to work harder. This isn't 1978. Reward employees. Be more transparent in how and why you're doing things. Get out of your own way and set people up to succeed. People don't hire PR agencies for their media contacts anymore. They hire them for their partnership and creative thinking. You have a few talented people that you don't setup to succeed. Instead, you get territorial and force those people out.


  3. "Great Intern Program"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Intern - Harold Burson Summer Intern in San Francisco, CA
    Former Intern - Harold Burson Summer Intern in San Francisco, CA
    Recommends
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Burson-Marsteller as an intern (Less than a 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.


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  5. Helpful (2)

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

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Associate in San Francisco, CA
    Former Employee - Associate in San Francisco, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    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 Management

    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.


  6. "Great place to learn and grow for a couple years"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Associate in San Francisco, CA
    Former Employee - Associate in San Francisco, CA
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    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 Management

    - Focus more on employee retention


  7. "HBSI Program - North of Nine"

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

    I worked at Burson-Marsteller as an intern (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


  8. "Good PR training and client roster"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Associate in San Francisco, CA
    Former Employee - Associate in San Francisco, CA
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    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 Management

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


  9. "Good, But Not Great Company"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Director in San Francisco, CA
    Former Employee - Director in San Francisco, CA
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    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 Management

    Listen to your employees.


  10. Helpful (6)

    "I wish I could give 0 stars."

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Client Executive in San Francisco, CA
    Former Employee - Client Executive in San Francisco, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Burson-Marsteller full-time (More than a 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 Management

    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?


  11. Helpful (2)

    "snooooooze"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Client Executive in San Francisco, CA
    Former Employee - Client Executive in San Francisco, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Burson-Marsteller full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    able to work from home

    Cons

    boring, bland coworkers, dull work enviornment

    Advice to Management

    quit



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