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Burson-Marsteller names Donald A. Baer Worldwide CEO

19 July, 2012


Former White House Communications Director and Media Executive to Lead Firm After Four Years as Worldwide Vice Chairman 

NEW YORK — Burson-Marsteller, a leading global public relations and communications firm, today announced the appointment of Donald A. Baer as Worldwide Chief Executive Officer. Baer has wide-ranging executive experience across the worlds of media, communications, journalism and politics, including serving as White House Communications Director and Chief Speechwriter for President Bill Clinton. He joined Burson-Marsteller four years ago, serving on the senior management team as Worldwide Vice Chairman and Chief Strategy Officer and leading many major client engagements.

Baer succeeds Mark Penn, who has held the role since 2005 and is joining Microsoft as Corporate Vice President, Strategic and Special Projects. Baer has also served as Chairman of Burson-Marsteller’s sister research firm Penn Schoen Berland and will continue in that role.

“Burson-Marsteller continues to be an industry leader with strategic public relations capabilities and a global footprint that few firms can match,” said Sir Martin Sorrell, CEO of Burson-Marsteller’s parent company WPP. “I am confident the firm’s track record of success and its reputation for delivering results for its clients will continue under Don Baer’s leadership.”

“I am excited to continue building Burson-Marsteller as the most creative and effective results-oriented, ideas-driven communications and public relations firm in the world,” said Baer. “Under Mark Penn’s strong, visionary leadership and based on the legacy of our founder Harold Burson, our firm is well-established among the leading public relations forces across the globe, and I am eager to work with our excellent leadership team to continue our success and our clients to deliver results that accomplish their goals.”

“Don has been my trusted adviser and a strong contributor to our success since he joined our senior team and is well-positioned to lead Burson-Marsteller to the next stage of success,” said Penn. “He has a full sense of the firm’s culture, operations, and great potential, and I feel confident about the future of Burson-Marsteller as I leave it in Don’s capable hands.”

“The appointment of Don Baer as chief executive officer of Burson-Marsteller as it prepares to enter its seventh decade is a master stroke,” said Harold Burson, Burson-Marsteller’s Founding Chairman. “From the time I began working with him four years ago, I regarded him as one of the best-of-the-best public relations professionals I have ever encountered. His broad experience in the corporate world, as a public relations counselor, and as President Bill Clinton’s Communications Director will reinforce the Burson-Marsteller reputation for professionalism and take the firm to new heights. Mark Penn has left a strong foundation on which to build. My colleagues and I wish him well in his new responsibility at Microsoft.”

Baer is highly respected across business, media and politics. Before joining Burson-Marsteller, Baer was one of the top worldwide executives at global media company Discovery Communications, home of the Discovery Channel and other major media platforms. Among a range of creative and corporate leadership roles, Baer managed worldwide communications and marketing; business development, new ventures and acquisitions; new media strategy and operations; research, and public policy. He also produced award-winning programming and documentaries.

Before Discovery, Baer was a senior White House adviser to President Bill Clinton, widely recognized for his key role in the Clinton Presidency, including the historic 1996 re-election. As an Assistant to the President, Baer served as both the White House Director of Communications and Strategic Planning and, before, as Chief Speechwriter/Director of Speechwriting and Research. Before serving in the White House, Baer was a major U.S. journalist at, among other places, U.S. News and World Report, covering national affairs and serving as an assistant managing editor. Before journalism, Baer was a media lawyer based in New York City. He is a member of the boards of directors of PBS and The Urban Institute. Baer holds degrees from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the London School of Economics and The University of Virginia Law School.

About Burson-Marsteller
Burson-Marsteller, established in 1953, is a leading global public relations and communications firm. It provides clients with strategic thinking and program execution across a full range of public relations, public affairs, reputation and crisis management, advertising and digital strategies. The firm’s seamless worldwide network consists of 73 offices and 83 affiliate offices, together operating in 108 countries across six continents. Burson-Marsteller is a unit of WPP, the world’s leading communications services network. For more information, please visit

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