January 29, 2001
PR agency hired, Carlson promoted
By Jan Gleason
Emory has hired the national and international public relations agency Burson-Marsteller (B-M) to assist with its efforts to raise the Universitys profile among American universities.
The contract is set to begin this week and will be managed at the University
by Bill Fox, senior vice president for institutional advancement, and
by Curt Carlson, who is concurrently being promoted to vice president
for public affairs.
According to Fox, Because of the considerable additional responsibility
of managing the universitys relationship with a major national public
relations firm and his success in leading Emorys pbulic affirs office
since 1994, I also wish to announce Curts promotion from associate
vice president to vice president for public affairs. This promotion is
in recognition of his excellent leadership of the public affairs office
since 1994 and to enhance his effectiveness going forward as he continues
to guide this vital area.
The project will be managed out of B-Ms Washington office with
local assistance from Atlanta-based B-M affiliate Cohn & Wolfe.
We expect that adding the Burson-Marsteller team to our own highly
regarded internal public relations team will improve Emorys visibility
in the national media and enhance Emorys reputation as a national
university of the first rank, Carlson said.
The B-M team, led by Marsha Wilson, the agencys Washington Office
director of public affairs practice, will undertake a series of projects
to strengthen Emorys positioning among national universities. They
will work to discover and articulate Emorys identity and vision
through research conducted by a series of interviews, surveys and conversations
across a spectrum of Emory audiences.
The project also will include the development of a database of opinion
leaders and key influencers. B-M will create communications materials
to build the perception of Emory as a leading national research university
among this thought leadership.
B-M will leverage the talents of its own group of national and international
media experts to create a strategic media-placement program designed to
increase coverage of Emory in major broadcast, print and Internet media
outlets. Finally, the firm will review and modify Emorys crisis
The move to hire a national PR agency began about a year ago as a business
decision by top University administrators, in collaboration with trustee
This was simply the right time for this communications initiative,
said Fox, who worked with Carlson to select Burson-Marsteller. With
all the gains that Emory has made in the quality of its students, faculty
and facilities, our thinking is that now is the time to capitalize on
all those gains by making sure that people know how great Emory really
is. For years weve been on the rise, and its time to enhance
our ability to tell the world weve arrived among the
top ranks of American universities.
After the decision was made to hire a national agency, a set of criteria
was developed, and research was conducted on the top agencies resulting
in six selected to visit. Carlson and Fox made those visits last fall
and narrowed the list to three finalists to come to campus to make presentations
to the Presidents Cabinet. The deans of all schools were also invited
to attend a presentation and meet the firms representatives.
It was not an easy decision since we were considering some of the
most successful teams of professional communicators in the world,
Carlson said. The selection of Burson-Marsteller finally came down
to the fact that they not only fit all our criteria, but they had done
an exemplary job of researching Emory, and they spoke directly and eloquently
to our needs. They were a group most of us felt we could integrate into
our own PR team to achieve the results were looking for.
Established in 1953, B-M is a leading global communications counseling
and public relations firm with revenues of $164 million in 1999. B-M employs
more than 2,000 professionals in