A Veneer of Health

The Burson-Marsteller PR firm did pro bono communications and media relations support for America's Health Care at Risk: Finding a Cure, which is billed as "a bi-partisan conference bringing together major stakeholders in the health care debate for a high-level dialogue aimed at generating real and lasting solutions." While organizers of the conference were thrilled to have the free help, they may have been wise to check on B-M's health credentials. B-M has had a close relationship with cigarette maker Philip Morris and the tobacco industry as a whole over the years, having organized the smokers' rights group the National Smokers Alliance for PM in the early 1990s. In addition, B-M has performed crisis management work for corporate clients on a variety of issues, including Salmonella (Schwan's and Jewel Supermarkets), worldwide product recall and relaunch (Perrier), and Mad cow disease/BSE (McDonald's and the National Cattlemen's Beef Association). B-M is glad for the opportunity to burnish its image. Chris Foster, Chair of Burson-Marsteller's U.S. Health Care Practice said, "We are proud to be part of this bi-partisan effort to develop real solutions for one of the major challenges facing the U.S. today."