NEW YORK: Burson-Marsteller told employees in an internal memo yesterday, April 7, that CEO Mark Penn's decision to step down as chief strategist for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's (D-NY) presidential campaign will only improve the agency's business.
Although the firm lost a six-figure account with the Colombian government, employees were advised to relay to staff and clients that Burson's “business in the US has never been stronger and [it has] achieved remarkable results for clients across the system so far this year. This momentum will only improve with [Penn's] return to [its] day-to-day business,” according to an internal memo published in The Wall Street Journal on April 7.
A Burson representative confirmed that the memo is accurate, but said he didn't know who sent it to the Journal.
Penn stepped down from his position as chief strategist on Sunday to play a lesser role in the campaign after media reports claimed that he met with Ambassador Carolina Barco Isakson to discuss the firm's work with the Colombian government on the proposed Fair Trade Agreement, which Clinton opposes.
Burson lost the $300,000 contract with the Colombian government after reports of the agreement surfaced in the press, according to the Journal.
Burson told employees that Penn met with Barco, whom he has known for more than 30 years, and her staff, as agency CEO, not Clinton campaign aide, and that he had no role in the account, according to the Journal's report.
The Huffington Post also reported on April 7 that Penn told Burson managing directors on a conference call that media attention on his resignation would soon decrease and that he would be able to spend more time working for the agency.
A Burson representative told PRWeek that he did not know who had leaked the conversation to the Huffington Post.