NEW YORK: Burson-Marsteller last week announced that former Bush administration political appointees will head the company's Washington, DC, operations, as well as a newly opened office in Houston.
Robert Tappan, currently principal deputy assistant secretary of state for public affairs, will serve as president of Burson's DC shop starting in early July. He replaces Ken Rietz, who retired after about 10 years in that role, and will oversee Burson's DC office as well grassroots specialty firm Direct Impact, but not the Burson subsidiaries BKSH and Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates.
Burson's US CEO Patrick Ford noted the Washington office serves a wide range of corporate and government clients, but that one key focus for Tappan will be public affairs for US and foreign corporations, as well as overseas governments. Tappan's approximately four-year experience at State included directing strategic communications for the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) in Baghdad and aiding diplomatic outreach to US-based Arab and Muslim groups.
"There are a lot of challenges that countries and international companies face," Tappan said. "Giving them good counsel on how to navigate some of the buildings here in Washington is a very valuable offering that Burson has now, and [it's one they] hopefully will be enhancing."
In addition, Timothy Thompson, just recently executive director of global trade programs at the US Commerce Department's US Commercial Service, last week began work as GM of Burson's new Houston office, which will initially have a total of three staffers and is part of Burson's southwest region, headed by Mike Lake and based in Dallas.
Like Tappan, Thompson stressed that the nature of his government work was bipartisan, and that at Burson he expects to be dealing with a wide range of clients increasingly working in international markets. Among the various Houston industries, including energy, technology, and transportation, Thompson noted that "the port is expanding a great deal in the next five to 10 years, and there's an opportunity there for us to help businesses with that."