Matthew Burns: 40 Under 40 2012

MD and Southwest US Market Leader, Burson-Marsteller

Matthew Burns has surged ahead in a brilliant career that has spanned political and public affairs campaigns, state and federal governments, and a Fortune 20 company.

Prior to joining Burson-Marsteller in June, Burns was director of corporate communications for UnitedHealthcare Medicare & Retirement, where he was responsible for leading external communications for a $36 billion business with 3,500 employees. He revamped the company’s communications department, which resulted in a 300% increase in media exposure for the Medicare and Retirement business.

His career is full of achievements. Previous high-profile roles include press secretary for the US Department of Veteran Affairs, the nation’s second-largest cabinet department. While there, he spearheaded media relations following the theft of 26.5 million veterans’ private records, acting as a key adviser to Secretary Jim Nicholson as calls for his resignation mounted. Burns also staged a crucial press conference to announce that the FBI recovered the missing data.

Following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Burns served on the White House advance team that spent 10 days along the Gulf Coast, coordinating President Bush’s visits to the storm-ravaged region.

One of his most celebrated accomplishments came as director of communications at the 2008 Republican National Convention, where Burns transformed a one-man press team into an army of 15 professionals and 200 volunteers. Under Burns’ leadership, nearly 1,000 regional interviews were secured in three days. His team also created an award winning communications strategy, which saw the convention streamed live for the first time in its history. The successful campaign led to a double digit bounce in national polling for the McCain-Palin ticket, dubbed "The Matt Burns Surge" in mainstream media.

"Under Matt’s leadership, I believe our history of excellence in public affairs will continue," explains Nate Tibbits, chairman of the US public affairs practice, Burson-Marsteller.

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