Burson's Southwest US market leader Burns rejoins UnitedHealthcare

In his new role at the organization, Burns will spearhead external communications for UnitedHealthcare's Medicare business

Matt Burns
Matt Burns

MINNETONKA, MN: Burson-Marsteller’s Southwest US market leader Matt Burns has stepped down from his role at the agency to rejoin UnitedHealthcare Medicare as its new head of communications.

Burns, who joined Burson nearly three years ago, will take on the position of VP of comms for UnitedHealthcare Medicare & Retirement on February 2. He previously served as director of corporate comms at UnitedHealthcare Medicare & Retirement from 2009 to 2012.

Working out of the organization’s Minnetonka, Minneapolis headquarters, Burns will report directly to Brad Hunt, CMO for Medicare. Burns noted that he will also work closely with UnitedHealthcare Group CCO Don Nathan.

Terry O’Hara, who is moving into another role at the company, previously led Medicare’s communications, said Burns. Further detail regarding O’Hara’s new position was not disclosed.

Burns said leaving Burson is a "bittersweet" moment because he "respects the visions that Michael Law [US CEO of Burson] and Don Baer [worldwide chair and CEO] have for the agency." Burns added that he had a great experience at the WPP firm, and he’s "thankful for the personal and professional development" he received throughout the years.

While an immediate successor has not yet been selected at Burson, Burns said Robert Bobo, director in the firm’s public affairs and crisis practice in Dallas, will take over in the interim.

Representatives from Burson were not immediately available for comment.

Some of Burns’ goals at UnitedHealthcare – a company he’s excited to return to with "smart and stellar" staffers – include focusing on ways in which his team can support the business' growth, he added.

He will spearhead external communications for the Medicare business, including supporting the marketing and PR for the company’s Medicare Advantage, Medicare Supplement, and Medicare Part D plans.

Through his tenure at Burson, Burns worked on many major initiatives, such as helping to launch the all-new Ford F-150 and "counseling Texas Health Resources as it overcame challenges as the first US hospital system to diagnose Ebola," according to an internal memo Burns sent to Burson staffers.

Prior to his tenure at Burson, Burns – who was one of PRWeek’s 40 Under 40 honorees in 2012 – ran Compelem Strategies, a firm counseling nonprofit, corporate, and political clients. He also served as director of communications for the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota, and press secretary for the US Department of Veteran Affairs during President George W. Bush's administration. 

This story was updated on January 26 to correct the fact that Burns will support marketing and PR for the company’s Medicare Part D plans, not Medicare Part B.  

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