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Burson CEO Mark Penn Leaves for Microsoft; Don Baer Is Firm's New Head

Donald A. Baer, White House communications director under President Bill Clinton and a longtime media executive, was named global chief executive officer of Burson-Marsteller last week — the top job at the public-relations giant, which has 73 offices around the world. Baer succeeds Mark Penn, who is joining Microsoft Corp. as corporate vice president, strategic and special projects. Penn, senior strategist for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, has Microsoft among his many top corporate clients, and has been an adviser to chairman Bill Gates, Politico reports.

Penn has been Burson-Marsteller's worldwide CEO since 2005. Microsoft said in its announcement that Penn, 58, will have "an emphasis on key consumer initiatives for the company. Penn will lead a small interdisciplinary team and report to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer."

Baer joined Burson-Marsteller four years ago and has been worldwide vice chairman and chief strategy officer. Baer, a lawyer, has also been serving as chairman of Burson-Marsteller's sister research firm, Penn Schoen Berland, and will continue in that role.

Harold Burson, Burson-Marsteller's founding chairman, said of Baer: "From the time I began working with him four years ago, I regarded him as one of the best-of-the-best public relations professionals I have ever encountered. His broad experience in the corporate world, as a public relations counselor, and as President Bill Clinton's Communications Director will reinforce the Burson-Marsteller reputation for professionalixsm and take the firm to new heights. Mark Penn has left a strong foundation on which to build," he said, Politico reports.

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