Donath-Burson-Marsteller
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Holmes Report
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Donath-Burson-Marsteller

Holmes Report

When Burson-Marsteller withdrew from several Eastern European countries in the 1990s, it replaced its own offices with affiliate agreements, allowing hand-picked firms in some key markets to adopt the Burson-Marsteller brand while retaining their independence—a best of both worlds approach that provided firms like Donath Burson-Marsteller with access to impressive international capabilities while allowing them to continue to compete on level terms with local agencies. 

Michael Donath’s firm has been operating in the Czech and Slovak markets since 1991 and has been independent since 1998, when he bought the business from BM. Donath, a former reporter (he was a stringer for Time magazine and UPI in Prague) who worked as an interpreter for former Czech president Václav Havel, is recognized for his expertise in crisis communications and crisis training and is also a founding member of the Czech Association of PR Agencies. He is supported by Tomá Jelínek, executive director and head of public affairs, who previously served in the office of the president and was mainly responsible for Havel’s economic agenda; and new addition Petr Blaek, who joined as strategic communications director in 2007 after working as a reporter for Czech business magazine Ekonom. 

DBM places a heavy emphasis on creativity, but also offers a communications philosophy based on a continuous dialogue between its clients and their key stakeholders. Known for its expertise in the technology sector, the firm was one of the first in the Czech market to develop serious digital capabilities, and now uses a number of proprietary Internet communications tools as VIPmail and Videomail as well as electronic communications opinion surveys to involve stakeholders in a lasting dialogue on client relevant topics. The latest additions to DBM’s toolbox are the proprietary Internet monitoring tools CzechSpyder and Emediachecker.  

While the firm does not disclose financial information, it is considered one of the leaders in the Czech public relations market and has picked up several new clients over the past 12 months, including Accenture, ArcelorMittal, Rockwool International. They join a distinguished client roster that includes BILLA/Rewe, Ekolamp, Fromageries Bel, Fujitsu Siemens Computers, Karlovarské minerální vody, Lufthansa, OVB Allfinanz, Roche, and UPS. Highlights of the past 12 months include providing strategic counsel for the CEO of ArcelorMittal in the Czech Republic; a survey on the Slovak media environment and its PR context among Slovak journalists conducted in cooperation with the Slovak Press Watch monitoring group; and a survey on IT investment efficiency among IT managers and CFOs conducted on behalf of Fujitsu Siemens Computers.  

Says Sanjay Samaddar, chairman of the board at ArcelorMittal Ostrava: “We have found DBM to be very professional and ethical in their approach. They bring with them significant expertise in dealing with a variety of PR models [and] we found them to be extremely creative, flexible to deal with crunch situations, and capable of going much beyond the perimeter of the contractual conditions, to be able to help the client.” Adds Gabriele Guzzo, group director for strategic marketing at Ronaldsay: “Donath-Burson-Marsteller has been providing public relations and public affairs services to [Ronaldsay subsidiary] Karlovarské minerální vody for nine years now. What we are appreciating most is the 24/7 availability, very quick turnaround, highly professional and ethical approach to communications on our behalf, especially in crisis communications. I also appreciate the courage to voice opinions differing from ours when working on various communications strategies.”

As an integral part of the Burson-Marsteller network, DBM handles pan-regional assignments through BM offices and BM affiliates in other markets.

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