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Once ‘Below-Average’ Meek School Student, Maury Lane, Now President of Burson Campaigns


Although Maury Lane (’92) now serves as president of Burson Campaigns, the Memphis, Tennessee-based corporate issues management arm of Burson-Marsteller, he was once a below-average student at the University of Mississippi. His success today is proof that hard work and dedication are what is needed to make it in your career field. Originally considering a career in banking, Lane said that his deep dislike for accounting led him to rethink his career choice. For guidance, he met with Will Norton, Jr., then chair of the department of journalism and now dean of the Meek School of Journalism and New Media.

“I knew that my favorite thing to do in the morning was to get up, read the morning paper and sit with my cup of coffee,” Lane said. “But knowing from talking to Dr. Norton that I actually could write for the same paper I read each morning made it an easy choice on what to major in next.”
He chose journalism as his major.
Although Lane has gone on to be one of the top performers in his field, he was not always the best student in school.
“I wasn’t really the GPA king, but I worked for the newspaper, helped run the TV station and worked hard in all of my journalism classes,” Lane said. “I’m very proud of the education I got. It really took me to a different level.”
Actually, Lane was a presence in the department.
“I always knew that Maury was smart,” Norton said. “If he didn’t want to do something, a lot of times, he wouldn’t do it, and that would affect his grades. Clearly, when he is devoted to something, he is going to work at it. It’s rewarding for me to see students who I have taught, who have done so much more in life than I have. And to see that people who I thought might be average become really prominent in their field.
“Maury has achieved a lot because he is not afraid to say what he thinks,” Norton
continued. “And quite often what he thinks is what other people are thinking. He represents where the public is. And he is connected to what’s out there, and that’s why he is the best at crisis management.”
Now, as an instructor at the University of Mississippi, Lane has a great reputation with students on campus.
Ole Miss student Lindsey Forshee said, “Professor Lane is known around campus as being a hands-on teacher who doesn’t just teach what is in the textbook.”
“I believe that you learn it by doing. And, you learn it even better by doing it again,” Lane said. “If someone lets you get away with not putting your best effort in, they have cheated you out of an opportunity to learn.”
After graduating from Ole Miss, Lane was offered two positions, one as a bond salesman and the other with the Memphis Business Journal. Although he was struggling with the decision, he knew that pursuing his passion for journalism would make him happy. He decided to take the position with the Memphis Business Journal.
Following his time as a reporter, Lane continued to network and advance professionally, working on several political campaigns and eventually serving as a Washington, D.C.-based lobbyist. He said that of his entire professional career, working under South Carolina’s U.S. Sen. Ernest “Fritz” Hollings proved to be the most challenging. The fast-paced working environment pushed him to grow professionally and enabled him to meet many interesting and powerful people.
“Working for (Hollings’s) campaign was really challenging, but it allowed me to do things I had never done before,” Lane said.
His work with Hollings taught him how to work under pressure, especially during a crisis. After working for Hollings, Lane worked on several other political campaigns that ultimately led him towards his work in public relations and crisis management.
After his career in politics, Lane joined FedEx as the director of issues and crisis management. He worked for the company for more than 10 years before making the leap to Burson-Marsteller.
“Harold Burson, founder of Burson-Marsteller, is an amazing man. He is inspirational, and a great person to work for,” Lane said. “He was born in Memphis and went to Ole Miss for his undergrad, so we have to be very good here in his hometown.
“Starting this office was kind of a dream. As a company, we have really grown. We work with some of the biggest companies and organizations in the world, and we do cutting-edge integrated marketing and communications. This job is the most unpredictable job you will ever have.”
Scott Fiene, head of the Meek School’s integrated marketing communications program, called Lane “a great friend of our school. … He’s hired our students as interns, mentors them, and helps them land jobs after graduation.”
Despite being constantly busy with his job, Lane makes sure to be there for his children.
“My kids are very good kids, who put up with me being gone a lot,” Lane said. “And, you miss a lot of things, but I am good at coming back to see the important things in their lives.
“We raise children for them to leave and be independent. That’s what my parents did, and that’s what we are going to do. That’s part of the transition.”
A dedicated community donor and volunteer, Lane served on the board of the National Domestic Violence Hotline for 11 years, three of those years serving as the organization’s chairman. “I am blessed to be able to give back to the community,” Lane said. “Raising awareness of domestic violence is something I am very passionate about.”
His accomplishments are evidence that with hard work and dedication, one can have not only a great career, but also a wonderful life.

The author Ashley Mallory is a senior, integrated marketing communications major from Nashville, Tennessee. 
The Meek School Magazine is a collaborative effort of journalism and Integrated Marketing Communications students with the faculty of Meek School of Journalism and New Media. Every week, for the next few weeks, HottyToddy.com will feature an article from Meek Magazine, Issue 4 (2016-2017).

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