And Now for Someone Completely Different…

January 25, 2017

Danny Oran recently joined Burness as our first-ever Managing Director of Social Communication.  

A behavioral psychologist by training, Danny has an eclectic background. He designed software for Microsoft and holds patents for the Windows Start Menu and Taskbar. During the 2012 election, as publisher at MoveOn.org, he created the Voter Report Card, which reached 12 million citizens in 27 battleground states. Using mobile apps, he worked on new approaches to reducing suicide risk for people with mental illness. He also figured out how to boost enrollment in lifesaving public health programs.

We’re pumped to have him on board! In this interview with Burnesser Katie Fogleman, Danny reveals more about his background and what drives him. 

Why did you decide to join Burness?

The amazing people and the incredible mission of the firm were both really appealing to me. As an outsider, I’d heard about all sorts of cool projects Burness had worked on. But as I meet with people here, as I dive into the work myself, I’m even more impressed by the depth of knowledge, and the impact of the work. That’s why I’m here. Every day, I’m working with clients that change people’s lives for the better.

Your background is in psychology. How does that apply to communication?

I like figuring out why people do what they do, especially when it involves health.

Emotion is incredibly important in health behavior change. Information alone isn’t enough. Unfortunately, a lot of well-intentioned public health communication is informational instead of motivational. But to change behavior, you have to tap into emotion.

What are you most excited about in the digital space?

I think the amazing thing for communicators today is the ability to reach so many people, so quickly and so cheaply. It wasn’t that long ago that you needed to buy expensive TV ads to reach millions of people. Now it’s totally different. You can tweet, you can create a YouTube video, and in a few hours, you can reach millions of people. The impact is huge, but the cost is infinitesimal.

In our work with nonprofits, it’s exciting to know that you don’t need to buy a Super Bowl ad to reach an enormous audience. Today, an innovative concept in the right medium at the right moment can truly change the world.

When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be an architect. I loved playing with Legos and Crystal Climbers—these little plastic pieces that you could slide together and make all kinds of awesome creations. I loved inventing things, and I still do.

There’s a great quote from Alan Kay, the legendary computer scientist. He said, “The best way to predict the future is to invent it.”

And that’s why I’m at Burness: to help our partners invent their future.

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