SKDKnickerbocker hires Penn Schoen Berland's Alex Braun as research practice lead

Braun said the number of clients looking for "evidence-based advice" has surged in the past decade.

WASHINGTON: SKDKnickerbocker has hired former Penn Schoen Berland SVP Alex Braun as MD and corporate and public policy research practice lead.

SKDKnickerbocker’s research services include polling, focus groups, and social and digital analytics, the firm said in a statement. It also has relationships with other Democratic research firms. The agency has offices in New York, Los Angeles, Albany, and Washington, D.C.

The role is new at the firm. Braun will be based in Washington.

He said that in the past 10 years, there’s been a surge in corporations seeking "evidence-based advice."

"[Clients] still want the smart ideas, but they also want to verify them, they want to make sure they make sense in the real world," he said. "You need more than just a gut check. You need to quantify which message works better than others. It’s hard to do without research."

Braun had worked at Penn Schoen Berland for the past 13 years. Previously, he was a journalist and a policy researcher for the Center for Democracy, according to his LinkedIn account.

Last October, Stagwell Group, the investment fund launched by Mark Penn and backed by Steve Ballmer, acquired the agency in its first acquisition in the U.S. It has since bought digital creative firm Code & Theory and movie research shop Nielsen NRG.

Penn was also a founding partner of Penn Schoen Berland, where he worked until taking a position at Microsoft in 2012.

SKDKnickerbocker kicked off 2015 by opening an office in Los Angeles and naming former Obama for America national press secretary Bill Burton as its MD on the West Coast.

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