Edelman hires PSB's Berland, integrates StrategyOne into new research group

NEW YORK: Edelman has hired Penn Schoen Berland president Michael Berland to lead its new research and analytics business. He will join the firm September 10.

NEW YORK: Edelman has hired Penn Schoen Berland president Michael Berland to lead its new research and analytics business. He will join the firm September 10.

Berland will oversee Edelman's communications, reputation, and branding research operations as CEO of Edelman Berland. The unit will work with the agency's global offices on research and analytics, as well as take on its own clients for research initiatives.  

Edelman's existing market research firm, StrategyOne, will be integrated into Edelman Berland and include about 100 staffers. The StrategyOne brand will continue to exist. StrategyOne global CEO and founder Steve Lombardo will remain with the firm and will receive a yet-to-be-determined title, said president and CEO Richard Edelman.

“Research has to be more core to the Edelman proposition. The way the research business has evolved, there's a real opportunity,” Edelman said.

Berland will be based in New York and report to global COO Matthew Harrington.

“Richard [Edelman] and I have a shared vision that we've got to be forward-thinking in research. I call it real-time research,” said Berland. “You can reinvent it and get information faster, just as communications has evolved.”

Berland previously worked with political candidates, companies, and entertainment clients as president of Penn Schoen Berland, Burson-Marsteller's polling and research firm. During his more than 20-year tenure at the firm, Berland worked on then-Sen. Hillary Clinton's 2006 senatorial and 2008 presidential campaigns, and with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg in his 2001 and 2005 mayoral campaigns. He was also the official pollster for Parade magazine.

WPP said in its second quarter results statement last week that Penn Schoen Berland experienced slower growth during the period. “The US, UK, and Asia-Pacific grew less strongly in the second quarter, with the public affairs business in Washington and Penn Schoen Berland, the US polling business in Burson, particularly affected,” the holding company said.

Burson CEO Mark Penn left the firm in July to join Microsoft and also stepped down from his role leading Penn Schoen Berland. Former chief strategy officer Don Baer was tapped to replace Penn at Burson and remains Penn Schoen Berland's chairman.

Baer said in a statement that “we wish [Berland] well in the next chapter of his career" and said PSB and Burson are "totally committed to continuing to integrate research into our work, providing our clients with the world's best communications services." A Burson spokesperson referred questions about whether WPP or Burson will rename the firm in the wake of the departures of Penn and Berland to the statement. 

Berland joined Penn Schoen Berland in 1990 and left in 2006 to work as an independent communications consultant. In 2007, he was involved in a lawsuit with the firm over alleged client solicitation despite a non-compete agreement, but it was dropped shortly after being filed. Berland returned to the firm in January 2010 as president, reporting to Penn.

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