In a move to integrate research into its public relations initiatives, Edelman is establishing a new entity, Edelman Berland, which will be led by Michael Berland, president of Penn Schoen Berland. Effective Sept. 10, Edelman will incorporate its existing research unit StrategyOne into the new operation.
Richard Edelman, president and CEO at the world’s largest PR firm, likens the move to what the company did ten years ago when it integrated digital into its global PR operations. Digital fees have now grown to $80 million or 12.5 percent of overall revenue.
“This is an opportunity to reinvent research to take advantage of the new digital dynamic,” he said. “It allows us to make mid-course corrections and be much more agile in our marketing practices.”
Founded in the mid-90s, StrategyOne has worked for clients like Walmart, PepsiCo, Shell and Mubadala, the investment vehicle owned by Abu Dhabi and United Arab Emirates. The research unit currently has 100 employees and 11 U.S. and international offices; Edelman Berland is planned to have a presence in the PR firm’s global network of 65 offices. Richard Edelman said StrategyOne generates $18 million in fees, three-quarters of which comes from America. That amount is under 3 percent of the company's revenue and the goal is to have research eventually comprise 10 percent of global fees at Edelman, which was named Adweek’s PR agency of the year last January.
Berland spent 25 years at Penn Schoen Berland, part of WPP Group’s Young & Rubicam Brands, which is known for its political efforts as well as work for corporate and entertainment clients. Berland, who becomes chief executive at the new Edelman unit, has been the official pollster for Parade and served as strategic advisor to New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg in his 2001 and 2005 campaigns. He also advised Hillary Clinton in her 2006 Senate and 2008 presidential primary campaigns.
The new collaboration quickly unfolded in the last three months, after Berland, a board member of the Latin School of Chicago, contacted fellow alumnus Edelman about a donation for the school’s 125th anniversary.
Berland, whose name remains on his former company, said of Edelman Berland: “This is a great opportunity to create real-time research to produce real-time results.”