Edelman has brought in polling guru Michael Berland from WPP as the top independent firm revamps its StrategyOne unit as Edelman Berland and plans to inject research into its PR work the way digital has been infused in recent years.

Michael Berland
Berland, who handled polling and advised New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Parade magazine among scores of clients, has been president and partner of Burson-Marsteller unit Penn, Schoen and Berland, bought by WPP in 2001.

Mark Penn, another PS&B partner who led B-M, left last month for Microsoft.

Richard Edelman, president and CEO of the $600M PR firm, said he has known and admired Berland’s work for close to a decade. “When it comes to fully integrating research with PR programs and partnering with both account teams and clients, he is simply the best,” he said, adding that he wants research and analysis “at the core” of client work.

Edelman said he hopes the EB unit will follow the success of the PR firm’s integration of its digital business. “We know the model works, and the fact that our digital business has grown to revenues in excess of $80M globally as a result speaks for itself,” he said, noting that EB will also establish its own clients, as well.

StrategyOne founder Steve Lombardo, a Republican pollster and key figure in developing Edelman’s prized Trust Barometer, returned to StrategyOne as CEO last year after running his own shop. Edelman in July recruited Hill+Knowlton Strategies’ Peter Ventimigilia as executive VP for StrategyOne in Washington.

Berland, who penned "What Makes You Tick? How Successful People Do it – and What You Can Learn From Them" (Harper Collins 2009), reports to Edelman COO Matthew Harrington.

Edelman Berland has more than 100 staffers with offices in seven U.S. cities and four overseas.

WPP, reporting its second half earnings last week, said its PS&B unit has been underperforming amid a slowdown in Washington.