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Penn, Schoen and Berland Associates

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Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates (PSB) describes itself as "an innovative strategic market research firm with offices in New York, Washington, D.C. and Denver."[1] The firm was founded in 1975 and purchased by the British-based WPP Group in 2001.[2][3]

Background

PSB offers services to businesses, non-profits and political campaigns:[4]

For our corporate clients, we assist in brand positioning developing successful advertising campaigns, generating favorable publicity and crisis management. We provide rigorous analyses of consumer needs and purchasing decisions to offer key strategies and tactics designed to bolster profits and develop new markets.
For trade associations, non-profits and other organizations, we offer a full range of top-tier advocacy and statistical research services. We have vast experience in message development and have access hard-to-reach professionals and leading opinion makers.
In the political arena, PSB provides tightly focused strategic recommendations that help propel candidates to win difficult races. During the final weeks of a campaign, our complete in-house facilities enable us to provide instant feedback on key issues, voter perceptions and "head-to-head" standings.

According to Washington Business Forward, PSB's "reputation is largely as a Democratic political polling firm, closely associated with both President Bill Clinton's administration as well as the Senate campaign of his wife Hillary. But the firm also worked for Republican Michael Bloomberg in his mayoral bid in New York City, generating huge fees from the multi-millionaire self-financed candidate that caught some press attention during the campaign. ... Major corporate clients over the years have included AT&T, Coca-Cola, American Express, BP, Novartis and Microsoft."[5][6]

PSB's Mark Penn and Peter Brodnitz have registered as working for the Central American Bank for Economic Integration through contract with Holland & Knight, LLP.[7]

PSB and the 2004 Venezuelan recall election

PSB received negative attention for polling it did during the August 2004 Venezuelan recall election of President Hugo Chavez:[8]

"Exit Poll Results Show Major Defeat for Chavez" the survey, conducted by Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates, asserted even as Sunday's voting was still on. But in fact, the opposite was true - Chavez ended up trouncing his enemies and capturing 59 percent of the vote.

PSB's Venezuela poll raised eyebrows for several reasons: the opposition to Hugo Chavez seized upon it as proof that "the results from the vote itself were fraudulent"; the poll results "were sent out by fax and e-mail to media outlets and opposition offices more than four hours before polls closed," in violation of Venezuelan law; "members of Sumate, a Venezuelan group that helped organize the recall initiative, [did] the fieldwork for the poll"; and remarks to media went beyond poll results and analysis to election commentary - Mark Penn told Associated Press that Doug Schoen "believes there were more problems with the voting than with the exit poll."[9]

PSB and the Serbian elections in 2000

Interestingly, PSB was involved in similar charges of "American political interference in Serbia, locus of a $77 million U.S. effort to do with ballots what NATO bombs could not--get rid of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. In the run-up to national elections on Sept. 24, U.S. aid officials and contractors are working to strengthen Serbia's famously fractured democratic opposition. They have helped train its organizers, equipped their offices with computers and fax machines and provided opposition parties with sophisticated voter surveys compiled by the same New York firm that conducts polls for President Clinton" -- PSB.[10]

Jonathan Mowat has a more incisive appraisal of PSB as follows:

Penn, Schoen and Berland (PSB) has played a pioneering role in the use of polling operations, especially "exit polls," in facilitating coups. Its primary mission is to shape the perception that the group installed into power in a targeted country has broad popular support. The group began work in Serbia during the period that its principle, Mark Penn, was President Clinton's top political advisor.[11]

PSB and the 2005 British general election

In late January 2005, The Daily Telegraph revealed that British Prime Minister Tony Blair had recruited the services of PSB's Mark Penn in the run-up to the general election in the UK, widely expected to take place in May of that year [12].

PSB and the expected Italian elections in 2006

At the beginning of 2006, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi ordered PBS (via his party Forza Italia) to conduct a survey on the next Italian elections (of April 9, 2006). The results showed Berlusconi's coalition winning, while all other surveys by Italian pollsters showed the opposition winning. The Penn, Shoen & Berland Italian survey results can be seen here. Other news reports on this contested survey are here and here.

Personnel

Partners

Former Personnel

  • Gus Weill, Vice-President Penn + Schoen Associates, 1989

Contact information

Website: www.psbsurveys.com

New York Office
245 East 92nd Street
New York, NY 10128
Telephone: 212-534-4000
Fax: 212-360-7423

Washington, DC Office
1120 19th Street NW Suite 700
Washington, DC 20036
Telephone: 202-842-0500
Fax: 202-289-0916

Articles and resources

Related SourceWatch articles

References

  1. "Penn Brings Back Clinton Admin Colleague," O'Dwyer's PR Daily (sub req'd), May 6, 2009.

External resources

External articles