Mike Berland, global CEO of Edelman Berland, a leading global market research and strategic consulting business, spoke to MACOMM students on March 12. Photo by Sarah Pfeffer
FAIRFIELD, CT - Mike Berland, global CEO of Edelman Berland, a leading global market research and strategic consulting business, was the guest of his colleague, Katie Burke, in her master’s in communication (MACOMM) masterclass at Sacred Heart University this week. Berland spoke before a packed audience of students and guests in the University’s Pitt Center Board Room.
There was palpable excitement in the air as attendees waited for Berland’s arrival. “I’d like to learn about the field of public relations and get a feel for what it’s really like in a real-world setting,” said MACOMM corporate communications and public relations (CCPR) graduate student, Amanda Finn. Fellow MACOMM graduate student Rachel Black, also on the CCPR track, hoped to “learn strategies for my future employer.”
Berland began his talk by bringing the audience back to 2007 during the Democratic primary. Not only is he an internationally recognized strategic advisor and communications consultant, he also led targeting and direct mail for Hillary Clinton’s 2006 senate and 2008 presidential primary campaigns. An expert in how people think and behave as consumers, voters and decision-makers, he worked toward “getting the message right, but also getting the math right.” He explained the sensitivity of going in the right direction at the right time and the importance of remaining aware throughout a campaign. “In just a matter of months, the context changes, the election changes, and you’ve got to stay in the moment,” he said.
Berland also served as strategic adviser for New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg during his 2001 and 2005 mayoral campaigns and ran Penn Schoen Berland, where he managed studies and campaigns for top global brands, political candidates and entertainment clients in more than 80 countries.
Berland indicated early on that it would be an interactive event, and many attendees participated in the question-and-answer session. Berland delineated the processes of marketing to consumers versus voters. “They are actually remarkably similar, but the timing is different. In an election, you get one chance,” he said, adding that in a consumer market, there are continuous insights into how people are making decisions, allowing opportunities for a company to influence consumer behavior.
“That was really interesting. My focus isn’t primarily in politics, but he did a really good job of captivating the audience. His comparison between consumers and voters was fascinating,” Finn said after the lecture. Black echoed Finn’s sentiments, explaining: “I thought his insights into politics were entertaining and very realistic.”
Berland is the author of What Makes You Tick? How Successful People Do it—and What You Can Learn from Them and is a former Commonwealth Scholar at the University of Massachusetts.
Burke is the chief of staff at Edelman, the world’s largest public relations firm, and serves as one of its top media and presentation trainers. Before joining Edelman, Burke was the communications director for Rudy Giuliani’s 2008 presidential campaign and Governor Arnold Schwarzenneger’s re-election campaign in California. She also served as director of television news at the White House during President George W. Bush’s second term. Burke is a member of the Advisory Board for the MACOMM program.