WASHINGTON, D.C.—Widmeyer Communications, ranked as the largest independent public relations firm in the nation’s capital by the Council of Public Relations Firms, has hired Martin McGough, formerly a vice president at WPP-owned research firm Penn Schoen & Berland, to head a new research practice.
Many of Widmeyer’s competitors—including international firms such as Weber Shandwick and Edelman Public Relations and up-and-coming independents such as Qorvis—have launched or acquired research capabilities in recent years, and the trend in Washington is clearly toward offering a full-service solution to clients.
Says Widmeyer president Joseph Clayton, “This is a move that helps us stay on course as we try to build a full service independent agency. Many of the larger firms have either a research subsidiary or an in-house research capability, and if we want to continue to compete with them we believe we need to be able to offer communications research to our clients.”
At Penn Schoen & Berland, McGough handled polling and messaging efforts to support public awareness and corporate branding campaigns, working on the transformation of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International brand, the launch of the Discovery Health Channel, and the Be A Local Hero campaign to convince consumers to buy locally grown produce throughout the state of Massachusetts.
Says Clayton, “Martin’s background will help us on the planning side and on the evaluation side. We haven’t been doing enough research, and clients who are spending a lot of money on social marketing and public affairs campaigns are interested in research that can help them target their efforts more precisely and evaluate what is working.”
Clayton says the firm may still use outside polling firms for some work, while relying on its in-house capabilities for “more qualitative” research.