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Happy Holidays and a Festive New Year to You and Yours!

Would anyone have guessed at this time last year what the coming new year of 2020 would hold? It's certainly been a rollercoaster for many, full of surprises, disappointments and victories. As we move into 2021, we are grateful for our clients, our families, our friends and our great, resilient country. We look forward to connecting with you soon in the New Year!

Until then, please enjoy a few articles below and, as always, let us know how things are going. Nothing makes us happier than catching up with our friends and associates.

Edgy Interview: Public Affairs Professional Craig Benedetto 

Craig Benedetto has been a fixture in San Diego’s civic landscape for decades. He and his firm, California Strategies, take on a diverse range of projects and work hard. Craig’s deep background in land-use issues stems from a rich set of experiences forged at the Building Industry Association, the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce and his work with local, state and federal elected officials. He’s one of the good guys in politics who gets personally involved in local causes.

Example: Craig was recognized by BOMA San Diego for his efforts on behalf of commercial real estate during COVID. He’s also a dedicated family man who can be found on the links on any given Sunday with his young son. Or maybe Craig and his lovely wife Melanie will be travelling off to Italy or Africa or Central America. Craig is one of those people who wrings the most out of life and then uses his experiences to broaden his horizon.

Read our Edgy interview with Craig to find out more.

Read the Interview

Online Focus Groups Part II: How to Overcome Challenges of the Online Format

In this second installment of our 3-part mini-series on online focus groups, we want to share a few tips on how to avoid the pitfalls associated with conducting them. A whopping 75% of researchers are now employing online focus groups for qualitative research. This influx has come with frustration and missteps in managing what for many practitioners is a new technology and method. Here are helpful ways to overcome some challenges of running online focus groups.

Tech Checks for Respondents. It's 2020, everyone is on Zoom and has broadband, right? Wrong! Yes, you and your B2B colleagues are well-versed in videoconferencing (perhaps even sick of it?), but it can be a different world for consumers and voters. And because you DO NOT want to exclude lower-tech respondents, they will need more hand-holding to make it into and through an online focus group. We've found pre-group tech-checks are the most important key to success. Great companies are diligent about making sure respondents are ready to participate.
Moderators Need Tech Checks Too. Even online pros can get tripped up by a new platform. Sometimes a platform has functions that seem obvious when selecting it, but present real hurdles in practice. Be sure the moderator performs a dry run with colleagues before conducting the real thing. The mute, video on/off and share screen functions must be well-practiced from the moderator's point-of-view so they're able to comfortably control the groups.
Select for Robust Tech Capabilities. A lot can be accomplished in online focus groups, so make sure the platform vendor offers a strong set of features to make your engagement a success. This includes operational functions during live time, but it also includes a compelling set of playback and analytic features to get the richest picture possible of the findings.

Stay Away from Flashy. Although robust tech features are good to have, newer platforms have a tendency to rush toward the latest thing without full due diligence. A whiteboard sounds great... until it's too clunky and buggy to use during the groups. Online tech is notorious for release updates that sound phenomenal, but fall short in implementation. Don't let your next online focus groups double as bug-testers for the platform vendor.

Keep Sight of the Objective. New technology can be exciting and open new paths of learning, but technology is just a medium. It's usually the fundamentals of qualitative research that yield promising insights. Be sure to choose an online focus group vendor that is grounded in research fundamentals and for whom online modalities augment -- rather than define -- their approach. The point is to learn something important, not simply run an online focus group.

If you've been considering qualitative research, please don't hesitate to reach out to and he'd be happy to share more about CERC's success with online focus groups.

An Analysis of Presidential Election Polling in 2020: What the Heck Happened?

The polling industry took a public perception hit in the 2016 Presidential Election when Donald Trump surprised the nation by securing a victory over Hillary Clinton. Now, after four years of assurances that 2020 would offer no polling anomalies, the public opinion industry is again on the defensive about the exact margin of Joe Biden's victory. But should it be?

Read of CERC President John Nienstedt's analysis of the 2020 Presidential Election and why pollsters and poll consumers – you and me – should remember the limitations of survey research.
Read the Article
Competitive Edge Research & Communication

Know what to do

 Political Campaigns » Public Affairs » Government & Public Agencies »
Consumer Research 

Survey Research » Data Collection » Analytics » Focus Groups

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Congratulations to our 2020 Clients: A Big Year to Have Fought in the Ring

With more than three decades of political experience, Competitive Edge has worked for far more winners than losers. All the same, we know how difficult it is to "get in the ring" and win. For every winner in politics there are multiple losers. Citizens – regardless of political party -- who put their lives and fortunes on the line for what they believe in are great Americans to be commended. In this difficult election season -- during which one of our clients was sickened by COVID-19 while campaigning (he’s fine and went on to win) -- we want to tip our caps to our client-warriors:
  • Hawthorne Mayor Alex Vargas
  • Ontario City Councilwoman Debra Porada
  • Dave Ross, DCR International
  • Poway Mayor Steve Vaus
  • John Hoy, John Hoy Consulting
  • San Diego City Councilman Scott Sherman
  • San Diego County Supervisor Kristen Gaspar
  • Jason Roe, Roe Strategic
  • Tony Krvaric, Republican Party of San Diego County
  • Noli Zosa
  • Joe Leventhal
  • Stephen Puetz, Axiom Strategies
  • Integral Communities
  • Tony Manolatos, Manolatos Public Affairs
  • Kevin Reikes, Media Associates
  • Nathan Ahle, Fresno Chamber of Commerce
  • Mike Madrid, Grassroots Labs
  • Duane Dichiara, Axiom Strategies
  • Jim Palmer, Orange County Rescue Mission
  • California Charter Schools Association Advocates
  • Lincoln Club of San Diego County
  • Aimee Remanick, Tom Shepard & Associates
  • Dale Scott and Joyce Schmidt, Dale Scott & Company
  • Kristina Britton, Moore Information Services
  • Brent Buchanan, Cygnal
  • Chris Jones, Chris Jones Consulting
  • The San Diego Building Industry Association
  • Rancho Santa Fe School District Board Member Rosemarie Rohatgi
  • Greg Isom, Isom Advisors
  • Rick Manter, Manter
Win, lose or draw, you should all be proud of your effort in 2020 to put your talents to work for the greater good of our community.
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How Good Research Has Helped Our Regional Emergency Preparedness: American Red Cross Southern California Case Study

CERC has worked with the American Red Cross of Southern California for more than a decade, helping the non-profit understand why some residents are not prepared for emergencies. Last year the Red Cross came back to us with a challenge: could we expand the work we did with the Personal Emergency Preparedness Index™ into an emergency preparedness assessment based on the community. This led us to create a broader Community Emergency Preparedness (CEP) Index™. It now helps the Red Cross target its efforts at cities, towns and communities where preparedness is deficient.

Check out our new success story based on the CEP Index. If your mission-driven organization could benefit from comprehensive data collection and analysis to drive better decisions, please reach out to

As our research and analytics business continues to grow in the realms of politics, public affairs, trade associations, utilities, nonprofits, and media, we are looking for an experienced business development representative to acquire new clients and develop verticals. Territory would include California and the nation. Please refer anyone in your network who you think might fit the bill! Just have them send a cover letter and resume to and we'll follow up.
Copyright © 2020 Competitive Edge Research & Communication, All rights reserved.

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