Arlington County, Virginia Issues Marketing & Communications RFP

2019-01-17 by EPR Staff

Arlington Economic Development (AED) is soliciting proposals for a marketing and communication strategy and implementation for economic development. The offeror will have expertise in destination marketing and the ability to successfully market all lines of business for AED, including business development (attraction and retention), small business and entrepreneur assistance, real estate development, cultural affairs and convention and visitors service (tourism). The strategy will include market research, brand management, campaign and program development, messaging and design services for a wide variety of marketing and communication vehicles. Vehicles include, but are not limited to, public relations for print and online publications, social media, print and online advertising, web design, multimedia, video production and tradeshow displays.


The Arlington County, Virginia Government has a mission to serve the broader interest of the local economy by promoting economic development and expanding regional, national and international marketing. AED, a department of Arlington County Government, is responsible for marketing Arlington in each of these regions. AED is dedicated to the preservation and enhancement of an economically competitive and sustainable community and the creation of exciting, diverse and amenity-rich places. AED provides visionary leadership and superior services to Arlington’s business community, through business investment, real estate development, cultural development and travel and tourism.

The Business Investment Group (BIG) is a team of professional information brokers for the business community of Arlington. BIG strives to increase Arlington tax revenues through the recruitment, retention, expansion and creation of businesses and nonprofit organizations. BIG serves as a liaison between businesses, the real estate community and other Arlington County departments to find creative solutions optimizing the Arlington experience.

The Real Estate Development Group (REDG) provides technical assistance on commercial office, retail and hotel development opportunities within Arlington. It monitors competitive market conditions and structures and manages a variety of public-private partnerships. REDG also provides advice and assistance on enhancing the appearance of commercial properties and serves as a liaison between the development community and Arlington County government agencies.

Arlington Cultural Affairs (ACA) mission is to create, support and promote the arts, connecting artists and community to reflect the diversity of Arlington. ACA does this by providing material support to artists and arts organizations in the form of grants, facilities and theater technology; through a commitment to integrating award-winning Public Art into our built environment; and with high-quality performing, literary, visual and new media programs across Arlington. ACA’s programming ranges from contemporary visual art, Shakespeare, late-night dance parties and multi-cultural film fests to spoken word, chamber music, family programs and more. The wide array of offerings are as diverse as the audience and are presented in a fresh and less formal environment.

The Arlington Convention and Visitors Service (ACVS) is Arlington County’s official destination marketing organization. Funded primarily through a guest-paid, 1/4-cent tax on hotel rooms, ACVS promotes Arlington as the best place to stay, shop, dine and play when visiting the Washington, D.C. region. Arlington has been Virginia’s #1 county for tourism economic impact since 2009, generating $3.1 billion in visitor spending and supporting nearly 26,000 jobs. ACVS applies innovation and creativity in attracting, informing and serving Arlington visitors and hospitality partners while supporting an exceptional visitor experience.


Arlington County is an urban county located in the metropolitan Washington, D.C. area, just to the west of the District of Columbia. It is comprised of 26 square miles and 225,000 citizens.

Arlington has been recognized for its smart growth principles with transit oriented development, concentrating density around transit stations. It is also one of the most educated counties in the Nation with more than 72% of the population having a bachelor’s degree and almost 40% possessing a graduate degree. Its location near the nation’s capital allows for its great diversity, where some of the country’s top public schools boast students that speak 88 languages and hail from 111 countries.

Arlington is going through a business transformation. Between the 1960s and 1980s the County was a low-cost federal outpost for large footprint General Service Administration agencies, such as the Transportation Security Administration, as well as the Pentagon, DOD and related defense agencies. From the 1990s to the 2000s, Arlington grew its business base by attracting “value add” federal tenants with classic contractor tails. During this time, AED could be characterized as reactive in terms of business attraction, because numerous corporations wanted to be close to their federal clients. Arlington’s average vacancy rate during these years hovered around 10% of its 40 million square feet of commercial office space.

However, in 2005 the federal government enacted the Base Realignment and Closure Act and moved four million square feet of federal agencies out of Arlington, and contractors followed. This left Arlington with a vacancy rate of almost 22%, meaning one-fifth of Arlington’s office space was empty. AED changed strategies and consciously targeted industry sectors that would diversify the economic base and alleviate dependency on the federal government.

Since then, Arlington’s industry targets have been honed to include cybersecurity, big data, artificial intelligence, healthcare IT, education tech and clean and green companies. This is in addition to its foundation industries that include critical national science research agencies (such as the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Office of Naval Research and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research), nonprofits, aerospace and defense and media companies. In 2015, AED implemented “The Way Forward Strategy”, actively engaging in national and international recruitment, brand awareness and media promotions. This strategy has proven effective, as evidenced by the vacancy rate dropping to just over 18% and Arlington landing national headquarters such as Nestlé USA and Lidl, Inc.

Scope of Work:

AED seeks to create an array of marketing services for all of its lines of business: the Business Investment Group (BIG), the Real Estate and Development Group, Cultural Affairs and Convention and Visitors Service. The principal need for the marketing, communication and design services under this contract will be to provide creative marketing strategy and brand messaging through written and visual marketing channels.

An initial deliverable will be the creation of a comprehensive marketing and communications plan, specifically for the BIG. The selected Offeror will be responsible for market and target audience research required to create the plan, development of the plan, execution of the plan and continued support following implementation. The plan will include a strategic overview messaging and branding recommendation, detailed design recommendations for marketing collateral and prospect proposals and design templates for future marketing pieces. Once the plan is finalized, the Offeror will execute on no less than three, and up to five, collateral pieces. Continued marketing and communications support may be requested throughout the length of the contract. Additional deliverables on the contract may include similar requirements for all AED’s lines of business.


The strategy and messaging of the proposed marketing and communications plan should consider economic development organization (EDO) best practices and should speak to traditional and nontraditional EDO audiences, businesses and potential and untapped audiences. The strategy and messaging piece of the marketing plan should:

                • Pinpoint unique attributes of Arlington and propose recommendations for integrating those attributes into marketing efforts

                • Strategize the most effective ways to build a brand that will reach target audiences

                • Integrate digital and social media strategies into the plan

                • Include means of tracking and metrics to gauge effectiveness of plan

                • Develop an execution plan and timeline for implementing all proposed strategies


AED seeks to create a cohesive branding strategy that integrates an overarching design and brand for AED’s marketing collateral material for print and online marketing, proposals, tradeshows and marketing missions. The design should portray innovation and vibrancy while maintaining a professional tone. The design and branding elements should:

                • Implement AED’s new brand for marketing collateral materials

                • Create a style guide consistent with the marketing strategy and messaging plan

                • Develop and streamline layout and design for all materials

                • Develop and design email templates for use with Salesforce Marketing Cloud

                • Make recommendations for visual content for marketing pieces and the AED website                (photography and video)


In addition to developing the marketing and communications strategy and executing the plan, the selected Offeror will provide ongoing marketing support, which may include, but will not be limited to, the following:

                • Strategy for additional communication vehicles

                • Support of trade show marketing missions

                • Assist AED’s public relations manager in generating national press coverage by leveraging         existing media relationships

                • Provide marketing support for new programs as needed

                • Strategic social media marketing campaigns

                • Viral and grass roots marketing programming

                • Systems integration (e.g. SalesForce CRM) and Salesforce Marketing Cloud support

                • Interactive and internet-based communications — email marketing campaigns, websites and                 podcasts

                • Web design

                • Search engine optimization (SEO)

                • Search engine marketing (SEM/Pay-Per-Click)

                • Special event planning — press conferences, grand openings, panel discussions and marketing              events

                • Business awards strategy and contest creation, implementation and oversight

Due Date:

February 6th, 2019


Arlington County Government

Office of the Bid Clerk

Suite 511

2100 Clarendon Boulevard

Arlington, Virginia 22201

French West Vaughn is a major Virginia based PR Firm.