The city of Milpitas, California hired a PR firm based in San Francisco to develop a communications campaign including press releases, annual reports, newsletters, and more to positively promote the municipality. Tom Williams, Milpitas City Manager, cites Milpitas’ growing population as the reason for outsourcing work typically done by city personnel.
Their population boom brings some complex and challenging issues for Milpitas, and according to William, it makes sense for a specialized entity to handle the dissemination of information to the public in a thoughtful and accurate manner. With a focus including social media and other web outlets alongside more traditional outlets, the new campaign aims to engage both its own citizens and those further afield.
Williams also argues a well-implemented public relations campaign helps attract new businesses to their city located in San Jose County. The deal struck with Singer Associates, Inc. totals $120,000. Williams states this amount holds up against a cost-benefit analysis. Hiring a Milpitas city official could cost $200,000 or more, and that employee generally doesn’t have the expertise a dedicated PR professional has developed. While their agenda listed Singer’s fees as ranging up to $180,000 through the 2016-2017 financial year, Milpitas Mayor Jose Esteves requested the firm receive a performance assessment by early 2016 before moving forward on a contract renewal, leading to the current bottom line.
Singer Associates works with public and private clients including the San Francisco 49ers, San Francisco’s public transit system (Bay Area Rapid Transit – BART), and the city of San Bruno, in the aftermath of its deadly 2010 Pacific Gas and Electric explosion. This is not the first appearance of Singer Associates in Milpitas: a private mixed-use development project hired Integral Communications where Sam Singer is a key spokesperson for public outreach in the wake of strong resistance from the city. That campaign stalled and the developer withdrew before being replaced by a competing construction project.
Despite skepticism among Milpitas officials, Singer Associates is considered a necessary presence. Under the watch of both Esteves and Williams, it is hoped their expertise will not only account for the fact budget constraints prevented Milpitas from hiring a full-time public relations officer but also represent innovation in public-private sector partnerships for the benefit of all.
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