Communications RFP Issued By California State University Channel Islands

The purpose of this RFP is to solicit proposals from qualified proposers who if selected shall

provide market research for use in the development of a University-wide integrated

marketing communication (IMC) and strategic enrollment management (SEM) plans for

California State University Channel Islands.

About the University

California State University Channel Islands (CSUCI) opened in 2002 as the first public, four year university in Ventura County. The University is a member of the nation’s largest and most diverse university system encompassing over 400,000 students and 43,000 employees on 23 campuses throughout the state. As of Fall 2021, over 6,437 students are enrolled – approximately 6,211 of whom are undergraduate students. Undergraduate students are enrolled in one or more of 26 academic programs (majors), while graduate students are enrolled in one or more of 7 academic programs enroll through their academic area or CSUCI’s Extended University. CSUCI academic programs are segmented into three colleges: Arts & Sciences, Martin V. Smith School of Business & Economics, and the School of Education. CSUCI prides itself in being a Hispanic Serving Institution (HS) having over 25% of its students comprised of a Hispanic student population. Currently, 62% of our under graduate students are first-generation students and 83% receive financial aid. The University will celebrate its 20th anniversary August 2022 through June 2023.

Baseline and Subsequent Market Analysis 

The University’s first baseline market research analysis was completed in Spring 2009 by consulting firm Eduventures. Subsequent market research analysis was completed in Spring 2018 by Mackenzie Communications, and a Campus Climate Survey completed by the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA in 2020. These reports are included within this RFP as Rider A.

Scope of Work

Collect market research to be used for the development of an IMC plan that conveys a

unified message across a variety of channels with clear goals and a set of tactics that will

effectively communicate the programs and services offered by the University, raise

awareness and perception of the University, and provide messaging for key audiences and

stakeholders. This market research will also be used for the development of a Strategic

Enrollment Management plan for the purpose of student enrollment planned for the next 3

to 5 years.

B. Project Purpose

Based on the University’s strategic initiatives and the rapidly changing current environment

including after-effects from the COVID-19 pandemic, the following areas of focus are

identified for the development of IMC and SEM plans:

1. Student Recruitment, Enrollment, Retention, and Graduation

2. Increasing the Value and Equity of our Brand with a focus on

• Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

• Access Mission

• Innovative and High-Quality Academic Programs

• Post-Graduation Success

3. Positively Influencing Brand Perception amongst Key Audiences:

• Current students (undergraduate, post-bac, graduate)

• Prospective Undergraduate Students and their Parents/Supporters; Graduate


• Employees (current, prospective/academic peers)

• Alumni

• Donors

• Foundation board (past and present)

• Government & Elected Officials

• Community & Educational Partners

C. Overview

CSUCI seeks a strategic consulting contractor to assist with:

1. Review and immersion of previous market research, University strategic initiatives,

and other key marketing communication, enrollment, and development materials.

2. Collect market research (quantitative and qualitative) including instrument

development, sampling plan creation, survey programming and testing, data

collection, analysis, communication preferences, and all reporting among internal

audiences (current students and their parents/supporters, employees), and external

audiences (prospective students and their parents/supporters, alumni, donors,

government and elected officials, community and educational partners, and

prospective employees).

3. Competitor brand assessment and strategy brief.

4. Documented brand positioning and messaging strategy, tone and personality,

identification of key marketing metrics, and KPIs. In-person workshop to

discuss/review findings with key campus stakeholders.

D. Additional Information

1. The Associate Vice President for University Communication in consultation with the

IMC Executive Committee, IMC Steering Committee, and IMC Advisory Group, will

manage project decisions and provide overall direction to the vendor.

2. CSUCI expects to be in regular contact with the vendor for on-going discussions

and shared decision making as outlined in the vendor’s Service Level Agreement that

should be provided with your responses to the RFP.

3. The University expects a predetermined timeline with built-in check

points/milestones and updates about progress.

4. The vendor should respect, recognize, and reflect CSUCI’s culture, values, and

philosophy in planning and decision-making.

E. Project Deliverables

In no particular order, the following deliverables should be produced by the vendor:

1. Collection of quantitative and qualitative market research as described in the

Overview (Section C) to include coordination, implementation, and leadership of

focus group meetings, surveys, analysis, and final report of findings;

2. Project management framework that should ensure a successful and timely project

completion; and

3. Recommendations and next steps for development of IMC and SEM plans.

F. Project Term Length

The contract term and project length shall conclude by June 30, 2022.

Closing Date

Jan. 12, 2021 no later than 2 p.m. PST


All proposals must be submitted electronically via email in Adobe PDF format and sent directly to Daniel Brown, and Carolyn Meeks, by the deadline listed above. Any late proposals will be rejected. Please contact Daniel Brown, Contract Specialist, and copy Nancy Gill, Associate Vice President for University Communication, with questions regarding the RFP. 

Agencies to consider for this assignment include Edelman PR and Burson Marteller.

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