Communications RFP Issued By Maryland Department of Health

Communications RFP Issued By Maryland Department of Health
Communications RFP Issued By Maryland Department of Health


The Maryland Department of Health (MDH) is issuing this request for proposals (RFP) to engage a communications firm to develop and execute a statewide, multi-platform communications campaign to inform and educate the public about the state’s contact tracing program related to the novel coronavirus 2019. The contact tracing process involves interviewing Maryland residents who have tested positive for COVID-19 and determining who they have come in close contact with while contagious with the virus. 

The process then requires contacting all close contacts and recommending they self-isolate for up to 14 days or until they are sure that they are not infected. This effort is one of four “building blocks” necessary to move Maryland into the recovery phase of the pandemic and allow the state to reopen. The contractor awarded this work will: conduct research and determine the best approach to explain contact tracing process and importance of this statewide effort; create messaging to be used for varied audiences and across different platforms; handle the development of all creative and graphic design; have expertise in making statewide multi-media advertising buys; track and measure the effectiveness of the campaign; update and change messaging and/or platforms as needed over time. The contractor must employ best practices to reach Maryland residents through an integrated communications program that will resonate, engage and encourage participation and support. The expected duration of this campaign is 9 to 12 months. The first set of messaging across multiple platforms will need to be ready for public dissemination by May 25, 2020. This is a preliminary document subject to revision prior to finalization. The proposed scope of work may change prior to issuance of a contract.


Maryland’s health care delivery system consists of public and private hospitals, nursing homes, outpatient clinics, home health care services, hospices, providers, and health educators, among others. As a public health department, our goal is to improve the health status of every Maryland resident and to ensure access to quality health care. We are responsible for helping each person live a life free from the threat of communicable diseases, tainted foods, and dangerous products. To assist in our mission, we regulate health care providers, facilities, and organizations, and manage direct services to patients, where appropriate.

Although public health activities such as registration of births, deaths, and marriages began in Maryland in the mid-1600s, the formal public health effort did not begin until 1797 when Baltimore Town was incorporated into Baltimore City. At that time, health ordinances were passed and, by the early 1800s, smallpox vaccinations were available to the poor, free of charge.

Numerous changes have occurred in Maryland since that time, and all have helped public health evolve into a system that today provides an impressive array of services. The system includes MDH and 24 local health departments – one each in Baltimore City and Maryland’s 23 counties.

MDH has four major divisions – Public Health Services, Behavioral Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Health Care Financing. In addition, the department has 20 boards that license and regulate health care professionals; and various commissions that issue grants, and research and make recommendations on issues that affect Maryland’s health care delivery system. We depend on a staff of more than 6,500 and a budget of more than $12 billion to provide needed services to Maryland communities.

Our Public Health Services Division oversees vital public services to Maryland residents including infectious disease and environmental health concerns, family health services and emergency preparedness and response activities. The Behavioral Health Division promotes recovery, resiliency, health, and wellness for individuals who have emotional, substance use, addictive and/or psychiatric disorders. The Developmental Disabilities Administration provides a coordinated service delivery system to ensure appropriate services for individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities. The Health Care Financing Division implements the Medicaid program, which features the department’s HealthChoice and Children’s Health Program along with other initiatives, including those that help people with the cost of prescription medications. Information about our organization, programs, and many other services can be found on this website.

Scope of Work:

To develop an effective contact tracing campaign, MDH will need to address any reservations residents may have in participating in the program and cooperating with calls from contact tracers. The campaign will have to adequately address the need for self-quarantine to slow the spread of the disease, should an individual have come in close contact with an infected person. The campaign will have to address potential cultural differences in response to contact tracing across urban, suburban and rural settings. The campaign also will need to address any potential mistrust of governmental intervention in private life, concerns about governmental collection of personal data and fear of being scammed by individuals not connected with the official contact tracing program. The Contractor will complete the following tasks: 


• Gauge understanding and attitudes toward contact tracing and uncover any concerns or misperceptions 

• Determine best approach to explain contact tracing and importance of statewide effort 

Message Development 

• Develop content for multiple platforms, directed at varied audiences 

• Create integrated 9- to 12-month communications plan and editorial calendar 

• Determine campaign slogan 

• Produce public service announcements, social media posts, press releases, website content, FAQ documents, etc., as needed 

Creative and Design Support 

• Design and create logo, branding and visual identity for campaign 

• Create suite of campaign resources and collateral materials 

• Develop digital and traditional advertising assets 

• Design campaign landing page 

Paid Media/Advertising 

• Develop plan to use paid media to reach target audiences 

• Utilize television, radio, cable, streaming services, digital platforms and/or display advertising for most effective message distribution 

• Provide all cost estimates for paid media/advertising 

• Demonstrate ability to effectively execute media buy 

• Perform analytics to determine effectiveness of media buy 

Social Media 

• Develop robust social media campaign across multiple platforms, including suggested posts, graphics, video 

• Perform analytics to determine the effectiveness 

Earned Media 

• Write press releases and conduct direct outreach to media outlets to encourage positive stories about the contact tracing program and its goals 

• Help establish relationships with local and statewide media outlets to ensure accurate coverage of the program and its goals 

• Provide timely summaries of earned media coverage and social media trends 


Provide an appropriate budget amount (ranges are acceptable) for each category listed under the Scope of Work. The total estimated budget for this project is $1.5 to $2 million. This criterion will not be weighted for making a final decision; however, it is required to present a clear picture of the vendor’s concept of how to manage the project. 

Evaluation Process 

Proposals will be evaluated on the following criteria: a) Documented success with similar communications projects b) Documented success in developing content and messaging that resonates with target audiences c) Ability to create effective content and outreach materials in a quick turnaround (initial messaging will need to be disseminated by May 25) d) Ability to update and alter messaging as needed as the program develops and circumstances surrounding the pandemic change e) ability to perform analytics to determine the effectiveness of the campaign f) Consistency with the overall proposal and stated project goals g) Demonstrated ability to reach targeted demographics based on multimedia strategy and to provide benchmark statistics/analytics for comparable campaigns

Due Date:

May 22


Deidre McCabe, MDH Director of Communications at

Agencies worth considering for this assignment include Magrino PR and W2O group

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