Communications RFP Issued By University of Arkansas

The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff is issuing this Request for Proposal (RFP) to solicit proposals for a term contract for a qualified firm(s) pursuant to the specifications, terms and conditions stated in this RFP for integrated marketing and communications services to assist the university in reaching its next tier of growth and development among HBCUs and other peer groups across the state and nation.

Scope of Work:

The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff is seeking a vendor to create and execute an integrated marketing communications strategic pathway to assist the university in reaching its next tier of growth and development among HBCUs and other peer groups across the state and nation. In 2014, UAPB introduced new institutional brand marks as part of a larger rebranding and reimaging effort. The conditions at the university were ripe for messaging that would help shape the future of the institution. During that period, the university faced significant academic and institutional challenges that led to unfavorable news accounts and a five-year decline in enrollment that resulted in the loss of one third of the student population. As a result of enhanced branding, the university has promoted institutional excellence through initiatives that increased enrollment, targeted improvements towards student success outcomes, fostered greater innovation through institutional collaboration, increased research and grant activity, expanded partnerships with business and industry, encouraged efficiency and productivity, cultivated strong connections with alumni and friends, and championed student development and experiential learning. Those efforts led to significant improvements in retention and graduation rates, increased academic programs, research grants, new construction and renovation projects, and historic gains in fundraising and development, which included multi-million dollar donations from Simmons Bank and the Windgate Foundation. The blueprint for the university’s recent success, Growing the Pride: 2015-2020 Strategic Plan, emphasized five priorities: Growing enrollment and fostering student success, optimizing efficiency, upgrading and expanding facilities, diversifying and increasing revenue streams and preparing for a capital campaign, and enhancing the university’s reputation and national visibility. Based on the priorities and values of the strategic plan, the university completed a Campus Master Plan that helped position UAPB for large-scale resource development and investment in capital projects. The university is poised to move to its next level of growth and development. Doing so will require the most advanced integrated marketing and communication strategies and techniques that will help bring public recognition to the university in ways that would contribute to the growth in enrollment, retention, degree completion, relationships that engender support from alumni and major donors, corporations, foundations, government, and community leaders.

2.2 VENDOR QUALIFICATIONS The qualifications in this section shall be met through the vendor’s own experience. The vendor shall have:

A. Experience with fully integrated marketing communications.

B. Experience within all existing media platforms.

C. Experience with marketing and use of marketing technology.

D. Experience hosting a major website.

E. Extensive knowledge and experience with best practices in public relations management in higher education

F. In-house media buying capability with buying experience in all of Arkansas’s media markets.

2.3 GENERAL REQUIREMENTS The successful vendor shall:

A. Create an overall media and communications strategy that will help to tell the UAPB story in ways that assist the university in major fund development efforts and in enrollment growth from approximately 2,500 to more than 4,000 students. 

B. Rebuild, redesign, and host the existing UAPB website for greater public engagement and more robust interactivity, providing a quarterly report of proof of increasing activity and offering the necessary training for university web administrators. This will be accomplished through contractual agreement with UAPB to enable the university to reserve ownership and access rights.

C. Hold meetings monthly, or more frequently if necessary, with the institution’s communications team and key staff to maintain synergy between the staff and the vendor and better coordinate the division of labor for maximum productivity and results in marketing and communications. 

D. Provide the most cost-effective recommendations to the university administration for the purchase of media advertising to promote the university and its programs. Negotiate the best pricing and earned media for the benefit of the university. 

E. Conduct biweekly meetings with the staff of the Division of Enrollment Management and Student Success to coordinate messaging, media, marketing and communications with key publics.

F. Create and administer marketing and communications products for the Division of Institutional Advancement and provide assistance with its strategies and processes for increased and targeted development and fundraising endeavors. 

G. Create and administer marketing and communications products for the Department of Athletics and provide assistance with its strategies and processes for increased and targeted development and fundraising endeavors. 

H. Create and administer marketing and communications products for the UAPB Tobacco Prevention Cessation Program (15% Set Aside program) and assist them with their strategies and processes for procuring media purchases. 

I. Promote UAPB programs, achievements, and successes to improve the academic reputation among all stakeholders and constituents, including academic peer leaders to bring demonstrable improvement in national rankings, such as the U.S. News and World Report regional and HBCU rankings.

J. Develop strategies and processes to integrate the UAPB’s internal and external communications under common strategic communications goals.

K. Provide public relations services, including news gathering, reporting, and writing as needed for major announcements, media responses, and crises.

L. Work with the university administration to improve the university’s emergency and crisis communications plan.

M. Conduct studies of the effects of media messages produced for UAPB, providing quarterly updates on the effectiveness of the marketing and communications, and giving an annual progress report on the success of the strategies. 

N. Create an internship program with the Office of Career Services and the vendor’s organization for at least 3 UAPB student interns per year, alternatively stated, at least one intern for the fall, spring, and summer semesters. This value will be determined by UAPB based in part on the overall competence, compliance, and format and presentation of each RFP response and in-person presentation. A vendor presentation day may be held following the bid due date.

Due Date:

June 26, 2020


Wuanita Trotter at

The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Administration Building, Room 102 Pine Bluff, Arkansas 71601

Relevant agencies worth considering for this assignment include APCO Worldwide and Zeno Group.

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