Henderson State University Issues Public Relations RFP

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Henderson State University is seeking a full-service marketing agency to submit proposals for a university marketing and public relations campaign. Objectives are to stabilize/grow enrollment and to build university brand identity and awareness.


Founded in 1890, Henderson State University is a comprehensive institution of higher education serving the State of Arkansas, particularly the south Arkansas region, and portions of surrounding states. Known as “The School with a Heart,” Henderson State’s fall enrollment averages 3,000 undergraduate students and 500 graduate students. Henderson offers 80 majors and programs in areas ranging from the Arts and Sciences to Business, Education, Nursing and Aviation. Graduate degrees include a Master of Art in Teaching, Master of Business Administration, Master of Liberal Arts, Master of Science, Master of Science in Education, and Master of Science in Nursing, as well as the post-Master Education Specialist degree. Henderson has not been immune to the many challenges that universities are facing across the country, especially with regard to finances and COVID-19.

Scope of Work:

Marketing Campaign 

Henderson’s enrollment declined in Fall 2020 after consecutive years of growth. Factors for this decline may include negative publicity related to the university’s recent financial challenges and the uncertainties surrounding COVID-19. The selected agency will work with the university to develop a marketing campaign to recruit undergraduate, graduate, and transfer students. Enrollment data will be provided by the university to identify trends and opportunities. The agency shall develop a marketing campaign that identifies efficient and cost-effective activities to include:

• Overall marketing campaign theme and plan for implementation

• Digital marketing to reach both in-state students and out-of-state targeted areas

• Digital marketing to emphasize academic programs showing growth or that have potential for growth based on university enrollment and state/regional job market data

• Video production and photography in support of the campaign

• Print ad templates for college guides 

• Metrics and monitoring of marketing effectiveness, including recommendations for redirection of resources as needed The implementation plan must include a recommended annual marketing budget.

Public Relations 

Campaign Henderson State University is the second oldest state institution of higher learning in Arkansas. Henderson Reddies have a long history of “excellence, spirit, and tradition.” Generations of Reddies are employed as teachers, nurses, pilots, physicians, lawyers, etc., throughout Arkansas and the surrounding region. Recent financial issues have impacted confidence and public sentiment about Henderson. These issues have been reported widely by state media and have been the subject of several hearings by state legislators. Additionally, two former professors were arrested for alleged manufacture of methamphetamine on campus last fall. This news was widely reported by global news outlets, creating additional negative publicity for the university. Henderson had low brand recognition prior to the recent issues but had experienced a steady increase in enrollment for consecutive years before seeing a decline in Fall 2020. The university has new leadership and will join the Arkansas State University System by January 1, 2021. We acknowledge the recent issues and know that some additional operational changes will need to occur to align expenses to revenue in the coming months. Despite these challenges, we know the impact of Henderson’s educational mission for students and our region. We are ready to share these stories and to reintroduce ourselves to key stakeholders and audiences.

The agency shall develop a public relations campaign that identifies efficient and cost-effective activities to include:

• Overall public relations campaign and plan for implementation

• Brand positioning/narrative that honors legacy/history while also starting a new chapter as a member of the Arkansas State University System

• Internal communications plan for change management 

• Brand awareness for potential students and their parents

• Outreach and messaging that demonstrates progress and rebuilds confidence with key stakeholders, including school counselors, principals, superintendents, legislators, alumni, and friends of the university

• Metrics and monitoring of effectiveness, including recommendations for redirection of resources as needed

Due Date:

December 16 



Relevant agencies include Hunter PR and Prosek Partners.

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