Interior Gas Utility Issues RFP – Public Relations and Marketing

Fairbanks Natural Gas/Interior Gas Utility is seeking proposals from firms who can provide comprehensive Marketing, Communication and Training services to provide a full range of internal and external services. As a result of the acquisition of Fairbanks Natural Gas, LLC (FNG) by Interior Gas Utility (IGU), a plan for Marketing, Communication and Training is necessary for the blending of the two entities and promoting the use of natural gas to the Fairbanks North Star Borough. FNG/IGU is looking to promote that we are “Fueling the Future of the Fairbanks North Star Borough”. The communications and marketing tasks will include but not be limited to strategic planning, brand clarification, and promoting to the public FNG/IGU’s ability to provide an abundant and reliable source of natural gas. The training tasks shall include training current staff in the ability to be able to run and develop successful marketing campaigns, issue press releases, and be able to perform basic technical website updates. These initiatives need to also outline effective communication with the public across multiple platforms to include Facebook.

Background:

Fairbanks Natural Gas, LLC (FNG) has been providing natural gas to Fairbanks since 1998. FNG currently provides natural gas to 1100 plus locations. FNG utilizes Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) to provide Fairbanks with natural gas from the Titan Plant in Houston, AK. A 5.25 million gallon storage tank will be completed in Fall 2019 in Fairbanks and plans for storage in North Pole are at 95% design completion so that new customers can be added starting in 2020. Interior Gas Utility (IGU) was created as a public utility by the Fairbanks North Star Borough through Ordinance Number 2012-52 in 2012. IGU began Phase 1 of installing natural gas pipelines in 2015 in North Pole. In May of 2018, the Regulatory Commission of Alaska issued an order that approved the purchase of Fairbanks Natural Gas by Interior Gas Utility and in June of 2018, IGU purchased Pentex from AIDEA and FNG was included in this purchase.

IGU’s web services have been managed by Web907. FNG’s web services have been managed in house. FNG currently has one staff member assigned to facilitate communications with the pubic and assist in encouraging future customers to move from their existing heating systems and appliances to natural gas. The purpose of this RFP is to find a contractor who can assist FNG/IGU through training and direct support as necessary to meet its goals of adding new customers starting in 2020 and beyond with a clear and concise message and implementing a new or restructuring a current website .

Scope of Work:

FNG/IGU anticipates contracting with a firm or team that has the ability to provide all the services requested in this RFP. We expect one firm will be the lead however given the scope of work it is possible, and may be preferable, that certain aspects of work be done by subcontractors or others the contractor may be able to partner with who can provide the needed services. Teaming is encouraged however one firm should be designated as lead on the contract.

The goal is to have one team that will be able to efficiently and effectively assist FNG/IGU with the following tasks:

                1) Development of a strategic communications and marketing plan: both short and long-term                 communications plans and strategies, identifying audience needs, resources and best practices.

                2) Assistance with implementation of communications and marketing plan that would include    but not be limited to:

                                a. Creating coordinated advertising campaigns (print, broadcast, digital, online, email,                                    etc.) to include written plan, including objectives, audience description, strategies,                                         tactics and budgets, creative strategy and design, and concept development.

                                b. Development of a comprehensive brand strategy that includes a branding assessment                             workshop, a brand promise statement, and recommendations for logos and taglines.

                                c. Creating a new website or revamping an old website (FNG current or IGU current) to                                                be customer service oriented.

                                d. Assisting with website/social media strategy and enhancements that includes                                                              developing an integrated social media strategy utilizing the latest tools and platforms.

                                e. Media relations.

                                f. Presentation and special event planning and support;

                                g. Meeting facilitation and planning

                3) Training of FNG/IGU Staff to included but not be limited to:

                                a. Conducting a workshop for staff in how to be able to use the communications and                                      marketing provided effectively for future campaigns encompassing social media, press                                                 releases, website updates, email, newsletters, etc.

                                b. Training staff in how to implement the plans for future campaigns.

                                c. Training staff in concrete and consistent messaging for internal and external                                                  communication.

Below is a summary of the major tasks that the contractor may be called upon to perform during the term of the contract. Additional public relations or public involvement planning tasks may be added during the period of the contract.

                DEVELOPMENT OF A STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS & MARKETING PLAN

                The contractor will be expected to work with FNG/IGU public outreach liaison to develop a         strategic communications and marketing plan that identifies target audiences and appropriate     communications tools and methods that can be used for both informing and gathering        information from these targeted audiences.

                At a minimum it is anticipated that the plan will include:

                                1) Identification of community concerns and potentially controversial issues;

                                2) Identification of communications methods, tools, and materials needed to reach the                                                targeted audiences and expectations for FNG/IGU staff in the implementation

                                3) Identification of possible cooperative promotional opportunities with entities;

                                4) Incorporation and development of internal communication protocols;

                                5) Recommendations for media strategies which may include promotional programs and                              informational campaigns, market or program surveys, or other research as may                                                                be required.

                                6) Methods for measuring success of plan.

                TRAINING AND IMPLEMENTATION OF COMMUNICATIONS PLAN

                Upon approval of the plan it is anticipated that the contractor will be available to assist FNG/IGU              with implementation of the plan. The scope of work and fee for accomplishing each task or phase of work will be determined in each negotiated work order. However below is a list of   tasks the contractor’s team may be expected to perform in implementing the communications             plan.

                                1) Providing a workshop and/or training for FNG/IGU staff as necessary. For the purpose                             of being able to provide for the best use of staff time the contractor will provide training                              for staff in how best to use available tools and resources to implement the plan.

                                2) Assisting in developing media Strategies which may include: pitching stories, story                                      ideas, scheduling meetings and interviews with media, creation of press kits,                                                     preparation of talking points and creation of editorial and media contact lists. Target                                       audiences include local, statewide, national and international media.

                                3) Assisting in developing and producing materials to communicate in various printed                                     and produced formats, to include but not limited to, fliers, brochures, fact sheets, e-                                     newsletters, web pages, etc.

                                4) Assistance in drafting and edit news releases, media advisories, articles and other                                      copy, as needed.

                                5) Work with staff as needed to develop and manage the FNG/IGU websites as a tool to                                              effectively reach customers and the public which may include but not be limited to:

                                                a. Gathering and reviewing information to understand the web audience and                                                    usage

                                                b. Clearly define overall goals and how to use the web to communicate project                                                                 information to target audiences

                                                c. Website upgrades to enhance functionality and information access to target                                                  audiences

                                                d. Site maintenance and document control

                                                e. Web management and technical development support

                                6) Work may include the creation, production and placement of print, radio and                                                                television advertising to promote the FNG/IGU and the use of natural gas and related                                   activities.

                                7) Work may involve the working on special projects or promotions

                                8) Offerors are welcome to propose other communications/public relations services or                                                 resources they may be able to provide during the term of the contract that could benefit                             the project. FNG/IGU at its option may include those related services in the scope of the                                             final negotiated contract if it is in the best interest of the authority to do so.

Due Date:

March 11, 2019

Address:

Interior Gas Utility

Purchasing c/o Michelle Hollowell

3408 International Street

Fairbanks, AK 99701

Agencies worth considering for this assignment include Kite Hill PR & Prosek Partners.

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