The awarded bidder will develop and execute a multi-platform public education and outreach campaign that builds the brand identity and public awareness of the StrengthenME Program, Maine’s behavioral health and Resiliency response to the COVID-19 Pandemic. The campaign shall highlight the StrenthenME Program’s public behavioral health initiatives as well as other available mental health, stress management, wellness, and resiliency support resources, and also offer guidance on these topics in the face of pandemic-related stress. The campaign shall include: 

1. Development of an outreach plan and ongoing strategic support;

2. Ongoing management of the StrengthenME website; 

3. Outreach via social media and other web-based channels; 

4. Outreach via traditional media including television, radio, and print advertising; and

5. Other types of outreach as identified by the awarded Bidder.

Outreach must be accessible to the general public, and it must also include messaging to reach disproportionately impacted target groups, including:

· Older adults 

· Youth 

· Frontline healthcare workers

· Emergency workers 

· Immigrant, refugee and asylee communities

· Non-native-English speakers

· Black people and Communities of Color

· Native communities

· Other populations identified as experiencing elevated impacts from the COVID-19 Pandemic.

The need for these public information and media outreach support services is a direct result of the COVID-19 Pandemic and the impact it has had on Maine residents. These public information and media outreach support services will raise awareness of and lower stigma to accessing wellness, stress management and resiliency resources, which is a critical part of the StrengthenME Program funded by the FEMA/SAMHSA Crisis Counseling Program grant. This short-term disaster relief grant supports community-based outreach, counseling, and other mental health services to survivors of natural and human-caused disasters. The initial period of performance budget is $800,000.


The Department of Health and Human Services (Department) is seeking Public Information and Media Outreach Support Services as defined in this Request for Proposal (RFP) document. This document provides instructions for submitting proposals, the procedure and criteria by which the awarded Bidder will be selected and the contractual terms which will govern the relationship between the State of Maine (State) and the awarded Bidder. The Department provides services to ensure that health, safety, resiliency, and opportunity is afforded to all Maine residents. The Department’s Office of Behavioral Health is responsible for ensuring the safety and well-being of individuals suffering from mental illness and substance use disorders.

Scope of Work:

1. From the time the RFP is issued until award notification is made, all contact with the State regarding the RFP must be made through the RFP Coordinator. No other person/ State employee is empowered to make binding statements regarding the RFP. Violation of this provision may lead to disqualification from the bidding process, at the State’s discretion.

2. Issuance of the RFP does not commit the Department to issue an award or to pay expenses incurred by a Bidder in the preparation of a response to the RFP. This includes attendance at personal interviews or other meetings and software or system demonstrations, where applicable. 

3. All proposals must adhere to the instructions and format requirements outlined in the RFP and all written supplements and amendments (such as the Summary of Questions and Answers), issued by the Department. Proposals are to follow the format and respond to all questions and instructions specified below in the “Proposal Submission Requirements” section of the RFP.

4. Bidders will take careful note that in evaluating a proposal submitted in response to the RFP, the Department will consider materials provided in the proposal, information obtained through interviews/presentations (if any), and internal Departmental information of previous contract history with the Bidder (if any). The Department also reserves the right to consider other reliable references and publicly available information in evaluating a Bidder’s experience and capabilities.

5. The proposal must be signed by a person authorized to legally bind the Bidder and must contain a statement that the proposal and the pricing contained therein will remain valid and binding for a period of 180 days from the date and time of the bid opening. 

6. The RFP and the awarded Bidder’s proposal, including all appendices or attachments, will be the basis for the final contract, as determined by the Department.

7. Following announcement of an award decision, all submissions in response to this RFP will be public records, available for public inspection pursuant to the State of Maine Freedom of Access Act (FOAA) (1 M.R.S. §§ 401 et seq.).

8. The Department, at its sole discretion, reserves the right to recognize and waive minor informalities and irregularities found in proposals received in response to the RFP.

9. All applicable laws, whether or not herein contained, are included by this reference. It is the Bidder’s responsibility to determine the applicability and requirements of any such laws and to abide by them.

Specific instructions for the Bidder to provide a narrative response to the Scope of Services may be found in Part IV, Section III, 1, Services to be Provided.

A. General Requirements 

1. Review current StrengthenME media assets and develop a communications plan, to be approved by the Department, focused on the improving outreach informing individuals statewide about the importance of wellness, stress management, and resiliency in the wake of the COVID-19 Pandemic. The communications plan shall: 

a. Encourage individuals to engage in self-care using stress management, wellness, and resiliency tools.

b. Provide resources for stress management, wellness, and resiliency.

c. Highlight StrengthenME as a support resource. 

d. Highlight StrengthenME agency partners as resources. 

e. Provide a timeline for implementation. 

f. Include outreach tailored to both a general Statewide audience and the specific target populations identified in the Introduction.

g. Identify appropriate relevant targets for campaign success and key performance indicators to measure campaign performance.

2. Provide the communications plan to the Department within ten (10) business days of the initial period of performance.

3. Commence implementation of the communications plan within (7) business days of written approval from the Department.

a. Implementation will be guided by the plan timeline. 

b. Any changes to the communications plan shall be submitted to and approved by the Department prior to implementation.

c. All Department requested revisions shall be implemented within five (5) business days.

4. Provide the master copy of all developed Materials to the Department on an accessible disk or flash drive (or other appropriate mediums as agreed upon by the Department).

5. Ensure all Materials produced comply with State and federal policies/guidelines, including but not limited to:

a. Digital Accessibility and Usability Policy. 

b. Ensuring Materials are no higher than a sixth (6th) grade reading level.

i. If a sixth (6th) grade reading level cannot be obtained, reading levels shall not be higher than an eighth (8th) grade reading level.

6. Consult with the Department on the design and development of creative and marketing materials, ensuring all materials are approved by the Department in writing prior to distribution or implementation.

7. Conduct ongoing analytics and reporting on the effectiveness of the various modes of marketing, including the time and frequency of promotion, expected reach among the target population, and results in generating website traffic.

B. Strategic Communications Plan Requirements 

1. Ensure the strategic communications plan includes: 

a. A timeline for implementation. 

b. Recommendations for developing the brand identity of StrengthenME.

c. Recommendations to enhance and improve the StrengthenME website, including but not limited to:

i. Design and user experience recommendations; 

ii. Content recommendations; 

iii. Search Engine Optimization; and

iv. Methods for tracking and analyzing user behavior. 

d. Web design support for key agency partners, as identified by the Department.

e. Development of a StrengthenME social media strategy, including but not limited recommendations to enhance and improve:

i. The StrengthenME Facebook account; 

ii. The StrengthenME Instagram account; 

iii. Other social media as recommended by the vendor. 

f. Advertising and promotional communications, which shall include but not be limited to: i. Creation and production of radio and television spots that:

1) Normalize the experience of feeling stress as a result of the COVID-19 Pandemic;

2) Provide messages of support and resiliency; 

3) Offer resources for stress management and wellness; 

4) Are designed to resonate with Maine residents; and 

5) Provide linkage to StrengthenME resources, including: 

a) StrengthenME website; 

b) Social media pages; 

c) Call center; and 

d) Partner organizations and agencies. 

ii. Design, develop, and implement a digital ad campaign for websites, search engines, and/or social media pages.

iii. Development of social media content for all StrengthenME social media accounts.

iv. A media buy including television, radio, print, and/or social media to promote wellness, resiliency, stress management, and StrengthenME.

v. Design of printed and/or downloadable materials, in consultation with the Department, which shall include basic information about stress management and wellness in the COVID-19 Pandemic.

vi. Development of other outreach strategies as identified by the awarded Bidder to reach target populations.

C. Performance Measures The target of the StrengthenME Public Information and Media Outreach Support Services is to ensure every person statewide receives multiple messages on stress management and resiliency.

1. As part of the communications plan, the awarded Bidder shall identify appropriate Performance Measures to be monitored via weekly progress reports.

Due Date:

February 2


Shift Communications and Virgo PR are agencies worth considering.

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