The purpose of this Unsealed Request for Proposal (URFP) is to solicit unsealed proposals from qualified sources to enter into a contract to provide strategic messaging, public relations and related services as outlined herein to New College Institute (NCI), an agency of the Commonwealth of Virginia, for a one-year period with an option to renew for three additional one-year periods.


New College Institute (NCI) is a premier center of learning that provides access to academic degrees, credentials and professional learning experience in high quality learning environments to prepare students for regional and statewide career opportunities and participation in collaborative, positive community change, promoting regional economic prosperity and community transformation. NCI partners with various educational partners to provide access to academic degrees, credentials and professional learning experiences in four focus areas: Engineering & Advanced Manufacturing, Health & Human Services, Education & Community Leadership, and Cybersecurity & Technology. In addition, NCI also provides non-credit trainings, certifications, and various programming in all four focus areas. Further information about NCI may be found at the following website:

Scope of Work:

NCI seeks an agency with experience in higher education AND expertise in providing strategic messaging, public relations and related services. The successful candidate will have a demonstrated ability to engage with academic and administrative leadership, faculty, students and other stakeholders. They will also have experience devising a broad range of public relations strategies and tactics for higher education, including overall messaging, leadership communications; development communications’ institutional, faculty and event media relations; and related initiatives.

A. Research and Discovery: 

a. Awareness of NCI among statewide and targeted out-of-state prospects

b. Perceptions of NCI and its academic program partners among statewide and targeted out-of-state prospects

c. Position of NCI among peer institutions

B. Brand Strategy Refresh 

C. Strategic Planning and Messaging Development 

a. Drive messaging into a communications timeline and plan that will look ahead for the next 2-3 years.

b. Produce immediate, real time messaging, communications, and public relations strategy that brings clarity to NCI’s purpose and its role in the Commonwealth of Virginia for both the short and long-terms.

c. Public relations and communications plan with timeline to address upcoming milestones and challenges for the next 2-3 years.

D. Reputation/Crisis Management 

a. Gain an understanding of external sentiment through initial research

b. Assimilate and develop a plan to address potential issues—Influencers

c. Continuously monitor external sentiment

E. Implementation 

a. Advertising campaign 

b. Media buy 

F. On-the-Ground Communications and Public Relations Support

a. Supporting NCI on the ground in a series of proactive and reactive ways:

i. Reporter Relationship Building 

ii. Support for NCI press releases

iii. Support for public meetings 

iv. Community Engagement 

v. Internal Communications Strategy

vi. Leadership Communications 

vii. Faculty and event media relations

G. Firms must have experience in Higher Education build and launch initiatives.

Due Date:

5 : 00 P. M. (Eastern Time) January 5, 2020 


PR Firms worth considering include Hunter PR and Alison Brod PR.

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