Regents of University of California Seeks Crisis Communications Firm

Regents of the University of California Seeks Crisis Communications Firm
Regents of the University of California Seeks Crisis Communications Firm

The University of California Office of the President (“UCOP”) is requesting competitive bids from Crisis Communications firm(s) to partner with UCOP, University of California Health (UC Health), and UC Campuses to provide strategic communications support to manage serious and emerging issues.

The University of California seeks to engage one or more public relations/crisis communications Supplier(s) to support the UC system, including Office of the President, as well as its UC Health enterprise, 10 campuses and three national labs. The purpose of this support is to provide UC locations with the ability to respond rapidly and effectively to address emergencies, as well as provide strategic communications support to manage serious and emerging issues.

The selected Supplier(s) will be available to UCOP, UC Health, UC campuses and labs on an as-needed basis. This will be a systemwide master services agreement enabling UC leadership to activate the contract(s) and its pre-determined terms in response to an unexpected event or developing situation that requires a strategically communicated response. The decision for any area of the UC to engage a Supplier must be authorized by the unit’s Senior Vice President, Executive Vice President or Vice Chancellor.

The selected Supplier(s) will provide both strategic counsel to senior management as well as offer hands-on support for media relations, issues management and other communications support to quickly and accurately respond to rapidly developing events in a manner that maintains the high standards of the University of California and its brand reputation. The provision of specific services may vary based on the circumstances of a particular event or issue.

Additionally, from time to time issues arise in the public sphere or among elected or appointed bodies that, although not the result of the University’s actions, may have a significant impact on the University’s enterprise (outbreaks of disease, earthquakes, civil unrest or protests, mass shootings, health plan terminations, etc.) in which the University may need to reach a broad audience or a targeted one with immediacy and accuracy.

Qualified Suppliers are invited to submit proposals based on the information provided in this RFP. The successful bidder(s) will have produced a compelling offering based on the objectives outlined in this RFP



UC is one of the largest and most acclaimed institutions of higher learning in the world, is dedicated to excellence in teaching, research, health care and public service. It is a public institution with annual resources of over $34 billion and encompasses ten campuses, six medical schools and five medical centers, four law schools and a statewide Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources. The University is also involved in the operation and management of three national laboratories for the U.S. Department of Energy.

The University has a pre-eminent regular teaching faculty of approximately 10,000 members. More than 62 Nobel Prizes have been awarded to researchers of the University; 29 of the Nobel Prizes have been won since 1995. No U.S. public university has won more Nobel Prizes than UC. University affiliated researchers have received 67 National Medals of Science − about 13 percent of the medals presented − since Congress created the award in 1959. The University has more members of the National Academy of Sciences than any other college or university.

Systemwide management of the University of California is assigned to the Office of the President based in Oakland, California. Its divisions oversee UC’s academic mission, budget, external relations, legal matters, and business and financial activities (including UC Office of the Chief Investments Officer). The University is governed by a Board of Regents consisting of 26 members, 18 of whom are appointed by the Governor for 12-year overlapping terms.


Established: 1868 Fiscal Year: 07.01.XX – 06.30. XX

Official incorporated entity: The Regents of the University of California


External Relations and Communications is focused on increasing public understanding and support for the university and communicating UC’s value and impact on the lives of people in our local communities, California and the nation. We help establish and strengthen relationships with outside constituencies — such as alumni and philanthropists, business and industry — and, in coordination with campuses, facilitating their support for the university. We also conduct policy analysis for the university.

Scope of Work:

The successful crisis communications/public relations Supplier(s) will have significant experience in a minimum of two or more of the following areas:

  1. Crisis Management, specifically:

o On-call strategic counsel, including evenings and weekends, to provide rapid assessment, recommendations and communications coordination during unanticipated emergencies

o Preparation of key messaging as well as the development and refining of media materials, digital strategies and third-party activation based on the target audience(s), the University’s agreed upon stance, and best industry practices

o Hands-on executional support, when needed, for public-facing, executive or employee communications (traditional, digital, social)

o Analysis of media coverage (by audience or by channel) to assess effectiveness of messaging and develop adjustment as needed

o Post-crisis follow-up communications, as needed.

o Experience managing crisis events for higher education institutions and/or involving student populations is preferred.

  • Issues Management

o Proactive development of communication action plans in anticipation of potential crisis at one or more locations (data breaches/cybersecurity, governmental shutdowns, active shooter/hostage, labor actions, etc.) so as to have an initial framework.

o Management of issues fueled by actively oppositional groups, including activist groups seeking to use pressure campaigns for favorable program decisions by University leadership

o Continued management of issues and events to ensure effective responses and outcomes over an extended period of time.

  • Healthcare:

o Healthcare delivery systems and the issues they face in today’s complex environment (hospitals, health systems, physician organizations, health advocacy) – specific experience with and understanding of academic medical centers is desirable

o Health-related research and its importance to the advancement of new treatments and cures (basic science, clinical research, translational research, research with ethical considerations/sensitive fields)

o Cybersecurity and HIPAA data protection

o Data aggregation, artificial intelligence, and related technologies and their place in healthcare research and healthcare delivery today and in the future

o Healthcare Education and Training to prepare the workforce of the future (higher education for healthrelated careers such as medical schools, nursing schools, pharmacy schools, graduate medical education/residency programs)

o Health issues impacting undergraduate and graduate students (on-campus student health centers, the physical and emotional well-being of students)

  • Media Training

o Provide media training for designated executives and subject matter experts at locations upon request.

o Provide research and background on particular reporters or outlets as appropriate in handling a media related issue or developing a media strategy.

o Message development and message training for interview subjects, with messages that are relevant, effective, sound-bite length, and resonate with stakeholder audiences.

  • Stakeholder Engagement (Public Affairs):

o Advise and assist in developing communications to elected officials or governmental entities at the local, state, regional and federal levels including public affairs, community affairs and outreach.

o Actively engaging with advocacy groups in California that have influence in shaping state policy regarding state funding, academic and student affairs, health insurance, health care delivery/hospitals, health access, patient advocacy, etc.

Potential Areas of Engagement:

UC operates within several extremely complex environments in which issues may arise on any number of fronts. Depending on the volume of work in-house or the nature of the situation, the University may request services to ensure a robust response. Areas may include, but are not limited to:

– Sexual Harassment/Sexual Violence

– Title IX claims of discrimination

– Prop 209

– Employee or physician disruptive behavior

– Medical record privacy violations

– Cybersecurity/Ransomware/Malware/Data Breaches

– Active shooter

– System or project management failures

– Natural or manmade disasters impacting one or more locations

– Significant epidemics or public health concerns (Zika, Ebola, H1N1, Avian influenza, etc.)

– Medical error litigation

– Sensitive research controversies

– Health Plan-Facility terminations and potential disruptions in care

The nature of services needed may vary from strategic consulting to material execution. The selected Supplier(s) should have in-house capabilities to both advise, coordinate, facilitate and produce materials that support the recommended strategy and handle paid media placements, including:

– Print, digital, social media placements for paid media

– Microsite set-up and programming

– Photography, illustration and graphic design (infographics, fact sheets, myth busters, FAQs, etc.)

– Digital and web-based communications (video production, banner ads, social media posts, etc.)

– Research surveys and focus groups

– Audience-specific outreach and engagement

– Change management

Due Date:

February 2


System-wide Procurement Services Sr. Strategic Sourcing Manager University of California, Office of the President 1111 Franklin Street, 10th Floor Oakland, CA 94607-5200

5WPR is a leading crisis PR firm.

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