Virginia Department of Elections Seeks Communications, Public Relations Assistance
The purpose of this Request for Proposal (RFP) is to solicit sealed proposals to establish a term contract, through competitive negotiations and managed by the Commonwealth of Virginia, Department of General Services (DGS), with qualified vendors that can assist and execute the development of an integrated public relations and marketing communications campaign to raise awareness of the Department of Elections (ELECT)’s mission and efforts to educate citizens regarding efforts in election security.
The Virginia Department of Elections is aware of security concerns related to elections and voting systems that have been raised through media coverage and organizations dedicated to voter protection. It is important that voters have confidence in the integrity of the elections process, and that state and local officials are taking all of the necessary steps to ensure that their votes are counted accurately. ELECT wants every voter to know that election security is a priority in Virginia.
Scope of Work:
DGS/ELECT is seeking a contractor to serve as an integrated communications, public relations, marketing and advertising resource to work with ELECT’s executive staff to plan, execute and measure effective and efficient communications initiatives and public relations campaigns that will educate Virginia citizens about the key elements of ELECT’s comprehensive efforts regarding election security.
The Contractor will be required, through a Statement of Work (SOW) process, to develop key communications concepts and plans, based on ELECT’s communications and public relations initiatives and goals, and implement the plans and/or communication tasks based on a SOW using the appropriate communication tools to reach selected target audiences. These may include, but are not limited to advertisements, public service announcements, news releases, brochures, etc.
The Contractor shall efficiently and effectively execute all appropriate elements in comprehensive communications and public relations campaigns and assist in the evaluation of its effectiveness based on measureable objectives established before implementation.
Following the award of a contract, if any, the Contractor shall only perform services following receipt of a duly executed eVA Order, which shall be accompanied by a detailed SOW, for each order made off this contract, that will contain all pertinent details regarding any expected service deliverable, which shall be consistent with any negotiated pricing schedule of services and rates/
The Commonwealth seeks offerors to provide proposals that address the need for a full-service marketing communications agency that can assist with the development of integrated public information, public relations and marketing campaigns to support ELECT’s mission and other communications initiatives defined by ELECT. In general, the Contractor should:
1. Have demonstrated experience and expertise in building a business/organization’s relations with a preferred emphasis on creating community and governmental partnerships and programs.
2. Be familiar with the diverse demographics and media markets of Virginia to ensure proper placement of campaign messages and optimum reach of the targeted audience.
3. Be able to develop a campaign conducted in English and Spanish and possibly a multilingual campaign and/or experienced in sub-contracting for these services.
4. Be familiar with video development and other emerging technology and/or experienced in sub-contracting for these services in order to include the development of communication tools to include, but not limited to video, promotional CDs, podcasts or RSS feeds.
5. Be familiar with the use of social media and leveraging it to reach target audiences.
6. Be able to integrate and appropriately merge traditional forms of public relations with newer technologies without relying only on social media to conduct communication campaigns.
7. Have demonstrated experience spearheading projects with clients and demonstrated project management skills.
The selected contractor, at a minimum, must be able to deliver the following:
1. Media Planning/Buying; the Contractor will be required to:
a. Translate the agency’s communications, public relations, advertising, and marketing goals into effective media plans and buys which may include, but are not limited to, television, radio, print, and Internet advertising. This includes identifying and recommending media outlets that effectively reach the target audience and contact those media outlets on behalf of ELECT.
b. Incorporate the media buying in the broader communication’s plan for the Agency.
c. Provide a schedule of media buys to ELECT for advance approval, in writing, prior to any media buy.
d. Leverage ELECT’s media spending by utilizing value-added merchandising and off-rate negotiation toward pre-determined objectives.
2. Strategic Communications and Project Management
a. Integrate ELECT’s agency objectives with the communications and public relations plans in order to achieve stated goals and develop customized strategies that provide maximum exposure, impact, and return on investment.
b. Research and develop public relations campaigns compatible with ELECT’s marketing, public relations, and electronic marketing promotions.
c. Develop overall campaigns based on media strategies and selected industry partners based upon approved goals. Media planning shall include incorporation of approved research and shall demonstrate the ability to leverage advertising dollars for maximum delivery through off rate card negotiation and other benefits.
d. Develop and execute creative strategies, in consultation with the ELECT’s executive staff.
e. Develop and monitor creative and production budgets, in consultation with the ELECT’s executive staff.
f. Develop a direct marketing strategy to support the ELECT’s public relations campaigns.
g. Leverage ELECT resources with potential partners, including, but not limited to, advertising, marketing and/or public relations partnerships between ELECT and other parties; cultivate corporate partnerships with ELECT and/or private sector, and cultivate partnerships with other public agencies in order to extend ELECT’s message delivery.
a. Execute ELECT’s public relations and marketing campaigns that accurately address ELECT’s media strategies and goals utilizing proven capabilities for high quality and cost efficiency.
b. Maintain timelines and deadlines while keeping all appropriate staff informed of project status.
c. Maintain the approved production budgets. No budget shall be exceeded without the prior written approval of ELECT.
d. Manage the creation and/or production of collateral material, upon ELECT’s request.
ELECT requires that all public relations strategies be based on sound research. The Contractor shall evaluate the ongoing effectiveness of advertising placed on behalf of ELECT and be able to analyze and utilize marketing research.
The Contractor shall analyze and utilize marketing research information to:
a. Gauge changes in voter community and use the information to improve public relations, marketing, product development, and overall communications effectiveness.
b. Determine what types of communication, media, and/or messages are most effective in communication ELECT’s mission and message and apply this information to develop future communications.
c. Determine the overall effectiveness and return on investment an advertising or marketing program provides.
5. Communications Plan and Budget
a. Develop advertising concepts that communicate message points as stated in the campaign plan. The plan shall include, but is not limited to; communications goals and strategies, total media expenditures, production budget, required research, media schedule and Contractor’s fees, where applicable.
b. Modify plans as a result of budget changes or at the request of ELECT.
6. Crisis Communications Planning and Training
a. Drafting and development of crisis/emergency plans
b. Coordination and training for implementing of crisis plans
c. Crisis communications counsel and consulting
d. Crisis communications and preparedness training
e. Assessment of implementation of crisis communications plan
7. Electronic Marketing
a. Develop electronic marketing programs to work in concert with ELECT’s Electronic Marketing Initiatives, if requested.
Virginia Dept. of General Services, Procurement Services
203 Governor St. 1st Floor
Richmond, VA 23219