National Guard summons shops to compete for dollars 250m in projects

WASHINGTON: The National Guard has posted five RFPs worth as much as dollars 250 million combined over five years for PR work and related services.

WASHINGTON: The National Guard has posted five RFPs worth as much as dollars 250 million combined over five years for PR work and related services.

WASHINGTON: The National Guard has posted five RFPs worth as much as dollars 250 million combined over five years for PR work and related services.

Laughlin, Marinaccio & Owens (LM&O) - a full-service advertising agency based in Arlington, VA - had been handling a number of projects, including PR, for the National Guard since 1998. However, LM&O plans to pitch only for the ad assignment, not having the capacity to handle the PR element, which has grown significantly beyond the ad-focused shop's capabilities.

The accounts include up to dollars 100 million for marketing programs, dollars 50 million for 'noncommercial sustaining announcements' (its term for PSAs), dollars 50 million for state media programs, dollars 25 million for Internet services and dollars 25 million for a recruiting and retention program. Also up for grabs is a dollars 150 million advertising account. The deadline for applications is March 15.

Lynda Yezzi Valentine, chief of institutional advertising for the National Guard Bureau, said the Guard was pleased with LM&O's work but was legally obligated to hold an open review. 'Because of the amount of money involved and the nature of the account, we couldn't be exclusive,' she said.

The military tends to eschew PR firms in favor of advertising and their own public affairs bureaus, fearing the taint of propaganda. 'By law, we don't do PR work,' said Valentine.

Nonetheless, several of the RFPs involve PR. According to the National Guard's Web site, the dollars 100 million marketing account 'may include development and execution of PR/promotional/sponsorship programs,' in addition to sales promotion and events management.

By contrast, the state media outreach campaign consists mainly of advertising buying and placement. The Internet services account involves Web development, as well as ongoing management of the National Guard's Web sites. The PSA campaign calls for development and placement of PSAs, and the personnel recruitment and retention account has an employee relations focus.



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