US military seeking PR help for efforts in the Middle East

WASHINGTON: The US military issued two requests for PR help in the Middle East last month, one targeting Iraqis, the other the entire region.

WASHINGTON: The US military issued two requests for PR help in the Middle East last month, one targeting Iraqis, the other the entire region.

The first, a request for information (RFI), seeks to gauge the interest and capacity among contractors to wage an integrated campaign promoting the US mission in Iraq. Respondents are asked if they have Arabic speakers on staff, how quickly they could relocate to Baghdad, and how much it would cost to run the proposed campaign.

The campaign's objective would be to "inform the Iraqi people of the coalition's goals and gain their support." Proposed methods include outreach to Iraqi media and Sunni, Kurdish, and Shia community leaders; training Iraqis to serve as coalition spokespeople; setting up a rapid-response operation; and developing print, radio, and TV advertisements.

The work would be carried out under the Multi-National Corps-Iraq, or MNC-I - a transitional US authority. Submissions were due September 2; no budget estimate is given.

Also posted last month was a Pentagon RFP requesting media support for its public diplomacy efforts in the Middle East. The recipient of the contract won't be waging a campaign, but will instead serve as an adviser on Arab media and religious happenings for one year.

The contractor will provide weekly reports on what is happening in the Arab media and what is said at Friday sermons delivered in Mosques throughout Iraq. It also will be expected to "research current adversaries," consult on outreach strategy, and provide a two-person liaison team to foster communication between the State Department and the Pentagon.

Although the State Department is formally charged with waging public diplomacy efforts overseas, both the White House and the Pentagon have taken increased roles in Middle East outreach since 9/11.

Proposals and quotes were due September 13. The RFP favors small businesses (under $6 million) and stipulates that should a larger company prevail, it must have "a subcontracting, plan with small business."

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