DFW hunting for AOR as Ackermann quits

DALLAS: Ackermann Public Relations won't seek to renew its contract with Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), leaving a $20,000-a-month contract up for grabs.DFW officials were expected to issue the RFP late last week.

DALLAS: Ackermann Public Relations won't seek to renew its contract with Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), leaving a $20,000-a-month contract up for grabs.DFW officials were expected to issue the RFP late last week.

"We decided to just put our resources elsewhere," said Ackermann president Cathy Ackermann. The firm notified DFW early last month that it wouldn't rebid the contract, which expires in late April. "We've chosen to pursue other new clients," Ackermann said.

"Ackermann was the airport's first true agency of record in years and assisted me greatly in setting benchmarks and new standards for PR at DFW post-9/11," said the VP of public affairs for the airport, Ken Capps. "We are now looking to take our PR activities to a new level as we prepare to open the airport's $2.7 billion expansion next year."

Airport staff invited four agencies to an "informal roundtable" late last month to "road test" the RFP, Capps said. The invited companies all have experience with transportation clients, he explained. Firm representatives attending the roundtable included those from Weber Shandwick (which serves American Airlines), Ketchum (Delta), McGill & Associates (Dallas Area Rapid Transit), and Market Graphics, which is a current minority subcontractor to DFW.

"We made it clear that this gave nobody a leg up on the competition," Capps said, noting that any agency may respond to the upcoming RFP.

The airport will select one or more firms to provide national media relations and core local media relations for the three-year contract, Capps said.

As was the case when Ackermann won DFW's business two years ago, the airport is stressing strong participation by minority- and woman-owned subcontractors.

A bidders' conference is tentatively planned for later this month, and Capps said the selected agency should be ready to hit the ground running when the contract is awarded in early May.

The winning firm's responsibilities will include helping publicize the opening in 2005 of a new international terminal, the airport's SkyLink Automated People Mover, and a new Grand Hyatt Hotel.

Meanwhile, Ackermann Public Relations has shifted its attention to serving new clients, such as Brunswick Boat Group, Book Market, and First Horizon.

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