AUSTIN: The Texas Department of Economic Development (TDED) has made its long-awaited choice of agency for its tourism account, splitting a one-year, dollars 250,000 contract between a Dallas and a New York firm.
New York's Development Counselors International (DCI) will be the official agency of record, partnering with Dallas-based Tucker & Associates on the account, which boasts a four-year renewal option. 'They were the best overall vendors that we evaluated based on price, qualifications and strategic planning,' said Texas' deputy tourism director David Teel.
More than 180 agencies requested packets after the TDED asked for proposals in February (PRWeek, March 1). However, the department's detailed RFP and lengthy review committee process, combined with its somewhat modest budget, seemed to discourage most from bidding. Seven firms submitted proposals, but only the DCI/Tucker team, New York's Lou Hammond & Associates, and Austin's Sherry Matthews Advertising met the final requirements for consideration.
Among those bowing out was Edelman, which provided PR for the TDED under a subcontract with ad firm GSD&M. Late last year, the group switched to McCann-Erickson Southwest for advertising and carved out a separate PR budget.
'It's not that we didn't want to do the work. We just looked at it and said, 'This is not feasible,'' explained Kim Plaskett of Edelman's Dallas office. TDED never used an outside PR firm before Edelman, and it significantly increased its expectations when developing the RFP, Plaskett added.
Along with McCann-Erickson, DCI and Tucker will take a new approach to promoting Texas tourism. Instead of focusing on different geographic regions, PR and advertising will target 10 specific interest groups, including families and people interested in western heritage, outdoor adventures, cultural attractions and shopping.
'It's a huge win for our firm as well as for Lori's,' said DCI President Andy Levine.
DCI limits its PR clients to cities, states and regions hoping to promote economic development and tourism. Since its inception in the 1960s, DCI has worked for 35 states, including current clients Maine, Nevada, Georgia, Wyoming, and Utah.
Tucker formed her company in January when she and other members of Patrice Tanaka & Co.'s amicably split from its parent (PRWeek, January 18). Clients include Royal Resorts and Vision Design.