HOUSTON: An RFP issued by the Texas Public Utility Commission (PUC) for its dollars 36 million campaign to build awareness of retail electric competition has instigated a PR free-for-all among regional and national agencies.
HOUSTON: An RFP issued by the Texas Public Utility Commission (PUC)
for its dollars 36 million campaign to build awareness of retail
electric competition has instigated a PR free-for-all among regional and
PR and ad firms across the state began touting their qualifications
almost immediately after the commission distributed 150 copies of the
RFP to likely suitors on July 21. Among the agencies expressing keen
interest were Burson-Marsteller, Fleishman-Hillard, TateAustin and
Dallas’ Allyn & Co.
The RFP calls for a broad, four-year integrated campaign with emphasis
on community outreach, media relations and printed materials. PR will
precede paid advertising and lead all communication efforts.
According to PUC customer education liaison Bob Bartels, bidders are
allowed to allocate funds among communication disciplines as they see
fit. The PUC, which budgeted dollars 11.5 million for the campaign’s
first year, expects the winning candidate to approach the project as a
’We want to put responsibility on potential bidders to pull together the
implementation team,’ Bartels said. Citing state regulations and the
need to reach non-English-speaking audiences, Bartels added that the PUC
strongly encourages the use of subcontractors that qualify as
historically underutilized businesses.
New Hampshire utility specialists High Point Communications and Gregory
S. Franklin Associates won a dollars 360,000 contract last fall to
conduct preliminary research and develop a communication plan upon which
the current RFP is based. The complete text of the RFP and the High
Point/Franklin plan can be viewed at
More than 30 PR and advertising firms sent representatives to a November
bidders’ conference, but many bowed out of the initial planning phase
because it would have disqualified them from going after the more
lucrative implementation work, Bartels said. A second bidders’
conference is scheduled in Austin for August 11, while notices of intent
are due August 18 and proposals must be submitted by September 18. The
PUC’s three-member commission is tentatively scheduled to select a
winner on October 5.
Burson is among the national agencies that have been following the RFP
process for months.
’We expect to be competitive based on our experience implementing a
successful campaign in Pennsylvania,’ said Michael Lake, managing
director of Burson’s Dallas outpost. Rob Allyn of Allyn & Co. and Janise
Murphy, president of Fleishman’s Texas operations, also noted their
agencies’ experience with electric deregulation issues.
Murphy said Fleishman/Texas would work with the firm’s DC office to
develop a bid, while TateAustin CEO Kerry Tate said her agency would
likely team with a statewide network of firms to compete for the
Bartels joined the PUC last November from Weber’s Atlanta office, where
he had worked on a natural gas deregulation campaign.