New Mexico Tourism to issue RFP this fall

SANTA FE, NM: In an effort to attract more visitors to the "Land of Enchantment," the New Mexico Tourism Department will issue a national RFP for long-term PR support this fall, said Monique Jacobson, cabinet secretary.

SANTA FE, NM: In an effort to attract more visitors to the "Land of Enchantment," the New Mexico Tourism Department will issue a national RFP for long-term PR support this fall, said Monique Jacobson, cabinet secretary.

The bid is coming at the "right time," said Jacobson, who joined the state's department of tourism six months ago. She previously worked as the director of PepsiCo's Quaker Breakfast business unit. She began her career at the food and beverage company in 2005 as a senior marketing manager for Gatorade. 

New Mexico is currently the 38th most visited state, Jacobson added.

"We're really changing our development approach as a whole and I really want to focus on brand building," she told PRWeek. "We're at a very pivotal moment right now in terms of the process for that brand building. We've done a lot of research to figure out what we want that brand to be. Now I want to be sure I have the right partners on board, moving forward to help bring this brand to life, and really get New Mexico on the map."

For the last year, the tourism department has worked with Development Counsellors International (DCI). According to Jacobson, the New York-based PR agency had a one-year contract, which ended on July 1, 2011, and was recently granted a three-month extension. DCI will be invited to re-pitch in the fall.

"While the specifications of the RFP have not yet been distributed, we currently do plan to participate in the process," said Karyl Leigh Barnes, SVP and partner at DCI. "New Mexico is home to an outstanding tourism experience for travelers, which is supported by a dynamic tourism industry. Secretary Jacobson has a vibrant vision for the future of the destination, which will help to set it apart from others in the Southwest."

The PR budget for the tourism work is pegged at approximately $120,000, confirmed Jacobson.

"The agency doesn't have to be from New Mexico, but they have to get what makes New Mexico incredible – and get that with limited budgets,” she noted. “We have to think very creatively about what we're going to do to drive folks to the state. I don't want just a cookie-cutter approach. I want to be sure the proposals or pitches really reflect New Mexico's uniqueness."

Next week, the tourism department is putting out an RFP for an ad agency. The state has currently been working with M&C Saatchi in Los Angeles. The ad budget is approximately $2.5 million per year.

"New Mexico is quirky, romantic, and adventuresome,” said Jacobson. "I need someone who has that same level of passion and understanding. We've got to think very creatively about how we're going to cast the PR and advertising net because we have limited dollars. It's really going to be about the creativity of ideas."

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