Discover Financial Services issues PR RFP

The financial services company that owns and operates Discover Bank has worked with Golin for more than ten years.

RIVERWOODS, IL: Discover Financial Services has issued an RFP for public relations support.

The company issued the RFP on May 2 with responses due May 24. The pitch presentations were held from June 24-28, however, according to people familiar with the process, the company has yet to choose an agency. The winner for the contract will likely be chosen soon, as the intended start date is September 1, according to the review documents.

The review was broken into two phases. The first was a review of agency proposals. The second included an evaluation of the agency’s proposed pricing and the pitch. In this case, agencies were asked to craft a pitch addressing a smaller specific portion of Discover Financial Services’ overall business.

A person familiar with the account review said the specific brief was a millennial-focused consumer campaign promoting Discover’s direct banking services. 

Discover Financial Services wants the new agency to increase product visibility, enhance corporate reputation, increase awareness of the company’s social responsibility efforts, help handle crises and ensure the company is recognized as a best place to work, according to the RFP documents.

The RFP also asks the winning agency to provide "senior-level counsel, media training, social media expertise and media monitoring, support some community affairs activities, diversity and inclusion initiatives, call center visibility, investor relations and internal change management."

PR activities covered under the monthly retainer are intended to support several of Discover’s business areas including its U.S. card business, its direct banking offerings and the Discover Global Network.

The winning PR firm will support special projects, as assigned by Discover Financial Services, outside the monthly retainer, and community affairs efforts under a separate retainer. In addition, the RFP states that Discover may "award fractional business to multiple vendors within the RFP based on the vendor’s specific strengths."

Along with the RFP and its requirements, Discover Financial Services also sent respondents a list of 26 questions relating to agency qualifications, client service, campaign delivery and strategic thinking. PR firms were asked about their experience dealing with activist groups pressuring corporations on social issues; their experience with fintech, machine learning, AI and blockchain currencies; their views on current PR issues; average client tenure and their longest client relationship; and how the agency’s philosophy affects its ability to serve clients.

A Discover Financial Services representative declined to comment on the RFP.

"Discover doesn’t discuss publicly its merchant and vendor relationships or business plans for corporate communications," said Jon Drummond, Discover Financial Services’ director of external relations and media relations, in an emailed statement.

The RFP does not mention a budget other than stating that the winning agency cannot spend more than $200,000 on special projects without the permission of Discover.

In 2014, Discover Financial Services appointed Golin as its global AOR. A Golin representative confirmed that Discover Financial Services is a client but declined to comment on the current account review or confirm if it was still an AOR relationship. 

"Discover has been a valued Golin client for more than 10 years," the rep said. "And we hope to continue that long-standing relationship for many years to come."

On April 25, Discover reported Q1 2019 revenue (net of interest) of $2.8 billion, a 7% increase compared to Q1 2018 when revenue was $2.6 billion. Net income rose 9% from $666 million in Q1 2018 to $726 million in Q1 2019.

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