Eight firms submitted written submissions last week, in the opening stages of the contest to advise Orange on its relations with Government and new super-regulator Ofcom.
The agencies in the running are understood to be The Communication Group, Connect Public Affairs, GCI, Grayling, Lexington Communications, Politics International, Weber Shandwick, and the incumbent, LLM. Short-listed firms will be notified next month, with pitches beginning in January.
Fishburn Hedges was also invited to pitch, but declined because of its public affairs work with BT.
Orange PA manager Simon Grossman said it was reviewing its advisers because it needed to ‘look for new ideas’.
He said that Orange had not yet finalised the details of the contract, and that the winning firm could be taken on on a project rather than a retained basis.
Grossman said the successful agency would advise Orange on relations with Ofcom and on how to promote 3G handsets to Government as a means of public service delivery through broadband access.
Third-generation technology is already finding its way into some parts of the public sector, such as the police force’s use of O2’s Airwaves secure radio system.
‘The Government has committed itself to getting all public services online by 2005, but it is really only thinking about the internet and not how mobile phones can access this network. We need to get that message out there,’ said Grossman.
Orange will also need advice on the forthcoming Planning Bill, which is expected to allow local councils to prevent mobile phone companies from re-applying for licences to build new bases stations as they try to improve network coverage.
Orange recently hired Financial Dynamics and Ketchum to its respective
financial and consumer PR accounts (PRWeek, 24 October).