Request for Proposals for Strategic Communications Planning Services
Date Issued: March 1, 2018
Background and Current Need
The Institute for Learning Innovation is an independent not-for-profit organization, based in Oregon, working at the intersection of research, practice, and policy. We believe that a broader definition of learning, one that is lifelong and free-choice, can offer solutions to many of the critical cultural, environmental, economic and social problems facing institutions and communities in today’s changing world.
Although there are 10,000s of schools of education at universities and colleges devoted to researching, training and development in support of the learning that happens in school, and an equal number, if not more government and private organizations with the same goal, the Institute for Learning Innovation stands apart as one of the few if not the only organization exclusively devoted to insuring that the 97% of learning people do outside of school is successful. We help organizations and communities develop innovative ways to support the public’s lifelong, free-choice learning.
As this will be our first foray into actively communicating the Institute, we are interested in taking early steps in the right direction, and laying the groundwork for more extensive communications activities as we grow the organization.
Specifically, the Institute for Learning Innovation seeks to generate measurable improvements in awareness beyond current levels among a range of diverse audiences – e.g., current and potential funders, current and future collaborators, and the broader free-choice professional learning community – about ILI's research and evaluation and professional learning and training activities. Our goal is to not only fulfill our mission of communicating new, innovative and relevant information that advances the field of free-choice learning but equally encourages and broadens interest and participation in those who could provide financial support for the organization’s efforts in the short- and long-term.
To that end, we are soliciting proposals for a short-term (1-3 year) Strategic Communications Plan for our organization reflective of our current size, budget and staffing. The plan should include cost-effective activities that we can accomplish during the next 12-36 months. We also seek a redesign of our website and the development of several short, one-page organizational descriptions that can be handed out a meetings.
This RFP is soliciting bids from all interested parties for a one-year contract, with the potential for an additional extension.
Request for Proposals
Institute for Learning Innovation (ILI) is requesting proposals from interested firms to provide strategic communications services that will outline a three-year Strategic Communications Plan for ILI which will include, subject to compelling disagreement, the following action items in the first year:
- A plan for promoting the Institute for Learning Innovation to each of several (3) key audiences (as defined in the Strategic Communications Plan) as the pre-eminent free-choice learning research, convening and connecting organization in the nation/world.
- A plan for positioning ILI-affiliated staff as leading and trusted sources of expertise and information for each of the ILI’s (3) targeted audiences (as defined in the Strategic Communications Plan).
- A plan for inspiring well-qualified potential donors (individuals, foundations and corporations) to consider providing financial support to the Institute for Learning Innovation.
- A plan for growing awareness of Institute for Learning Innovation's reputation amongst the (3) targeted/key audiences defined in the Strategic Communications Plan.
- A plan for producing and documenting clear measures of success in communicating the Institute for Learning Innovation to its (3) key audiences (as defined in the Strategic Communications Plan).
- A redesigned Institute for Learning Innovation website and a plan for driving intended users to the website.
- A set of one-page, overview “handouts” targeted to each of ILI’s (3) key audiences (as defined in the Strategic Communications Plan).
Term of Contract
ILI intends to enter into a contract with a proposer for an initial 1-year term beginning June 1, 2018 and concluding on May 31, 2019. At its sole option, ILI may choose to exercise additional contracts beyond this initial one-year term.
II. SCOPE OF SERVICES
The following provides a general overview of the specific work assignments ILI will expect the selected firm to complete. These should be considered suggestions rather than an exhaustive listing of tactics to be employed to meet the objectives stated above. The Institute welcomes proposer’s recommendations to add strategies and tactics to this list that can further enhance ILI’s ability to create awareness of its enhanced strength in its areas of focus. The firm’s proposal will need to provide sufficient detail on how it would approach the outlined goals and tasks outlined below. The budget page should itemize anticipated costs for how each of these goals/tasks will be fulfilled.
The Scope of Services includes three major components:
Strategic Communications Plan
- Executive summary - One page or less which defines terms/concepts as needed for professionals who are not professional communicators
- Background – Overall summary of assumptions and goals of the plan.
- Situation analysis – Resulting from a review of our existing documents, current website, current one-page overview, past one-page overview, 2017 strategic visioning documents; interviews of key staff, board members and a sampling of current collaborators, as well as a review of current and potential competitors. These are intended to insure a strong and deep understanding of the organization’s goals, priorities and current positioning within the marketplace.
- Strategic summary – Identify communication goals, objectives and methods expected to deliver specific and stated communication outcomes to (3) key audiences. These should all support and advance the ILI mission and strategic objectives for the planning period stated in the RFP. Objectives that are so-called SMART in accomplishing a goal are considered best (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-sensitive). Predictable outcomes such as “increased awareness of ILI” will need to articulate a baseline in order to be measurable.
- Decision-making, evaluation and monitoring of the plan – Outline of how communications plan should be administered including suggested lines of authority and decision-making and how and when communications evaluation and monitoring activities will be done; both within the frame of the one-year of the expected contract and for the duration of the planning horizon.
- Implementation schedule – By objective and by month, with emphasis on Year One; with a menu of possible activities in Years Two and Three.
- Future budget – Keyed to objectives. For activities not in Year One, provide a range of costs keyed to previously outlined menu of activities.
1. Review of the current ILI website with critique of strengths and weakness.
2. Redesign of website:
That reflects the organization’s identity as an innovative and unique free-choice learning R&D organization.
That allows easy navigation for discovering key organizational information such as mission, activities and personnel. Background – Overall summary of assumptions and goals of the plan.
That communicates with and targets each of the (3) key audiences identified as part of the Strategic Communications Plan
3. Recommendations for search engine optimization.
Organizational One-Page Description
1. Building off 2017 efforts, in collaboration with staff and board craft (language and graphically) 3 versions of a one-page organizational description targeted to each of the (3) key ILI audiences developed as part of the Strategic Communications Plan.
III. Issuing Information
This RFP is issued on behalf of the Institute for Learning Innovation. The following individual will serve as the Issuing Officer from the date of release of this RFP until a contract is awarded:
John Falk, Executive Director
Institute for Learning Innovation
Restriction on Communication
From the issue date of this RFP until announcement of the successful vendor, vendors may contact only the Issuing Officer and only via email. The Issuing Officer will respond only to questions via email, but answers to individual questions will be shared with all interested vendors (without disclosing proprietary information).
Any and all information provided to proposers is to be considered proprietary information and is to be used solely for the purpose of responding to this RFP. Such information is not to be released to any party outside the proposer’s organization without the explicit written consent of the Institute for Learning Innovation.
IV. SCHEDULE OF EVENTS AND STRUCTURE OF PROPOSALS
Respondents will be notified of any changes to this schedule.
March 1, 2018 RFP Issued and distributed to potential vendors
March 31, 2018 Deadline for submission of proposals
April 15, 2018 Schedule interviews with potential vendors
May 15, 2018 Vendors notified of selection
June 1, 2018 Contract begins
Note: This Schedule of Events is subject to change.
Questions and Requests for Clarification
Vendors may submit written questions and requests for clarification regarding the RFP. The questions or requests for clarification must be submitted via e-mail and received by the Issuing Officer before 5:00p.m. Pacific Time on Wednesday, March 21, 2018. Oral inquiries will not be permitted. If a question or request for clarification pertains to a specific section of the RFP, the page and section number must be referenced. Issuing Officer will post all questions and requests for clarification received and responses on the ILI website (at specific location TBD) and/or email clarification to all contacted organizations.
Amendment to the RFP and Bid Proposal and Withdrawal of Bid Proposal
The Institute for Learning Innovation reserves the right to amend the RFP at any time. The Vendor shall acknowledge receipt of any and all amendments in its proposal. If the amendment occurs after the closing date for receipt of bid proposals, ILI may, in its sole discretion, allow Vendors to amend their bid proposals in response to the amendment if necessary.
The Vendor may amend its bid proposal. The amendment must be in writing, signed by the Vendor and received via email by the time set for the receipt of proposals. Vendors who submit proposals in advance of the deadline may withdraw, modify, and resubmit proposals at any time prior to the deadline for submitting proposals. Vendors must notify the Issuing Officer via email if they wish to withdraw their proposals.
Submission of Bid Proposals
The Issuing Officer must receive the bid proposal at the email address set forth above before 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time, March 31, 2018. This is a mandatory requirement and will not be waived by ILI. Any bid proposal received after this deadline will be rejected. It is the Vendor’s responsibility to ensure that the bid proposal is received prior to the deadline. Vendors must furnish all information necessary to evaluate the bid proposal. Bid proposals that fail to meet the mandatory requirements of the RFP will be disqualified. Verbal information provided by the Vendor shall not be considered part of the Vendor’s proposal.
Bid Proposal Opening
The bid proposals will remain confidential until the evaluation committee has reviewed all the bid proposals submitted in response to this RFP and the Institute for Learning Innovation has announced a notice of intent to award a contract.
Costs of Preparing the Bid Proposal
The costs of preparation and delivery of the bid proposal is solely the responsibility of the Vendor submitting such proposal.
Rejection of Bid Proposals
The Institute for Learning Innovation reserves the right to reject any or all bid proposals, in whole and in part, received in response to this RFP. Issuance of this RFP in no way constitutes a commitment by the Institute for Learning Innovation to award a contract.
Nonmaterial and Material Variances
The Institute for Learning Innovation reserves the right to waive or permit cure of nonmaterial variances in the bid proposal if, in the judgment of the Institute, it is in ILI’s best interest to do so. Nonmaterial variances include minor informalities that do not affect responsiveness; that are merely a matter of form or format; that do not change the relative standing or otherwise prejudice other Vendors; that do not change the meaning or scope of the RFP; or that do not reflect a material change in the services. In the event ILI waives or permits cure of nonmaterial variances, such waiver or cure will not modify the RFP requirements or excuse the Vendor from full compliance with RFP specifications or other contract requirements if the Vendor is awarded the contract. The determination of materiality is in the sole discretion of ILI.
The Institute for Learning Innovation reserves the right to contact any reference to assist in the evaluation of the bid proposal, to verify information contained in the bid proposal and to discuss the Vendor’s qualifications.
Information from Other Sources
ILI reserves the right to obtain and consider information from other sources concerning a Vendor, such as the Vendor’s capability and performance under other contracts.
Verification of Bid Proposal Contents
The content of a bid proposal submitted by a Vendor is subject to verification. Misleading or inaccurate responses may result in disqualification.
Bid Proposal Clarification Process
ILI reserves the right to contact a Vendor after the submission of bid proposals for the purpose of clarifying a bid proposal to ensure mutual understanding. ILI will not consider information received if the information materially alters the content of the bid proposal. An individual authorized to legally bind the Vendor shall sign responses to any request for clarification. Responses shall be submitted to ILI within the time specified in the request. Failure to comply with requests for additional information may result in rejection of the bid proposal as noncompliant.
Disposition of Bid Proposals
All proposals become the property of ILI and shall not be returned to the Vendor unless all bid proposals are rejected or the RFP is cancelled.
By submitting a bid proposal, the Vendor agrees that ILI may copy the bid proposal for purposes of facilitating the evaluation of the bid proposal. The Vendor consents to such copying by submitting a bid proposal and warrants that such copying will not violate the rights of any third party. ILI shall have the right to use ideas or adaptations of ideas that are presented in the bid proposals.
Release of Claims
By submitting a bid proposal, the Vendor agrees that it will not bring any claim or cause of action against ILI based on any misunderstanding concerning the information provided herein or concerning ILI’s failure, negligent or otherwise, to provide Vendor with pertinent information as intended by this RFP.
Acceptance of Terms and Conditions
The Vendor shall specifically agree that the bid proposal is predicated upon the acceptance of all terms and conditions stated in the RFP. If the Vendor objects to any term or condition, the Vendor must specifically refer to the RFP page and section. Objections or responses that materially alter the RFP may be deemed non-responsive and disqualify the Vendor.
Evaluation of Bid Proposals Submitted
Bid proposals that are timely submitted and are not subject to disqualification will be reviewed in accordance with the specifications defined above and below.
Choice of Law and Forum
This RFP and the resulting contract are to be governed by the laws of the state of Oregon. Changes in applicable laws and rules may affect the award process or the resulting contract. Vendors are responsible for ascertaining pertinent legal requirements and restrictions. Any and all litigation or actions commenced in connection with this RFP shall be brought in the appropriate Oregon forum.
No Minimum Guaranteed
The Institute for Learning Innovation anticipates that the selected Vendor will provide services as requested by Institute. ILI will not guarantee any minimum compensation will be paid to the Vendor or any minimum usage of the Vendor’s services.
Certification of Independence and No Conflict of Interest
The Vendor shall certify that it developed the bid proposal independently. The Vendor shall also certify that no relationship exists or will exist during the contract period between the Vendor and ILI that interferes with fair competition or is a conflict of interest. ILI reserves the right to reject a bid proposal or cancel the award if, in their discretion, any relationship exists that could interfere with fair competition or conflict with the interests of ILI.
Vendor Bid Proposal Terms
Terms of the proposal, including price, will remain firm for a minimum of 90 days following the deadline for submitting proposals.
V. PROPOSAL REQUIREMENTS
- These instructions prescribe the format and content of the bid proposal. They are designed to facilitate a uniform review process. Failure to adhere to the proposal format may result in the disqualification of the bid proposal.
- The proposal shall be an Adobe PDF document using 8.5” x 11” paper size.
- The proposal shall be an attachment to an email addressed to the issuing officer listed previously. The subject line of the email should be “Proposal for Strategic Communication Services to the Institute for Learning Innovation.”
The following electronic documents and responses shall be included in the bid proposal in the order given below.
VI. Company Background – In order to be considered for selection, the following should be included in the proposal as proof that the following minimum qualifications listed below are met. The Respondent has a continuing obligation to disclose information throughout the RFP process should any qualifications or situations change that might render the Respondent as an unqualified candidate.
- Name of agency.
- Federal tax identification number.
- Business address and phone number.
- Principal contact (phone and email address).
- Please give a brief description of your operation as you would describe it to prospective clients. Include evidence the firm has five years’ experience in providing public relations services in the same manner as described in this RFP.
- Indicate the year the agency was founded.
- List all primary services offered by the agency, excluding those that are subcontracted. Please provide a list of subcontractors that may be used for this account.
- List three clients with a brief description of the work you do/have done for each account (respondent should include accounts with similar scope and or purpose as is described in this RFP) and indicate the following for each: client name, a reference contact and telephone number.
- Provide the name of the person that will be the key personnel assigned to work with ILI. Include evidence that key personnel have a minimum of three years’ experience managing an account with similar scope as is described in this RFP.
- The firm and its personnel has all authorizations, permits, licenses, and certifications as may be required under federal, state or local law to perform the services specified in this RFP at the time it submits a response to the RFP.
- The firm has a policy and practice of equal employment opportunity and non-discrimination based on race, age, creed, sexual orientation or gender.
VII. Action Plan for Scope of Services
A. Introductory Narrative and Scope of Services Plan
Provide a project narrative which describes the agency's overall approach including strategies for accomplishing the Scope of Services and rationale for the agency’s approach. For each service requested please provide an overview of your approach and relevant details on how you would plan to successfully implement the services requested.
If additional/alternative strategies/tasks are deemed warranted, include your rationale for proposing such alternative strategies and relevant information on how you would accomplish these additional/alternate strategies/tasks.
B. Work Schedule for Completing Scope of Services
Provide a work schedule that outlines possible timelines and potential completion dates for each of the itemized requirements in the Scope of Services.
C. Measurement Plan
Provide a measurement plan that details metrics to be used to determine the success of the implementation of the itemized requirements in the Scope of Services.
Provide a comprehensive budget page detailing the projected costs for the activities listed in the Scope of Services (and other services as anticipated by the Vendor). Include in this budget the planned compensation to your agency as a separate item. Your proposed compensation should be stated for each of the following contract periods: (1) an initial contract to run from June 1, 2018 through May 31, 2019; and (2) a potential renewal period from June 1, 2019 through May 31, 2020.
ILI is interested in creative ideas that maximize the value of our limited external communication budget. Please outline your plan (which would include all associated costs, such as salary, travel, administration, etc.) by referencing projects listed in the Scope of Services within the specified target ranges outlined below. Again, please show compensation to your agency as a separate item.
Option A: $30,000-$45,000
Option B: $45,000-$60,000
If there are specific recommendations that would exceed the above annual budget targets, please outline the additional value that could be gained with the additional investment.
Provide details of any state regulatory, self-regulatory organization, professional organization, litigation or other legal proceedings action taken against your firm or any of its owners, principals, or personnel, in the three preceding years.
The Institute for Learning Innovation is interested in providing flexibility to all Vendors in their responses to this RFP. Provide any additional comments or information relevant to your proposal that has not already been included in your responses to the preceding questions.
VIII. EVALUATION AND SELECTION
All proposals timely received will be considered by Institute for Learning Innovation’s selection committee.
Discussions and/or Presentations
After the review and evaluation of the proposals, ILI may conduct interviews. Finalists chosen for interviews will be notified. ILI reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to award the contract based upon the written proposals received without prior discussion or negotiations.
Institute for Learning Innovation will select/recommend the firm that the institution determines, in its sole discretion, to be fully qualified and best suited among those submitting proposals to fulfill the purposes of the RFP in a cost-effective manner.
- Account Services: Past, current and prospective services demonstrating capabilities to mount and execute a marketing program outlined in the Scope of Services.
- Account Team: Professional qualifications and work experience on similar project engagements of the account team members who will be primarily responsible for the majority of the work performed in the Scope of Services.
- Action Plan for Scope of Services: An understanding of the Scope of Services to be performed and evidence of the capabilities and creativity necessary to perform the Scope of Services in a manner that is the most advantageous to the Institute.
- Cost of Services: Evidence that services will be reasonably priced and provide a unique product to ILI.
IX. CONTRACT NEGOTIATION
Upon selection of the chosen Vendor, ILI will require a proposed contract from the Vendor. The contract must be vetted and approved by the Institute’s legal department before work begins.
Issued: March 1, 2018
By: John H. Falk, Executive Director, Institute for Learning Innovation