December 4, 2020 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

“Behavior Change” PR Company Among Firms Awarded $2.6 Million in City Contracts

City looking to streamline outreach services.

By Sam Catanzaro 

At their regular meeting Tuesday, March 26 Santa Monica City Council voted to award $2,610,000 on communications and outreach services to third-party vendors.

Agenda item 3.D, which passed by a 5-1 vote, awarded contracts to 15 companies to provide all City of Santa Monica Departments as-needed communications and outreach services.

Councilmember Sue Himmelrich was the only Councilmember to vote against the proposal.

According to city staff, each two-year contract will not exceed $174,000 per company, meaning the City could spend up to $2,610,000 over the next two years.

“Increasing public outreach helps ensure the community knows about and can participate in City programming, services, and policy decision-making. In an effort to streamline City outreach efforts and make resources available more broadly to all City programs, staff recommends establishing 15 city-wide contracts with companies consisting of creative agencies or individuals,” Santa Monica City Staff wrote in a report. “These agreements can be leveraged by all city departments to help make delivering information more timely, integrated and efficient, ensuring more of the public know about city information, more consistently and easily.”

According to the staff report, the City previously used third-party services for communications and outreach, but each department or agency acquired these services independently.

This piecemeal approach, the report says, results in significant time devoted to procuring and orienting various companies to the City.

“Creating a pool of on-call resources available to all departments will make the delivery of information more efficient by making pre-qualified companies familiar with existing City campaigns and branding available citywide,” City Staff wrote.

Among the companies listed in the staff report are Marketing for a Change, “a full-service creative firm anchored in social psychology and behavioral economics” and “behavior change,” according to their website; Conceptive, Inc, “a branded entertainment firm that focuses on producing branded web series and non-traditional advertising campaigns that involve and embrace,” and Katz & Associates, a PR firm that works to “inform, educate, facilitate and resolve issues to move projects forward.”

City Staff does not anticipate that the $174,000 threshold would be reached by all the companies but does not specify how much they estimate will be spent over a two-year period. According to the City, this will not result in additional dollars sent.

“The communications and outreach contracts consent item is about creating efficiencies around how departments secure communications services. Instead of each department going out to bid for each project or initiative, they can now leverage approved vendors that have gone through the competitive process. The budget for these services is existing and lives within the budget for each project or initiative. This process change will not result in additional dollars spent and will streamline how services are secured,” the City said in a statement.

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