Crossroads Seeks Proposals for Revolution NJ Communications Consultation

Bidders are invited to submit proposals for communications services to address Revolution NJ near term needs to inform and engage partners and potential supporters. Proposals are due April 23, 2021.

 

Request for Proposals
for Communications Consultation

Situation

Crossroads of the American Revolution Association (Crossroads) is the private-sector partner of the New Jersey Historical Commission (NJHC) in planning Revolution NJ, the state’s commemoration of the 250th anniversary of the United States. The commemoration is anticipated to start in 2024 and extend to 2033, to coincide with the duration of events occurring in New Jersey connected to the war for independence. A national 250th commission is also focused on events and commemorations throughout the United States in 2026.

Crossroads anticipates that this national focus will prompt travelers from all walks of life to seek out destinations where they can discover a Revolutionary heritage story that tells the story of the many diverse communities of that period. We see this as a generational opportunity to build the capacity of historic sites and heritage travel in the state, boost economic development and position New Jersey as a top Revolutionary destination for years to come.

Our partner, the New Jersey Historical Commission, is also making use of the anniversary to improve civics education in the state and engage residents in discussions about the nation’s founding ideals, their impact on various communities, and their relevance to New Jerseyans today.

The Revolution NJ partnership is working to develop programming and attractions that, for the first time, tell a nuanced, multi-faceted account of the impact of the American Revolution on the people of New Jersey. This goal is complicated by the lack of an all-encompassing, collaborative alliance among the state’s historic sites and organizations. Rather, the public face of the state’s Revolutionary story is presented by a patchwork of sites and groups under a variety of governmental and private sector entities, with staff ranging from paid museum professionals to enthusiastic volunteers.

Work already completed includes:

• Visitor readiness assessment of 150 Revolutionary-era historic sites,  available here.
• Listening sessions with constituencies across the state
• Survey of K-12 social studies curriculum in New Jersey schools
• Development of interpretive framework
• Establishment of advisory council and populating working groups
• Selection of name and logo for Revolution NJ

Crossroads is working with a nationally known heritage tourism consultant to help craft an identity for New Jersey as a Revolutionary heritage destination. We anticipate that this identity will be the platform on which we can build and market innovative and inclusive tourism offerings that will attract new and diverse visitors as well as traditional Revolutionary history enthusiasts for Revolution NJ and beyond. Crossroads will then look toward undertaking a comprehensive, integrated marketing plan to promote New Jersey as a Revolutionary heritage travel destination starting in 2022. This post-COVID plan will capitalize on anticipated pent-up demand for local and regional travel, as well as expected interest in a more inclusive representation of United States history during the nation’s 250th anniversary.

Crossroads is also in the process of securing fundraising consultation for a major giving campaign to fund the capital and programming needs revealed through the visitor readiness assessment.

Since its inception in 2018, the Revolution NJ partnership has held quarterly informational sessions to update the state’s history community and other interested parties updated on its plans. Recordings of many of these sessions, as well as other documents and information, are available on the Crossroads website here.

Individual sites and organizations throughout the state have already begun planning for their own 250th commemorations. They have varying degrees of familiarity with the official statewide Revolution NJ umbrella. They may be unaware of planning activities and resources that are currently being developed and thus may miss out on opportunities to leverage the impact of their own activities by affiliating with the statewide effort. An effective strategy for communicating and coordinating with these partners is needed.

Near-term communications requirements

Revolution NJ requires a robust communications strategy to inform and engage partners and potential supporters as we develop plans for the upcoming commemoration. In the immediate term, our communication strategy needs to focus on the following stakeholder groups:

  • New Jersey’s heritage and history community (primarily those who are oriented toward Revolutionary War history, but also including those with broader interests as appropriate):

o County cultural & heritage leadership/staff
o Museum/historic site management/paid staff
o Volunteer site managers and guides/docents
o Reenactor community, including military reenactors and crafts/tradespeople
o Historical society leaders and active members
o Conservation and preservation advocates
o Historians and educators (K-12 and post-secondary)

  • New Jersey travel/economic development community, including Destination Marketing Organization leadership and staff, as well as related business groups (e.g. hotel and restaurant organizations)
  • Public officials (governor’s office, legislature, county and local bodies)
  • Prospective major donors to a capital campaign to fund visitor readiness efforts statewide, including capital needs of up to 150 Revolutionary heritage historic sites.

In addition, Revolution NJ will also launch a wider marketing and communications program for the general public (both state residents and visitors) once our plans for the commemoration become more concrete. While the primary purpose of this RFP is to develop a communications strategy during the planning process for key stakeholders, we also request the consultant’s report to include recommendations for when and how it may make sense to engage the broader public.

Tasks/Deliverables

We seek a consultant to develop communications plan to address the needs outlined above. As part of its responsibilities, the consultant would:

• Interview key leadership/staff to gain understanding of the project, identified needs and audiences. Interviews will include, but not be limited to:

      • Executive Directors of Crossroads and NJHC and key staff
      • Presidents of Crossroads and NJHC and key board members
      • NJ Division of Travel and Tourism
      • NJ Historic Trust
      • NJ Historic Preservation Office
      • NJDEP Parks and Forestry and the National Park Service
      • A sample of key representatives from listed stakeholder groups

• Review input from listening sessions/focus groups already conducted with various constituencies across the state.
• Provide recommendations on:

      • Communications: messages, frequency, modes and other tools to keep target audiences informed.
      • Custom outreach strategies, as needed, for our varied constituencies
      • Organizational communications methods and tools to help unify the state’s Revolutionary heritage community toward supporting and contributing to Revolution NJ’s core goals.
      • Easily accessible reference place for information on Revolution NJ planning, separate and distinct from Crossroads and NJ Heritage Commission websites and social media. While we anticipate that this could include a website or online database, we are open to all cost-effective recommendations.
      • Timeline for implementation.

Submitting proposals

Interested communications teams are invited to submit proposals to address these communications needs, with the following required elements:

• Project approach
• Estimate of fees, including:

      • Monthly retainer
      • Cost of recommended communications tools and information repository (i.e. website, social media page setup, etc.)
      • Expenses

• Consultant / firm capabilities

      • Experience with similar projects – provide two brief case studies.
      • Biographies/profiles of key team members.
      • References – complete contact information from three client references with whom you’ve worked in the past three years.

Timeline

Request for Proposals issued: March 31, 2021
Questions/clarifications due: April 9, 2021
Answers provided by: April 14, 2021
Proposals due: April 23, 2021
Review period: April 26-30, 2021
Finalist interviews via Zoom: May 3-6, 2021
Final decision/send notification: May 7, 2021
Start work: May 25, 2021

Crossroads reserves the right to amend the timeline above.

Questions/Clarifications contact: [email protected] .

Proposal Submissions due no later than 5:00 p.m., on Friday, April 23, 2021.

Please send proposals electronically, directly to [email protected] .

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