For a six-month test period, the city of Birmingham has hired a professional communications and public relations company to provide them with communications and social media services, for a monthly retainer of $7,000.
Birmingham City Commissioners unanimously approved the hiring of Van Dyke Horn at their meeting on Monday, December 16.
“The demand for effective communication services has become an integral role for municipalities in serving the public. Recently, our communications director has left the employ of the city and with the ongoing Master Plan efforts, lead testing regulations and planned Maple Road reconstruction project over the next several months, the opportunity to evaluate and enhance our efforts in this area is being explored,” city manager Joe Valentine wrote in a memo to commissioners.
He said the city asked four different communications firms to submit requests for quotations (RFQs) for overall communications support, social media services and project management for a monthly fee, as well as additional crisis management, as needed.
“We will evaluate it in six months,” Valentine said. “We think this group can help us.”
Commissioner Rackeline Hoff asked who would be the city contact, and Valentine said he would be.
A primary PR person from the firm would be located in city hall about once a week to attend meetings and meet with department heads.
AnneMarie Erickson, executive vice president of Van Dyke Horn, explained that the firm has worked with the city of Detroit in numerous capacities, and is expanding their work with Oakland County.
“We feel strongly you have a great foundation,” Erickson said.
“One of the things they'll be coming back with is areas for improvement,” Valentine said.