Marketing agency to tout redevelopment

The Redevelopment Agency awarded a professional services contract of $135,500 to The DavidHenry Agency for advertising and marketing consulting services that will include brochures, video, a website and app touting the city’s redevelopment efforts over the past decade and a half.

The resolution passed by a 5-1 vote at the May 2 meeting, with Paul Sefranka the lone dissenting commissioner. The cost seemed high and the agreement was too broad, he said, questioning whether the project went out to bid. “It doesn’t narrow the focus on what will be spent.” The project was awarded through a professional services contract, which does not require a public bid. The Westfield-based agency has previously worked with the Redevelopment Agency in planning the city’s 150th anniversary celebration.

City Administrator and Redevelopment Director Peter Pelissier said a committee of Chairman William Rack, Commissioner Matt Dobrowolski, and Agency Secretary/Director of Community Development Cindy Solomon met several times this year to determine marketing efforts. The agency may not do all the items listed below but Solomon said they hope to complete many of them by November, and the firm will be paid for each task when completed.

The three-page project agreement (which had no fewer than five spelling errors or typos — Pages 19-21 in this link) lays out a “15-year celebration of the Rahway Redevelopment Agency’s efforts,” explaining the vision and commitment to accomplishments.

The largest expense appears to be $40,000 for an 8- to 10-minute video-based program that will include four days of production, scripting, story-boarding and other production and editing tasks. Other expenses include:

*$18,000 — Folder/brochure with inserts content, layout, print/production.

* $18,000 — Website for Redevelopment Agency incorporating “new branding, layout, content, design, social media integration, programming and hosting for 12 months ($500/year thereafter)”.

* $17,500 — Interactive project development app.

* $15,000 — Design and production of trade show booth (League of Municipalities), along with media rental and logistics to be determined.

* $8,000 — Series of four press releases over six months — “celebration release, event release, interactive/demo release, other” — that will include media distribution, tracking and reporting.

* $8,000 — Review social media pages to set up, connect with other city and state organizations, developers and others, and write copy, setup content and train staff to manage ongoing.

* $6,000 — Print/production of folder/brochures.

*$5,000 — Posters for placement in stores, City Hall and other areas.


Among the projects cited in the agreement are “Riverwalk, Hotel Indigo, the train station, Dornoch, library,” among others, which have “created jobs; brought in new tax revenue; attracted new developers, retailers and other key businesses; increased the aesthetics and environment; built comradare (sic) and pride with the city’s residents, and set the stage for future planning and development.”

The agency proposes a communications program to extoll the successes of the past 15 years to “encourage participation and support of similar programs” in the future,while building awareness, thanking those who have helped make initiatives successful, and sharing projects in “a modern cutting-edge way that draws people into the redevelopment spirit and participates with future projects.

In recent months, Pelissier has talked about compiling a redevelopment portfolio, identifying new construction and promoting the tax assessment and property taxes generated by projects, which can be presented to prospective developers and trade shows like the League of Municipalities. It would demonstrate redevelopment’s history and activity, he said, showing that it’s more than just one or two projects.

14 thoughts on “Marketing agency to tout redevelopment”

  1. Oh so maybe another commercial will run with someone standing in FRONT of the train station making it look all shiny and new, when those of us who commute every day know the truth of the frequently broken elevators, homeless people sleeping in the waiting rooms, garbage that doesn't get collected, stairs that are still in disrepair in places, workers who forget to open the waiting room on cold winter mornings, planters filled with weeds, etc.

  2. Oh wow. Just went through the David Henry Agency proposal. Aside from all else, this caught my eye: "Rayway Redevelopment Agency".Awesome mistake.How can one trust an advertising agency that can't even get the name of the town spelled correctly?ROFL

  3. After looking at the agency's website and seeing a decided lack of typos, I start to wonder if the proposal wasn't actually written by someone else–perhaps the redevelopment agency itself? (But their documents don't have these sort of typos either…) Or was the agency just phoning it in, knowing they had a no-bid agreement?Either way, if I produced something like this at my job, it would have gone through quality control and/or I'd have been fired if it got out.

  4. They have some major clients, and for time spent doesn't seem to be that costly. There are questions, suggestions though.1) where is the video being aired? what audience and when?2) the train station needs work – the facade walls like the one facing Irving need to be done all around the station3) the water drainage on Milton is gross, you have to dodge water from falling on you, then pray it's only water and not pigeon.(I'm assuming all this has to do with NJTRASIT and not the city).There's nothing more the town needs than good PR. The perception of Rahway is so far removed from what it really is. While we have a way to go, I'm glad to see a firm has been hired to get this part of the redevelopment going. Of course there are going to be people who are going to pick this apart…and everyone has the right to be concerned where money is going…but I'd like to hear their suggestions on improvement rather than just negativity.

  5. Joe – it's hard to have anything but negativity when you view a proposal ridden with errors and where the fees seem so outlandish ($40k for a 10 minute video showing the highlights of the town, when there are so little of them?).

  6. Joe, The way I understand it, the video would be targeted at potential developers/investors, something that could be presented at events like the League of Municipalities conventions, planning conferences, etc.

  7. Sivyaleah, no it's not, it's very easy to remain positive and be constructive at the same time, very very simple in fact. With out differences of view points nothing would ever change. As for me STILL sleeping at the wheel…ha, very clever.very not.perhaps you should take some of that and apply it to an original thought or idea.

  8. Sivyaleah, have you priced out PR firms? Ones that have national clients? the total is a drop in the bucket for most that I know of, although the one I know the most does mostly entertainment; but the least he charges is 175K- and that's not covering 1/2 of what this is. The town needs PR more than it needs anything, it's been my observance since, since, I've been asleep behind the wheel. Listen, nothing's perfect; I'm sure this won't be; but it's a step in the right either step forward or waddle in '' i wish i wish''..make the wish come's only people running all of this, become one of them.

  9. I'm actually somewhat familiar with the prices of PR. I work for a rather well known architectural firm in NYC. We currently are using a new up and coming PR firm and I'm the one paying the bills.We're paying about $3500 PER MONTH for the services, give or take. And while I can not make an exact comparison to what is being offered to the town of Rahway, (it's comparing apples and oranges) I'd say that from what I looked at, yes, the local firm doing the work for them is totally over-priced for what they are getting, all things considered. And, we're getting cutting edge, internet savy people who keep totally up-to-date on the latest in marketing techniques.Our PR firm believes in our firm, has known some of the principals for a few years and is familiar with the work we do. They have an eager attitude to work mutually with our firm to create a dynamic new presence for the firm, to help bring us even more to the forefront of the type of work we do.They did not try and over kill us with unnecessary items which made no sense for our business even though it would have made them more money, and we probably would have paid them for it. Instead, they came up with a plan that made sense economically and design-wise. It appears to me at least, judging from the fee, and the sloppy presentation, that The Henry David Agency is in this just to make money, not because they have a desire to really see Rahway excel – which is necessary to create the teamwork for a successful advertising program. Just because they have big name clients doesn't necessarily mean they are particularly good. All it means is there may not be any competition around to pull them from the jobs they receive.

  10. they have extensive national client:Whole Foods MarketMuralo PaintsGateway CenterOnkyoMinoltaBrotherKonica/Minolta Primus TelecommunicationsBaja FreshHeinekenPen and Jen’s Tea BarKids Care CorporationQ-ElectricDubell LumberVestergaardDARTs.That's just commercial/retail. So, your firms 3500 a month for arch. firm; is apples and oranges. My only concern is getting the train station rehabilitated – the crack on the wall on E Cherry is truly sign of a half ass job–the brochures etc, putting signs up in City Hall is singing to the choir..who goes to city hall (to pay taxes –already the customer is on a bad note, no one wants to pay them;) and people going to court! More money on creating a buzz. I'm hoping the firm is on the leading edge of PR. As for attracting businesses down here, nothings going to happen until the clusterfu*k of foreclosed properties is settled- that's not the Redevelopments fault whatsoever. Blame Wells Fargo, BOA etc. and that's still not going to solve anything. This is a step in the right has to be done. With out the perception of this town being changed, nothing will happen; and regardless of the lack of retail stores, perception of it being unsafe rules the opinion of anyone I've talked to about moving into town..A little over a decade no one dare go to the MEPA section of Manhattan, now try and rent there. I'm sure Mr Dobrowoski would love another volunteer to help the agency. Check it out.

  11. Actually – Matt knows me. I purchased a home of one of his clients. In fact, every time he sees me he has some other idea for my house lol. One which I already thought of but can't afford to do after already spending more than $200K over the purchase price to renovate it :O Thus far, he hasn't hit me up for getting involved politically – I think he realizes I'm in NY at work, more than I'm home.I haven't been living here long enough to know the whole history of the politics of the town, I just comment on what I see and read currently. I agree with you on many points Joe, and appreciate your ideas and POV. I don't think we're far off from each other in what we want for the town, in fact I think it's exactly the same. I think there is the possibility that things can turn around, eventually as I saw it happen in NYC – my old firm was a large component of it happening on the LES. I'm just looking at things realistically, or at least, I think I am and in the nearly 3 years I've been in Rahway, I have not seen it improve, I've seen it decline possibly – especially from a local business standpoint. So, it just seems foolish for the town to be spending such an excessive amount of money to promote…what? And to whom?

  12. I hear what your saying (matt's been a close friend since day one of opening my bakery 30 years ago)… anyway, the progress made recently is all behind the scenes so to speak, the Dodge foundation, etc. It's what needs to be done for the bump we need. Yes, we both, along with a majority of us who have stuck it out, want for this make sense! 35 minutes out of Manhattan yet 35 years behind. I want to come back but there's no building suitable, can you even believe that?? all these empty spaces and I can't find one for what I want to do (no, not another bakery, but it would be an extension of what I'm doing). And from what I understand all of this has to do with the banks in control–if it's meant to be, it'll happen, if not, then onto other places. I think 3 decades of faith, hope, hundreds of thousands of dollars out of my own pocket is long enough and dedication enough to one dream. I can do what I want to do in Vegas and make mucho$$$ (in negotiations with someone out there scoping things out for me).. but Rahway has a special place in my heart..but on the other hand, emotions are just that, and banks could care less about anything but $$…somehow it'll all work out the way it's supposed to … never give up.:)

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