Request for Services - COVID-19 Diverse Media - Minnesota Dept. of Health

COVID-19 Diverse Media Request for Services FAQ - April 2020


Please submit questions to health.covidmedia.mdh@state.mn.us no later than 3 pm CST on Monday, April 27. Final questions and answers will be posted at 5 pm that day to ensure all applicants have access to the same information.

Last updated 4/27/20 at 5 pm CST. - Please note that final questions and answers have been posted.


Question: If a media entity is a member of a larger media group or association and the larger group or association is applying for funds from this grant, can the individual entity apply as well? If that is permitted, would doing so negatively impact the larger proposal as long as the deliverables are different?

Answer: The individual entity may apply as well. An additional application from an entity also applying within a larger group will not impact the larger proposal.


Question: Does a monthly newspaper serving the Native American community in Minnesota meet these requirements? I am not sure what types of organizations this is targeting.

Answer: Any organization or company that can provide the type of media services requested is eligible to apply. Please note that these are contracts for professional/technical services, not grants. We anticipate that the amount of funds requested will be commensurate with how often information is disseminated to the community.


Question: Can current contractors of MDH apply?

Answer: Yes.


Question: Can media vendors located in other states apply?

Answer: Yes.


Question: Can I apply under sole proprietorship?

Answer: Yes.


Question: Do I have a good chance for success if I only apply to coordinate the media campaign for the Hispanic market/population?

Answer: Proposals that focus on one target community have equal chances of success as larger partnerships or joint proposals.


Question: What is your estimation on what percent of the budget could be allocated in order to cater to the Hispanic community?

Answer: The State cannot provide an estimate at this time. Many factors will be considered, including the breadth of the proposals received.


Question: How was this RFP put together; what went into the criteria?

Answer: MDH worked closely with the governor’s office and incorporated what we heard from legislators and community media vendors. MDH worked with the Minnesota Department of Administration to determine an appropriate procedure for an expedited competitive process given the urgent need for services. MDH was also attuned to the needs voiced by communities and drew insights from our ongoing work with community media vendors through the MDH diverse media program.


Question: Who reviews the RFP?

Answer: Reviewers will include representatives from Minnesota’s cultural/ethnic councils, community leaders, and an MDH staff person.


Question: Can a 501(c)(3) organization apply, or is this opportunity only open to LLCs?

Answer: 501(c)(3) organizations are eligible. Any type of organization or entity that can provide the media services requested is eligible to apply. 


Question: Regarding messaging, will all communications be originated by MDH, while the agency is in charge of translations and culturally adapting the information?

Answer: Most messaging will come from MDH. Contractors will be asked to translate that messaging as needed, and to adapt messages to cultural communities by adding examples or references to community values, for example. In some cases contractors may develop new messaging based on information from MDH. Adapted or new content will need to be approved by MDH.


Question: Are working with multiple vendors and, if so, are you looking at different regions of Minnesota when determining who you work with in providing the COVID info?

Answer: Yes. As the Request for Services states, we anticipate working with multiple vendors with this funding. MDH will consider geographic reach when reviewing proposals to ensure its goal that all who reside in Minnesota and the 11 Tribal Nations that share its geography have the opportunity to be fully informed with culturally relevant, linguistically appropriate, accurate, and timely messages related to COVID-19.


Question: As an individual, I am wondering if I can apply for the vendor contract without proper accreditation (i.e. having a fiscal sponsor, registered as a 501c3 or LLC, etc.)?

Answer: All applicants must have state or federal recognition as a formal organization or entity, such as a Federal Employer Identification Number or 501c3 status. Organizations or groups that do not have state or federal recognition may apply with a fiscal agent.


Question: The RFP refers to “media services.” One of the FAQs mentions newspapers as a potential applicant. Would a marketing or public relations firm fit your definition of a “media service” for purposes of this request for proposal?

Answer: This Request for Services is open to any entity (or group of entities in collaborative proposals) that can effectively reach the target populations with culturally relevant, linguistically appropriate, accurate, and timely messages related to COVID-19 through formats such as online, radio, print, social media, and television. The State will prioritize minority-led organizations and minority-owned and -operated businesses.


Question: Of the total budget, how much are you hoping to allocate to each of the following: planning, media content development and media buying?

Answer: There are no set amounts. Applicants should propose what is reasonable in order to accomplish their plan to reach targeted population(s) with culturally relevant, linguistically appropriate, accurate, and timely messages related to COVID-19. Keep in mind that most messaging will come from MDH, with contractors asked to translate that messaging as needed and to adapt it to cultural community contexts.


Question: What are the primary languages needed for translation?

Answer: Languages for translation will be prioritized by the size and needs of the communities. Languages could include, but are not limited to, Amharic, Arabic, Chinese, French, Hmong, Karen, Khmer, Korean, Lao, Nepali, Oromo, Pashto, Russian, Somali, Spanish, Swahili, Tagalog, Ukrainian, and Vietnamese. We are also interested in proposals to reach other groups, including smaller communities and communities newer to Minnesota, with messages/materials translated into other languages. Please note that translation of messages/materials is just one potential component of the media services we are seeking. Contracts should focus on message dissemination with translating as needed to ensure the messaging is culturally and linguistically appropriate for the community.


Question: Does MDH have an anticipated approvals process established and/or the capacity to review the translations and cultural adaptions of materials that the selected vendor/s complete? How quickly will this approval process happen?

Answer: In some cases, MDH will not need to approve messages/materials that are simply translated or minimally adapted. MDH will work with vendors to approve newly created or substantially adapted messages/materials, and any materials that are co-branded with the MDH logo, as quickly as possible.


Question: Can MDH provide the complete Terms and Conditions as anticipated for this contract? If using the standard State of Minnesota Professional/Technical Services Contract, are there any additional general requirements (i.e. insurance requirements, etc.) that responders can consider before submitting a proposal?

Answer: MDH anticipates using the standard State of Minnesota Professional/Technical Services Contract for contracts over $50,000. For smaller contracts, MDH may use an upfront payment structure to support smaller entities with more limited cash flow. In that case, the language in the contract related to payment would be modified as appropriate. MDH does not anticipate modifying other sections of the standard contract.


Question: Do responders have the opportunity to identify exceptions to the terms, conditions, or language in relation to the contract? If so, how should responders include those exceptions in the proposal?

Answer: In certain circumstances, MDH may negotiate contract language on an as-needed basis if an applicant is selected to provide services. Any negotiations will take place after an applicant is selected and notified.


Question: How does MDH define minority in this Request for Services? Will certified Target Group businesses be given preference in this contracting opportunity? 

Answer: Minority refers to racial and ethnic minorities including African American, African immigrant, Latinx, Asian American, and American Indian Minnesotans. The State is using its Emergency Authority to bypass the traditional solicitation process. Final selection will be based not only on points, but also on ensuring that the final cohort of selected contractors covers a range of communication modalities and reaches the major racial/ethnic communities listed in the solicitation. A significant consideration in selection is vendors that are owned/led/operated by a racial/ethnic minority.


Question: When will responders be notified if they have been selected?

Answer: We anticipate notifying selected responders the week of May 4.


Question: May I submit more than 2 examples to support my proposal?

Answer: To keep the process fair and equitable, up to 2 examples will be accepted with your proposal.


Question: What criteria is MDH going to use to determine the amount of the award?

Answer: The amount of the award will reflect the number of communities and community members reached, the number and type of communications modalities used, and the frequency and depth of messaging. Please also keep in mind that MDH has a total of $670,000 available to reach a range of racial and ethnic groups across the state.


Question: Are military veterans included as a target community for this Request for Services?

Answer: For this request for services, the target community includes communities of color and American Indian communities. Responders’ primary audience(s) must include one or more of the following populations: African American, African immigrant, Latinx, Asian American, and American Indian Minnesotans. However, military veterans may be an additional demographic of the target racial/ethnic population reached.


Question: Are veteran owned businesses included as minority businesses for this Request for Services?

Answer: No. The State is using its Emergency Authority to bypass the traditional solicitation process. For this request for services, a significant consideration in selection is vendors that are owned/ led/operated by a racial/ethnic minority.


Question: The request for services says the business/organization must be at least 51% owned by a racial minority and must be operated and controlled on a day-to-day as well as long-term basis by the qualifying owner. If we are at 50%, should we still apply?

Answer: Yes, you may still apply. However, minority-owned/led/operated entities will be prioritized.


Question: Can you expand upon the meaning of “adaptation processes, if applicable” in the communications work plan requirements?

Answer: Adaptation process refer to ways that you would adapt timely messages from the State to the target audience and communication modality (online, radio, television and/or print). Adaptation may involve graphic design, revising language and/or images to be culturally relevant, etc. If adaptation requires translation, contractor is responsible for translation. (The State will make existing translated materials available to the contractor.)


Question: Could my company be the prime company (out-of-state), and we bring in a native sub-business to support our work? Would the sub need to be established in MN?

Answer: Applicants may submit a proposal jointly as a collaborative, or a lead agency may apply with subcontractor partners. There are no requirements about the location of the applicant or its subcontractors. However, please note that the scoring criteria include the vendor’s history, experience, and qualifications relevant to proposed plan, part of which includes lived experience, knowledge and/or understanding of the target community in Minnesota.


Question: How is MDH defining “multiple media” contracts? Does it mean they will review proposals from various radio, online, print, social media, and television formats –  or are they seeking a proposal that includes a messaging plan to be distributed to these media outlets, if applicable? Also, I do not see digital included in these formats; does that mean billboards may/may not be part of the media plan/buying?

Answer: MDH has $670,000 available for multiple media contracts through this process, which means that we expect to fund multiple respondents at various funding levels. Proposals that are less than $50,000 may reach a single cultural community and/or use less frequent communication methods, whereas proposals of $50,000 to $250,000 may reach multiple communities and/or use multiple communication methods on a daily/frequent basis. We do not expect an individual applicant to use all communication modalities or reach all communities. However, we do expect applicants’ communication work plans to include plans for dissemination. Vendors may work with partners/subcontractors to disseminate messages if needed. Billboards may be part of an applicant’s proposed plan.


Question: MDH has $670K for multiple media contracts. Is that amount tied into the award levels mentioned in the RFP? If so, how will funds be distributed? Will vendors continue to be selected until all of the $670K is allocated? How many grants will be awarded?

Answer: MDH does not have a predetermined number of proposals that it will fund. That will depend on the number and range of proposals that it receives. Contract amounts will be tied to the award levels mentioned in the Request for Services, which are dependent upon audience(s) reached, type(s) of media, and depth and frequency of reach. We expect to continue awarding contracts until all funding is allocated and we have reached as many communities of color and American Indian communities as possible with the limited funding. Please note that these are professional/technical contracts, not grants.


Question: Will awarded funds in the $50-$250K award category cover the media plan and media execution? Does MDH have existing contracts with these media outlets such as radio and television, as the placement of these messages may cost more than the award amounts? Does MDH have an overall strategy that these messages will ladder-up to? The cost to reach any of these audiences could exceed grant amounts. Does MDH have an agency of record?

Answer: The funds awarded through these contracts must cover all costs related to the communications work plan, including placement of messages. MDH will provide most messaging and will review new messaging created by contractors. MDH will not be designating an agency of record for these media services, and instead will work with all funded contractors.


Question: The Request for Services indicates that core messaging will come from MDH. Does that include the development of culturally relevant creative? I would imagine this work would need to be cohesive to tie it all together.

Answer: Core messaging will come from MDH, but cultural adaption will be the responsibility of the contractor. In cases where MDH has already developed creative content that is culturally relevant or translated, it will share this with the contractor.


Question: How is MDH ensuring an equitable process with smaller entities and larger organizations competing for the same work?

Answer: As the Request for Services states, there are two funding tiers for these contracts: 1) Proposals under $50,000 may reach a single cultural community and/or use less frequent communication methods (e.g. weekly or biweekly), and 2) Proposals between $50,000 and $250,000 may reach multiple communities and/or use multiple communication methods on a daily/frequent basis. We expect to fund applicants within both funding tiers.


Question: May you please define “partners” – does it refer to co-branding?

Answer: The detailed communications work plan asks for “Partners involved for each activity, if applicable.” This means that if you plan to subcontract with partner agencies for translation, creative, media placement, etc., please include them in the work plan.


Question: Can groups of vendors apply together?

Answer: Yes. Applicants may submit a proposal jointly as a collaborative, or a lead agency may apply with subcontractor partners.


Question: Does our entity need to be a state vendor to apply for this, and what is the process to become a state vendor?

Answer: You do not need to be a state vendor to apply for this opportunity. However, you will be required to register as a vendor if selected for funding. You can register as a vendor at any time, regardless of whether you receive this funding. Please visit the Minnesota Management and Budget Vendor Resources website for information on how to register as a vendor: https://mn.gov/mmb/accounting/swift/vendor-resources/.


Question: Our company supports media agencies with language and cultural expertise. Do you recommend responding to the portions of the Request for Services that relate only to these areas?

Answer: The State seeks more comprehensive proposals for reaching communities with media. Proposals for just one component of that process, such as translating and adapting messages, will not be competitive. Your company may consider serving as a partner or subcontractor in a joint proposal.


Question: What does a “detailed communications work plan” entail?

Answer: Please review the Request for Services (particularly the Sample Tasks and Response Requirements sections) for guidance. The communications work plan should be a Word document, no longer than 5 pages, that includes the following components:

  • Overview of media formats to be used;
  • Adaptation processes, if applicable;
  • Timeline for each activity, including estimated turnaround time for message adaptation, translation, and publishing/promotion;
  • Partners involved for each activity, if applicable;
  • Number of media messages per media format; and
  • Estimated audience reached per message.

Question: The adaptation process includes translating a message into different languages and using the same message to design different formats—online, print, web, etc. Can you please confirm if any other activity should be included in the adaptation process?

Answer: Applicants may propose various types of adaptation, such as graphic design, revising language and/or images to be culturally relevant, etc., in addition to translation and adaptation for different media formats.


Question: When will you make decisions about vendors?

Answer: The State expects to notify applicants the week of May 4.


Question: Are faith-based non-profits eligible to apply?

Answer: Yes, this Request for Services is open to any entity (or group of entities in collaborative proposals) that can effectively reach the target populations with culturally relevant, linguistically appropriate, accurate, and timely messages related to COVID-19 through formats such as online, radio, print, social media, and television.


Question: Can we use this contract to further our COVID-19 coverage, such as by hiring freelance reporters/editors/translators, etc.?

Answer: Yes, you may propose hiring freelance staff or taking other steps to increase your capacity to provide COVID-19-related media services to communities. Include those costs in your budget.


Question: If we use MDH messaging, can we repurpose it in a journalistic way without getting MDH approval?

Answer: Funded contractors can work with their contract manager to determine when MDH approval is necessary. For minimal adaptations that do not change the core content of the messaging, MDH approval may not be necessary.


Question: Can we create a dedicated page/section on our website where we post MDH content about COVID-19? We will label it clearly to indicate that the material is from MDH, so it won’t appear similar to our news content.

Answer: Contractors are welcome and encouraged to link to MDH content on their websites. We encourage linking over posting content because the information changes so often. If you need to post MDH content, such as infographics, please label it with the date MDH created it and post a link to the original on the MDH website. Contractors are also asked to review and update their web content frequently with the most recent content from MDH.


Question: Are you able to share how a contractor working via this RFP might liaise with state staff, for instance, the statewide tribal liaison that the Lt. Governor recently brought on?

Answer: MDH will be happy to facilitate connections between contractors and relevant state staff when possible.


Question: If selected, are vendors able to work together to do more expansion?

Answer: Contractors may choose to collaborate to expand and coordinate their services.

Question: Is the expectation that we will be providing translation services to media the MDH will be putting out? Or are we creating our own content?

Answer: Most messaging will come from MDH. Contractors will be asked to translate that messaging as needed, and to adapt messages to cultural communities by adding examples or references to community values, for example. In some cases contractors may develop new messaging based on information from MDH. Adapted or new content will need to be approved by MDH.


Question: We would like to pick specific languages from India to translate and are wondering if the state has data or an idea on what all those languages could be?

Answer: MDH cannot provide data on specific Indian languages in Minnesota at this time. However, applicants may find Minnesota Compass's information on Minnesota’s Cultural Communities useful.


Back to Request for Services page.

Updated Thursday, 14-Oct-2021 08:30:17 CDT