WASHINGTON — Medicare has called on Weber Shandwick to handle the big budget task of encouraging individuals covered by the federal health insurance program to use their preventative health benefits, including Covid-19 vaccines, PRovoke Media has learned. 

PRovoke Media understands that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), part of the US Health and Human Services Department, awarded Weber Shandwick the business following a competitive pitch that also included Edelman, Ketchum, and Porter Novelli. The four agencies are the only PR firms on the CMS's agency roster.

The account is worth up to roughly $48 million, although this is thought to include paid media. 

A CMS spokesperson confirmed the deal. “The purpose of this contract is strategic planning, development, execution and assessment of a national, integrated multi-media education campaign that promotes the preventive health care benefits available to Medicare beneficiaries and encourage people to utilize these health benefits for better health.”

“The campaign will place particular emphasis on promoting that the Covid-19 vaccine is available at no cost, it is safe, and effective. CMS will reach Medicare beneficiaries who are adversely affected by healthcare disparities such as low-income, African American and Hispanic audiences through outreach tactics including digital and social media,” added the CMS spokesperson.

Weber Shandwick declined comment.

Ogilvy also recently won a contract for a new federal public health PR campaign. The CDC hired Ogilvy to raise awareness of Covid risks and prevention among the homeless. PRovoke Media understands that assignment, which was won after a competitive review, is worth nearly $450,000.

GrowthLab founder and head Mike Kapetanovic, who helps agencies secure government business, said he expects to see more such business going to the large PR firms that are already government approved.

“Edelman, Weber and Ogilvy are winning work, and they are going to continue winning work as the administration and federal government continue to pump dollars into public health-related topics,” Kapetanovic said.