Public relations firm Widmeyer Communications has been selected to carry out the education program of the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act.

“Certainly, we were disappointed,” said Bill Weber, CEO of the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals, which competed for the contract. “Once you’ve got skin in the game, you want to prevail. But we’ve already reached out to Widmeyer and they responded quickly.”

In fall 2009, APSP was informed by the Consumer Product Safety Commission of its intent to seek proposals from qualified entities.

So APSP contacted Brotman Winter Fried, a Falls Church, Va.-based PR firm that was certified to pursue the bid. The hope was that the firm would act as a contractor to APSP’s subcontractor, said BWF President Steve Winter.

“This came up quickly,” Weber explained. “I think the initial expectation was that we and others would be deputized, in a sense, and given small grants to disseminate our message.”

APSP moved swiftly to assemble a coalition of eight partners, including the YMCA, American Red Cross and NSF International. Working with Brotman Winter Fried, the trade group then presented an extensive proposal to the CPSC on how it would allocate the available funds.

Widmeyer Communications was selected from an undisclosed number of bidders. The Washington, D.C.-based firm now is charged with spearheading a campaign to promote pool and spa safety to the industry and the public, as well as provide further information on the law.

Among Widmeyer’s areas of expertise are health and wellness, higher education, public affairs, and research and polling work. Its clients include Pfizer Inc., Nestle S.A., Princeton University and the Library of Congress.

How many and which other firms had placed bids for the contract is kept confidential. Only the winning firm was announced, though speculation is that at least a handful of prominent national companies had pursued the contract.

The program, which should launch in spring, will consist of public service announcements and outreach efforts, said Kathleen Reilly, public affairs specialist with the CPSC. It will also include a national media campaign aimed at promoting pool and spa safety, as well as preventing entrapment and drowning.

“Any message we send out at any time will be effective,” she said. “But we’re expecting a major push around the start of swim season.”