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Make of this what you will: The District’s new Sustainable Energy Utility—-which has had to spend a lot of cash quickly on green programs—-has a super-solid line item in its 2011 budget for public relations. Along with buying ads on the side of buses, the SEU will spend up to $50,000 for communications help from the Walker Marchant Group, which is also handling all of Walmart’s PR in the District.

It’s not unheard of for PR firms to do work for District agencies, but it’s more often limited to design services for event promotion. Here’s what SEU Marketing Manager Maria Varela Brown had to say on Walker Marchant’s retainer:

Over the last 6 months, we’ve been working hard to design and implement our Quick-Start programs, and also to support these programs with strategic marketing, community outreach, and public relations efforts. The success of our programs—and the DC SEU brand as a whole—is contingent on DC residents, businesses and institutions being aware we exist. As a new entity in the market working within the parameters of a “short” year—and true to our mission of economic development for the District and our contract deliverables—we are working with established, DC-based organizations (with a focus on Certified Business Enterprises accredited through the Department of Small and Local Business Development) to ensure that our efforts are as effective and efficient as possible. We are very excited about the work we’ve done to date with organizations like WMG, the Greater Washington Urban League, and others, and we look forward to leveraging the momentum we’ve built to continuing reaching DC residents and businesses and delivering quality programs in FY12.