Hershey begins review of global comms partnerships

HERSHEY, PA: Chocolate giant The Hershey Company has issued a wide-ranging RFI to find one or more PR agencies to handle global corporate communications, brand communications, and social media.

HERSHEY, PA: Chocolate giant The Hershey Company has issued a wide-ranging RFI to find one or more PR agencies to handle global corporate communications, brand communications, and social media.

Hershey, which manufactures more than 80 candy brands worldwide, is seeking at least one agency partner to work across the three communications sectors, said Anna Lingeris, senior manager of brand public relations and consumer engagement at the company.

Hershey, which makes iconic brands such as Hershey's, Reese's, Jolly Rancher, and Twizzlers, compartmentalizes communications “a little differently than other companies,” she explained.

“Brand and social media are on the earned and shared side, and we're working together with corporate communications to collaboratively look for a team or potentially teams,” she added.

Lingeris handles all brand and social media for the company, overseeing brand launches, promotions, day-to-day social media work, and consumer and influencer engagement.

JSH&A Public Relations, which has worked with Hershey for more than seven years, manages brand PR and social media for the company. Representatives from the firm were not immediately available for comment.

Lingeris said Hershey is inviting incumbent agencies such as JSH&A and firms it has worked with on social or corporate efforts to submit proposals for the RFI. She declined to name other firms that were contacted.

Invitations to participate in the RFI were sent to agencies about a week ago, and Lingeris said Hershey plans to begin the RFP this summer by invitation only based on its results. She added that Hershey hopes to complete the process by the end of the year.

Budget information and the length of the contract were not disclosed because the process is still in the RFI stage. Sources have said that at least 14, but no more than 20 agencies, were invited to submit proposals.

Hershey reported a 22% jump in profit in the first quarter of 2013 on higher sales and lower costs. Sales were up 5.5% in the period to $1.8 billion. The company is set to boost its marketing spending by 20% this year, according to The Wall Street Journal.

One reason why the corporation issued the RFI is to ensure it has “effective and efficient services” across its agency structure, said Lingeris.

“It also gives us the opportunity to develop a more globally integrated agency structure across corporate, brand, and social, as well as potentially consolidating agencies across the earned and shared sectors,” she added.

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