The Chinese government's comms arm was said by four sources to have spoken to Hill+Knowlton Strategies, Ketchum and Ogilvy Public Relations, with one source adding FleishmanHillard and Edelman to that list.
Those five agencies either declined to comment or did not respond to requests for comment when approached by the news agency.
The firms were asked to give presentations on China's biggest image problems and show their knowledge of "managing new forms of media", the report says.
According to Reuters, an executive at one of the agencies said China's leaders "feel they're being unfairly treated by foreign media".
All five of the agencies have offices in Beijing and Shanghai, as well as a base in Hong Kong. Aside from Fleishman, all also have a base in Guangzhou while Ketchum is the quintet's sole representative in Chengdu.
H+K has previously worked with the Beijing local government, in a brief it began following its work on the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in the same city.