HOFFMAN ESTATES, IL: Sears Roebuck has taken on Hunter Public Relations to handle community relations and PR for its department stores.
The move marks a departure from Sears' former strategy of doling out PR work to a variety of agencies and individual practitioners rather than using one major agency.
Sources in the Chicago PR world expect the retailer will spend at least seven figures on PR endeavors for its stores across the country.
Peggy Palter, senior manager for Sears' media relations, would not discuss spending or how many people Hunter will have working on the account.
"We were looking for an agency that has the breadth and the depth to serve our stores, Palter said. "We wanted arms and legs on the consumer-press side."
The search for an agency started late last year. Sears will continue to use other agencies for special events, specific brands, and new product introductions, Palter added.
New York-based Hunter is well known in food PR circles, representing such clients as Jell-O. It had PR revenues of $5.2 million last year, a 27% increase from 2000, and ranked 74th in PRWeek's annual agency rankings.
One experienced Chicago PR source speculated that Sears chose a smaller agency rather than one of the top 10 to get more value for its spending.