OMAHA, NE: In an attempt to streamline its PR efforts, ConAgra Foods has hired Ketchum as its first AOR.
In beating three other finalists, Ketchum, which will handle a wide range of PR assignments, impressed ConAgra with how it handled a test assignment involving product publicity, said Chris Kircher, ConAgra's VP of corporate communications.
The company previously had left PR decisions up to individual brand teams but has been seeking ways to make more efficient and organized use of its PR resources, Kircher said
Hiring an AOR "complements changes within our own organization to establish and drive a more organized PR effort for our brands," he said.
ConAgra brands include Healthy Choice, Hunt's, La Choy, and Chef Boyardee.
In-house, the company has created external communications functions in each business unit to work with brands in those units. It's also seeking a senior director of product publicity.
Ketchum will handle the task from its Chicago office. Team size is still being determined.
ConAgra will continue to use other PR agencies on various assignments, Kircher said. Edelman will continue to handle the Butterball brand, for example, and Cone will continue to work with ConAgra's foundation.
While ConAgra doesn't discuss PR spending, given the scope of work involved, the account should easily generate a seven-figure annual fee. Sales in the most recently reported quarter were $3.9 billion, with operating profits of $501 million.
ConAgra is the second major Midwest company this year to announce a new PR firm. Allstate recently tapped Weber Shandwick as its lead PR agency.