Tyson Foods has issued an RFP for ongoing support in corporate communications, as well as crisis and issues management, according to executives familiar with the matter.
A Tyson spokesman told Ad Age : "Our company has worked with a variety of public-relations and marketing agencies over the years. Most of them have been involved in helping us market our diverse portfolio of chicken, beef, pork and prepared food products.
"We've also previously worked with agencies on corporate-PR matters. Because of the global growth of our company, we recently invited certain agencies to submit proposals for providing corporate PR support."
According to its website, Tyson is one of the world's largest processors and marketers of chicken, beef and pork, as well as prepared foods, generating $32.3 billion in sales in 2011.
"Our interest in an outside agency is not tied to any single issue," the spokesman said. However, the beef industry's recent "pink slime" crisis is likely a factor in the search.
The Arkansas meat company was one of a few large brands implicated in the crisis, which occurred when Beef Products unappealingly named "pink slime" additive took a beating in the public and the press. During an investor presentation at the time, Tyson's chief operating officer said that the outcry was putting pressure on beef demand. Tyson forecast a 2% to 3% reduction in the beef supply, and said that it "could result in higher consumer prices."
It's not immediately clear whether Tyson has a corporate-communications firm on retainer. Interpublic Group of Cos' GolinHarris supports the company's consumer PR efforts.
"The company is in the early stages of talking to prospective agencies, but hopes to make a decision this spring," the spokesman added.