SAN FRANCISCO--Nokia is seeking increased public relations support for its US marketing efforts, after a slow start to its Lumia joint-venture with Microsoft.

The Holmes Report understands the Finnish handset maker's marketing department has contacted a handful of PR firms regarding the brief. A spokesman for the company stressed that any discussions taking place would have no bearing on Next Fifteen’s existing remit as Nokia’s agency-of-record in the US.

“Our marketing and PR/communications activities are separate – so while we of course work closely together, discussions that are being had regarding our marketing activities should not be misconstrued as anything that relates to our PR/media relations activities with Next Fifteen,” said Nokia North America director of communications Keith Nowak.

Last year, Nokia opted to pin its smartphone strategy to an alliance with Windows Phone 7, a decision that was partly driven by the need to improve a flagging North American presence. In particular, the handset maker has faced intense competition in the high-end smartphone market from such brands as Apple and Samsung.

Nokia’s Lumia range of Windows smartphones have since received critical praise, but US sales results remain soft. In recent weeks, there has been considerable speculation that a new line of smartphones, powered by Windows Phone 8, will launch by the end of the year.

That may explain the new brief, but Nowak declined to comment on any discussions taking place with agencies. It is thought that the company is seeking consumer and lifestyle support as part of a broader marketing programme, as it lays the ground for new products in the critical US marketplace.