LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY — Papa John’s Pizza, which in 2017 took major hits to its reputation and revenue, is in the midst of hearing pitches from a "handful" of firms vying to be the pizza chain’s next PR agency of record, the Holmes Report has learned.

Senior director of public relations Peter Collins confirmed that the company, one of the country’s largest pizza chains, is in the second round of pitches, and expects to make a decision within the next month or so.  Edelman has served as Papa John’s AOR for the last four years.

Collins pointed to the specific importance of finding an agency that can further elevate the Papa John’s brand as it becomes increasingly e-commerce based, while also bolstering and protecting its reputation. "We are looking to find the right fit for the brand moving forward."

According to Collins, the pizza chain’s search for a new PR AOR is part of a larger series of changes being ushered in by global chief marketing officer Brandon Rhoten, who joined Papa John’s in May from Wendy’s, where he was VP for advertising, media and digital/social. In October, the company announced that it selected Laundry Service to be its creative agency of record, ending the relationship in place with Grey since 2014.

But the PR review also comes on the heels of major management changes and reputation challenges resulting from a wave of bad press in November after founder and then-CEO John Schnatter blamed the NFL, and its handling of players’ national anthem protests, for lagging sales. Schnatter ultimately stepped down as CEO, replaced by former COO Steve Richie on January 1.