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NACS in the Market for Image Upgrade

The National Association of Convenience Stores is worried enough about the image of the food options at member shops to be in the market for a public relations firm, Influence Alley has learned.

NACS sat down with one PR firm already, a spokesman told the Alley, and a senior-level executive also sought recommendations for PR firms, according to an email that was shared with the Alley.

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Concern over the image of gas station shops and convenience stores as the home of junk foods, coupled with a nationwide obesity problem prompted NACS's search, spokesman Jeff Lenard told the Alley.

"We feel the story about healthy options is an important story to tell," Lenard said.

Still, the search for a PR firm comes at a time when convenience stores have been grabbing negative press unrelated to their food options.

Last month, drug task forces raided shops in the Columbus, Ohio, and Duluth, Minn., that were suspected of selling drugs like "K2" and "Spice," frequently referred to as bath salts. In June, police raided six Indiana convenience stores after an investigation into the trafficking of bath salts, according to media reports. In May, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and city police leaders cracked down on liquor and convenience stores used by gangs as hangouts, the Associated Press reported.

Lenard said NACS's search has nothing to do with the Chicago crackdown or the bath salts raids, but is searching because the association doesn't have the resources internally to launch a new campaign.

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"It's not the issue. It's the bandwidth. That means there are only so many hours in the day, and sometimes when you look at an image it helps to have more resources than you currently have," Lenard said.

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