The city has seen months of unrest sparked by a proposed extradition bill that has since been withdrawn.
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam and her government have been widely criticised for their response to protesters.
The PR firms said that "the time is not right" to restore the territory's reputation, Ms Lam told reporters.
"At one point in time, we did have that idea of approaching some international PR firms to provide some advice," she told a press conference on Tuesday.
"The advice we have been given is the time is not right, because we are still in this sort of social unrest, disturbance and violent acts and vandalism on such a regular basis.
"It would perhaps not be the most cost-effective way to use the government resources to launch any campaign to rebuild Hong Kong's reputation. But sooner or later we will have to do it, because I have every confidence in Hong Kong's fundamentals."
In a leaked transcript of an August address to business people, published by Reuters news agency, Ms Lam said that four of the eight firms had turned the job down straightaway.
The other four firms were then invited to a briefing with the Government.
According to the brief, published in the PR industry paper, The Holmes Report, the Government wanted a firm to "address negative perceptions in key markets overseas to maintain confidence in Hong Kong", and to "underscore the strengths and attributes that differentiate Hong Kong from other cities in the region and bring out the success of one country, two systems".
None of the four remaining firms bid for the contract.
Speaking to the publication, a representative for one of these firms criticized the government for trying to develop a PR strategy "while the streets are on fire".
Carrie Lam told reporters she was told that the "time is not right" for a PR strategy.
Maybe that’s what they told her, but she had better use her common sense to realise understand that the big old-fashioned PR agencies have failed to lost their understanding how PR affects the economy and politics in the age of social media times.
In this classic David and Goliath struggle, the protestors (David, naturally) win out in Hong Kong against their big, strong and rich adversary, China (Goliath, even more naturally). And the protestors have accomplished this unlikely victory with a very simple and much more effective weapon than the tear gas that is used against them: PR.
The protestor's guerilla marketing has successfully convinced the whole world - day by day- to believe their violence and vandalism is "pro-democracy". And equally, that China's restraint, the HK Police’s proportional response to the violence, and Carrie Lam's efforts to keep calm and find a solution is “dictatorship”.
The protestors are still winning. Not because they are right, but because the Hong Kong Administration is failing to fight back where the real war is: PR.
Disclosure: HKSAR.org is owned and operated by the same owner as PRcorp.com
The secret of success is to do the common thing uncommonly well.