PR News’ 2010 Top Places to Work in PR

We present our 2010 Top Places to Work in PR—the agencies and organizations that match their superb in-house and client PR work with equally outstanding internal efforts to support employees’ personal growth and success.

Adfero Group
Adfero Group’s leadership fosters a culture of learning. The company’s intern mentorship program matches interns with staff members to provide guidance and career advice. This mentorship program has proven to be a win-win for the company as all three interns in the program were hired into full-time positions in 2009. The openness and drive ingrained in the corporate culture also leads to a strong sense of community. Adfero Group develops activities designed to strengthen employee relationships, including get-togethers for social events like March Madness. This sense of community expands externally, too, through volunteer opportunities. Last year Adfero Group partnered with D.C. Central Kitchen to prepare and distribute meals to the homeless.

BAE Systems
BAE Systems’ new “Total Performance” strategy is both the catalyst and benchmark for the defense and aerospace company’s success. It offers employees—including communications staff—career advancement through several training and educational programs, and travel opportunities to domestic and international conferences ranging anywhere from Cincinnati to South Africa. Other perks include childcare assistance, 401k contribution matching, flexible “9/80” scheduling, strong local community involvement and mentorships around the world and tax-free college tuition coverage up to $5,250 per year. With the only female CEO among the top 25 defense contractors, BAE systems has a diverse workforce and energized environment.

Dixon Schwabl

“Fun” is a line item at Dixon Schwabl, and that’s an understatement. Walk into the offices and you are greeted by the “Director of First Impressions” (there is no receptionist). Employees can take part in ice cream Thursdays, listen to live acoustic music, enjoy cookouts in the summer or take a spin down the company’s slide. Yes, there is a slide from the second floor to the main lobby. All of these perks contribute to the company’s larger goals of creating a flexible, fun, creative environment. And it has paid off. In a tough economic climate in 2009, the company experienced no layoffs, and employees received 24% of the profits as part of an annual bonus plan. In 2010 the company expanded, opening an office in South Carolina.

Erwin-Penland Public Relations
Erwin-Penland’s workplace is defined by creative activity, both in work time and in play. Employees can be found in the eclectically furnished Yellow Submarine conference room or playing ping-pong in a break room before a meeting. To make daily life more enjoyable, the company offers an “EPerks” benefits package that includes on-site massage therapy, car washing services, a personal trainer and discounts on concert tickets or pet care. In addition to all of the perks, the company is committed to professional development with a mentor program for all new employees.

Georgia Tech Research Institute

As a nonprofit applied research unit, Georgia Tech Research Institute seeks to maintain a culture in which collaboration and creativity are valued. A new Career Management Department helps communications staffers and others map out careers and offers training for current and future roles in new career paths. GTRI hired more than 120 new employees in the last year and predicts it’ll hire an additional 100 employees this coming year. With work that is challenging and set in a rewarding environment, many people choose to stay with the company for their entire careers. “We are not slaves to the bottom line,” an employee says.

Hunter Public Relations
Hunter PR fosters a dynamic environment that emphasizes open communication and opportunities for growth. Workshops are held each month on a variety of topics including social media, media relations and writing. Each year, employees attend a three-day intensive training session at what is affectionately referred to as “Hunter Community College.” This off-site seminar centers around one designated skill, but also allows for social activities and entertainment. The company also holds a “Bring Your Parents to Work Day” to provide parents and family members a better understanding of public relations.

Kaiser Permanente
Looking at the work environment at Kaiser Permanente, one word comes to mind—wellness. It’s no surprise
that Kaiser Permanente offers a full range of benefits to its employees—health care, life insurance and retirement benefits, just to name a few. With a telecommuting policy and the technology to support work off-site, employees have all the resources to maintain work-life balance (and practice their balance during the weekly hula hoop day—see image). Kaiser Permanente also has an open-door policy between its employees and senior management. Weekly meetings are held to discuss department-wide activities, while smaller monthly coffee dates help to generate ideas and feedback on department initiatives.

The economic climate has forced many organizations to cut back budgets and reduce staff. Ketchum, however, recognized that engaging its employees has never been more important. The agency encourages employees to explore other opportunities outside their practice groups. Through a career-tracking program, employees set up a plan for their own career path and growth. In 2010, Ketchum relaunched “Ketchum University” and Ketchum Pleon University, its Europe counterpart. The professional training programs share a tagline: “Making the Best Better.” With a mission like that it is clear how dedicated Ketchum is to supporting long-term learning and development for its employees.

The Morris+King Company

Since its inception in 2001, Morris+King Company has created an environment that is creative and fun, yet professional. Staff and team members are matched with clients based on their interests and expertise. During a challenging economy, Morris+King has provided raises and year-end bonuses to every employee. The agency invests in the professional development of its employees by offering tuition reimbursement and in-house training on topics such as social media and writing.

MWW Group
MWW Group has taken strides to create a collaborative, growth-oriented environment in an effort to retain good talent while increasing productivity and job satisfaction. The agency offers a mentoring program, and employees are given a stipend for education and career-related courses. Additionally, MWW encourages work-life balance for its employees by offering summer Fridays, a day off on their birthdays and paid time to participate in community service activities.

Ogilvy PR Worldwide
Ogilvy PR is committed to keeping all employee communications channels wide open. To this end it has created O-village, the agency’s intranet system; a monthly newsletter to share information; and an employee survey to gauge where improvements can be made. The physical space also supports communication with open workstations, open doors, an internal staircase connecting floors and break-out rooms with whiteboards to inspire and capture creative ideas. The hard work is rewarded with summer Fridays, yoga and language classes, impromptu parties for Mardi Gras or Flag Day and bonuses in the form of iPods or Flip cameras.

Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI)
The team at PCI has pulled together in light of political and regulatory changes in the insurance industry. The economic climate has forced the group to work harder to advance their mission to protect insurers and policyholders. In addition to an open-communication environment and standard benefits, PCI offers its employees nontraditional benefits like on-site yoga, free massages once a month, free lunch on your anniversary date and telecommuting.

R&J Public Relations
With a sophisticated intern program, mentoring program and open lines of communication, R&J invests in its employees’ success. Interns are offered the opportunity to contribute to all aspects of the organization. The hands-on experience benefits the interns and the agency: 40% of its fulltime staff consists of former interns. In 2008, R&J instituted a formal mentoring program to make sure that career development is ongoing. R&J also provides reimbursement for industry seminars, webinars and professional association membership dues.

Southwest Airlines
Known for its unique corporate culture, Southwest Airlines offers an inclusive and lively workplace, propelled by a “work hard, play hard” maxim. Employees enjoy a coveted free travel program and quarterly events around Dallas that include golf, luncheons at House of Blues and Cowboy Stadium tours. The “Share the Spirit” program comprises 80 community events and 20,490 volunteer hours yearly by employees, demonstrating corporate social responsibility within the company and in the marketplace.

Vail Resorts Inc.
If you think vacationing in Vail is fun, try working there. In addition to the more traditional health care and 401k offerings, benefits include discounts on any type of lesson you can imagine —skiing, snowboarding, snow tubing and snowshoeing. Outdoor activities aside, Vail Resorts encourages growth and development opportunities for its employees. The company offers internal training courses, mentoring programs for interns and continuing education assistance. The communications team has an all-important seat at the table to drive results for the company’s bottom line.

The Walt Disney Company
The Walt Disney Company does not restrict the fun, creativity and imagination to the promotion of its end products and the end products themselves. Employees (and their inner child) and their families enjoy complimentary theme park tickets and discounted rates at company resorts. Benefits for all include bountiful insurance coverage (even for pets), college savings plans, on-site childcare, flex scheduling, telecommuting and developmental courses and tuition reimbursement options for continuing education. The Disney VoluntEARS program enables employees to make a positive impact in their own community or around the globe, with more than 5 million hours of service recorded in 42 countries over the past 26 years.

Wells Fargo
Wells Fargo maintains an overall collegial environment that is focused on keeping employees happy and committed. Growth opportunities are available through external classes, seminars and conferences, with tuition reimbursement totaling $5,000 yearly. Low employee turnover is also achieved through excellent insurance and financial benefits and team-building volunteer work. In 2009, employees volunteered 1.23 million hours through community outreach programs, while the company donated $202 million dollars to 18,000 nonprofits. Senior level employees may take three months paid leave to volunteer with a nonprofit anywhere in the world.


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