PR Firms Use Benefits to Attract Talent

Boutique-sized PR agencies offer an unusual range of benefits.

Unlimited vacation days? On-site dry cleaning? Nap pods? While a few decades ago, those may have been unheard of, today’s professionals are benefiting from ever-increasing office perks and benefits in a bid for companies to attract top talent, meet growing work-life balance demands, and adapt to work place flexibility provided through technology.

Specific to the public relations industry, Public Relations Boutiques International (PRBI) surveyed its U.S. member agencies to better understand what perks are typically being offered by small firms in order to stay competitive when it comes to employee benefit packages.

“The employee benefit trends of the PRBI members are indicative of trends for boutique-sized PR agencies throughout North America,” says Rick Gould of Gould+Partners. “More and more firms are striving to create a best-place-to-work culture. Having aggressive staff lifestyle and benefits programs will inspire staff to look forward to coming to work and excelling in their performance.”

Among 15 member agencies, all with under 15 employees, located throughout the U.S., here is how agencies fared.

Retirement planning. Roughly two-thirds of agencies contribute to retirement savings plans such as individual retirement accounts (IRAs) and 401(k)s, and most agencies offer a 3% match after a one- or two-year vesting period.

Health care. All agencies contribute at least a portion of funds to an employee’s individual health insurance costs, and all agencies provide medical insurance, while roughly 75% provide dental and 60% vision insurance. Eighty percent of agencies cover more than half of the employee’s health insurance costs; nearly one-third cover the full premium. A quarter of agencies contribute to an employee’s spouse’s or dependent health insurance costs. To combat annual rising costs, one agency has set a flat coverage dollar amount versus a percentage in order to avoid absorbing rate hikes.

NEXT: Perks can range from parking to free snacks to gym memberships. 

Time off. Forty percent offer maternity leave policies in excess of their state’s legal requirements, and 20% have a paternity leave policy. Twenty percent offer more than 15 paid vacation days annually, 20% offer 13 to 15 days, and roughly 50% offer 10 to 12; most agencies offer additional vacation days for employee longevity. For more time off, 80% of agencies offer personal days on top of paid vacation days, 40% of agencies give employees the day off on their birthday, and one-third of agencies hortened summer office hours. Forty percent offer a full office closure between Christmas and New Year’s.

Additional Perks. More than 80% of agencies provide free snacks and beverages to staff. More than half of agencies contribute to or cover employee mobile phone costs. One-third of agencies contribute to or cover gym memberships. Twenty percent of agencies supplement or pay for parking.

Some of the more non-traditional perks and ideas cited by members include:


  • Unlimited paid vacation days as long as the employee works with client deliverables and is accountable to the team;
  • A $500 stipend for employees who decline insurance;
  • Paying for one personal development class annually, such as art classes;
  • $1,000 per employee annually for staff development; and
  • An office closure for two weeks of the year, and additional “flex closure” time around three-day holiday weekends, in which employees need not come in that week but be on call for each other and clients.

The survey findings show that boutique agencies are able to offer benefit packages to employees that meet and often beat those from larger employers, according to Joy Scott, president of Public Relations Boutiques International. “The real beauty is that small agencies often have flexibility to amend benefit policies and perks to meet the needs of individual employees without having to jump through hoops, which can give a competitive advantage,” she says.

Public Relations Boutiques International is an international network of boutique public relations firms.