2021 Best PR Agencies to Work For, Asia-Pacific | PRovoke Media

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Best Agency to Work For is possibly the only predictive award that PRovoke Media gives out. By this, we mean there’s a direct correlation between the agencies on this list and those that take home our biggest honor (often times at some point in the future) — Agency of the Year recognition. That’s, in part, because firms that take culture seriously tend to attract and retain smart and creative talent who, in turn, produce stellar work. It’s a simple formula but one that’s easily overlooked amid the breathless pace and tremendous pressures that are a seemingly inevitable reality of agency life. But this pace is exactly why agencies shouldn’t underestimate the power its culture has on the work its employees produce, factors that have only increased in prominence amid the turbulence of 2021.

The firms recognized on the rankings include a few holding company firms, but mostly independents. Some have generous benefits, others prioritize mental health, professional development or interesting work that keeps talent engaged. All participating firms can also obtain their own results. (For more information on this, see FAQ.)

The top ranked agency in each category will be recognised at the 2021 Asia-Pacific SABRE Awards. which will take place virtually on 15 September. Tickets for the virtual ceremony can be reserved here.  

BEST ASIA-PACIFIC AGENCY TO WORK FOR, LARGE (100+) 

#1 Archetype (Next15) 

Archetype's retains the top ranking in this category, after winning in 2020 as well, demonstrating that the firm's perennially strong employee culture has only been fortified by the significant impact of Covid-19. Much of that, of course, is down to the pioneering focus on staff satisfaction from precursor agency Text100, which helped popularise the revolutionary notion that employees can be treated like adults.

Once again, the flexibility that accrues from that approach resulted in excellent scores for Archetype across all categories, including a zero-tolerance approach to harassment, its commitment to its values during the pandemic, and its empowerment of women in leadership positions. The agency's 320 staffers also noted an ambitious, curious and kind environment. "Supportive and understanding leaders that truly do their best to walk the talk in terms of the company's values," says one staffer, while another lauds the "respect for every individual", encapsulating, in a nutshell, the continued appeal of Archetype's workplace culture.

In terms of specific policies, Archetype had implemented hybrid and flexible working policies long before the pandemic hit. But these were supplemented by considerable investment in mental/physical wellbeing, professional development and digital detox initiatives — all part of the 'Archetype Way' approach that was formalised last year. "My colleagues are absolutely kind and nurturing despite the hierarchy levels between the seniors and juniors," said another respondent. "The learning enthusiasm is always rewarded and the company does not hesitate to shower us with care and concern during tough times." 

#2 APCO Worldwide (Independent)

#3 WE (Independent)

#4 The Hoffman Agency (Independent) 


BEST ASIA-PACIFIC AGENCY TO WORK FOR, MIDSIZE (35-99)

#1 SenateSHJ (ANZ/Independent) 

Corporate consultancy SenateSHJ owes much to an ethos that calls on the firm to "work with people we respect on projects that matter," underpinning an 80%+ retention rate across its Australia and New Zealand operations. The firm's 37 staffers are proud to work for SenateSHJ and more than happy to let people know, resulting in particularly high net promoter metrics. SenateSHJ employees also scored the firm well in terms of industry respect, employee passion, and anti-harassment, reflecting how its values of being 'united, energised, grounded and restless' are being brought to life, after being designed by the staff themselves. 

According to one employee, a "sense of family' pervades — "we're all different, but united by the respect for each other and our clients." "I have worked at three agencies in my career and this is by far the most supportive, collaborative and enjoyable," added another, while a third lauded SenateSHJ's "flat organisational structure, the universal appetite to learn and a lack of egos."

In terms of policies, SenateSHJ's commitment to professional development stands out, as does its profit sharing programme, and its flexible working, parental leave and social support. A new D&I policy will be expected to strengthen this culture.  

#2 Allison+Partners (Regional/MDC Partners) 

#3 Sling & Stone (Australia/Independent) 


#4 GCI Health (Regional/WPP)

#5 Sandpiper Communications

BEST ASIA-PACIFIC AGENCY TO WORK FOR, SMALL (5-34)  

#1 Alexander PR (New Zealand/Independent) 

Alexander PR is no stranger to this category, with the New Zealand boutique regularly attracting plaudits for an empathetic staff culture that is reflected not only in the long tenures of its 11 staffers, but in the firm's ability to punch above its weight when it comes to award-winning work. There were uniformly high scores across the board, including such metrics as employee pride, desire to remain, net promoter advocacy, the honesty of senior leadership, and staff empowerment.

"Supportive, empowering, inclusive" is how one employee describes the culture, while others note the team is "inspiring, fun and ambitious" and demonstrates an "unrelenting pursuit of results, providing outstanding client experiences and cultivating a wholesome team spirit." Culture and benefit highlights include a range of team building initiatives, charitable endeavours, flexible work/life policies and proactive support for personal/professional development in line with employee interests. 

#2 PR Wire (Sri Lanka/Independent) 

#3 Boyd PR (New Zealand/Independent)

#4 Mutant Communications (SEA/Independent) 

#5 Spurwing Communications (Singapore/Independent)