NEW YORK—Edelman has the strongest employer brand in the North American public relations business, with more than 1,000 respondents to our Best Agencies to Work For survey citing the world’s largest independent among the top three agencies they would most like to work for if they had to leave their current firm.

Edelman received almost twice as many votes as the second strongest employer brand, Weber Shandwick, which was selected by almost 550 respondents—ahead of Ketchum (348), Ogilvy (291), Golin (272), and FleishmanHillard (267).

But the majority of respondents to the survey are quite happy where they are: close to 2,000 answered either “none” or that the question was not applicable—another 200 indicated that they would go in-house rather than join another agency and close to 50 said they would start their own agency rather than going to work for another firm.

(Others were even more adamant: some variation of “I would leave the industry” was cited more than 50 times.)

The top 10 agencies (based on a points system, with more points for a first choice position than a second or third choice):

  1. Edelman -- 2488
  2. Weber Shandwick -- 1243
  3. Ketchum -- 738
  4. Golin -- 606
  5. Ogilvy PR -- 588
  6. FleishmanHillard -- 512
  7. Burson-Marsteller -- 219
  8. Olson Engage -- 170
  9. MSLGroup -- 156
  10. Cohn & Wolfe -- 145

Chicago-based Olson Engage was the only non-multinational to crack the top 10 list, with a strong employer brand than a handful of the global giants. Other leading midsize and independent agencies included:

  1. Olson Engage -- 170
  2. M Booth -- 128
  3. Zeno -- 114
  4. Allison+Partners -- 104
  5. Outcast -- 97
  6. InVentiv Health -- 87
  7. Brunswick -- 84
  8. PadillaCRT -- 76
  9. MWW -- 75
  10. Hunter PR -- 73
    Shift Communications -- 73
    Text 100 -- 73

Despite the wording of the question—which asked about other PR agencies—many respondents selected firms from adjacent industries, including digital specialists (Digitas was the most popular, scoring 81) and ad agencies (Leo Burnett led the way with a score of 64).

“At a time when the competition for talent is more fierce than ever, a strong employer brand is critical, and this survey suggests that several major agencies are just not top-of-mind for potential employees,” says Paul Holmes, founder and CEO of The Holmes Report. “Many of the agencies on this list need to work harder on marketing themselves within their own industry, to recruiting their own people to tell their stories and to reaching out to potential recruits.”