s2s PR Will Be an Employee-Owned Company; Here’s Why

the s2s Public Relations team + 1 child
(L to R: Eric Schudiske + Lil Mac, Crystal Clarity, and Kelly Johnson)

Why are we committing to ensuring s2s PR and Communications becomes an employee-owned company by 2025? The intention is to democratize ownership, offer greater economic opportunity to those driving value for the company, and to create a transparent, resilient, and inclusive company. It’s lofty.  It’s also, I believe, fair. 

A path to ownership that doesn’t necessarily start at ground zero and include trudging through the weeds of bookkeeping, insurance, licensing, benefits, taxes, etc, etc, etc, I believe helps increase accessibility and opportunity. 

There is a fair way to build a successful company without commoditizing employees or keeping balance sheets behind locked doors. There is a way to build a successful business by sowing value and building an authentic workplace community even while struggling to reap a profit. I believe one empowering mechanism to drive a successful company is employee  ownership. 

I hope this exceptionally small measure also contributes to a larger movement to grow awareness around increased accessibility to economic opportunities. 

I also have to admit, I’m competitive. If this little acorn of a company is to succeed in the shadow of PR giants, we need a strategic advantage to attract like-minded clients and a highly-skilled and motivated team that large PR firms can’t, won’t, or haven’t considered. 

The roots of building an employee-owned company can be traced to what our company name is not. Our company’s name is not a person’s last name. We are not Schudiske PR and Communications. 

Rather our company name suggests advancing ideas around from one area to another, moving forward, and aspiring to something greater. Even if our current company name sounds more like a droid in a witty whodunit with a bumbling sidekick named “Communications.” (s2s PR and Communications which btw stands for ‘seed 2 series’ and ‘strategic advisors 2 startups’ and a few others acronyms.) 

As societal change swirls around us, I believe the days of vanity plate companies carrying the name of their founders is ending. I believe companies should lean into the audiences they serve, not start with a name that’s more a statement about themselves. 

It’s important to note that many companies do offer generous benefits, great wages, 401k contributions, stock options, and in the case of many of our clients: equity. All those efforts should be applauded. 

Here’s the pledge I’m taking and that’s supported by our current team; s2s Public Relations and Communications will be wholly employee owned in five years (2025)*.

Right now we’re tiny, just three FTEs (including a new hire**), one part-timer (on paid maternity welcoming a beautiful baby girl into this world as I write this) and a very gracious contractor who lends her PhD and startup vantage-point to our client’s most complex technologies. 

The path to employee ownership will be a journey we hope to document so others might also achieve a level of comfort and motivation to follow. 

The truth is I’ve worked my hardest as an employee (post TV news journalism***) when there was equity on the table. I hope the people that choose to exercise their talent at this little public relations and communications firm also see the tangible benefits of building a business and enjoy the rewards during our peaks, and digging deep together to make it through our valleys. 

My journey was never to walk alone, build a company alone, or succeed as one person. I’ve been team-focused since riding alongside a photographer documenting stories as a TV journalist for more than a decade. Teamwork matters. It’s a tough road to build impactful change, even more so with just one set of DNA.

Here are the asks to those reading this: 

  • If you would like to join us in committing to build an employee-owned company, please reach out. 
  • If you have a roadmap to build an employee-owned company using an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) or other mechanism, reach out. 
  • If you know of companies in the impact space that would like to partner with a PR firm working to drive economic transparency on its own through employee ownership, reach out. 

This effort at economic equality will run in concert with efforts at increasing diversity and inclusion among our team and the clients we serve. We’re not there yet. And if we ever feel like we’re arrived, I think we’ve lost. This will be a constant practice and intention to do better and be better. 

Follow along, and we’ll offer more on this journey into employee ownership as it happens. 

  • * A quick note from the spouse of an attorney. The world is exceptionally unpredictable now. We can’t forecast 5 weeks into the future, let alone 5 years. Consider this post an earnest pledge of intention, knowing there’s a lot of unknown between now and 2025. 
  • ** More on that soon. 
  • *** So. Much. Work and Passion and Work.

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