SOURCE: SHIFT Communications

SHIFT Communications

August 07, 2012 09:00 ET

The Road Less Traveled: SHIFT Communications Initiates ESOP to Benefit All Employees

BOSTON, MA--(Marketwire - Aug 7, 2012) - While the acquisition of most creative agencies results in a big payday for a select few senior employees, SHIFT Communications, Inc. chose a different path. In keeping with the Agency founders' goal to put their people first, today the nationwide social media public relations agency announced the debut of an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). This endeavor transitions an undisclosed but significant percentage of ownership to the staff, ensuring that all current and future employees of SHIFT become equity holders. 

On the heels of this news, SHIFT has also revealed several changes to its leadership, enlisting a Board of Directors and transitioning one of its co-founders, Todd Defren, to CEO of the organization, effective immediately. Defren also becomes the majority shareholder of the company. Co-founder James K. Joyal will continue to serve as a partner and board member at the firm, and the VP of Operations, Paula Finestone, a 10-year veteran of the firm, was elevated to Chief Operating Officer and board member. Agency president, Amy Lyons, will also serve on the board, alongside an independent ESOP trustee.

"This represents the best of all possible outcomes," noted Joyal, who will retain a minority stake in the firm. "The ESOP rewards our 100 employees for helping SHIFT achieve its current level of success, and further motivates us to be even more successful and innovative going forward."

Defren echoed this sentiment, stating that SHIFT Communications, Inc. will continue to "think differently" about both culture and communications strategy. "This ESOP shows that SHIFT puts its money where its mouth is, when it comes to valuing our employees. Next, we want to push boundaries in the industry. We are investing in resources and services that will help us deliver on a new vision for the role of earned media and content marketing," he said. 

Todd Defren has been working in public relations for approximately 20 years and is recognized globally as a social media and public relations innovator, thinker and lecturer. His blog, PR-Squared, is routinely among the top blogs on AdAge's Power150. Defren is the visionary behind the Social Media News Release and Social Media Newsroom; a co-founder and Board Member of the Social Media Club, a PRWeek "40 Under 40" honoree, an Advisory Board Member for the SmartBrief on Social Media, a Fellow of the Society for New Communications Research, and a frequent Social Media speaker. In addition to his extensive speaking appearances, Defren also regularly consults with SHIFT clients such as H&R Block, McDonald's and

In 2012, SHIFT Communications was named the Digital/Social Agency of the Year at the SABRE Awards sponsored by The Holmes Group, based on several criteria, including growth and financial performance, awards and recognition, industry word-of-mouth, workplace environment, and interviews with clients. The Agency is headquartered in Boston, MA with offices in San Francisco, CA and New York City. Its newly assembled Board of Directors will serve as advisors to the company and will oversee its growth and expansion in the coming years. 

About SHIFT Communications, Inc.
SHIFT Communications, Inc. is an award-winning, privately-held, employee-owned social media public relations firm that has represented some of the best-known enterprise and consumer technology brands, including McDonald's,, AOL,, Logitech, Club Med, Akamai, Virgin Mobile, Yelp, and H&R Block, among many others. SHIFT pioneered the world's first Social Media News Release and Social Media Newsroom, changing PR forever. SHIFT Communications' 100 employees are located in the Boston, San Francisco and New York metros. For more information on SHIFT's high-tech public relations, consumer public relations and content marketing programs, visit