Once upon a time, there was a bright-eyed journalism student at the University of Texas who was taught that “public relations is the practice of communicating with your (be you a company, organization or person) audiences.” It seemed simple enough. So much so that she thought to herself, “I can help companies communicate with their audiences!” and so she did.
Spoiler: that girl was me.
In 2004, Kari and I started on a journey to help technology, clean energy, and consumer product companies communicate their stories to their key audiences. We hung out our shingle as INK Public Relations, and built a thriving business based on our ability to help companies deliver their best selves to the right people at the right time. Along the way, the industry changed, and INK, along with it.
Remember newspapers? Yep, us too. “Ink” is an industry term for coverage in a newspaper or magazine. Getting “ink” was a highly sought-after validation of a company’s business. Today, the third-party validation that comes with mention of a company’s goods or services still exists, but it’s the clicks on a website, not the ink on your fingers, that matters. This media industry shift from print to online and its disruptive effect on media business models may have created fewer opportunities for a company’s name to appear in print, but it opened up the world of storytelling in ways that communicators could not have foreseen a decade ago.
The widening of mediums and channels through which to communicate directly with your audience, thus skipping the media altogether, should have been an opportunity for public relations professionals to evolve and drive home what they are all about. (Communications, no matter the channel.) Alas, that’s not how this story unfolded. Instead, the term public relations became synonymous with media relations in many circles and thus, a one-trick pony.
Yet, you won’t find a one-trick pony here. While the INK in our name pays homage to the “E” in the paid-earned-shared-owned media communications model, as the industry has evolved so has our strategy and our company. Today, we rebranded ourselves as INK Communications Co. to reflect that evolution and our service offering of public relations, digital strategy, content, creative, and research. We rock the house in all of these areas for national and global client partners like the Bluetooth Special Interest Group, Whole Foods 365, Experian Partner Solutions, Datapipe (recently acquired by Rackspace), and one of the largest energy companies in the world.
But just like the industry didn’t change overnight, neither did we. For the first ten years of our existence, we focused on planning and executing great campaigns that revolved largely around the written word and how to get that out via media relations, analyst relations, speaking engagements, events, and organic social media. And we were really good at it, but always had our eye on what’s next. Over the last four years, we’ve evolved significantly as a business – more than quadrupling in size – and as communicators, hiring in and growing up our multi-disciplinary marketing and creative abilities. All the while, we’ve maintained valuable client relationships and an award-winning culture.
So what is it about INK that allows us to evolve along with – or even ahead of – our industry? We believe it’s our unwavering commitment to live our mission: good work with good people makes for a good life. The good work is the stuff that moves the needle for our clients while pushing us to grow to our best professional selves in the process. The good people are the clients and teammates we trust and respect, and the fun (and longevity – lookin’ at you first and current client Bluetooth SIG, and first and current employee (now VP and partner) Blair Poloskey) that comes with that. And our good life is the result of those two things coming together – after all, we spend too much of our lives at work to not make it challenging and enjoyable.
That Longhorn of the early ‘90s still believes what she was taught – it’s all about communicating with your audiences.
I hope you enjoy what’s coming. Our evolution doesn’t stop.