Running and growing Aker Ink is one of my life’s greatest joys. I wholeheartedly love my craft, our team and the incredible work we churn out for businesses of all types and sizes. I get a thrill from the complexity, variety, art and science – and I jump at the chance to share my knowledge and experience with others.
This July marks 13 years – and what a mile marker! I’ve undergone quite the transformation from an independent practitioner and couldn’t be more pleased with the outcome. Here, I share 13 of the greatest hits from this journey.
1. Building a Team: Although I was reluctant for years, building a high-performing, collaborative team was the best thing I did for the company – and for myself. I truly believe we have the best team of any agency – intelligent, critical thinkers who support and care for another. It’s not always easy, but the fact that we mesh and integrate so well makes the job doubly satisfying. (Read more about these incredible individuals and our core values here.)
2. Overcoming a Limiting Mindset: As an independent practitioner, I had to overcome a limiting mindset in order to build this incredible team. In Aker Ink’s early days, I thought the only way to have an independent lifestyle was to be out on my own. In reality, I had trapped myself and the company’s potential. Now that I have shattered that barrier, I don’t believe there isn’t any project or challenge we can’t tackle. (This topic requires its own blog…or book!)
3. Launching the Aker Ink Scholarship: As a journalism student, I benefited greatly from departmental scholarships that helped me pay fees and living expenses – just a little less stress in a trying phase of life. Paying this generosity forward with the Annual Aker Ink Scholarship at ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication has been one of my favorite personal and professional accomplishments. Three recipients to date, and counting.
4. Blanketing the Media: With a team of former journalists and darn good PR pros, we continuously secure prime placements at the national level – like The New York Times, Fox Business, USA Today, US News & World Report, Forbes and MarketWatch, Inc. – to highly targeted trade media including Green Entrepreneur, Money Magazine, BenefitsPro and CIO – to our local favorites at the Phoenix Business Journal, Az Business and In Business. We understand what our clients want and what journalists need – and that is our key differentiator.
5. Integrating Our Approach to Service: The PR and marketing industries have undergone serious evolutions during the past 13 years with the rise of social and digital technologies, a completely evolved media landscape and a couple economic recessions. Once siloed in many organizations, these business functions are most effective when fully integrated. As a result, we rebranded from Aker Ink Public Relations to Aker Ink PR & Marketing in 2019 to better reflect our approach to service and digital expertise.
6. Building a Client Roster with Missions We Support: To be effective at marketing or building a business, you have to be passionate about the mission. At Aker Ink, we don’t work with any company that walks in the proverbial door. Our client roster is filled with companies and people who we want to support. Our work has meaning, and that makes us more successful personally, as a team and with our clients.
7. Keeping Our Clients, Year After Year: Our clients’ tenure also carries great pride – it’s evidence of high performance. For instance, Take Charge America has been with us nearly the entire ride. We’ve worked with numerous entrepreneurs as they continue to build multiple businesses. Some companies have been on board for five or 10 years. These long-term relationships matter, on many levels.
8. Snagging Lots of Trophies: I can’t count how many awards we have secured for our clients. Every year, our clients are recognized, listed and honored for their expertise, culture and community impact. This speaks to our passion for their missions and our ability to craft persuasive and compelling arguments. We’ve even snagged a few accolades ourselves over the years, including our most recent recognition as the Top Public Relations Firm in Ranking Arizona.
9. Stepping onto an International Stage: Over the years, we’ve worked with numerous companies across borders, navigating unique business opportunities, honing culturally diverse messaging and helping them to gain trust in new markets. Our recent selection and acceptance into International Public Relations Network (IPRN) will increase our international scope and provide us with more resources to better serve companies on a global scale. This exclusive network connects us with 50+ agencies in 41 countries across five continents.
10. Giving Back and Getting Involved: We walk the talk when it comes to supporting our community. It’s something we advise our clients on – and it’s something we really believe in. Triple bottom line benefits are more rewarding than cash alone. On a charitable level, we actively encourage volunteering and board service (and give time off for doing so). Additionally, we regularly volunteer as a group to support local charities. Moreover, we recently formalized Aker Ink’s charitable giving pillars – environmental preservation and recreation, women’s issues and soft skills development. On a professional level, our team is active with the Public Relations Society of America, American Marketing Association and Arizona Innovation Marketing Association.
11. Building a High-Performing Remote Culture: It may have taken the full 13 years, but Corporate America finally sees the value and practicality of a remote workforce on a grand scale. I may have been looked down upon during my early days, but this commitment to a remote lifestyle is now widely understood. We are proof that you don’t need walls and cubicles be productive, collaborative and high achieving.
12. Rising Up During a Pandemic: The COVID-19 pandemic upended all facets of the business world and society as a whole. During this time, we’ve served as a trusted, vital partner for businesses needing to swiftly adjust operations and communications here in Arizona and around the country. As we guide our clients in these unprecedented times, we continue to hire and bring on more clients who understand that marketing should not be halted and that pivoting requires new strategies.
13. Bonding and Growing Through Storytelling: I’ve said many times that our team is the best (because it really is). Each month, we build a “collaborative story” together. This may not seem that intriguing if you’re not passionate about writing and storytelling – but this is often the highlight of our days. Together, we’ve traversed alternate realities, embarked on haunted journeys and partied around the world. Our stories foster creativity, enhance writing styles and reinforce our bonds with another. Sometimes the greatest achievements are the simple things. This ongoing exercise is one of those.
Thirteen years seems like a lot in many senses, but I often feel like I’m just getting started. Especially in our current climate, I think it’s important to celebrate small wins and show gratitude for our personal and professional relationships.
Cheers to the next 13!