Ep. 54: INK and the City
If you haven’t heard, INK has grown a lot lately. And that growth has been so good! We’ve welcomed new faces, expanded to new cities, and increased INK’s service offerings. On today’s episode of The Good Stuff and The Noise, we share the story of one particularly exciting part of our growth: INK’s new office in New York City. We hear from the entire INK East team about the process of establishing a new office in this world epicenter.
INK East also tells us about the unmatched number of opportunities in New York. From the world class food, endless industry events, and the diversity of people, New York is an exciting place to live, work, and play. You can learn even more about our decision to expand east in this recent blog from INK East’s fearless leader, Candice Eng.
Note: Transcripts for The Good Stuff and The Noise are generated using a combination of speech recognition software and human transcribers, and may contain errors. Check the corresponding audio before quoting in print or on social media. In addition, INK Communications is committed to accessibility and is happy to address any errors that may impede our deaf and hard of hearing audience. Email us with any questions or concerns at firstname.lastname@example.org
Joey: [00:00:00] Hello, and welcome to The Good Stuff and The Noise – your source for the strategies to be the good stuff in this noisy world. I’m your host Joey Held.
Kim: [00:00:06] And I’m your host Kim Mackley. Here’s a sound bite from the show.
Candice: [00:00:09] We very much believe that communications can be done anywhere. However, there is very much an added level in any communications, in any relationship, of being in-person somewhere that just gives you an added advantage. So taking the good stuff that we do, and the right way that we do it, and taking that to New York has been very much why we wanted to do that. It was a natural part of our growth. We wanted to keep our clients that added value of being in a city where it is an epicenter of business – it is an epicenter of, you know, a huge media hub, and where communications and business happens.
Joey: [00:00:46] The entire INK East office joins us remotely from New York to give us a firsthand look inside a growing communications agency.
Kim: [00:00:53] After you listen, go subscribe to The Good Stuff and The Noise anywhere you listen to podcasts, and leave us a review. Maybe even a five-star review, if you’re so inclined and feel like it.
Kim: [00:01:02] All right that’s it. Are you ready Joey Joe?
Joey: [00:01:04] Yes!
Recorded Episode Start – INK East
Kim: [00:01:16] Hello, listeners! Welcome to another episode of The Good Stuff and The Noise. We’ve got a fun one today for you all.
Joey: [00:01:20] As Young Jeezy once said, “That’s riiiiight.” Kim and I get to share stories -.
Kim: [00:01:24] Please stop.
Joey: [00:01:25] – from comunicators all over the country who are cutting through the noise. But today’s story comes directly from INK itself. Last year, we expanded our footprint to New York sending our very own Candice Eng to establish the office we now call INK East on the isle of Manhattan. To tell us more about what that growth has been like, we’re joined today by the entire INK East crew. Welcome guys! Want to go around and introduce yourselves individually?
Candice: [00:01:47] I’m Candice. Yeah, I’ve been at INK for seven years, and last April I officially moved to New York, and I started our INK East office. And since then, we’ve added a couple folks that you’ll hear from in a little bit here. So yeah, I’ve gotten a chance to add INK East Regional Lead to my title, which was super exciting. And in New York, I’ve been working on clients that need our, you know, want a boots-on-the-ground – whether it’s for media, for communication programs, for social. So it’s been a really good opportunity to, kind of, give our current clients some presence in this city, and then also give us an opportunity to grow our business here, not just in New York necessarily, but our business nationally, especially since New York is such a big business hub, in general. And then also the opportunity for us to grow talent-wise, to get some new people with really interesting backgrounds and different experiences and even more experience in New York than I have into our company.
Kim: [00:02:57] Awesome! Who else is out there? Let’s go in alphabetical order. That would be Amanda.
Amanda: [00:03:01] Hey, guys! This is Amanda Hodge. I am a senior account executive at INK. Excited to be on the team, and I, yeah, I have a background in communications. Also had have had some prior firm experience. So I am from Dallas originally, and went to Baylor University for school. And throughout my college experience, had the opportunity to spend a semester in New York City, where I actually interned at Madison Square Garden in their PR department. And since then, have always loved New York. I moved up here about a year after college, working in PR, and I’ve worked in corporate, consumer, and health PR. So definitely excited to be on the team now with INK in New York. And in my spare time, I’m also taking some graphic and digital design classes over at Parsons – The New School in the city.
Casey: [00:04:08] Hey, guys! This is Casey Sobota. I sit on a couple of tech accounts here at INK. I come from an agency background. I moved to New York about two years ago, to this day actually, from Ohio. I went to the Ohio State University and knew immediately after I wanted to move to New York, and I’ve been here ever since.
Kim: [00:04:33] All right, Sarah, how about you? Tell us a little bit about who you are, and what you’re doing around these parts.
Sarah: [00:04:38] Hi, everyone! My name’s Sarah Freeman. With INK I sit on a couple different accounts working with social media and media relations. I have a pretty cool variety of clients, ranging from furniture to IT, and some clean energy. Previously, I worked at the Manhattan District Attorney’s office as an analyst – that’s actually what brought me to New York from Austin, where I grew up. I have been here for about two years. And before I was working as an analyst, using Arabic language skills, and research skills, and, kind of, combining all of that to work with social media and analysis.
Kim: [00:05:18] We definitely want to learn more about you all, but let’s start with some questions specifically for Candice, and how she came about establishing the office out in New York. So, Candice, what’s that been like? What was the decision behind opening our office out there? Can you go through that with our listeners?
Candice: [00:05:34] The reason we moved out to New York is – there’s a lot of reasons behind it. So last year when INK kind of hopped through its rebrand — There’s a couple of good blog posts and a press release that our founders Starr and Kari wrote that give a lot of good background on this, as well, if you want some reading to do along with your podcast-listening. But the thing about being in New York is that INK has always believed that good communications can be – really can be accomplished from anywhere, especially if you do it right, you know, with research and strategy and being authentic about it. And so, even though we’ve been headquartered in Austin, Texas since INK started, we’ve worked with – we’ve always worked with national, and even international, brands across the U.S., [00:06:21] and in EMEA as well. We’ve executed national communications programs across the board. Our location has never deterred us from doing so. We’ve also built really great long-term national trade and tech media relationships for many years, and we looked at opportunities to do that by leveraging our clients, and our client accounts, and events, and how we do that. And our success there has been very much in trying to find the right mix of, you know, whether it’s earned or owned media, paid, shared, so across media and analysts relations, content, creative, and digital, and understanding our audiences to be able to enable the companies that we work with to, kind of, find and stake their very unique position in today’s noisy world. And that’s why we call it “the good stuff.” That’s the impetus of this podcast name. So we very much believe that good communications can be done anywhere.
Candice: [00:07:13] However, there is a very much an added level, in any communications, in any relationship of being in-person somewhere, that just gives you an added advantage. So taking the good stuff that we do, and the right way that we do it, and taking that to New York has been very much why we wanted to do that. It was a natural part of our growth. We wanted to give our clients that added value of being in a city where it is an epicenter of business. It is an epicenter of, you know, a huge media hub, and where communications and business happens. And then, you know, as an added advantage to it, we get really great bagels, and we can send out our laundry, and we can go to Broadway shows. But the reason for all that is, we wanted to take our – the way that we do our good communications and bring that to New York. I think there’s a – opportunities for us to grow here, for us to do business here, and to also really bring an added value to our current clients, and the way we are currently doing or our jobs.
Kim: [00:08:20] Great. Have there been any unexpected benefits that have arisen that you were expecting while we were planning on expanding out east?
Candice: [00:08:29] How easy it is to have access to just about everything – and I’m not just talking about the bagels. I’m talking about, like, there’s just so many events here. There’s so many opportunities that you, kind of, actually have to be really smart about the way you pick them, whether it’s industry events that you take on. You know, there’s a million things to do in a day, whether it’s events for your clients or media to meet. So you kind of have to be smart about doing that. But I think for much as you can imagine the level of access that you will have, and opportunities, and the networking that you can do here, when you’re actually here I think that is amplified to an extent that kind of blows your mind.
Kim: [00:09:18] So, you guys after this past year of INK being in New York, do you all have any advice to businesses running communications programs in the Big Apple?
Amanda: [00:09:26] Yeah, this is Amanda. I would say it’s really important to take advantage of the location, and the fact that so many media houses are based in New York. It can be really easy to take a reporter out for coffee – learn more about their beat, and what they’re interested in, because I think building that personal relationship with media adds such a level of friendship, credibility, and really just makes the overall media relations process smoother. So, I think that, yeah, being in close proximity to media is extremely helpful for businesses and can be really fruitful moving forward.
Casey: [00:10:10] Yeah, this is Casey. To add on to that – to what Candice said – I think in New York, there’s so much access to everything, it’s almost overwhelming. I think it’s really important to take the time and recognize the value in that accessibility in the industry. I think it’s sometimes easy to get caught up and be so busy and only get your client work done and do all of that, but if you’re not taking time to, kind of, soak in everything around you, and, you know, take advantage of the networking events, and take advantage of all the expertise you have, like, literally sometimes next door to your office, I think you’re missing a huge opportunity. And I also think too, INK is really good about offering their employees a very flexible working environment. And I think when you have that ability to, you know, work from somewhere else, or work from a coffee shop, you really can get out of your own headspace, and New York is a great place to do that in. There’s constant inspiration around you, and if you’re able to offer a flexible work environment like that, I think it’s a great thing in a place like New York.
Joey: [00:11:19] Casey, you mentioned that flexibility is something that you enjoy about the New York life – going into Central Perk coffee shop. I just watched the very first –
Casey: [00:11:28] Exactly. Everyday.
Joey: [00:11:29] – A real wild tangent, but I just watched the very first episode of “Friends” the other day. I’d never seen it. I also didn’t really watch the show, but yeah, it’s like, what a 90s representation. Wonderful. So Casey, as I was saying, you mentioned the flexibility is one of the aspects you enjoy about being in New York, and this is a question for all of you, but what else do you like about living and working in the Big Apple?
Sarah: [00:11:53] For working in New York, I love how- and Casey and Amanda both, kind of, touched on this – but how accessible everything is, and also the wide range of things that are available to you. Living in New York, you have access to stuff from all over the world, all different types of people, different industries. There’s probably, you can probably find every industry here in New York, and I like that the city just brings everyone together.
Amanda: [00:12:22] Yeah, this is Amanda. Just to echo what Sarah was saying – I love living in New York for so many reasons, but I think one of my favorite things about the city is that you are able to see into the lives of so many people that are different from you. It’s such a diverse city. People come here from all over the world. I’m constantly sitting on the subway listening to someone speaking in a different language that I don’t understand. But, I think that just having – having so many people around you that are different is really inspiring, really brings a lot of color to the work that we do, and, yeah, just having that surrounding is really wonderful.
Kim: [00:13:12] What do you guys miss about your life before New York City?
Candice: [00:13:18] I would say – I have three things that I miss. I miss HEB so much. I miss HEB and my nut blend that I used to get there. And the salmon meals that I used to get there. I miss central HV/AC, and the ability to control your temperature. And third, I miss, like, bodies of water that you can get into. So pools, like, springs and whatnot. It’s really weird to be on an, like, an island like Manhattan, but I wouldn’t recommend ever getting into the East River or the Hudson. The other day we were actually looking at, like, how dirty the water is surrounding New York.
Kim: [00:13:55] You’ll be fine.
Joey: [00:13:57] It’s good for the skin.
Candice: [00:13:57] But it’s beautiful to look at.
Kim: [00:14:04] Look, don’t touch.
Kim: [00:14:01] I believe that you’re not so far away from the Atlantic Ocean, but you probably can’t see that from the office.
Candice: [00:14:07] That’s correct.
Sarah: [00:14:11] This is Sarah. One of the things I miss the most, honestly, as much as I do like the ease of the subway, I miss having my own car.
Kim: [00:14:21] Don’t say it, Sarah!
Sarah: [00:14:21] And being able to drive it everywhere. One of the things that’s really difficult, which the subway has not fixed is, when a friend is in another neighbor, like a very far away neighborhood, and you’re off of a train line that does not go to that neighborhoodm, you basically have a long-distance friendship. And, so that’s been a learning curve for me.
Casey: [00:14:41] Yeah, that gets pretty rough. You can be in like – I consider a long-distance relationship, like, if you live in Lower Manhattan, like y’all might see a couple – every – once every couple months.
Sarah: [00:14:52] Well yeah, I live in Brooklyn. If someone lives in Midtown, like, they’re – I’m never going to see them.
Casey: [00:14:59] Sayonara.
Sarah: [00:15:00] Yeah, Adios.
Casey: [00:15:01] Yeah, I on that note – this is Casey. I really miss my family, of course, from Ohio. That’s, like, the biggest thing I miss. I also really, really miss affordable food and drink prices. Every time I go back, I’m just like, “My God. What did I do?” But really, I don’t miss driving that much. I actually love the ability to take the subway, and walk, like, walking to work is my new favorite thing in the entire world. It’s great.
Joey: [00:15:32] It’s a low bar. I like it. Kim, what do you miss about New York?
Kim: [00:15:37] What do I miss? My friends. Thanks for the prep on that, Joey.
Joey: [00:15:47] Any time.
Kim: [00:15:47] I’m thinking hard about…something. There are so many things I miss about New York. I definitely have never – have not so far, I won’t say never, have gotten used to having a car here in Texas, so I’m gonna have to politely disagree with my friend Sarah. I loved the subway in the sense of I don’t like driving very much. And I definitely miss the fall and, like, the weather in New York in the fall was real cool, literally. And, you know, all the fun peeps I met out there. Access to art, and theater, and, like, you know, Broadway and things like that was always a fun thing to have, sort of, at the end of a subway line in New York. But I don’t know! I always feel when people ask me that I’m choosing against Texas, which I will -.
Joey: [00:16:33] Sounds like that.
Kim: [00:16:33] I will refuse to do. I love my life here in Austin and there are wonderful things in both places.
Joey: [00:16:40] Name some wonderful Austin things – no, I’m just kidding.
Kim: [00:16:42] Okay, good. Tacos.
Joey: [00:16:44] I saw the fear in your eyes. That was great. Alright, so cars and subway battles aside, what are some of your biggest tips for surviving in New York?
Sarah: [00:16:53] Well, this is Sarah again. This might seem minor, but I would say if you plan on shopping at Trader Joe’s in New York City, you should use the “buddy system,” and never go in it alone because then you will be in the line for about an hour and a half.
Casey: [00:17:10] And if you’re visiting New York, and you want to see a true New York experience, go to Trader Joe’s right after work, and that’s mind-blowing. Like, people shop while they’re waiting in line. Like, you get in line to shop and pick things off the shelves while you wait.
Sarah: [00:17:24] It really does take a buddy to get through Trader Joe’s. I think the biggest, and most important, thing to do in New York is really embrace delivery and pickup services, and really just everything the internet has to offer.
Casey: [00:17:37] Embrace your laziness.
Candice: [00:17:39] Sarah had a good one yesterday about dollar pizza being a key survival tip.
Sarah: [00:17:45] Dollar pizza is absolutely necessary, and it 100 percent of the time tastes better after midnight.
Casey: [00:17:51] There’s other factors involved with that probably.
Casey: [00:17:58] My – the biggest tip that someone told me, and I was not prepared for, was to be “out-weirded every damn day.” And not like me, which is also hard to do, but, like, the stuff that you see that you think is weird one day, don’t say that’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever seen because the next day, it’ll be outdone. Like, the stuff that you see on the street sometimes is truly shocking, and I think that it would take a lot to faze me now.
Candice: [00:18:26] My biggest tip for surviving in New York – So, when I first moved here, I did a lot. I kind of overwhelmed myself, but I also talked to a lot of people, which was kind of helpful. And I would say the biggest tip, if you’re living and working here, is to find a way to not completely stop – because I don’t think you really can in this city – but to slow down, maybe, just a tiny bit. It’s really easy to get caught up in it. And that’s – everything they say about New York is, like, true. It’s so fascinating. People are awake at all hours of the day. People work – go to the gym and work out really hard. They work really long hours. They – you’ll also leave work on, like, a Tuesday night, and see people drinking at bars at 7:00 p.m., and they’re there to stay. So it’s fascinating. But there’s – and there’s a lot to do – but I do think that you have to find ways to give yourself some sort of break because it’s really easy to just keep going, whether it’s work, or just, like, doing things to find a way to, kind of, balance out your life a little bit that way, and not to feel like you’re missing out on anything. It’s probably really easy to feel that way in this city, whether it’s, like, something work-related, a networking opportunity, an event to go to, or just, like, fun stuff to do. There’s always – there’s multiple things going on at one time, and it always feels like you’re missing out on something cool or big, or whatever it may be, but that’s usually not the case. And there’s going to be more opportunities to come. So, kind of, be thoughtful about that would be my biggest tip.
Amanda: [00:20:01] This is Amanda. I would say – I think something that a lot of people don’t expect when moving to New York is just how little space you have. New York has forced me to be very minimalistic, but I actually really like it. I own less clothes, less furniture, but it’s really refreshing because I’m living my life outside of my apartment so much. I think another tip I would recommend is just for people to walk. It can be really tempting to take a cab, and the subway is a great experience, but just walking from neighborhood to neighborhood is really helpful in learning the city. And one of my favorite things to do is just to get a coffee, turn on some music, and walk the streets and explore. So I think that’s something people definitely should take advantage of.
Joey: [00:20:58] It’s true. When I was there I walked everywhere. It was great.
Kim: [00:21:01] You guys, this was so fun. That’s all we have for you guys. Anything else we should have asked the INK East office that we didn’t?
Amanda: [00:21:08] I’m just so excited that we have this New York presence now. I know that INK has such a strong presence in Austin, and in Denver, and I think it was really strategic to open in New York because so many companies view New York as a gateway to the United States market across the nation. And a lot of companies begin here. There’s lots of startups, and lots of innovation happening, so definitely excited to see that throughout my time at INK, and help some of the companies located here and on the East Coast expand onward.
Casey: [00:21:46] Yeah, for sure, and Amanda, I think too with, like, having – you have every type of company from your startups to your, like, centuries-old corporations, and I think having that type of mix really gives you the opportunity to find new white spaces. And also, I think every INK office, kind of, has its own perks, and in its own culture, so it’s really cool to be a part of a new culture and being on the East Coast and, kind of, getting our feet wet here. So, I’m super excited.
Candice: [00:22:18] Yeah, I would probably just reiterate what we started with. You know, INK came to open an office in New York similar to what we did in Denver. This isn’t only just about INK growing. It’s part of that, and part of our quality growth narrative in terms of, like, why we’re expanding locations, why we’re adding additional talent. But it is at the end – it’s a – it’s something we want to ensure that gives value to our employees, our staff, not only the fact that we get to, you know, now we have new folks like Sarah, like Amanda, like Casey, who bring in different experiences to our staff, but from, like, their experience specifically in New York, whether it’s media, or with different types of companies, from startups to major brands, and in different capabilities, as well. But also for our staff to, kind of, be able to have that – to have that avenue to, in terms of having an East Coast office, for themselves to grow individually, for their clients. And then also, the value is very much for our current and even prospective clients. It’s very much for our clients to have the opportunity, not only to build very simple things, like, build media relationships here, but also to be strategic in their communications programs, and allow us to be strategic in the way we make recommendations for them when we have this very much added channel essentially. And it’s not just the office location, or people there, it’s access to, like, we were saying earlier to events, to the people that they want to talk to, to the media that they need to build relationships with, to the analysts that they – that they need to get validation from, and then to their customers, whether that’s other businesses, or to – or to the consumer. So, it’s super exciting. I think we’ve done a lot in New York already, and there’s plenty more to do, so that’s going to be really exciting to do in the next couple of years.
Joey: [00:24:21] They grow up so fast. Thanks y’all. You’re officially off the hook.
[00:24:27] Thank you so much!
[00:24:27] Thanks you guys!
Joey: [00:24:28] And thank you to our lovely listeners for joining us for another episode of The Good Stuff and The Noise. Don’t forget you can drop us a line, comment on the episode, tell us your favorite creme brulee recipe, whatever you want on social media. We’re at Hey INK Co. on all channels.
Kim: [00:24:42] Alright Candice, give us the final word.
Candice: [00:24:44] New York, or nowhere.