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What We Value at InkHouse

June 23, 2015 Meg O'Leary

I just crossed the 20-year mark in my career – eight of which have been here at InkHouse. When Beth and I started InkHouse, we knew exactly what we wanted our agency to be – and not to be – for clients and for employees.

For the first few years, it was easy to communicate and share our values. And we could see our employees embracing and living those values on a daily basis because we were passing them down directly. But as we grow, that challenge becomes increasingly difficult. In fact, some of our early employees pointed out to me that it used to be easy to understand the “InkHouse way” simply because we all sat in the same room. But now as we cross the 80 employee mark with offices on both coasts, it has become important to put to words, and methodical action, what we value as an agency.

The good news is that we hire and keep people who already embody many – if not all – of these qualities. But, of course, we all need reminders (myself included!) To that end, we’ve rolled out the InkHouse values and continually try to use them as the foundation for how we work.

So here goes:

1.     We have one foot in the future. We started InkHouse when many PR firms weren’t doing social media, and those that were had social set up as a separate practice. The convergence of these two channels, while now obvious, was a new idea at the time and the foundation of InkHouse. In that same vein, we push ourselves to continually think about the future of PR and content -- and recognize that if we stand still, we will not succeed. Just because something worked last year, or last week, or even yesterday, does not mean it will today. We seek what will work tomorrow.

2.     We are accountable. We meet our deadlines, exceed our goals, and own our mistakes. We don’t make excuses. We don’t point fingers.

3.     We are kind. For some reason I have never understood, many workplaces tolerate unkindness and dismiss it as simply being about “business.” At InkHouse we believe you can be kind and effective at the same time. In fact, we think you can be more effective through collaboration and respect. And, most importantly, we know that being kind does not make you weak. We should all strive to be someone we would want to work for.

4.     We are not order takers. In a world where you are serving clients, this can be a tough one. The balancing act between what the clients say they want and what you believe to be the most effective approach for achieving results don’t always overlap. We push ourselves to offer strong guidance even when it seems the client is giving us an “order.” We question what will work. We examine what we’re trying to achieve and look for the best ways to get there.

5.     We hate to lose. Period. But we work to foster a culture in which failure is an option though, because winning often means that we need to be brave enough to risk failure.

6.     We go to YES. We believe that it’s more important to know what others are good at than where they fall short. When things get tough, we’ll only shine if we understand which strengths we can all lean on. Therefore, at InkHouse we look for what is possible – not what isn’t – for our clients and in our co-workers.

7.     We use good judgment.  When there is no black and white answer, we use our experience, integrity and brains to make the best call. (For example, at InkHouse we have unlimited vacation time, so how much vacation time should I take?)

8.     We don’t confuse process and progress. We are big believers that hard work and good work are not the same thing. We don’t value long hours for the sake of working long hours; we don’t value after-hour emails that can wait for the next day. At weekly staff meetings, we aren’t interested in hearing the process stuff. We are dogged, but we understand the important difference between hard work and great results. They are not the same thing.

9.    We are team first. We listen openly to ideas that differ from our own. We dig in when others need help. We praise often and openly. We criticize kindly and privately.

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