By the mid-90’s I’d spent a quarter of a century within the corporate world of global PR, both on the agency side and as a client. It was time to strike out on my own, but I wanted to do it my way and build a PR firm designed to give clients the one thing they desire above all else – positive media coverage. I had repeatedly seen and learned one simple truism over those years: clients hire a PR firm for many different reasons, but they inevitably get fired for one reason above all else—not delivering consistent media coverage. Most of the giant and even mid-size PR firms had grown and diversified into “consultancies” offering a multitude of services under ever-increasing billable hourly rates, while media coverage had been relegated to interns writing press releases. What if I could build a different kind of PR firm—one dedicated first and foremost to placing my clients’ stories within targeted media that would do them the most good? My goal: to get clients media coverage–”ink” as we call it–and lots of it. No billable hours and time sheets, no endless meetings, no mass distributed press releases, and no junior people. Just hits.
Simply stated, PR without the BS.
How do we do it?
Our talent pool is deep, extensive, and experienced. Our network of media specialists are senior professionals, most with actual newsroom experience, working virtually across the U.S. They’re made up of former producers and publicists from the New York and LA national network news staffs. They’re business journalists that have covered the Fortune 500 and the next big thing in technology. They’re publicists from the rarified world of entertainment… movies, television, and star power. They’re tough, experienced reporters from the wire services and newspaper staffs of major metropolitan dailies and small local media outlets, and from small market radio stations to National Public Radio. INK’s pros have covered everything from presidential visits and foreign wars to two-head pigs in Iowa. From major software and funding announcements in the tech world to managing the viral marketing of a single YouTube video, these veteran news pros know how to navigate the new media complexities and the old media realities, and most importantly, they know how to get the coverage others can’t.
CEO and Founder
Grove has over 40 years of experience in the media industry. He has received considerable press over the last several years for his use of a non-traditional business structure and compensation plan.CNN, PBS, Forbes Magazine and The Wall Street Journal, among others, have all profiled Grove and his use of the “virtual office” to reduce overhead and be able to offer a performance-based compensation plan to clients.
Grove began as a beat reporter with The Lawrence (Kan.) Journal World while working toward his Master’s degree in journalism at the University of Kansas. Upon graduation, he transferred his writing skills to the New York office of Burson-Marsteller. Over the next several years he worked for a variety of large agencies such as N.W. Ayer, DDB/Needham and even had a second stint at Burson-Marsteller as general manager of Southern California operations. In addition, Grove has held corporate positions with Itel Financial Services Corporation and divisions of ITT and General Electric.
His experience ranged from financial and investor relations to high-tech campaigns and products, and the vagaries of the entertainment world. He has developed communication programs for companies that sell sophisticated aircraft leases, companies that manufacture computer chips and retail package goods.He has worked with companies that need television exposure or no publicity whatsoever. Grove planned and executed programs for all. He has applied his skills against clients ranging from IBM, Honeywell and Dr. Scholl’s, to Coca-Cola, Armor All, and Jack Daniel’s.
Grove blogs his opinions about the PR industry, politics and his other worldly views.
President & Chief Operating Officer
Ryan Gerding, brings to INK a perfect blend of client service and news media experience. As Vice President of Client Services, Gerding helps oversee all client operations including management of all of the agency’s account directors and supporting client services staff; collaborative development, implementation, and supervision of client campaigns; executive media training; and the agency’s video production operations. Prior to joining INK, eleven years ago, Gerding spent eight years working as a television news reporter and anchor. He has worked at stations in cities as small as Lafayette, Indiana and as large as Sacramento, California. He has covered everything from the Iowa caucuses to tornadoes, to celebrities, and a pig that actually had two heads. He has won reporting awards from the Indiana and Iowa Broadcasters Associations. A native of Kansas City, Ryan holds a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia.
Vice President, Director of Operations
In addition to developing the technological infrastructure needed to sustain a “virtual agency” model, Cindy is an award winning PR professional working with a variety of clients such as Freedom Is Not Free, promoting the American Heroes Calendar which raised $750,000 for wounded veterans in two separate campaigns. She is the social champion for INK Gives Back and has managed campaigns with her team for The Leakey Collection, a global jewelry company established to empower women in Africa. She was key in the product launch of Marula Oil, which led to press coverage landing the brand key distribution with prestigious retailers (Fred Segal, New Beauty, Sephora, Bliss Spas, & 100+ US and UK boutiques). Cindy’s “Share your Marula MOMent”, a tribute to Moms on Mothers Day, received significant beauty blog coverage.
Account Director, Media Research Analyst
As the Account Director/Media Relations Research Executive, Joe aggregates information from clients and industries of clients, collaborates and manages client accounts, assists in client campaigns, and contributes to the social media impression at INK, and At Kansas State University, Joe researched social media for his thesis to obtain his master’s degree in Mass Communication. During his graduate studies, he managed a college radio station consisting of 12 employees and 60 students per semester. During his time at the radio, the station collected over 40 awards and covered content such as the presidential election, suicide, mental health, and race relations. Joe also conducted a weekly movie review segment during his time at the radio station.
Account Director, Media Specialist
Amy has spent close to 20 years of her professional career working and eventually heading up
the East Coast Publicity Office of Universal Pictures as Senior Vice President. Her career with
Universal included marketing and executing publicity campaigns for more than 200 Hollywood
films, including Schindler’s List, Jurassic Park, A Beautiful Mind, Notting Hill, American Pie, Erin
Brockovich, The Bourne Identity, Friday Night Lights, Mamma Mia, Fast and Furious, Despicable
Me and Bridesmaids.
“I split my time between New York and Kansas City where I keep extremely busy with my 3
beautiful children, 2 cats, a dog and 2 lizards.”
Account Director, Media Specialist
Sean has spent twenty (plus) years in the media relations and corporate communications
business. His early career in the entertainment business consisted mostly of representing clients ranging from TV programs like CHiPs, Happy Days and Cheers to handling individuals like Bob Hope, George C. Scott and Bob Newhart. He also represented recording artists including The Who, The Bee Gees, Keith Richards (Rolling Stones) and Neil Diamond and multiple live entertainment specials including Live Aid and The Grammy Awards. He later worked at several
agencies, including Burson-Marsteller and KGB Marketing (Chicago) handling business ranging
from the NYSE and Suzuki to Audi, Cadillac and Acura car launches.
For more than 20 years, Todd Brabender has placed stories in thousands of magazines, newspapers, television/radio/cable shows and newscasts, Internet media, blogs and news websites throughout North America.
A veteran TV news producer and reporter whose newscasts received national recognition for excellence, Todd knows the intricacies of how the media works and understands exactly what editors, reporters, producers and bloggers are looking to feature.
Account Director, Media Specialist
Martin brings nearly 30 years experience helping companies spring to market, evangelize new ideas or gain critical mindshare, and take market-leading positions-all the good stuff! He provides CEO-level strategic consultation and oversees media relations and analyst relations. His skills in content strategy & development for our IT, Telecom and B2B clients ads when we need a more integrated marketing approach that supports media outreach.Martin is very competitive and likes to win. His mantra is “You win by creating results, and by playing right”.
In his free time, Martin enjoys spending time with his wife, dogs, and cats, biking, hiking or looking for a great beach to walk on.
Hanauer has more than 30 years of hard news experience. Prior to joining INK, Hanauer was one of America’s most prolific freelance writers. Between 1975 and 1987, he placed nearly 800 feature articles in a total of more than 100 publications including Readers Digest, Playboy, TV Guide, Penthouse, Family Circle, Science Digest andHouse and Garden. Over a 12-year span, Hanauer served as a regular contributor to 11 of the nation’s top 15 publications (as rated by circulation).
Before becoming a freelance writer, Hanauer was a staff correspondent for the Los Angeles bureaus of Time and The Associated Press, reporting on such stories as the Santa Barbara Oil Spill of 1969 and the student unrest at the University of California in 1970. In 1972, Hanauer was appointed editor-in-chief of California Industry magazine where he remained for three years. He then served the San Francisco bureau of Business Week as a reporter for three years.
By placing as many as 100 articles a year, Hanauer achieved what was called “an unchallenged Northern California record” in MediaFile, the newsletter of Media Alliance, a San Francisco-based writer’s group. He also won numerous honors, including a Peninsula Press Club First Place Award and a Public Relations Society of America Honorable Achievement for his 1981 humor article about the prune industry that appeared in both the San Jose Mercury News and American Way.
Hanauer himself has been featured in articles in the San Francisco Examiner and Oakland Tribune. The Los Angeles Times’ Jack Smith, one of the country’s best-known columnists, wrote in a column entitled, “A Hanauer By Any Other Name,” about the sheer variety of media contacts Hanauer developed in his career.