Welcome to the Neighborhood

Is it me, or did last year go by in a blur? If you put any stock in the adage, “Time flies when you’re having fun,” then 2013 was a party. Indeed IHAF had a banner year filled with new members, new opportunities, and increased awareness around the growth of the in-house model.

One of the best parts of my role as IHAF Board Chair last year was the chance I had to meet so many IHAF members personally. Our community is growing and more connectedthan ever—and to our new members, welcome to the neighborhood!

I’m going to keep going with this neighborhood metaphor. Great neighborhoods are made by neighbors who care about celebrating their community. They reach out to fellow neighbors to lend a helping hand, offer advice, and work together to make the community strong.

That’s exactly how I feel about IHAF—we are a great community, with new neighbors joining us every day who want to help and learn from each other. We are like-minded in that we all lead in-house agencies, though we represent incredibly diverse industries and skill sets. And as a community, we are growing stronger every day, thanks to our fellow members—our neighbors—who are genuinely interested in sharing their advice and tools for success, and being open to new ideas to make their in-house teams even better.

With that neighborhood image in mind, following are a few goals and reflections I have for IHAF as we embark on a new year.

Strengthen Our Community
For those astute readers, I had the same goal last year—and it still holds true. 2013 was a great year for the IHAF community as we created even more opportunities for members to get to know one another. Networking and meeting industry colleagues remains the #1 reason people join IHAF. Last year we launched a “virtual neighborhood” with the IHAF LinkedIn group, an online destination where members can post questions and seek advice from peers. We also launched a social media initiative with themes ranging from workflow systems to creativity. Those themes prompted some meaningful discussions among members who often shared ideas that the rest of us could take back to our teams.

This year we’ll continue our efforts through LinkedIn and the IHAF blog, as well as other channels like our educational webinars. In the spring, we hope you’ll come to the IHAF Huddle—a facilitated discussion group series held in five cities across the country where we’ll tackle issues and challenges facing in-house leaders today—offering yet another opportunity to meet your neighbors. In the fall, once again we’ll be hosting the IHAF Awards Show & Annual Conference where we’ll be building in more time for one-on-one conversation and networking, based on feedback from our members.

Tools Designed For You
IHAF is like that neighbor who knows everyone and has their finger on the pulse of what’s going on—in this case, what it takes to advance in-house teams. IHAF is the only professional association that provides tools that are specific to internal agencies including white papers, benchmarking studies, workflow system comparison charts, creative brief templates, salary studies, and more—available exclusively to IHAF members.

One major tool in our member toolbox is the IHAF Performance Evaluator, a customizable survey that enables you to measure the effectiveness of your in-house team. We’ve received outstanding feedback from those who’ve used it saying that the IHAF Performance Evaluator made it easy for them to identify opportunity areas and quantify the performance of their teams. Best of all, the IHAF Performance Evaluator is free for IHAF members to use on whatever cycle and with whatever frequency you like—saving thousands of dollar as compared to what consulting firms charge for similar surveys.  

Reason to Celebrate
It wouldn’t be a neighborhood without a block party every once in a while—and we have reason to celebrate! Last year, IHAF and the ANA partnered on a survey detailing the state of the in-house industry. Through that study, we learned that 58% of the companies responding now have in-house agencies, up from 42% in 2008. And the work that we do has become more sophisticated, with our client partners relying on us for strategic counsel, expertise in digital and social marketing, and management of complex media plans and budgets. Not only are we getting noticed internally and gaining respect from senior executives, we’re gaining exposure externally among outside agencies.

The IHAF team also received valuable feedback from attendees coming out of the 2013 conference and awards ceremony—the main forum we have to celebrate our collective creative work. We’re looking at ways to heighten networking at both events while providing even more content to take back and apply to your in-house team. I encourage you to celebrate your team’s own victories throughout the year by posting your work and sharing your case studies on any of IHAF’s social outlets.

Onward to 2014! And I look forward to connecting with even more of you this year. Please feel free to contact me, or anyone on the IHAF Board, with what more we can do to add value to you and your organization. Let’s continue to build our in-house community, working together to make the neighborhood great. Not an IHAF member yet? Join us.

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