NEW YORK: J Public Relations is planning to open offices in Nashville, Tennessee, and Toronto.
The company currently has offices in New York City, San Diego, Los Angeles and London, as well as a presence in Denver and Scottsdale, Arizona.
Kristin Moller, SVP, and senior director Heidi Doak will manage the Toronto and Nashville locations, respectively.
Despite a drop in business of about 20% from when COVID-19 first hit the U.S., according to founding partner Jamie O’Grady, geographic diversity has put the agency in a position to expand in preparation for a post-pandemic recovery.
“One great thing that kept us going is that we have an office in London,” O’Grady explained. “Once London started reopening for Europe this summer, we had exceptional growth. With us having an office over there, we are able to grow our presence a bit. It gave us the ability to open up a lot of doors for future clients.”
The agency has expanded its client base, O’Grady said, but still focuses on the hospitality sector, and it sees Toronto as a feeder market.
“Once they open up the border, we’ll have someone there,” O’Grady said. “Then we can expand the footprint and grow retainers in post-COVID-19 travel environments.”
The agency also picked Nashville because the city is booming, it’s within easy travel distance to many other Southern cities and it’s becoming an attractive spot for PR talent.
O’Grady said she hopes to have a physical office in Toronto in Q1 2021 and in Nashville by the end of that quarter.
“PR employees are making life changes and are wanting to leave major media markets like Los Angeles or New York for something less expensive,” O’Grady explained. “Nashville is seeing a huge building boom. There are tons of cranes in the air and a ton of hotel development. I am finding a lot of business in the South.”
Some 30% of the agency’s staff are millennials looking to start families, O’Grady added, and when they move to smaller, more inexpensive markets, home ownership becomes a possibility.
“I don't want to lose them,” she said.