Having risen to the top of global PR agency Hill & Knowlton’s sports division, he felt that the time had come to set out on his own and so he created JTA as a one-man band to focus on providing high quality sports PR for International Federations, National Olympic Committees, governments, bidding cities and nations, professional clubs, athletes, broadcasters and sponsors.
Eighteen years later, he now has a team of 24 people operating in the UK, Spain and the US, with a new office about to open in China. JTA will be representing its long-standing client Manchester United FC there, along with the International Volleyball Federation and the International Basketball Federation.
Describing himself as ‘naturally risk averse’, Jon has grown his business organically and without the need for external support or funding. Indeed, Jon never set out to create an agency, but as his reputation grew so did his business, driven by the success of his major campaigns.
“We’ve only opened new offices to meet client demand as we see that while we may represent international organisations, more often than not they will want our service delivered locally, so the search for good people is constant in that respect,” Jon explains.
Among some of Jon’s proudest achievements are the successful Sochi 2014 Olympic bid, where the city found itself up against a longlist of seven other cities and a shortlist of three; the successful bid by Los Angeles to host the 2028 Olympic Games; and campaigning for former Rugby Union player Bill Beaumont to become president of World Rugby, a position he’s held since July 2016.
“Having completed one successful campaign, it’s about building on that in future – maintaining relationships and ensuring you have the right team to help your client in their next campaign or to be able to work with a new client to establish them in that sport, market or country. It’s about economies of scale and finding out who are the decision makers and the power breakers with whom you need to be relationship-building and focusing efforts there. That’s what helps you to take off.”
Jon attributes his clients to helping keep his business fresh: “They are demanding and will point to what others are doing if we aren’t already. Of course, professional curiosity and restlessness also help, which means we’re constantly seeking out new markets we could be servicing and researching new services we could be offering.” Indeed, when MBA was speaking to Jon he was on his way to the airport.
He’s mindful that a business can only be as good as its clients, staff and the people who look after it: “This includes professional advisers, and obtaining top quality support and advice is essential when starting out and then managing growth.”
During 2018, JTA won the prestigious Queen’s Award for Enterprise in International Trade for the second time. The award was presented by HRH The Duke of Kent to the JTA team, headquartered in Tunbridge Wells, in November and followed on from the agency’s first win in 2014.
Jon recognises the awards as “validation that we’re doing things right.
“Evidently, it makes us stand out in our market and is sending the right message to our team, our clients and competitors. Anything connected with the Queen gains maximum kudos with international clients and it really helps to open doors for us.”
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