Insights

Unlocking the US market: Journey Further’s plan to dominate Digital PR

From day one, Journey Further has been a leader in the industry, but our boldest move yet was to expand into the United States. It all began 18 months ago when we noticed a significant opportunity to extend our successful digital PR proposition across continents, driven by a surge in RFPs seeking our services, and a distinct lack of competition in the US market.

Back in 2018, I was proud to be the founding member of our Journey Further digital PR team, and fast forward to June 2022, we had grown into a dynamic team of 20+ professionals. Our approach, centered on performance and relevance, consistently delivered impactful results, with our first-ever client still on board to this day. It was clear – it was time to take the plunge and expand.

However, having witnessed past agencies struggle to understand the American market, grappling with cultural nuances, and lacking strong media relationships, we knew a mere UK-based offering wouldn’t cut it. Our standards demand excellence. So much so, I’ve turned down clients in the past because I didn’t believe we could deliver the results they needed in the US, as back then we simply didn’t have the local market knowledge or media relationships in-house. 

After many in-depth discussions with our group CEO, Robin Skidmore, and my husband, we decided on a life-changing move – along with Robin, I would relocate to the US and bring our digital PR expertise with me. The goal? To assemble a team of local experts intimately familiar with the American market.

 

Why is Local Market Knowledge Vital?

Despite my 13 years of experience in SEO and digital PR, I understood the need for a senior expert to help guide me and share their insights into the market. Enter Domenica D’Ottavio, our Associate Director of Digital PR, originally from Vermont and living in NYC, with an impressive 9 years experience and arguably the most senior expert in the entire country. (A bold claim, but I truly believe it). Her invaluable expertise became the linchpin in ensuring we bridged the gap in cultural nuances and navigated the diverse American media landscape. 

Together we took our Journey Further UK proposition and developed it into a successful offering that would excite our US clients and deliver both measurable organic performance and increased brand awareness. 

Digital PR success hinges on content being culturally relevant and aligning with current news topics. I quickly learned that what works in England or even New York State might not resonate across the entire US due to its size and cultural diversity.

 

Key Differences and Success Factors

  • Size and States: America’s vastness means different weather, culture, and even laws across states (and even within states! E.g. South Florida versus North Florida)
  • Time Zones: Multiple time zones posed a challenge for fast-paced digital PR, underscoring the importance of a locally responsive team.
  • Media Landscape: The US boasts more publications, but the focus is less on tabloid-style press, with journalists emphasizing methodological rigor and authoritative sources.
  • Language & Communication: it’s not enough to change spell check to American-English. There are many phrases and terminology that we use in the UK that do NOT translate here. 
  • Key Holidays and Seasons: What we celebrate in England isn’t the same in America. E.g Pancake Day doesn’t exist in America, and do you know what Pickleball is (I didn’t)? It’s huge in the US! 

 

Building on Domenica’s knowledge and expertise, 18 months later we have curated a robust team of 10 Journey Further US specialists spread across diverse locations, ensuring a nuanced understanding of local content angles for our content campaigns.

 

Meet the US Team

  • Beth Nunnington – VP Organic Media – NYC – 12 years experience
  • Domenica D’Ottavio – Digital PR Associate Director – NYC – 9 years experience
  • Bri Godwin – PR Manager – Florida – 7 years experience, specializing in B2B 
  • Mady Lanni – PR Strategist – Texas – 5 years experience
  • Ellie Stewart – PR Strategist – Leeds (soon to be NYC) – 5 years experience plus in-depth US market training since June 2023
  • Darcy Huff – SEO Strategist – Pennsylvania – 8 years experience
  • Laura Naegele – PR Associate – New Jersey – 4 years experience
  • Estefania Palacio – PR Associate – New York – 3 years experience and former TV presenter and journalist
  • Leah Jaworski  – PR Associate – New York – 4 years experience 
  • Jimena De la Mora – PR Associate – Texas – 1 year experience

18 months since launching in America, we now have a range of clients across tech, fashion, interiors and finance in our U.S. portfolio and have achieved remarkable results. 

 

Top 3 client highlights in 2023
  • Delivering improved rankings and subsequent traffic equivalent of $600k in paid media value for a well known Fortune 500 tech brand.
  • Driving brand awareness and organic growth for beloved fast-casual chain Sizzler – hosting a media day for the new restaurant launch and driving 400+ pieces of great coverage and links
  • Exceeding our annual link KPIs by 600% within six months, for online language learning marketplace, Preply.

 

Our journey continues with a 300% increase in headcount in just one year, and there’s no sign of slowing down. Globally, our extensive team now includes 35 digital PR specialists, with 55+ in the Organic team as a whole. 

If you’re intrigued by how digital PR can be a catalyst for organic growth in the US, please connect with us and let’s explore the possibilities for your brand!

You can also watch our ‘Think Global Act Local’ webinar to discover more on scaling strategy across borders.