Every issue, GRAZIA USA highlights Game Changers who inspire, educate and celebrate individuality, beauty and style. Meet Jonathan Jadali, an entrepreneur who is shaking up the public relations industry by focusing on innovation and integrity.
Growing up, I was not what you would call book smart. I struggled academically but always had an immense drive to make something out of my life. One thing was clear to me: I wanted to make a lot of money, which has always informed my entrepreneurial focus. My initial search led me to cryptocurrency, and I invested pretty early in Bitcoin as a very young teenager and benefited from the early boom. I also spent most of my time watching YouTube videos about how to make money.
Over time, I became fascinated by social media and its capabilities, which eventually provided the initial building blocks for what would later become Ascend Agency. I became obsessed with all the ways we could shine the light on business and brands, and this was how Ascend Agency was initially born.
When we started in 2020, I had about two immediate competitors offering the same service. I remember studying their business model and thinking to myself, “I can do a much better job.” I put this drive into the agency and continued to innovate my model until I completely surpassed the competition in a very short time.
Innovation has always been at the forefront of Ascend Agency’s operations. For instance, when we started, we decided to ditch the traditional PR agency model of collecting a chunk of money as a retainer fee and guaranteeing nothing but well-meaning attempts. This model was giving the PR industry a bad image, and I wanted to change that because I believe it was possible to offer visibility with some guarantee. This decision informed what I call the Ascend Model, which essentially comes with three pillars: a guarantee of placement, visibility and your money’s worth.
Over the last two years, we have built strong partnerships with some of America’s most prominent media publishers like Hearst, A360 Media, McClatchy and Tribune Publishing. This has expanded our reach to prestigious publications like Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, USA Today, and others, where our clients can enjoy exposure and gain visibility.
Like every business, Ascend Agency also had to go through a steep learning curve. Things have not been all rosy from the word go, but we have managed to grow our client list to over 20,000 clients, which is unheard of within the space of time we have been in business. There’s still so much more we want to do.
What we have built at Ascend Agency is truly unique; it’s difficult to see any real competitors around because we have grown from a one-service agency to a one-stop shop for all branded content and PR services. We have so many exclusive partnerships with many publications, making it very difficult for other agencies to compete. We also recently launched Ascend Music Group, where we help independent musicians gain visibility by helping them with their releases and playlist marketing. We have also begun purchasing publications, which only adds to our status as an agency and, now, as a publisher as well.
In 2022, we hit the $7.5 million revenue mark, which is amazing for such a young business, and we have now set our sights on the $50 million mark, a goal I am confident we can surpass.
When it is all said and done, our success boils down to our two main pillars: integrity and innovation. That’s how we have sailed through every challenge to date, and we don’t intend to change that formula.
— As told to Jaclyn Roth
Read GRAZIA USA’s Spring issue featuring cover star Lucy Boynton: