From Singapore to San Jose: A Look at PR across Continents

By Lauren Ho

The Hoffman Agency, San Jose

Just six short months ago, I was tentatively dipping my toes into PR as an intern at The Hoffman Agency’s office in Singapore. (You can find out how that turned out here.)

And now (much to my parents’ relief) I’ve landed my first post-graduate job at Hoffman’s headquarters in San Jose.

Since my return to the United States, I’ve had quite a few people ask me how my two experiences compare and what I’ve learned. Here’s the breakdown.

The Work Culture

Whether you’re talking about Singapore or San Jose, it’s quite evident that people at Hoffman just love what they do. We live and breathe PR – whether that means sending emails at odd hours of the night, staying late to make that international call or prepping tirelessly for the next big event. 

But Hoffman-ites (as we like to call ourselves) also know how to kick back and let our hair down. In Singapore, there were Nerf gun battles and many, many trips to the local boba tea joint. In San Jose, we make frequent coffee runs to Philz and enjoy Friday happy hours at the Old Wagon Wheel Saloon and Grill. And like the Singapore office, we too can get a little mischievous with our fun. We may have even kidnapped our CEO’s dog at one point (Sorry, Ivy) … 

Kidnapping Ivy

The PR Landscape

Singapore is a tiny island – tiny meaning you could probably travel across the entire city-state in a little over an hour. The significance of this for PR folk is that it means only having a very small pool of media to reach out to. While this makes pitching competitive, it also allows for you to cultivate close, genuine relationships with journalists. One of my Singaporean colleagues once met up with a reporter at Ikea to pitch a story over a plate of Swedish meatballs. Now isn’t that the best kind of bonding?

Dealing with media relations in the United States, however, is a whole different animal. You probably won’t have the opportunity to develop that same buddy-buddy relationship with a reporter. In fact, it’s unlikely you will even have the chance to ever meet that journalist in person, especially if they’re based a five-hour plane ride away in New York City.

Since you’re pitching your story from more of an anonymous front, you really need to make your content stand out in order to get any attention. The secret? Put your feet in the journalist’s shoes. Don’t waste their time spotlighting your client’s latest product when there’s no relevance – share something they’d actually want to hear about.

While Singapore and the United States differ in their media landscape, a lot of the same core PR rules still apply. For example:

  1. No matter where you are in the world, an engaging, well-crafted story is always going to win out over a stale, run-of-the-mill press release.
  2. Be a social media pro. With the number of traditional news outlets dwindling, you don’t want to be the dinosaur who doesn’t know how to properly leverage digital and social media channels like Twitter and Facebook.
  3. Know who you’re pitching. Take the extra time to thoroughly research journalists. Go ahead and follow them on Twitter to get a solid understanding of what they cover.

From little Singapore to the great, big USA, it’s interesting to know that, despite differences in culture, language and geography, the rules of the PR game remain the same, no matter where you fall on the map. 

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