I’ve visited my home town Singapore every year since I moved to Australia in 1998 and I grew up closely with several cousins who are all so different from one another. Surprisingly (and you could call it a coincidence or just good old genetics), when each of us turned old enough to begin thinking of career paths, we all decided to enter the same industry – Media and Public Relations. To check out the similarities and differences of what it’s like to study and work in PR in two diverse countries in terms of culture and working life, I decided to have a little chat with my fam!
My cousin Jenny, 24, works at an esteemed PR firm in the heart of the bustling city and how she came about her position as a consultant at the start of her career was through interning with the company. She began at the agency in 2013 and hasn’t looked back since. “Throughout university the convenors presented to us plenty of opportunities for internships with well-regarded agencies which I’m really grateful for,” she said. “The University of Singapore in particular presents plenty of opportunities to us for when we are ready to experience life in the workforce.”
Whilst studying, Jenny never had trouble maintaining a social life, extracurricular activities and keeping up with her assignments, but once she set foot in the world of PR in full force this began to change. “Once I graduated from university I was immediately offered a position as a consultant and it was a really smooth transition from uni to work life. But with more responsibility obviously came longer working hours and definitely not as much time to relax!”
I would describe PR life in Sydney (or more specifically, at The Red Republic) a very “work hard, play hard” culture. We immerse ourselves in the day-to-day of achieving the best results possible for our amazing clients, plus we participate in exciting brand activations, attend awesome events and conferences, and on Friday afternoons, there’s never a time that’s too busy for us to get together with our colleagues and have a relaxing drink or two. Sydney is such a rich and vibrant city full of culture and in the PR world we base ourselves on media relations and building networks. My cousin started describing Singapore’s PR work culture and I started to think we were not so different after all.
Singapore is renowned for working hard and getting results in any industry (spanning from advertising, interior design and logistics) and it was interesting to hear that Sydney may be just as busy and fast-paced. “I work across a number of different clients that range from fast food to architecture and it’s a very go, go, go kind of work culture! We focus on early mornings and late nights, and of course rely on coffee (or “kopi” as we say here) and tea (or “teh tarik”) to get us through the days. We are expected to know the media back to front and be on top of anything in the news that may relate to our clients,” said Jenny.
From briefly looking at the scope of past media trends, Jenny said the reason why public relations in Singapore is such a hardworking part of the economy is because it is generally overlooked compared to its Western counterparts. Singapore focuses on generating revenue which emphasises on marketing and advertising, but since the amount of new technology and social media has become readily available, public relations is becoming a core part of the marketing process. Jenny acknowledged, “We have to look for more flexible ways of getting our stories across. Until the early 2000s Singapore’s nine daily newspapers were all owned by the publicly owned Singapore Press Holdings. Now that media is shifting to social and digital we are seeing a lot of growth and change.”