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After two and half years living in the warmer climes of Singapore, it’s nice to be back in London. I’ve recently relocated back here after working in our Singapore office, settling back into our office in the City of London at the end of 2019.

That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy my time working in Asia. Singapore was an immensely fun, dynamic and rewarding place to live and work for some time and I’d highly recommend it to anyone.

I made some great friends, worked with some brilliant clients and colleagues, and learnt a lot. Most of those who have relocated professionally would I suspect agree that starting from scratch in a new market can be a daunting experience, but ultimately a rewarding one.

Here are a few things that I’ve learnt from my time overseas, that are relatable to moving in the first place, or indeed to when you move back to your home market:

Giving local advice

Be quick to switch attention to your new locale as quickly as possible. The sooner you can learn about your new market, the quicker you can start to give clients local advice that fundamentally matters for their business. The combination of local understanding and experience in another market like London is often surprisingly powerful.

One way of doing that by immersing yourself in the local, regional and international media to understand how they report on local news. For example, I had rarely read the WSJ’s Asia coverage until I moved to Asia – but that became integral to what I was doing day to day. 

Understanding the media and business landscape will mean you can adapt your approach for different markets and means you can start to advise clients on local issues, as well as the right approach for working with local media and other kinds of marketing platforms.

I found that APAC was often thought of outside the region as one homogenous area, and while some campaigns can be executed regionally, many have to have a distinctly local feel to really work. Learning about the actual individual markets, as well as the media landscape, means you can advise on truly cross-border activation.

Conversely, it is useful to keep close to what is going on in your home market. I worked hard to keep track of the changes impacting London-based financial services and media over the past 2-3 years.  Remembering what helps to land a story in London, is critical to help your return.

The importance of cross collaboration

Moving to a new market can isolate you somewhat to what is happening in other markets. However, a lot of what you’ve worked on in the past, or indeed other colleagues are working on in other markets, can be adapted and used for local markets. All Cognito offices have developed ideas, approaches and best practices that often get used in multiple places.

I found it useful to check-in regularly with what my old colleagues in London were working on,  to pick their brains and to apply learnings from their market into mine.

The same could be said from what I learned in Asia, and the kind of work that I was lucky enough to be exposed to. Much of this can be applied back in London to add a new element or fresh thinking to the kind of work already being done here.

One example is working with reporters covering emerging markets. In Singapore, a large part of media relations is about aligning with the dynamics of emerging markets and the key themes that are being spoken about. London too is an incredibly important centre for emerging markets, though from a media perspective it’s not often thought of that way despite a lot of emerging markets writers and editors being based here. Being exposed to this for a period of time, like I was in Singapore, means you can often spot an emerging markets story easily and understand the underlying themes and issues that are important to clients.

PR still a relationship game

One of the first things I did when I got to Singapore was to go out and make some new press contacts. I found that most were very happy to meet, and formed the basis of my core contacts and friendship group while I was in Singapore.

Importantly, make sure that you keep in touch with your old contacts. Keeping a line into London reporters has meant that I’ve been able to re-establish myself quickly in this market since returning home. 

Charlie Morrow is a Director in Cognito’s London office