How Singapore can become Asia’s content hub

Melissa de Villiers In this guest post, Melissa de Villiers proposes that, despite facing a number of obstacles, Singapore can develop into a regional hub for content.

Is ‘hub’ the most hardworking word in the Singapore lexicon? Google it and you’ll find the city-state described as Asia’s hub for sea and air cargo transportation, aviation, biotech, ‘cleantech’, finance, logistics, education and conferences, to name but a few. It even earns the tag for robotics packaging systems.

Of course, all this is testament to the extraordinary energy, skill and effort the country has invested in to capitalise on its advantageous geographical location at the crossroads of Asia.

What’s seldom mentioned is content. Yet we’ve long believed that Singapore should be pitching itself as the hub for high-quality content, in English, for the entire region.

Think about it. Not only do Singaporeans have a high degree of fluency in English, the language of international business, but thanks to their multiracial, multicultural heritage, they’re very well attuned to the cultural nuances of neighbouring Asian societies.

Then there’s Singapore’s proximity to regional markets, which makes it such an obvious gateway between east and west. The CBD here is packed with global organisations – including marketing and communications leaders – seeking to make their entry into Asia. These companies need the kind of creative expertise that can help them define their offerings and strategies for the wider ASEAN marketplace and beyond.

Singapore’s relatively sophisticated talent pool means businesses can access advanced skills in areas such as web development, social media, analytics and SEO as well as content marketing (in fact, Content Marketing World now hosts an annual conference in Singapore). Meanwhile, this December will mark the inaugural Singapore Media Festival, bringing various screenings, conferences and awards together under a single umbrella.

Singapore’s proximity to Australia and New Zealand – and its habit of luring expats from further afield – provides it with a relatively ready supply of high-quality, native English speakers. Editor Group is the perfect example: founded in Sydney, we now have an office in Singapore employing an Australian, a Brit and a South African.

In some ways, of course, Singapore is already succeeding as a content hub. The island’s media industry, for instance, includes more than 6,000 media businesses and international production and services companies, including cutting-edge names like Lucasfilm.

Like many other agencies, Editor Group chose to establish its Asia office in Singapore rather than Hong Kong or mainland China (the other main choices) for all the reasons listed above.

However, we believe Singapore does have work to do to really consolidate its status as the region’s major English-language content hub. Based on our experiences, we’d humbly suggest there are three main strategies the island should pursue.

The first step is to cultivate a creative mindset by accelerating the introduction of high-quality writing programmes and modules (from pre-tertiary to postgraduate level) at local educational institutions. It’s really about changing the culture, to an extent, and focusing the aspirations of young people towards the creative industries as early as possible.

The second would be to raise the bar on quality. Singapore is building critical mass, but we believe this momentum will slow if its content providers can’t deliver high-quality written and multimedia content that rivals what organisations can secure in the world’s other English-language content centres, such as London, New York and Sydney.

Third, we think there’s great potential for Singapore to become known for specialist areas of expertise, such as Asia-Pacific knowledge, video editing and storytelling. Global brands seeking to connect with new audiences need content partners who understand what it takes to deliver relevant custom content with a regional slant.

And as a broader strategy, we should simply tell the world we are here, and show it what we’re capable of! I’m very excited to be part of a city that feels like it’s becoming more and more creative, distinctive and globally competitive every day. Just like Singapore has done in transportation and the other areas mentioned above, it should be promoting its advantages in the content arena.

Get it right, and there’ll be no stopping the Lion City. Now that would be something worth celebrating in the island’s Golden Jubilee year.

Melissa de Villiers is a senior manager at Editor Group, which recently opened a Singapore office.


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