Agency Profile: Cognito

Agency Profile: Cognito

Telum is looking to highlight the diverse and vibrant agencies in the Southeast Asian PR agency landscape in upcoming editions of our PR Alert. We want to encourage networking, business opportunities, and to celebrate the great initiatives being worked on around the region. If you'd like your agency to feature, get in touch.

What services does Cognito offer?
Cognito is an integrated communications and marketing agency, with specialisms in finance and investment, technology and data, professional services and business markets. With six offices spanning three continents, we help companies improve their performance through smarter marketing and design and build their reputations with compelling content and persuasive communications.

How big is the team?
Cognito has approximately 100 employees worldwide and our clients range from the biggest financial institutions, FinTech players and professional services firms, to startups disrupting established markets. In Asia, we have offices in Singapore and Hong Kong with more than 10 employees that service a mix of multinational companies and local startups. Leveraging on our network expertise, we are able to provide our services to companies that are looking at launching campaigns in various regions across the globe.

Where does your agency have offices?
Our offices are located in the major cities and financial centres across three continents – London, Amsterdam, Los Angeles, New York, Singapore and Hong Kong. Our Asia Pacific team is headquartered in Singapore and we work with our Hong Kong office for multiple accounts and see ourselves as one team. When needed, we have key partners in other key financial centres such as Sydney to execute campaigns.

Who is the founder and why did they start the agency? 
Founded by our CEO Tom Coombes in 2000, we have grown organically across major markets and into new practice areas. Tom started the agency with the goal of devising and implementing programs that drive top and bottom line growth for organisations. He’s still very involved in the day-to-day running of the business today.

Tell us about the leadership team. 
Our leaders have varied backgrounds, from financial journalists, bankers and regulators to advertising planners, creatives and social media strategists. Pre-COVID, our leaders regularly travelled between offices and we place a strong emphasis on getting the whole agency to one location every two years for our “CogniCon” convention. The leadership team also believes in cross-border experiences – several staff in each of our offices have previously worked in another Cognito office.

Ultimately, the leadership team places a strong emphasis on producing high quality work for clients, which is only possible when you have a great and highly motivated team in place. We want to set the tone from the top.

What is next for Cognito? What is the five year goal?
The financial services, FinTech and tech landscapes in Asia are rapidly developing and challenging the status quo. We want to be at the forefront of supporting clients in these industries and helping them to make their offerings stand out on the global stage.

In a sentence, describe your ideal relationship with a journalist. 
Reliable and friendly partnership that results in impactful stories driven by a genuine interest in our clients and the insights provided.

Any key PR trends your agency is keeping an eye on?
We are keeping a close eye on the rise in media coverage surrounding ESG. According to our very own “Time for temperature check: Communicating ESG in asset management during the boom” report, there was a 75% increase in coverage of ESG in 2020 based on our global sample of influential media. In time, the ESG reputations of individual asset management firms will likely get much more fixed in the minds of investors and journalists. For now, there is still some fluidity in media perceptions. We believe that firms should exploit this to grab some high ground for their ESG investment brands and personality.

What skillsets do you look for in new hires?
As well as looking for people who can deliver fantastic service and advice to our clients, we look for people who enjoy the world of PR and are passionate about what they do. We all work hard and care deeply about our work and clients – but there’s no reason why we can’t have fun while we do it!

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