In our global PR series*, today’s interview shows that PR in the Middle Kingdom is still an adventurous task, especially given that the role of media still differs from the one in other markets. Do you want to learn more about the No. 1 Internet nation worldwide? Just read what Kelvin Chen, Executive Associate at EASTWEST Public Relations, tells you about the challenges of PR in China.
* The series is based on phone or face-to-face interviews and written input, therefore please excuse language mistakes which might reflect foreign language influences.
1. What is the latest trend (change) in PR you have identified in your region?
Kelvin Chen: One major trend is the strong interest in CSR-related topics and environmental issues from the media as well as from the general public. As people really pay attention to the activities of foreign companies in these fields, this has changed priorities for their communication strategy. Referring to environmental protection and standards is especially important for those companies who are manufacturing in China. As to the social activities, simply handing over a cheque will not be enough any more to create any media attention. The involvement into social welfare has to be sustainable and ongoing to support the company’s image – the positive side-effect is that this will provide opportunities for continuous information to the media and the public.
Another trend is certainly the increasing importance of social media. As the number of internet users has exceeded 400 Million, China is now the No. 1 internet nation worldwide. You can find internet cafes virtually in any place you could imagine – even in tiny villages in the country side.
But there’s a catch, so to speak. International companies absolutely need to be able to not only speak the local language, but clearly understand the local culture and cater to its dynamic. This is how you do international public relations with great impact.
2.How does your agency react / handle / embrace this?
Kelvin Chen: Our PR strategy starts with content creation such as hosting monthly round tables on social media, and demonstrating thought leadership in social media.
Meanwhile, we understand that the bewildering array of formats, tools and platforms related to social media create a complicated barrier to simply getting noticed online, and even more so when it comes to doing so in China. We thought that we might be able to illuminate the way a little.
Inspired by the work of Brian Solis and Jess Thomas on the conversation prism, ‘the art of listening, learning and sharing,’ EASTWEST dedicated some time to map out each of the social media tools and platforms available in China, using the original prism as the framework. Clients can use the prism to determine the best distribution strategy to effect the best possible level of audience engagement. The conversation prism should help understand where best to listen, learn and share in China. (See the prism on home page of www.eastwestpr.com )
3. Can you give a recent example from a project?
Kelvin Chen: Foreign companies doing business in China want to take advantage of the huge popularity of Chinese social media to increase their online visibility and improve brand awareness. Avnet Technology Solutions has chosen EASTWEST PR to help gain visibility on Chinese social media networks. EASTWEST PR produces, translates, publishes and promotes Avnet’s vidcasts on Chinese networks. You can go to the article Avnet TS gets visibility on Chinese video networks to watch the video and learn more.
Read more about PR in China in part 2 of the interview with PR expert Kelvin Chen and learn, why traffic jams help to get more attention for your company and your products – and what you should keep in mind when contacting bloggers.
Kelvin Chen is Executive Associate of EASTWEST Public Relations, an Asia’s leading independent PR agency since 1995. Kelvin works with B2B companies in Beijing to provide services to local, multinational and international clients.
Established in Singapore in 1995, EASTWEST offers clients proactive marketing support services based on the guiding principles of Creativity in thinking, Respect in relationships, and Integrity in business. The Agency focuses on key verticals: Business-to-Business, Consumer Technology, and Healthcare. EASTWEST is a privately held company and works with multinationals and SMEs to deliver local and regional campaigns. The Agency has built CONNECT, a proprietary knowledge management platform that enables faster time-to-market with news and delivers greater effectiveness and efficiency in getting clients noticed. With offices in Singapore and Beijing, EASTWEST is a Brodeur|PLEON Worldwide partner, and a member of the IPRN network. For more information, please visit www.eastwestpr.com