International Focus

Tips for PR in China

Posté par Pascal Petitjeanil y a 5 annéespas de commentaire

As the world’s most populous country, China is an appealing target for the high education market. Recent years have seen more and more Western universities and business schools launch programs (or even campuses) in China, enhancing cooperation with Chinese partners, in order to be closer to the market action, and better increase awareness of their brands in China.

However, there are many difficulties when communicating in China. The cultural differences and a very different media environment is a much larger obstacle than the language barrier, for example.

There is no doubt that Chinese media have been more market-oriented in recent years, but censorship still exists so you have to evaluate what subjects will be considered “sensitive”. For most Westerners, internet censorship is a lot more evident by the absence of Google and Facebook, for example, than for the Chinese reading the traditional printed press.

There are 649 million internet users in China (as of December 2014), and 92% of the Chinese population use social media, and more than 60% of internet users visit social media sites every day. These numbers seem very exciting for every community manager, but it’s important to bear in mind that China has a quite different internet environment compared to other countries.

resaux sociaux chinoisThe Chinese government blocks almost all the major social networks, of which China has its own “versions”, such as Sina Weibo (=Twitter) and Youku-Tudou (=Youtube), Wechat (=What’s App). These “Chinese versions” are not just copies, but they have many unique Chinese features. It is therefore necessary to be familiar with this environment and know the different Chinese networks before launching a communications campaign.

In business, more and more Westerners are becoming aware of the importance of “Guanxi” (relationships), and the fact that it also applies to PR. A good relationship with journalists is necessary for good public relations. Guanxi is about reciprocation, and it means you have to meet journalists regularly and meet them face-to-face. In many cases, gift-giving is the beginning of Guanxi, but compared to a bribe, Guanxi is very personal: when dealing with Chinese journalists, the personal relationship is often mixed with the professional relationship.

Build a long-term relationship is expected, just like with friends: no one expects a short-term relationship. So it will take time to connect with them and to build a good relation over time. On the other hand, journalism, like other professions in China, is highly mobile: journalists may change remit or even leave their publication for another. That’s why you need to contact and meet with them regularly.

The Chinese market is attractive with its many good students and the presence of more and more world-famous universities and business schools. But it’s also tricky when you want to communicate in this country. A good knowledge of Chinese culture and Chinese language is indispensable. Then, success depends on the quality of your story, and of course, your Guanxi with journalists.

Jason ZHAO
Asia Senior Consultant


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