Watch our latest Kaizo Live, where we explored PR in China, from how it works, mainstream and emerging channels, challenges and how international brands can succeed there. Kaizo Managing Director Rhodri Harries led the panel; inviting insights from our Worldcom partner agency in China, Topline Consulting. Yan Han, Global Business Chairperson, and Olivia Shao, Shanghai General Office Manager, provided valuable perspectives. See the key discussion points below and watch for more insights:
Topline Consulting was founded in 2010, and is a full-service PR firm with clients including some of the top 100 businesses in China. With nearly 300 professionals, Topline has been one of China’s fastest-growing PR and marketing agencies, with offices in Beijing, Shanghai, India and Singapore. For the past five consecutive years, the firm has been ranked among the annual list of China TOP 30 PR agencies selected by the China International Public Relations Association (CIPRA). Client experience includes; Huawei/Honor, OPPO, Tencent, Alibaba, Meituan, China Ping An Financial Group, DBS Bank, and BMW in diverse industries such as smart device, technology/AI, Internet, financial and new energy automotive.
How does PR differ in China, compared to other markets? The panelists explain that the major difference is the totality of digitalisation. There is a different foundation on how to do PR in China, compared to other markets. From a channel perspective, different players have their own specific characteristics and digital advantages that attract target user groups onto their large platforms. The channels operate to reach specific target groups across all sectors, from e-commerce, games, music to electronics. The emergence of these channels has changed PR in China, and formatting content on these different platforms is key in reaching these users.
How does PR operate in China? In the market, the goal of government in media should be considered. Activity must be highly relevant to the local social environment, national policies and resonate with society’s views. The panelists gave an example of one of their overseas clients, Mondelez International, where Topline paid close attention to public opinion and domestic policy development. This allowed for the brand to integrate into the market and increase its profile in the country. Influencers also play a critical role in consumer’s decision-making; thus, brands need to prioritise how popular Chinese key opinion leaders can benefit their business.
What should international brands consider? The panelists agree that it is vital to strengthen social connections by telling new stories of products, brand values and corporate responsibilities that resonate with Chinese consumers. International brands need to enhance their emotional connection in non-business areas and shape their product’s cultural ideology and values to meet the target user’s needs and expectations. This re-telling of the brand narrative, in conjunction with relevant channel formats, will allow the target groups and wider public to trust and respect the company.
Preparation is key in order to identify target groups and consideration of national policy will help the brand integrate into the market. Businesses should be aware of the potential cultural hegemony is cross-cultural communication and the importance of the traditional cultures of target markets.
Advice for overseas brands who want to do PR in China. Localisation is paramount for brands developing their business in China, due to the stark differences in culture, values and consumer behaviour. Communication approaches need to be adapted to the digitalised culture of the Chinese market so it will appeal to the public and wider domestic context.
Watch the full episode here, hosted by Kaizo Managing Director Rhodri Harries. Browse our previous episodes here.