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OCTOBER 28, 2015 //  

Why PR is More Important than Ever in China


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In the wake of the global financial crisis and the arrival of China's fifth generation of national leaders, it has never been more difficult to establish, build, defend or rejuvenate a brand or corporate reputation in China.

Beijing once welcomed foreign businesses as catalysts for China's economic development. However, today, China has no shortage of capital, technical know-how and business best practices. Competition has also intensified. Players from every industry in the world have flocked to China, running head-to-head with local companies equally eager to stand out from the crowd and dominate the market. Additionally, how a company and its brands are perceived in China is no longer important only in China. What a reporter writes there can be market-moving news worldwide.

These and a myriad of other issues indicate that now, more than ever, public relations is a critical tool for a company's success. PR must be strategic, proactive and consistent. It must address all of a company's stakeholders in China without forgetting that there are others from overseas who are taking notice. PR must be executed with the same care, enthusiasm and senior level attention that a company gives to its sales, finances and product development.

In my new book, “Public Relations in China: Building and Defending Your Brand in the PRC,” I offer practical advice for public relations professionals working for companies that are operating or planning to operate in China. I'll dive a bit deeper into some of these issues over the next several weeks, which include:

The importance of understanding the layers of Chinese regulation. Understanding who makes policy and why, and who interprets that policy toward enforcement are what makes the difference between bending with the political winds and being broken by them.
What happens in China moves the market. What happens in your company's China operations can move your share price overnight, even before you get to the office. This means that company leadership and teams must be ready to react quickly and get ahead of the news cycle before a story runs out of control.
How to influence government policy in China. While this has become harder than ever for foreign companies, there are still ways to ensure that your voice is heard in the policymaking process.
The differences between Chinese and US media. The emergence of investigative journalism and the arms-length relationship between the government and media should not be seen as the emergence of independent journalism. The Party is still determined to ensure that media remain responsive to the needs of the government.
How to enhance your social media efforts in China. While still a moving target, social media has risen to a level of importance for public relations professionals in China that is equal to, or greater than, the importance of journalists and the outlets for which they work.

I hope you will follow my perspectives on these topics, and chime in with any others you'd like to learn more about.

David Wolf is the managing director of Allison+Partners' Global China Practice. Recognized as a leader in China's public relations industry, David specializes in helping clients manage complex communications challenges, including government relations, crisis, new market entry, and corporate reorganization. His book, “Public Relations in China: Building and Defending Your Brand in the PRC,” was released in October 2015.  
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