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Guide To Doing Public Relations In China

Updated: Jul 2, 2023

Public Relations professionals help businesses cultivate a positive reputation with the public through various unpaid or earned communications, including traditional media, social media, and in-person engagements. PR influences the consumer perception of a brand's products or services.

  • It consists of having an authority profile talking about your company. It can be media (newspapers, blogs), KOLs, or even the community.

  • It is not always easy to get a press release that is why many agencies with the right connection and that know how to proceed are offering this type of service.

  • PR has the advantage of lasting in time and getting you covered by trusted people on third-party websites that give you legitimacy.

  • Public Relations through Chinese media agencies are the most effective because the Chinese use their internet tools much more than any other internet community.

The market revenue of the public relations industry in China from 2008 to 2018

The Chinese government plays an important role in the media. Indeed, as some of you may know, the Internet, television, movies, media, and the press are severely controlled by the government. In order to avoid any kind of problem media organizations must be in step with government policy.

For example, in China, some keywords are strictly forbidden on the Internet. Some of them are:

  • Tibet

  • Xinjiang

  • Democracy

  • Sex

  • Excellent

  • 4th June

  • Extreme

That is why foreign businesses must be careful and consider how to build a good message using the proper content. Businesses should also look out for “politically correct” information.

For instance, in 2019 Versace, an Italian fashion house in China had some problems. Chinese media reported that on a t-shirt sold by Versace in the country there were names of cities with the wrong nation, in particular, Hong Kong and Macao were not listed as part of China. On social media, Versace was accused of attacking national sovereignty. This is just one of the many diplomatic accidents.

Since it can be easy to fall into these kinds of accidents, we suggest you contact agencies like Linked Digital Services that maintain strategic partnerships throughout China.

In 2019 over a population of 1.418 billion people, there are 802 million Internet users, a penetration rate of 57%; 1.007 billion social media active users, and 1.543 million mobile users. 97% of the users use a mobile phone to surf the Internet, 53% use a laptop, 94% use televisions, and 20% tablets.

In China, the Internet is used not only for practical needs but also to do researches about new products, visiting forums and blogs, and live streaming platforms.

A survey carried out by the Chinese Academy of Press and Publications found that the daily reading time and annual reading number of paper books, printed newspapers, and printed journals had declined in 2019. In contrast, digital reading had continuously increased. According to the survey, every day Chinese citizens use mobile phones for 100.41 minutes on average, 15.5 percent higher year-on-year.

The proportion of citizens reading on mobile phones, tablets, personal computers, or iPads, too, had increased from the year before.

The survey reflects Chinese people's changing reading habits as mobile phones enable access to reading materials on highly efficient digital platforms. More than half of the Chinese interviewed were inclined to digital reading, particularly on mobile phones. This concerns not only books but also reading the news.

It is therefore important to adapt your China public relations strategy to the social media landscape and to your target audience.

To ensure that your company does not come into conflict with any laws, this is the summary of The Advertisement Law of China.

An advertisement shall be prohibited from:

  • Using, or using in a disguised form, the national flag, national anthem, national emblem, military flag, military song, or military emblem of the People's Republic of China

  • Using, or using in a disguised form

  • Using "national", "highest", "best", or similar comparative words

  • Damaging the dignity or interest of the state or divulging any state secret

  • Disturbing social stability or damaging the public interest

  • Damaging personal or property safety or divulging individual privacy

  • Disturbing the public order or departing from a good social climate

  • Containing any obscene, pornographic, gambling, superstitious, horrible, or violent content

  • Containing any ethnically, racially, religiously...

Public relations in a digital world is more about demolishing a brand than about building it, as shown in a recent quarrel between e-commerce giant Alibaba and the social networking Tencent.

As one of the important channel for public relations management, press release plays an essential role. It's a strong tool to create relationships with media agencies. It's also a great way to control the data newsworthy about your company, etc. Companies can either hire a PR agency or generate content by themselves and send it directly to journalists at Chinese media outlets.

A better website authority corresponds with a better Baidu ranking and this is vital for visibility. A press release usually also means a backlink. As it happens in Google, the more backlinks you have to your website, the more authority it gets, giving you more chances to rank above your competitors.

Press releases are very useful in China as Chinese people do not easily trust new brands and new products because of the countless scandals they have been through. Having an authoritative voice speaking about you make consumers rely on you.

A press conference is an event organized to officially distribute information and answer questions from the media. Press conferences can be announced in response to specific public relations issues.

They are a powerful tool to build a relationship with the journalists and to answer questions. Press conferences are very appropriate for special occasions such as new product launches, important breakthroughs, or responding to scandals and controversies.

Xinhuanet is said to be the official media outlet of the Chinese government, only publishing news that aligns with the government's initiatives. As one of the most trusted sources of news in the country, it's naturally also grown to become one of the largest. It provides a wide variety of content that covers social issues, international news, military, travel, education, etc.

Xinhua publishes news articles every day in 7 different languages (Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, English, French, Spanish, Russian, Japanese, and Arabic). Getting featured on Xihua is the best method to gain the trust of your target consumers.

Toutiao is an application owned by ByteDance that acts as a news aggregator. With more than 200 million active users and content receiving 4.2 billion views every day, it is considered the #1 platform for content delivery. Its particularity is to be integrated with artificial intelligence and machine learning software, which creates a personalized newsfeed for each user. In this way, everyone sees what best suits the content they interacted with in the past. Toutiao is therefore an excellent database of consumer information and one of the best Chinese apps for targeted advertising.

Toutiao also welcomes individuals and organizations to publish their own content on the platform by opening a Toutiaohao account. According to its official website, more than 1.1 million Toutiaohao accounts have been opened, including media organizations, companies, individual writers, and columnists.

Shiseido company has become the first Japanese company to sign an agreement with UN Women (the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women) to lead the promotion of gender equality in Japan and China where the gender gap is still big and the emancipation of women. The present agreement has been reached as both parties pursue the same cause: Shiseido actively supports women's advancement while UN Women centers its efforts on gender equality and the empowerment of women worldwide.

Going forward, Shiseido will aim to realize a society where each and every individual can make their own life choices and fulfill their potential regardless of gender. To this end, the Company will launch gender education programs for the younger generation, promote the UN Women's #HeForShe initiative inside and outside the Company, and support various other programs.

Created by UN Women, the HeForShe solidarity movement for gender equality provides a systematic approach and targeted platform where a global audience can engage and become change agents for the achievement of gender equality in our lifetime. HeForShe invites people around the world to stand together as equal partners to craft a shared vision of a gender-equal world and implement specific, locally relevant solutions for the good of all of humanity.

Linked Digital Services is a digital marketing management agency that are experts in helping foreign companies to establish or strengthen their position in China.

We can help your brand increase sales in China, thanks to our services like:

  • Advertising

  • Baidu SEO & SEM

  • Social Media

  • PR

  • KOL & Influencers

  • E-commerce and cross-border e-commerce

  • Distribution

Contact us to discuss it further!

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